WAXHAW – Buying greeting cards in stores made Allyn Oliver feel like Goldilocks. Most of the cards she saw were too cheesy, too generic, too sentimental or too expensive, so she enlisted the help of her sister and they decided to create their own.
Oliver and Amanda Bowman launched their online card shop, Love365 Cards, at the end of June, but the idea had really been brewing since last fall.
Their Aunt Mary Craig was fighting a losing battle with cancer. At the end of her life, when talking and visits had to slow down, greeting cards seemed to be the only way to speak to her. Oliver sent her aunt a card every week until she passed away in October 2018.
“We’re a card-sending family,” she said. “There’s so much more I can say in a card than I can face-to-face.”
It was during that time – when Oliver was shopping for cards every week – that she noticed most cards missed the mark. Plus, as a busy mom to 9-year-old Quinn and 7-year-old Zac, she just didn’t have time to stand in the store and read each one.
“If you have kids, there’s no shopping for cards,” she said. “You kind of have to grab one and go.”
It’s only been few months, but the sisters already have their small online business running like clockwork. Oliver manages the orders, website and day-to-day operations from her home in Waxhaw, while Bowman designs the cards from Oklahoma (they sell cards made by other designers around the country, too). She also handles the marketing and social media, and a company in Shelby prints the cards.
The outsides of Love365’s cards are trendy, cute, colorful and sometimes sassy, but the insides are blank and that’s on purpose.
“It requires the sender to put a little more thought into the card, but it just makes the recipient feel that much more special,” Oliver said. “I think it’s much more meaningful.”
They’re sold for $4.50 each or as an assorted box of six ($27.99), 10 ($42.99), 15 ($63.75) or 20 ($79.99). Customers choose a quantity and then add the cards they like to their box.
Oliver said Love365 cards are for all ages and even appeal to the small percentage of the market that is men. The “No Excuses Box for Men” comes with 10 cards for Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, birthdays and even a few manly enough to send to another guy. Other themed boxes ($40 each) include the “Kids Birthday Box” and the “Don’t Call Me A Millennial Box,” which includes sassy and fun cards for customers in their 20s and 30s.
To pay tribute to their aunt and give back to her favorite organization, Samaritan’s Purse, the sisters also created a Mary Craig Box. The “Cards for a Cause Box” is a collection of 10 of her paintings reformatted into cards. $10 from each purchase will be donated to Samaritan’s Purse in Mary Craig’s name.
“The idea started with our Aunt Craig, so we were thrilled to be able to include her in our venture in some way. She was extremely close with her sister (our Mom) so I know she is so happy to know we are doing this together,” Oliver said.
Cards come in a handy, magnetic catch box that can be stored on a shelf or desk, keeping them organized and together. A Love365 pen also comes in each box, as well as a coupon code so customers can re-fill their box with free shipping.
As for the future of Love365, Oliver and Bowman already have a handful of ideas. They’re currently working on fall and holiday cards, adding stamps to the boxes and offering corporate boxes for companies who appreciate their employees with cards.
They’re also looking into quarterly subscription boxes with cards and other paper products and an automated reminder service so customers won’t forget to drop their cards in the mail on time.
“Getting the card is half the battle and then you have to get it in the mail four days in advance,” Oliver said. “That’s where most people mess up.”
Oliver learned a lot about product development from working at Kaplan, where she was the executive director of operations in the nursing division for eight years. She left the company to get her master’s degree at UNC Charlotte and start her own operations consulting firm.
Now, she’s putting all her knowledge and experience into Love365, an online card shop with a cute red cardinal in the logo and a tagline that brightens your day: “Love is in the mail.”
“It’s just happy and I feel good when I’m doing this,” Oliver said.
Want to buy?
Visit www.love365cards.com to purchase individual greeting cards and themed bundles, or build your own assorted box.