Chances are the last time you walked down the greeting cards aisle of your local grocery store you didn’t see cards for Holi, Ramadan, or Rosh Hashanah. And there were probably no cards to celebrate a gay marriage.
Enter Groundswell Greetings. The Philly e-commerce startup has been up and running for just three weeks now and wants to add some Philly flair to the $8 billion domestic greeting cards industry that’s still dominated by companies of generations past like Hallmark and American Greeting.
“The cards in the aisle at the local grocery store don’t appeal to millennials and the modern-day shopping experience,” Groundswell Greetings CEO Ali Moore told me. Last year, Moore was on Comcast’s user experience research team, and back then, her day-to-day was all about boosting the e-commerce experience for Comcast customers. But in December, she walked away from her gig with the telecom giant to launch Groundswell Greetings, which offers a very different kind of e-commerce experience.
Through the site, Moore says she’s taking out the impersonal side of greeting cards and also nixing the mass production. Each card on the website, whether it’s under the “Democracy” category or the “New Pet” one, is designed by a female artist in Philadelphia. Loveis Wise, one of the artists on board, is a junior in the illustration program at the University of the Arts. Her work for Groundswell Greetings includes colorful profiles of icons like Frida Kahlo and Ella Fitzgerald. The young artist’s Instagram page is also oozing with artistic renditions of the female reproductive system and colorful sketches of black and brown women that just might make it onto a Groundswell Greetings card one day. “We’re really trying to tap into groups that are underrepresented in the greetings card market,” said Moore, who said the results of the recent presidential election spurred her to take action and align with local artists.
“And it’s turned into a sisterhood,” said Moore, who Instagram-stalked and cold called the local artists to make the fine arts connections. She was pleasantly surprised to find that local artists were also looking for new platforms to sell their work. There’s growing backlash against the Etsy model, which was once revered for giving small businesses power in the big e-commerce market. “Etsy has become what it sought to disrupt,” Moore said, so some artists gladly welcomed something new and locally curated.
Moore says the operation is flexible—they’re ready to turn designs around quickly in response to national events. One card on the website by Simply Serendipity Press, for example, is stamped with the words “Nasty Women,” in response to Donald Trump’s comments during a presidential debate last fall.
As for pricing, Moore’s kept the cards at $5 a piece. “We wanted something affordable that could hold its own against upscale boutique cards,” she said. And shipping’s free.
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