Dorcas Siwoku was on the hunt for the perfect card. She scanned up and down the rows on rows of smiling faces, cartoons and stock images—and that’s when it hit her.
“I just realized that there weren’t cards that had people that look like me on it and how impactful that would be if I received something like that,” she says. “I was like: Why don’t these exist?”
Only a few weeks prior to Siwoku’s search, Oana Romaniuc had a similar experience while trying to find a wedding card for her friends. It was only after she bought a card that she realized the smiling husband and wife on the front were both white, yet the couple she was congratulating was not. In that instance, Romaniuc realized what was missing from the average Hallmark rack.
“I was like, how have I never noticed this before?” says Romaniuc. Luckily, Romaniuc’s sister, Monica, also worked with Siwoku and thanks to a combination of timing, shared experience and creativity, this trio of badass women decided that if the greeting card aisle was lacking in representation, it was up to them to get crafty.
Oana, Monica and Siwoku teamed up to create , notes that go beyond the typical stock images and messaging. Using original art by Oana, these notes showcase women of all shades, getting married, going out with their girlfriends and just straight up living their best lives. It’s “a women’s movement in the form of cards,” says Oana.
The Toronto-based trio launched their first collection of 10 cards last September, and with it, not only a broader representation of people, but also a more diverse range of experiences.
“On top of the idea of physical presentation, we also thought about events and milestones in our own lives and our friends lives that we never get cards for,” says Monica.“There’s so many moments in our lives that are not traditionally moments that you would celebrate, but we want to empower those moments and make them a celebration.”
For instance, as a woman in her 30s, Monica deals with all the typical BS of people asking about her relationship status—but while there are engagement and wedding cards, there are no notes to celebrate being single. “Just as being in relationship is a great stage in your life, being single can be a great stage in your life,” she says, pointing to one of the brand’s which reads: Being single is like being in a relationship, but with granny panties. “Let’s celebrate every stage, not just some of them,” she says.
And these ladies are keeping that celebration going throughout February. To: Her’s recently released Valentine’s Day collection features cards for everyone in your squad, from your friend who comes with to the who is celebrating solo.
In the few months that their cards have been available online and showcased at local fairs, the To: Her creators say that they have seen their products spark a community and conversations. Seeing the images, customers often end up telling the trio about a particular experience or friend who is perfectly represented by the image on the note.
“The reception has been over and above what we thought it would be. I think when you have an idea you’re often excited about it because it’s your idea, but when you see people relating to the images and the messaging and talking about how it’s already impacted them, it feels like we’re doing something right here,” says Siwoku.
And hearing people’s reactions and discussions just sparks more possibilities for To: Her. “We have such a big pool of ideas to choose from, it’s like we can’t put them out fast enough,” says Oana.
One year after giving her friends a wedding card that wasn’t quite a fit, Oana made them an anniversary card herself. When her friend opened the envelope, she was overwhelmed by the image on the front that looked just like her and her husband. She said it was the most thoughtful card she had received. It was the perfect happily ever after for the couple, but for Oana, Monica and Siwoku, creating representative cards like that turned out to be just the beginning.
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