I recently discovered Greetings That Grow™ when I was searching for eco-friendly givewaways for a green trade show where I was exhibiting. Their handmade plantable organic wildflower seed gift tags, customized with my company name and planting instructions, proved to be a big hit with my green-minded customers. I was interested in learning more about the story behind this wonderful company and sharing it with you. So, the following is an an interview with Anna, owner of Greetings That Grow™.
Please tell me about Greetings That Grow. When/why did you start your business?
I came up with the idea for Greetings that Grow™ in the spring of 2008, but actually became a licensed business in January 2009. I started the business because I wanted to offer unique cards that were not only eco friendly, but useful as well.
What are some of the challenges you faced when you initially started your business and how did you overcome them?
How and where to market my cards because I was the first to make plantable photo cards, so there was no “market” established yet for them. I have found twitter to be a very useful outlet, both for networking and for learning about marketing through facebook, blogging, etc.
In the very early stages of development, I had to come up with my own technique for making my paper, embedding my seeds, etc. I had to find a great lab to develop my prints (I have used iprintfromhome.com exclusively for the past year). I had to do a lot of research to find seeds that were hardy and versatile enough to grow all over the world.
Hard work, patience, and an open mind have been key for me. My husband and I have teamed up to brainstorm, revise, and refine. We weekly go through my shop and think up ways to better items, new item and picture ideas, etc. There is no such thing as perfection, so we are always striving to better our products–both in quality and selection.
How did you get started in your chosen craft?
I have loved photography and writing since I was a child, and it has been a dream of mine to someday make my own line of greeting cards. When I stumbled upon plantable paper in an Etsy shop in the spring of 2008, I fell in love with it. I had already lost my love for the typical Hallmark (buy and trash) cards in the past year or so, having become much more eco conscious, so it seemed natural for me to come up with an original way to turn plantable paper into cards. I researched a lot and found that no one had made plantable cards with removable photographs, so I started making them.
What’s your greatest success so far as an entrepreneur?
I have been blessed with many successes (in my mind at least!), but I think the thing that has most excited me would be selling internationally. I love that my products are being shipped and grown all over the world.
What are some the eco-friendly practices you incorporate in your business/products?
I am very big (in all aspects of my life) on being eco friendly–my husband calls it obsessed, lol! Business wise, I use only 100% post consumer papers to shred up into my pulps. All of my wildflower seeds are 100% organic and by January 2010, all the rest of my seeds will be as well. I make all my paper by hand and press it that way as well. All my paper is naturally air dried, so no energy is used for that. Most of my tools were upcycled from items my husband and father in law found in our Grandpa’s garage after he passed away. He kept everything and was always finding a use for spare parts. My husband and his dad took these spare (seemingly useless) items and turned them into one of a kind tools for my business.
I use natural items like pine cones and sand and such for props and backgrounds for all my pictures. I take my paper scraps and shred them into confetti that can be planted and used as eco friendly packaging. Anything I cannot sell in my shop, I plant in my garden or give to someone to plant. We recently had planting instructions designed by bearcengic.etsy.com that are printed on 100% post consumer paper with soy ink. Our new business cards are printed by them also, and as such, are just as eco friendly. We now are using clear biodegradable, compostable bags for our cards and confetti that are made from plants. We are adding new lines of cards that will have paper inserts made from 100% (acid and lignin free) cotton, so that basically our entire card, including its packaging and plantable envelope, but minus the photograph print, can now be planted!
What resource have you found most valuable in running your business?
My husband (who is very good with scheduling and the practical end of business) and Twitter.
What is your favorite product that you make?
My cards obviously because they are my own original creation and I am very proud of that. I used to make favors and business cards and such, but made the decision recently to get rid of those items so I could focus solely on my cards.
We are launching new lines of greeting cards that will have (biodegradable) paper inserts with customizable printed phrases/sayings (like Merry Christmas) and poems. We are looking into the possibility of adding personalized memorial poems as well. I have been writing since I was a young girl, so adding poems to cards seems like another great way for me to incorporate another of my passions into my business. I have also been taking lots of new pictures to add to my selection of prints for cards.