So this is a bit off from the usual apparel we feature here, but I came across these epic cards from a friend of mine and couldn’t help but load them up into the site for everyone to see…They definitely have some swagger going on! So perhaps we keep the project open a little to allow for other similarly-vibed items?!
In either case, Stefanie was kind to answer a handful of questions of me so I could learn more about her inspiration and mission for the cards, and hopefully you enjoy her answers as much as I did…
To skip the interview right now and check out the cards, visit StatementCards.com, otherwise enjoy the one-on-one and please pass on the word if it’s something you think is cool!
One-On-One with Stefanie O’Connell Rodriguez:
Founder of Statement Cards
J$: Hi friend! So I gotta admit – when you first told me you’ve created your own line of greeting cards I thought you were joking, haha… But then I checked them out and they were BAD ASS! What got you to go down this path? It’s not everyday someone starts their own card business!
I was in the middle of planning my wedding last year and the experience floored me – the amount of outreach, support and celebration all year long was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. Family and friends asking what I needed, how they could help, etc. It was such a wonderful feeling, but one of the things that really struck me about it was how much more I could have used that support, encouragement and celebration during the more challenging moments of my life – when trying to get my own business off the ground for example.
Obviously my wedding was a major personal milestone and certainly something worth celebrating, but thinking about how it was such a struggle to get people to buy my first book back when it was published when they were happy to send $50 salt and pepper shakers I didn’t really need for my wedding, was something that just struck me as strange, and got me thinking that there should be a way to celebrate and support career and money milestones in the same way we celebrate and support more traditional milestones.
That’s not to say I think we should send expensive gifts or write people checks every time they get a promotion or pay off a credit card, but I do think something as simple as a greeting card can be a powerful way to acknowledge a milestone – like paying off a car or moving out on your own – which can take people years of hard work to accomplish.
And to be honest, if you can throw 5 parties to celebrate your wedding (engagement party, wedding shower, bachelorette, rehearsal dinner, wedding reception), you should certainly be able to have one for something as life changing as paying off your student loans 🙂
J$: I love that you’ve branded them “Statement Cards” too – they def. live up to the name. How has the reception been around the community so far?
I typically use some version of the following to explain what Statement Cards is – ‘With messages like ‘closing the pay gap like a boss’ and ‘you’re not too expensive, they just can’t afford you yet’, we believe financial accomplishments and career milestones are as worthy of celebration as pregnancies and engagements.’
While unsurprisingly, that’s been a message that’s resonated a lot within the personal finance community, it’s also been exciting to see how much it’s resonated more broadly. Especially among women, who are more likely to experience backlash and penalties for expressing and pursuing their own ambitions. So creating a dialogue around this message, even if it’s with something as simple as a greeting card, has been very meaningful and important to me.
J$: Anything that’s surprised you going from ideation to reality? Businesswise or elsewise?
Launching a physical product has been a learning experience to say the least. I was living in a one bedroom in Manhattan with my husband when I got the first round of product printed and delivered to our door. It must’ve been more than 10 boxes, stacked higher than my doorway – needless to say, my husband wasn’t thrilled. I found creative ways to store the inventory around our place, but that meant every time I got an order I’d be digging boxes out from the back of the closet, under the bed and behind the couch – it got to be pretty hectic.
We recently moved out of Manhattan due to coronavirus and my husband’s industry being shut down until at least 2021, so these big boxes of inventory are a major consideration while we’re figuring out our next moves. No #vanlife happening here!
The other thing to note from a business perspective is that the up front cost of a relatively cheap product like a greeting card can be quite high, especially if you’re prioritizing certain things like collaborating with top notch designers (shout out to Lauren Ver Hage), printing in the US, Trademarking, etc. Each card requires over a thousand dollars worth of up front investment. So you have to sell a pretty high volume of cards before you break even.
I have a ton of card ideas I’d like to offer and I get specific requests all of the time, but I’ve really worked hard to stay focused on my existing offerings and approach next steps strategically so I don’t overextend myself.
J$: What’s your favorite card out of the batch?
It’s impossible to pick! The most popular card says ‘you’re not too expensive, they just can’t afford you yet’, which I think resonates with people for obvious reasons – especially in the freelance/solopreneur space. (Shout out to my girl Erin Lowry/Broke Millennial for the brainstorm sesh that led to that gem).
Though one of my personal favorites is the card that congratulates people on getting their own place – whether it’s purchasing their own home or just moving out on their own.
I was brainstorming how to say ‘congrats on getting your own place’ in a way that was unique and fun with some of my fellow finance writer friends. And I think it was the great Kristin Wong who said, ‘Well, what’s something that you do when you’re at home alone?’ So we started coming up with a list of things – mine was belting out Broadway karaoke, I think someone else said eating a tub of ice cream, binge-watching Real Housewives came up too – but we ultimately settled on dancing around naked in your living room. And Lauren Ver Hage came up with this really fun graphic for the front cover of the card that says ‘get ready to dance naked around your living room….’ And when you open it up it says, ‘congrats on getting your own place’.
J$: Anything we can do to help spread the word or help you reach your goals faster?
If you like the cards, please share them with the people you love. More than just getting the cards out into the world, getting the message out behind them of expanding the kinds of milestones we celebrate is a new mission of mine. So even if it’s just liking and sharing our instagram page – it goes a long way!
It’s my core belief that when you create ways of celebrating certain milestones, you also create a dialogue and support system around achieving them. I come back to the example of my wedding. It wasn’t just the day I got married that people showed up to support me, it was the whole year of planning and people asking how they could help through the process that was so powerful. Imagine if you could have that same system of support while working to become debt free or while saving up for a down payment?
I think that celebration can serve as a powerful tool and entry point to a far more substantive system of support.
J$: Any sneak peek into the next collection or future products? 🙂
We’re shooting to get some new cards launched this Fall! Two of the big themes we’re focusing on are higher education and investing milestones. Stay tuned 🙂
J$: If you could get ANYONE in the world to stop by and pick up a Statement Card from you, who would it be?
Another impossible question! Probably Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
J$: Where can people learn more about you and your other projects?
You can check out Statement Cards on our site and instagram. But like you J, I’m always shifting into new projects and media. I’m probably best at sharing and keeping up to date with all of it on my own website and instagram account: stefanieoconnell.com / @stefanieoconnell