I think it’s something I am reasonably qualified to do, certainly more so than tiling (tried that once, never again) or football. I also believe it’s a part of the greeting card industry that some people within don’t like to acknowledge and yet rightly or wrongly it’s the one aspect of the industry that often generates the most media attention. This was very much in evidence towards the end of January when a less than kind post on Mumsnet about some of my ruder Valentine’s cards made it to a selection of national tabloids.
I’m very proud of my place in the industry but I’ll always feel like the naughty young offspring despite my eighteen years or so within it. There will never be a trade show where I don’t have to explain that “the old dears” actually do have a better sense of humour than the retailer may think. Or that over half of my collection is perfectly clean but one bit of profanity means it must be on every card. And then there’s the “I love these but I couldn’t possibly stock them”. I’ll always provide humour at the edgier end of the spectrum and I’ve always accepted some of the restrictions because of this. But – and in a moment of epic trumpet blowing – I’d like to stress the very important place rude cards have in the marketplace.
Banter. Many people have different relationships with different people. Your average bloke may send his Mum a beautifully tasteful card for her Birthday. But he would never be so sentimental with his mates down the pub. Name calling and insults can be, between the right people, a sign of affection and subsequently sending a card with such on can be too. That said I’ve one friend who always sends his Mum the most insulting card he can find – they just have that relationship. One fantastic comment I received in the wake of the most recent media brouhaha was as follows: “As a 47-year-old mother of two living in Tunbridge Wells, I beg you not to stop making your filth. If I see another card that says ‘It’s Prosecco o’clock!’ I shall kill myself.”
Shops often try to balance the desire to offer a collection of products that they know some customers will love, but others will be outraged by. Several of my accounts have a box of cards that is kept behind the counter that customers can ask to have a look at. There are also some shops that have small lockable display cupboards with a notice to ask for they key. They have found they have built a reputation around town as the destination for cards that you won’t find in most high-street stores.
Humour is an important range of cards for shops to carry, laughter is a well-known stress reliever and a little bit of escapism from the trials of life can always ben enjoyed. Sometimes a photo of a chicken and a line about Cock’s just won’t cut the mustard. There are times where people want to push the boundary with their friends a little, maybe even surprise them with just how rude a card they want to buy. It is important to remember that everyone has different tastes, and while one card may be offensive to one customer ten others may want to buy it.
As I have been writing this I have had a call from a lovely 80 year old customer who had one of my ruder Christmas cards from her grand-daughter. She loved the card so much she wanted to order some for herself to give to her friends.
And while I love coming up with the rude and outrageous designs for my cards and seeing how far I can push the envelope many are surprised to learn that they are not the style or type of card I often buy for my friends and family. I’m a huge fan of the kinds of greeting cards that are a complete polar opposite of the kinds of cards I sell. I’m a huge fan of some publishers in the USA and always make a beeline to some great stationery stores over there. My favourites are Greenwich Letterpress, Postman Books and Paper Source all who have stores in New York.
My card box at home (very useful) is always stocked full of lovely letterpress and hand printed designs from some lovely publishers both here and in the USA. To the right are some of lovely tasteful cards I currently have to send out.
I think even my detractors would approve of these.