My family has always been big on cards. My dad in particular has never passed a card aisle he didn’t spend 30 minutes combing through, regardless of whether or not he had a special occasion coming up. In fact, for three years in a row I received the same birthday card from him because no matter how many times he went in search of one to beat it, he couldn’t find anything that came close.
So yes, cards are a big deal in my family. But for the most part, we are the exception. Most people still give birthday cards if they’re going to a party, but how often do you send a friend a “just because” card? How often do you mail a Christmas card to an aunt in addition to a call? Not very often.
But I, personally, would really like to see that change. And someone who is doing her best to make that happen is none other than Babble writer and award-winning newspaper columnist Meredith Carroll who just debuted her new line of cards called Special ODDcasions.
I spoke with Carroll about her new business venture, and she explained to me why her cards — written with her own special brand of humor and sarcasm — are so special, as well as how the idea came together and what she hopes the future will hold for the new company.
According to Carroll, “Special ODDcasions is for all the moments in life missed by Hallmark; they’re for milestones more twisted than traditional.” She’s not kidding. From going bald to coming out, plastic surgery to vasectomies … it’s all fair game (and prime material for a laugh). But be warned, these are more for your husband/best friend/whacky Aunt Mary than your nana. As in, they must be read by an audience with a sense of humor who really gets you.
“To know that someone really sees you when the going gets rough can be tragic, or it can be comic. I’d prefer the latter. These are definitely not cards for anyone who’s easily offended, but that’s never been me. There’s something deeply gratifying about having people in your life who really get you, and can get you to laugh at yourself.”
Carroll, a mom of two based out of Aspen, Colorado says she has “always been a big card-sender.” Earlier this year, she had a moment of realization when she looked at the calendar and realized it was exactly a year to the date that she had her breast implant surgery following a bi-lateral mastectomy.
“I texted a friend and said, ‘Happy boob day to me.’ She wrote back, and said, ‘There should be a card for that,'” Carroll told me.
And now there is.
Once she started writing, the words flowed. But beyond the writing, there’s a lot that goes into putting together a card company — from illustrations to establishing a website and social presence to finding retailers. As a one-woman show, Carroll knew she had to take it “one step at a time.”
For her illustrations, she realized she didn’t need to hire a designer. Instead, she kept it “very simple, clean and elegant so that the shock of the words would sufficiently juxtapose the design.”
Carroll looked to friends to give her honest feedback and advice on everything from business licenses and LLCs to her website design and early drafts of the cards themselves.
Currently, the cards are being sold online through her website and in stores in and near Aspen, Colorado. She’s also in talks with greeting cards sales representatives to reach a larger audience, and will hopefully one day be in a grocery store aisle near you.
“I’d love the cards to reach a wide audience — there are people who don’t realize they have a better sense of humor than they do, or they do realize it but are scared to try it out. If we’re learning anything from the popularity of writers like Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham, it’s that irreverent humor can be more mainstream than backroom.”
If there’s anything I know for sure, it’s that there’s always room for more laughs in the world — especially when they come in such unexpected packages.More On