A lot of you commented on how much you loved those Statement Cards we gave away the other week, so I thought I’d dig up an interview I did with the founder of the cards, Stefanie O’Connell Rodriguez, to shed more light on the backstory.
It’s been a couple of years since we first published it, so we revisited and updated it for your viewing pleasure today, and really hope you get as inspired as I did when I first came across them :) A fantastic idea, and one that’s very much needed in our community – and the world for that matter!
Big congrats to Stefanie for all her success with them so far, and if you like what they’re about please do pass it around to help her continue to get the word out 🙏🙏
Now to the Q&A!
Hi friend! So I gotta admit – when you first told me you’ve created your own line of greeting cards I thought you were joking, haha… But then I checked them out and they were BAD ASS! What got you to go down this path? It’s not everyday someone starts their own card business!
Back in 2019, while planning my wedding, I was totally shocked and overwhelmed (in a good way) by the amount of outreach, support and celebration that came with the year-long experience of my engagement. I was 33-years old at the time and had never felt anything like it – the sheer scale of generosity from family and friends (even relative strangers) asking what I needed, how they could help, etc. It was wonderful.
But it struck me that my wedding was what instigated all of it, and I couldn’t help but think about how meaningful it would have been to have just some of that support, encouragement and celebration while working toward other milestones – when getting my business off the ground for example.
It got me thinking about how support and celebration is still relegated to these very traditional milestones that not everyone has or even wants, and what it would mean to expand what we celebrate to include career and money milestones as well.
That’s how I came up with the idea of greeting cards. Because expanding what we celebrate is not necessarily about sending expensive gifts or writing people checks, it’s about saying, I see you, I support you and I want to acknowledge your milestones – whether it’s starting your own business or moving out on your own – which can take years of hard work to accomplish.
And to be honest, if you can throw 5 parties to celebrate your wedding (engagement party, wedding shower, bachelorette, rehearsal dinner, wedding reception), you should certainly be able to have one for something as life changing as paying off your student loans 🙂
I love that you’ve branded them “Statement Cards” too – they def. live up to the name. How has the reception been around the community so far?
I typically use some version of the following to explain the Statement Cards mission – ‘ We believe financial accomplishments and career milestones are as worthy of celebration as pregnancies and engagements.’
While unsurprisingly, that’s been a message that’s resonated a lot within the personal finance community, it’s also been exciting to see how much it’s resonated more broadly. Especially among women, who are more likely to experience backlash and penalties for expressing and pursuing their own ambitions.
In the past year, we also launched a newsletter called “Too Ambitious” to talk more about these milestones, what it takes to achieve them, and to share the first hand accounts of those on the journey, including some of the roadblocks they’ve faced along the way.
In fact, we have a whole series called ambition diaries full of some truly shocking first-hand accounts of backlash readers have experienced as a result of their ambitions – for example, having a job offer rescinded after asking for a raise. Every time I hear a story of backlash and bias, (which is a lot), it reaffirms to me the importance of our mission, to celebrate and support ambition, whether it’s starting a business, asking for a raise or getting your own place.
Have you received any backlash from the cards or Too Ambitious so far?
Hahahah, of course. My mission is for everyone across race, class and gender identity to feel entitled to their ambitions and supported in pursuit of them. That is a direct threat to the status quo (more on that here). But as I like to say, it’s a status quo that needs to be threatened.
Anything that’s surprised you going from concept to reality? Businesswise or elsewise?
Launching a physical product has been a learning experience to say the least. I live in a one bedroom apartment with my husband, and when I got the first round of products printed and delivered to our door, the ten boxes were stacked higher than our doorway.
I’ve had to find creative ways to store the inventory around our place, but that means every time I get an order I’m digging boxes out from the back of the closet, under the bed and behind the couch. Over time, the system has become slightly more optimized, but three years in, I’m still a long way from “figuring it out”.
The other thing to note from a business perspective, is that the up front cost of a relatively cheap product like a greeting card can be quite high, especially if you’re prioritizing certain things like collaborating with top notch designers (shout out to designer Lauren Ver Hage), printing in the US, Trademarking, etc. Each card requires over a thousand dollars worth of up front investment. So you have to sell a pretty high volume of cards before you break even.
I have a ton of card ideas I’d like to offer, and I get specific requests all of the time, but I’ve really worked hard to stay focused on my existing offerings and approach next steps strategically so I don’t overextend myself.
What’s your favorite card out of the batch?
It’s impossible to pick! The most popular card says ‘you’re not too expensive, they just can’t afford you yet’, which I think resonates with people for obvious reasons – especially in the freelance/solopreneur space. (Shout out to my girl Erin Lowry/Broke Millennial for the brainstorm sesh that led to that gem).
Though one of my personal favorites is the card that congratulates people on getting their own place – whether it’s purchasing their own home or just moving out on their own.
I was brainstorming how to say ‘congrats on getting your own place’ in a way that was unique and fun with some of my fellow finance writer friends. And I think it was the great Kristin Wong who said, ‘Well, what’s something that you do when you’re at home alone?’ So we started coming up with a list of things – mine was belting out Broadway karaoke, I think someone else said eating a tub of ice cream, binge-watching Real Housewives came up too – but we ultimately settled on dancing around naked in your living room.
Then Lauren Ver Hage came up with this really fun graphic for the front cover of the card that says ‘get ready to dance naked around your living room….’ And when you open it up it says, ‘congrats on getting your own place’.
If you could get ANYONE in the world to stop by and pick up a Statement Card from you, who would it be?
Another impossible question! When we launched, it was Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Since then, we’ve launched a card that features a whole slew of ambitious women throughout history that inspire us, so I’d say just about anyone on that list.
Anything we can do to help spread the word or help you reach your goals faster?
If you like the cards, please share them with the people you love. More than just getting the cards out into the world, getting the message out behind them of expanding the kinds of milestones we celebrate is a new mission of mine. So even if it’s just liking and sharing our instagram page – it goes a long way!
It’s my core belief that when you create ways of celebrating certain milestones, you also create a dialogue and support system around achieving them. I come back to the example of my wedding. It wasn’t just the day I got married that people showed up to support me, it was the whole year of planning and people asking how they could help through the process that was so powerful. Imagine if you could have that same system of support while working to become debt free or while saving up for a down payment?
I think that celebration can serve as a powerful tool and entry point to a far more substantive system of support, which is what we’re trying to build upon with the introduction of the “Too Ambitious” newsletter and community.
You can learn more about the cards at StatementCards.com. They cost $5.00 a piece, with discounts if you get 6 or more.
[And btw – I don’t get paid for sharing any of this! Just a big supporter of hers and love what these cards are about!]