Last week I mentioned that I traveled to Kansas City, MO. I was there at the Hallmark Cards corporate offices for their very first Blogger Conference along with a handful of other bloggers who specialize in parenting, weight loss, and life transitions representing the age groups: Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers.
Hallmark gathered us bloggers to learn more about us and our audiences and to get our opinions on some new cards in their newly launched (Feb 07) Journeys cards line. Journeys Cards are for times when you want to show someone support during challenging life phases like divorce, cancer, being stressed out, being on a diet, and coming out.
We got a peek into how the Journeys cards are made, and got to give input on hot topics in our particular area of expertise. Mine obviously was weight loss, but I did give input on how it would be nice to have cards on celebrating "Singlehood" as now 51% of adult Americans are single. Plus can we have more women's cards that are not about shoes, shopping, and chocolate. I'm tired!
Walking into this blogger conference, I have to admit that I always thought of Hallmark Cards more as my mother's or grandmother's cards because growing up the style reminded me of a " Little House on the Prairie" type of girlie feel. After this trip, that image is completely wiped from my psyche. I personally buy Shoebox Cards (a Hallmark brand) because they are witty, sarcastic, and funny.
The whole trip to Hallmark was absolutely fantastic but the personal highlight for me was to learn that one of the writer's of the Shoebox cards is a huge fan of Back in Skinny Jeans. I nearly peed in my pants when I met this witty and talented Shoebox lady as I am a huge fan of Shoebox. It was like when rock stars meet rock stars.
Here's some very cool things about Hallmark that I learned that I bet many of you didn't know:
- Founder J.C. Hall was 18 when he founded the company in 1910. Winston Churchill was one of his homies, and he gave JC a painting which he personally painted himself. Who knew a world leader could paint like a pro.
- Hallmark owns Crayons. I am mad about Crayons, and didn't know that Crayola was acquired by Hallmark in 1984. Crayola also owns Silly Putty another childhood favorite of mine. Remember putting silly putty on the cartoon page in the newspaper to see the image on the putty? If you have children or are just a Crayon fanatic, you must visit the Crayon store in the Crowne Shopping area at the Hallmark campus. It is truly Crayon-topia outside of the Crayola offices in Pennsylvania.
- Hallmark is now part of Bono's (PRODUCT) RED. The Hall(RED) cards, my nickname, are a departure from the old fashioned style most of us know and in it's place is a look and feel that very much represents hipness, feeling, and forward thinking. There are some very cool Hallmark (RED) cards for the holidays, so do check them out.
- Hallmark owns the brand Maxine. Many people knew this, but I didn't. I love cranky old feisty Maxine. I wish they would create a Gen X version of her as I can relate to much of her sauciness, but not to her grandma look.
- Hallmark has 19,000 employees worldwide and is still to this day privately owned by the Hall family. The employees are owners as well, and get a piece of the pie. This is really cool to me as I come from Silicon Valley the land of IPOs, and public corporations.
The people of Hallmark are so incredibly nice and hospitable. It was an even special treat to have Hallmark CEO and President, Don Hall Jr. spend some time getting to know us. He actually asked each of us to tell him a bit about ourselves and what are blog was about. I asked him why Hallmark thought it important enough to have their own Blogger Conference, and he said (in essence),
"Bloggers represent an authentic voice in the community, and Hallmark is an expressions company. We want to do our best to communicate an authentic voice in our cards, and one way for us to become better is by learning more about bloggers and sharing what we do with them."
I have to say that I nearly shed a tear when he said that. I would have been like a cliche commercial. It must be a Southern thing or a Hall family thing, but I was really blown away by how gracious everyone we met at Hallmark was, and how the vibe in the Hallmark buildings reflected that. As I am a design freak, visiting the Hallmark creative department was like an Elvis fan visiting Graceland.
Coming very soon in the Journeys line, there will be more cards in the Weight Loss category to help you show support for your family and friends who are on the journey to health and back in the skinny jeans. I'll let you know when they are out. Thank you again to Hallmark and my fellow bloggers I met at the conference. I had the time of my life!
Disclosure: My trip to the Hallmark Blogger Conference was paid for by Hallmark.
Update: Fellow blogger participant, Pasta Queen aka Jennette Fulda, has a great write-up on the trip which includes a group picture of all the bloggers in attendance.