It’s hard to imagine the exact impact that greeting cards have on everyday life. A small, but much appreciated, gesture of kindness, greeting cards are utilized every day of the year for holidays, birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, baby showers, and other special occasions.
However, African Americans and other people of color share a common struggle in finding cards that represent them and their culture.
Fortunately, Dionne Mahaffey recognized this problem and sought out to provide a solution in the form of Culture Greetings, an Atlanta-based online greeting card company that allows users to customize their own cards to fit their needs.
“Our store is always available online, and in the time it takes to post on Facebook or Instagram a customer can sit at their computer and pick a real card to send to their friends,” Mahaffey said. “So, we are a marriage between fast-paced technology and the classic way of expressing oneself by sending the card with a handwritten note.”
A business psychologist who coaches startups and entrepreneurs, Mahaffey said she launched Culture Greetings in 2018 during the holiday season. Culture Greetings was Mahaffey’s way of filling in most of the holes in the greeting card industry when it comes to multicultural customers, she said.
“For (Black people), we have a special way of expressing ourselves that is not always captured in mainstream cards,” Mahaffey said. “The imagery is not culturally relevant and the prewritten messages inside the cards don’t sound like you.”
“While the top greeting card brands do have some multicultural cards, there is still room for more inclusion,” she continued. “There are still blind spots for racial exclusion in the social expression industry.”
Mahaffey’s customers are able to pick out their card from Culture Greetings’ collection but also add personal notes using fonts that simulate real handwriting, insert images, and ultimately make the design their own.
“The cards range the gambit of occasions as well as incorporate many still invisible groups such as the Black woman professional and the LGBTQ community of color,” she explained.
According to Mahaffey, customers can have their personalized card printed, stamped, stuffed, and mailed out by Culture Greetings; also, select gift cards from Starbucks, Target, Amazon, iTunes and more during checkout to be inserted in the envelope with their card.
“We mail them the next business day via the US Post Office’s First-Class Mail,” Mahaffey said.
A self-funded, black-owned tech startup, Culture Greetings was built off the talents of Mahaffey who was also a software developer. She said she controls all of the technological aspects of her business, including writing code and developing the platform.
Mahaffey said she is also mostly responsible for all of the in-house designs that make up Culture Greetings’ growing collection.
Some of the other designs were submitted from esteemed artists like Steve R. Allen, whose work can be found in the permanent collection of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
She also has received offerings from Tanzanian artist Abu Mwenve, as well as award-winning cartoonist Quinn McGowan.
“We also feature designs from Jesse Raudales, the first Latino artist for the Olympics,” Mahaffey said.
According to her customers, the thought that Mahaffey has put into creating their online greeting card experience is much appreciated. For example, one customer commented about the “beautiful quality, great multi-cultural choices and a great price” and applauded her on the service’s convenience and fast delivery.
However, Mahaffey said she looks forward to expanding her company through apps. She also said she plans to have an app created for both iOS and Android by this summer.
She said she is very proud of the fact that she hasn’t needed any help from any investors. In fact, as Culture Greetings continues to grow, Mahaffey said she doesn’t foresee the need for any outside capital in the future.