57.4 F
San Diego
Tuesday, Apr 23, 2024

Greetings for the Ages

SMALL BUSINESS: Local Card Sellers Combat Aging Stereotypes

After she suffered two miscarriages and a complicated pregnancy that put her in the hospital for more than a month, San Diegan Kate Woolley observed that greeting cards made by the major card companies just weren’t able to convey the sentiments she was feeling.

Kate Woolley
The Noble Paperie

“I noticed at the time there were no cards specific to pregnancy loss, infertility, neonatal intensive care unit stays and complicated pregnancies,” Woolley said.

So in 2016, Woolley started her own greeting card company, giving the gift of art therapy to help herself heal while providing support to the bereaved, empathy for underserved communities and “joy delivered, one card at a time,” she said.

The San Carlos area resident currently has a line of 65 cards, plus stickers, sun catchers and pinback buttons dedicated to challenges on the road to and through motherhood, and other important life markers. Woolley also sells cards about parenthood, love and friendship and encouraging LGBTQIA+ positivity, and sells all the products from her website The Noble Paperie (thenoblepaperie.com) as well as on Etsy.

Now Woolley has also been tabbed along with other local small business owners – including Carlsbad artist Karen Kennedy – to create age-positive birthday cards as part of Changing the Narrative’s 2023 anti-ageist campaign.

Changing the Narrative (changingthenarrativeco.org) is a U.S.-based initiative changing the way people think, talk and act about aging and ageism through evidence-based strategies, strategic communications and innovative public campaigns. It is part of a campaign of NextFifty Initiative, a Colorado-based private foundation that supports efforts to improve the lives of older adults and their caregivers.

Karen Kennedy
and the moon will rise

Kennedy’s greeting card company, and the moon will rise (andthemoonwillrise.com), launched in late 2019 while she took a break from working in landscape architecture and construction. She initially started with a line of sympathy cards.

“I got to the point where I was unable to find cards that really represented what I wanted to say to other people, so I started designing my own,” she said. “Most of the available cards were too sappy or impersonal. I was able to be more honest and authentic. That sympathy card line started a whole brand about inspiring joyful connections.”

Changing the Narrative first launched its greeting card campaign in 2020, looking for art that would counter the negative narrative surrounding getting older.

“Our goal at Changing the Narrative is to not only raise awareness and understanding of ageism but also to make a real-world difference,” said Janine Vanderburg, founder and director of Changing the Narrative. “We want to change the messages we hear in our workplaces, in our doctors’ offices and in our everyday lives; and we want to change the stories we tell about ourselves as we age. When I see people wishing ‘Happy Birthday’ messages that make us smile or laugh in celebration of aging, I know we are succeeding.”

A recent survey found that 93% of older adults in the U.S. experience ageism, and research conducted by the Yale School of Public Health shows that having negative beliefs about aging affects our physical and mental health, increases the likelihood of developing dementia and decreases life span.

Changing the Narrative in 2022 invited experienced artists to make birthday cards that are positive and uplifting, celebrating and honoring the joys of aging. Cards by Woolley and Kennedy as well as eight other artists were selected from hundreds of designers around the country for 2023.

“It’s a no-brainer for me about Changing the Narrative because it’s all about celebrating people for exactly who they are,” said Kennedy, 46. “Cards make us laugh, cry, feel, they let us be seen, be heard and be loved. Cards I think can be really powerful.”

Sympathy and birthday cards may seem like remnants from a bygone era but Woolley said greeting cards in 2023 are a $6.8 billion industry – up from $6.5 billion in 2020.


Featured Articles


Related Articles