This being June and all, between school graduations, Father’s Day, birthdays and folk just generally being in their usual frame of mind to send someone a kind or pleasant sentiment, card shops are making a killing. One kind of customer, however, never seems to find quite the same selection as most consumers.
The blank greeting cards section characteristically is the smallest and, accordingly, offers the least variety. That’s fine for shoppers who want to simply grab
something quick that says something nice and be on about their day. But what about those who want to give their own message to friends, family and other loved ones?
Cards By Beverly (cardsbybeverlyavmn.com) widens the selection range with a handsome line of stationery note cards. It’s a collection of more than 200 abstract images, drawings and paintings that readily catch the eye and easily hold one’s attention. Owner-principal-designer Beverly Franklin created the product line from an interesting combination of inspiration, capability and experience.
She has put in the requisite grunt work, doing retail in high school and college at, among other prestigious Twin Cities outfits, Dayton’s Department Store, now Macy’s. From there, she moved on from a University of Minnesota B.S. to earn an M.B.S. at the University of St. Thomas. She entered the workplace in a field one hardly associates with marketing creativity.
Franklin spent most of a long career specializing in human resources at, among other institutions, Fairview University Medical Center, accepting staff positions before doing private consulting. It made the donuts. At length, she decided she was done punching a time clock.
Leaving the workforce after 2009 not yet ready to hang it up, Beverly Franklin found herself restless, looking for a way to set both her energy and creativity to good purpose. “[I] hated being retired with nothing to do.”
Franklin recalls that even before pulling the proverbial pin, a bug was there. In human resource management, responsible to recruit top-flight personnel from across the U.S., she’d find herself, during moments of downtime, “defacing work papers — drawing in the margins.”
Once she had time on her hands, she started to make constructive use of fanciful doodlings. She’d sit with drawing pencil, pen and cardstock to dash off a note. “People would call back and ask, ‘Well, where did you get that card?’ [They] liked them.” Franklin, sitting in a South Minneapolis coffee shop, reflects, “It’s really a great feeling to create a product that people like.”
It called for pavement pounding and cold-calling. “Initially, I went to crafts and art shows and began participating in that.” This was through researching at FestivalNet.com. Reception at such events as Woodbury Arts & Crafts Show at International Market Square was encouraging, fueling the fire.
After which, on confirming public interest, Franklin strategically set about the business of further taking care of business. She looked around at available resources and availed herself of every market’s fastest path to growth, the best way to get a leg up, establishing an Internet presence.
It has worked out well. As an entrepreneur, Franklin matter-of-factly states, “[It’s] direct sales. You have to let people know you’re out there — what you have to offer.” Mining a highly marketable niche, filling a hole the industry pretty much leaves open, Cards By Beverly has something rewarding to offer.
“A lot of times, people will look at cards and see it as one facet of what you can do with it.” In the course of networking, that quintessential ingredient in successful merchandising, Franklin visited Sister Spokesman, MSR’s monthly meet-and-greet for female Black professionals. Of this she says, “I like how comfortable Sister Spokesman is as a forum for women of color. I love seeing ladies come together, relax, and share great information and have fun.”
This is the company’s third increasingly successful year. Each annum has shown such strong signs of life that Franklin now has an eye out to expand and include as more arrows in the Cards By Beverly’s quiver such items as first-run, collectible posters and clothing designs as well as acrylics.
From here, Beverly Franklin looks to expand on a lucrative local base to go national with a mapped-out idea of how to accomplish that considerable objective. “You have to first be successful locally and make sure that all parts work.” By this, she refers to infrastructure, the concrete foundation on which one sustains a viable, perceptibly profitable business plan.
For the coming fiscal year, she’s putting in place a process by which the company is able to handle greater volume on short notice. This will have her in solid standing as a provider to national clearinghouse CardSmart Inc., a direct pipeline to fairs, online venues, and, importantly, retail stores.
Convenient as it is to shop from home, card-buying consumers haven’t, by a long shot, forsaken the option of browsing through aisles when out and about. Cards By Beverly, a smart boutique business born of necessity, is poised to advantageously position a highly marketable product.
For more information, call toll free 866-380-2643 or email [email protected]
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.