If you told me when I was 12 that one day I would be married to another woman and making a living selling greeting cards, I would have given you a “pssht” of disbelief. But I am glad to report that today in 2019, not only am I happily married to someone of the same sex, but also, making greeting cards with my wife is a perfectly respectable way to put food on the table.
I met my future wife, best friend and collaborator Morgan Calderini while working at an arts nonprofit in Rhode Island. We shared a similar passion for creating interesting work that made a difference in the world. As a designer and a printmaker, we began collaborating on different projects shortly after we met, but in 2011, our neon-inked and letterpress-printed, poster-sized wedding invitation went viral and launched us into the spotlight. We quit our nonprofit jobs, rescued a rusty letterpress out of the back of an abandoned shipping container and threw together a website. With little more than a credit card and a recent gay wedding under our belts, we started Ladyfingers Letterpress.
The wedding invitation that launched Ladyfingers Letterpress.
During the honeymoon of launching our business, we noticed a deficit in queer-friendly products on the market. As LGBTQ+ authors, designers and makers with a rapidly growing online following, we felt empowered to make work that would fill a niche. By using Google My Business we were able to attract more retailers, business contacts and customers with our online reviews, photos and maps. We also frequently updated our website with our most recent work and engaged with our customers. Our online traffic grew to account for half of our business.
In 2014, we relocated to Morgan’s hometown of Colorado Springs to be near her family after a wildfire destroyed their home. We struggled to find our place there, but soon discovered the importance of offering a safe space while staying true to our voice no matter where we were. We opened our flagship store in the heart of downtown, where we also host hand-lettering workshops and offer a wide variety of boutique stationery items and locally-made gifts.
From this post we operate our letterpress and design headquarters, and can personally interact with our customers as they see the presses running and witness our products being made. We added the “LGBTQ-friendly” attribute to our Google My Business listing to let customers know they’re always welcome. It’s especially important for people who navigate their day according to where spaces are safe and not safe.
We believe that you don't have to be a large company to make a big impact. We take pride in making things by hand, locally, and sustainably. Some of the greatest successes we’ve experienced are the hugs from teary-eyed people who were touched by our work. If you would have asked 12-year-old me to define success, I probably wouldn’t have measured it by how much I make other people cry, but today, it seems perfectly applicable.