We must’ve been aware of greeting card company Paper Culture on some level, just like you’re aware of ubiquitous ’70s TV guest Charo (“cuchi-chuchi”) – we just never really thought about them in depth. That is until we came across this interesting piece in the Silicon Valley Business Journal: “The anti-Hallmark: Former Yahoo exec starts eco-friendly card company.”
Turns out Paper Culture was started by Christopher Wu, who came up with the idea in 2009 after his pregnant wife tasked him with finding some appropriate birth announcements for their child-to-be. The profitable company’s key selling point? It promises to plant one tree for every order it receives – a whopping 300,000 trees planted to date.
With such an interesting business model, we quickly took a look at Paper Culture’s site…and quickly became stumped. Design being the subjective little beast that it is, we tried not to be too judgmental. Yet the more we sifted through the site, the more baffled we became.
The best looking cards we could find were ones made up primarily of a single customer photo – a very difficult design to mess up, really (provided you give a pig’s blanket about the subject of the photo, of course). But the rest…? Were enough people really forking over $1-$3 a piece for these cards? Were there that many people more concerned with eco-cred than aesthetics? We continued to dig further…
And then we saw it.
At the bottom of the page in tiny print was a link titled “Celebrities”. Clicking it revealed an aspect of Paper Culture conspicuously left out of the Business Journal story.
Here we found row upon row of photos of celebrities whom we must infer either purchased or were sent Paper Culture products, some with brief testimonials beneath. It’s truly a mixed bag, from A-listers such as hip-hop star Usher and director Sofia Coppola down a sliding scale including everyone from actress Melissa Joan Hart to Home Improvement star Tim Allen.
Presumably this is the secret to Paper Culture’s success, or at least a small part of it. It’s just a shame that the Business Journal failed to include a few lines about how the company managed to thrust itself into the lucrative celebrity market – heaven knows we’d all appreciate a few pointers on getting our works in front of the people who can actually afford them.
Still, Kudos to Paper Culture for not slapping these endorsements across the top of their home page. The company seems intent on rising or falling based on its merits as a provider of eco-friendly stationery, and for that they have our respect.
Or as actor James Van Der Beek and family appear to have put it: “You have beautiful cards, adorable cards, spunky cards, clover cards. I love them all!”