Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Dionne Mahaffey.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My professional background is pretty eclectic. I am a business psychologist who also coaches startup companies. I started my career as a computer programmer and then evolved into executive management and entrepreneurship. I also freelance as a journalist from time to time. I’ve launched several startups myself over the last two decades.
Has it been a smooth road?
In general, entrepreneurship is both hard and rewarding. Launching a business is easier than maintaining it. The grind and focus required for entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. It requires discipline, focus and consistency. In my journey, I’ve had both successes and failures. I consider the failures as wins too because I always look for the lesson in my mistakes. I learn and keep moving.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Culture Greetings story. Tell us more about the business.
I own several brands. I’ve been in business for myself for 24 years. Currently, I have an organizational psychology and business coaching practice. I own a staffing agency and several eCommerce brands. I have a couple of mobile apps on the market too. I’ve also closed a few businesses through the years including a real-estate investment firm, marketing and PR agency and a tech-driven concierge solution that was licensed by the National Football League (NFL) for three years.
I’m really proud of one of my latest ventures, Culture Greetings, a black greeting card company. What’s unique is that we use technology to send out the card on your behalf. On the site, culturegreetings.com, customers can pick a culturally relevant physical greeting card and write a personal note inside using handwriting fonts that mirror real penmanship. Through automation, we print, stuff, stamp and mail the cards directly to your recipient, from you. We also have a wide variety of gift cards that you can include inside of the greeting card (Amazon, Target and more). It’s a complete gift solution and it saves you a trip to the store. This happens at a real printing press that I own in Provo, Utah. It’s fully staffed and has state of the art equipment.
The idea came to me almost six years ago. I was too busy to do it and would put it in the back of my mind. Last year, in 2018, the idea overwhelmed me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and forced myself to make time to do it.
I sat down and started the software development myself. It took me six months to go from requirements to architecting the solution, to programming to integration and then implementation. Every aspect creating the platform and getting it ready for market fell solely on my shoulders and then I launched it just shy of the Thanksgiving holiday last year.
The cards feature original designs by me, as well as art from renowned Black and Latino artists like Steve Allen, whose work is in the permanent collection of the National Museum of African American History and Culture; Jesse Raudeles, an official artist of the Olympics and Abu Mwenye, a Tanzanian artist and award-winning cartoonist, Quinn McGowan, among others. “Currently, there are nine card artists in our collective and I am always looking for more designs to feature on greeting cards.”
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
According to the Washington, DC, based Greeting Card Association (GCA), Americans purchase approximately 6.5 billion greeting cards each year. Although most people now acknowledge many more birthdays than ever before because of Facebook, they aren’t necessarily sending fewer cards as a result. Annual retail sales of greeting cards are estimated between $7 and $8 billion. The most popular Everyday card-sending occasion by far is Birthday, followed by a number of secondary occasions that include Sympathy, Thank You, Wedding, Thinking of You, Get Well, New Baby and Congratulations. Women purchase an estimated 80% of all greeting cards. Women spend more time choosing a card than men and are more likely to buy several cards at once.
A recent study by the National Retail Federation found that millennials are also sending more greeting cards. Younger card buyers and those who are more technology savvy are currently the ones most engaged in buying paper greeting cards online.
- Cards start at $3.99 (postage is included).
- Website: https://culturegreetings.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Headshot credit: J. Braxton Photography; Card Mockups courtesy of CultureGreetings.com; Photography of Steve Alen’s card: J. Braxton Photography