Kelli Britten has always loved greeting cards, as proven by the numerous boxes full of them in her office. The assistant professor of practice in advertising at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln loves how personal cards are and enjoys sending them to friends and loved ones even for the most mundane reasons.
She has recently cut down on her card sending, but that has nothing to do with any decrease in her passion for greeting cards. Instead, she’s too busy writing, designing and printing cards for her own self-run greeting card company, Bright Spots Paper.
“For a long time, I used to be the person who would send, like, 10 cards a week to people because they did something cool,” Britten said. “I just feel strongly that matters more than a text message or even a phone call.”
Britten launched Bright Spots Paper last year, and it acts as the creative outlet for her self-described greeting card obsession. Before teaching at UNL, she worked in marketing at IAC Acoustics and Pickering Creative Group and said she missed the creative elements of marketing. Last summer, she talked to friends and colleagues and met with letterpress printers to figure out how she could turn her passion into a profitable company.
“It was really a lot of trial and error,” she said. “I’m really bad at product photography, so that’s been an interesting adventure. But with the rest of it, I’ve enjoyed fulfilling all the orders, printing, foiling and packaging all of the cards and distributing them.”
Britten’s cards, as both she and Bright Spots’ website describe them, are handmade with laughter. The cards are based strictly in text and typography, with each cover featuring colorful designs of Britten’s amusing sayings and sentiments.
“The words in cards are what make the sentiment to me, and that really is highlighted in the colors and fonts, which are very bold and reflective of my personality,” she said. “A little piece of me lives in my cards.”
Each card contains a fairly simple message, some funny and vulgar, but others sweet and sentimental. From “Oh Golly. You’re Just the Sweetest,” to “HBD Bitchbag,” Britten’s cards have a dry tone that is different from the typical Hallmark offering.
Britten started Bright Spots to create cards that present unique, versatile messages that can be used for just about any occasion. She has cards that are centered around certain holidays and achievements, but also ones that can be tailored to fit general everyday celebrations.
“I feel very strongly about celebrating the everyday, and that we shouldn’t save cards for just birthdays, babies and burials,” she said. “We should be celebrating people just because of who they are, so that has been the core of what I believe this company is.”
Using her advertising background, Britten has focused a lot of her time on promoting and distributing her cards. Aside from the website, she has created Facebook and Instagram accounts for the company. Her cards are also featured at Omaha retailers Hutch and Made in Omaha. Britten said those connections came about through some of her students who worked at the stores and saw Instagram posts of her products on her personal account..
While social media marketing is crucial to growing her company’s brand, Britten said one of the best ways for her to promote her cards is to attend local craft fairs.
“It really helps to have people see and hold them in person,” she said. “When somebody comes to a craft fair, and doesn’t necessarily even buy one but is just standing there laughing, that’s a huge source of satisfaction for me.”
Britten is cognizant of how her products are merchandised, as she focuses on making them stand out at the fairs. She said the best compliment she’s received is that people have thought she works for a multi-level marketing company. Even at her very first show, she said people assumed she was just the distributor of the cards based on how professional they looked.
According to Britten, the company’s main purpose is to bring joy and laughter to customers and those they send the cards to. She said she thinks it's important to surprise friends and loved ones with something unexpected that will make their day and briefly distract them from daily stresses.
“I want people to think that somebody cares about them enough to take the time to send something just specifically for them,” she said. “The biggest thing is just conveying smiles and laughter and making someone's day brighter.”