Following a noble pursuit
JustGreet allows customers to pick a greeting card online that will be mailed with a handwritten message of their composition. (photo by Sophia Hsin)
Vancouver-based JustGreet describes itself as “the cutest greeting card service on the internet.” The company’s model is unique in that it combines the convenience of online services with the meaningfulness of a handwritten and mailed greeting card. Founded just last year, the JustGreet team has already been nominated for a Small Business B.C. Award, being recognized in the best emerging entrepreneur category.
Creative director and Southern California native Lauren Berkman joined the startup after sensing its potential to fill a gap in the $30 billion greeting card industry.
“I really got my initial interest in startup life when I lived in Tel Aviv, Israel, an amazing hub of entrepreneurial ventures,” Berkman told the Independent. “While there, I worked for two tech startups, though after some time returned to the U.S. to work at an advertising agency, and then to Vancouver to complete my MBA at UBC. While at UBC, I completed an internship in market research, the main project of which was focused on JustGreet. While working on this research project, my interest was sparked by the simplicity of the service and the sentimental value greeting cards have held throughout my life.”
While people have come to rely on the ease that technology allows, Berkman said that JustGreet recognized that potential customers wanted something different from what existing online greeting card services were offering.
“The mainstream sentiment nowadays is that online communication is becoming increasingly noisy and impersonal – information fatigue is a mainstream sentiment,” she explained. “We realized that there was a big unaddressed opportunity to provide people and brands with a way to communicate that’s authentic and meaningful.”
Customers simply select a card from an online assortment and type a personalized message, then the JustGreet team takes care of the rest and the lucky recipient receives a handwritten card in their mailbox.
“That is the great thing about JustGreet. We are able to provide the best of both worlds – the convenience of technology in the ability to order a greeting card online but, ultimately, the same product ending up in the hands of the consumer had you gone to the store, picked the card out yourself, handwritten it, bought the stamps and put it in the mailbox,” said Berkman.
What sets JustGreet even further apart from many other companies is its commitment to ensuring its services are ethically and environmentally responsible. Each greeting card is printed on 100% recycled paper. Additionally, Berkman maintains that JustGreet would not exist without the community of independent artists who design the cards.
“Each artist is compensated directly with the sale of each card that features one of his or her designs. It is with this model that we have been able to attract such talented artists. We want to provide a platform in which we can help support our artists’ creative endeavors, and provide a mechanism to share their work with a larger audience. We are always welcoming new artists to the family, and love hearing from new ones who have interacted with our brand and want to get involved.”
As the company grows, JustGreet is working to allow its community of artists to grow as well. “We launched with 10 artists from the Vancouver area but just recently we had three join from the U.S. and one from South America,” said Berkman.
The addition of some artists from outside Vancouver is reflective of the company’s desire to reach customers beyond the city while maintaining a feeling of community.
“Greeting card tastes ultimately transcend borders and cities, so rather than view ourselves as a small local business, we would like to be seen as a community that supports its artists and consistently delights its customers, no matter how big it gets. As JustGreet expands, so does our community, and the variety of designs and inspiration we can offer to that community,” said Berkman.
Therefore, despite its potential for global growth, Berkman promises that JustGreet’s mission will always be “to help families, friends and loved ones stay connected in a way that gives people the personalization and sincerity they deserve.”
JustGreet’s initial local success was reflected in its 2015 Small Business B.C. Awards nomination. “We had only just launched when we were nominated for this award, so the fact that we were on anyone’s radar alone was very exciting,” said Berkman. “It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized amongst some of B.C.’s most promising new companies.”
She added, “In one year, we’d like to be able to say that we’re a fast-growing greeting card and stationery lifestyle brand with global online and wholesale operations. Our goals are pretty simple – create as many happy moments as we can and support the artists in our community. We think it’s a noble pursuit and our team is excited about it.”
Brittni Jacobson is a freelance writer living in Toronto.