A Quick Chat With Greeting Card Publishers Nene Adams & Corrie Kuipers
In today’s ‘Behind the Design’ interview we caught up with Nene Adams, a novelist hailing from Miami, Florida and her partner, Corrie Kuipers, a Dutch artist (Corrie is on the left, Nene on the right). The pair are currently live in the Netherlands where they design and sell greetings cards. Here’s a closer look at their card business.
Tell us a little about yourself and your company?
Corrie and I have lived together for 16 years, ever since I moved here from the USA. In 2007, we founded an on-line greeting card business in partnership with Greeting Card Universe. We have a flourishing business making and selling greeting cards world-wide for most occasions and holidays in many languages plus specialty greeting cards for niche markets not really addressed by mainstream card publishers. One of our most popular lines is encouragement cards specifically for cancer patients – adults and children – and their families, a subject near and dear to our hearts since Corrie’s lost several relatives to the disease.
Describe your typical working day …
I basically sit behind the computer most of the day working on my latest novel project when I’m not brainstorming card ideas with Corrie or using my writing skill on greeting cards. I don’t find it difficult to turn my creativity from fiction to card verses. In fact, I like the challenge.
What is the best thing about your job?
I really enjoy coming up with card verses that resonate with people. Corrie’s own art style and other graphic illustrations lend themselves well to greeting cards, making her work and mine a perfect partnership.
Do you use any specialist techniques?
When we first started our store, Corrie had to do everything with paper and paint. We struggled to get the scanner to render the colors true without a lot of success. The Wacom tablet she draws on now, letting her put her work directly into a graphics editing program, was a life saver.
What would you like to do next with the business?
We’re continuing to seek out new niches and make cards to address needs not covered by mainstream greeting card publishers. Corrie’s playing with a new kawaii – Japanese for cute – artistic style that’s very sweet.
What tip would you give to someone starting a business?
If you’re getting into greeting cards, just remember this: the image on the front attracts the eye, but the verse inside attracts the heart. People want cards that touch them in some way.
Your Products …
What is your personal favourite product in your collection?
Several years ago, after Corrie’s mother died unexpectedly from pancreatic cancer, I got curious and looked around for greeting cards made to send to cancer patients. I didn’t think “get well” struck the right chord. I found very little, which shocked me. There must be a need, I thought, so Corrie and I designed a handful of cards created especially for the purpose. After reading the personal stories of cancer patients and talking to some survivors, who thought it was a great idea, we chose to keep the verses supportive, encouraging, and from the heart – like a virtual hug you send through the mail to someone you love to brighten their day a little when they’re feeling low or having a tough time with chemo or radiation treatment. The artwork is colorful and bright. For children, we mostly use humorous animal illustrations and keep the verses positive. The cards began to sell at once. We make new designs pretty frequently, both for adults and kids.
One of our earliest cancer card designs is ‘Nothing Is Impossible to a Willing Heart – Encouragement for Cancer Patient’ and it’s still our #1 seller. I love the message and the cheerful yellow colour with accents in sage green and red. The design of cascading flowers and stylised birds was mine – I can’t draw, but I occasionally have a decent eye and Corrie helped.
The second best-selling card is ‘You Can Do It’ for paediatric cancer patients: one of Corrie’s signature funny black-and-white cows holding a bullhorn. Another very popular card.
Are you working on any new products at the moment?
Following a severe illness, I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes in 2010. This year, it suddenly struck me that I’d never seen cards specifically for diabetic adults and children. After all, diabetes isn’t something you just get over. For most people, diabetes means lifestyle changes, daily blood glucose pricks, medicine, good days and bad days. I wanted to address this lack. Along with a couple of other GCU artists – Doreen Erhardt and Betsy Bush – we’ve started a new line of cards for kids, older teens and adults with diabetes. I’ve recently begun a blog with tips and greeting card suggestions for diabetic children.
What products do you want to introduce in the next year?
We’re looking forward to creating new cards and coming up with new design styles. Lots of funny word play and cute illustrations are in our future (our idea book is crammed full). Our strength lies in our ability to make cards to fulfil needs that are not being met yet.
Your Inspiration …
What inspired you to start your business?
When the global economy tanked a few years ago, Corrie’s artwork stopped selling. She’d been mainly a painter and we were getting by. But months passed without any sales although she worked hard putting together shows at galleries, our money dwindled, and we got to the point where we had no food and couldn’t pay the rent. That’s when we discovered Greeting Card Universe and started designing cards. We haven’t looked back since.
What inspires your products?
Unsurprisingly, for Corrie, it’s visual. She sees images that inspire her to draw. For me, I’m drawn to words. We put the two together in our cards.
Thank you Nene & Corrie!
To see more from Nene and Corrie please visit their webshop on Greeting Card Universe.