This is a story about how three women developed an original approach to starting a business by including positive cultural components that helped overcome the problem of limited funding.  One of these components is the magic of elevating simple partnership trust to the level of real friendship.  The second is generous sharing of time, assets, and talents.  The third?  Daring to bring an enterprise to life by choosing communicating from the heartas an operating principle.

Handcrafted greeting cards and exquisite art works for personal gifts and interior decoration manifest the individual and common vision of Addie Rementer, Sarah Takahashi, and Viktoria Vidali.  These women are venturing into a new dimension that deepens the art of greeting and gift giving by providing a distinctive alternative to cookie cutter card and gift clichés.  Years ago, handwritten letters required not only time and fine penmanship, but thoughtful content and words of sincere affection; the same holds true for gifts, which were mostly fashioned at home.  Today, elevating greetings and gift giving to an art requires no less.  The act of giving should come from the heart and emanate — with memorable visual power and eloquence – recognition and honor of the loved one’s human value.

The New Woman
Hope for a bright future lies in the power and creative endeavors of the New Woman.  What defines the New Woman?  Her awareness of the need for more love and beauty in our world.  New Women are rising with ever-greater influence to transform this dark age of fear and insecurity into an era of peace, environmental renewal, and social justice.  Therefore, it is not surprising that their businesses often have higher goals than commercial success alone.  The New Women is quietly determined to dispel the illusion that “might makes right” because she knows, and history verifies, that every empire fell when deceit and greed replaced truth and charity.

Addie, a very young New Woman, is the team’s mixed media artist, and tells, in her own words, what made her want to participate:

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When I was asked to be a partner in ‘Greetings With Heart,’ I knew intuitively that this was an offer I couldn’t refuse.  I had just designed an inventive line of eclectic images and was looking for ways to have it seen.  The opportunity was timely.

If I could use one word to describe what it’s like to start a business, even with good partners, I would choose the word…WORK.  However, if we LOVE that work, then the joy of accomplishment is well worth the effort.

The challenge of an undertaking with equal partners is to make the best of everyone’s strengths. For example, Sarah has a knack for summarizing the items we cover at our meetings, so she writes our minutes.  She also keeps us focused on priorities, which has made our team very productive.  Viktoria maintains our business records and works with Orlando, our web-designer, my good friend, and her talented son, to implement a short and long-term marketing strategy.  I had fun designing our logo and GWH’s initial commemorative print.

A loner by nature, I had to switch my thinking to ‘group mode.’  Initially, this was my greatest hurdle.  I had to relinquish control of the way I thought things should be done, and realize how important collaboration is.  Artwork is personal and it’s not always possible to let go of an idea that only the completed work does justice to.  We organized the company so that in our personal art we are free to create, without constraints.  At the same time, we collaborate to project one integrated image for our enterprise, like galleries and museum do. 

Starting a business from scratch is trial and error and requires patience and a sense of humor, like the day I decided to wear a mermaid costume to a photo-op by a duck pond and found myself hopping around the park on a single fish tail.  I threw that gambit to the wind but will always remember how hard we laughed!

I LOVE to have fun while I work.

Sarah, also a young New Woman, has shared her passion for design and crafts by giving handmade cards to friends and relatives since childhood, and spontaneously decided: Why not widen the circle?

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One of the reasons I love ‘Greetings With Heart’ is that it combines the beauty and sweetness of creation with the intensity and good sense of enterprise.  This combo comes through in our website as well as in our meetings and how we treat each other.  We often have breakfast at Viktoria’s lovely mountain home.  We gather around a big round table, gab about what’s going on in our lives, and when the dishes are cleared, exchange ideas and brainstorm.  It is a comforting approach because we truly act as a team.

The process of starting ‘Greetings With Heart’ was as relaxed and fun as I imagine starting a business can be.  As partners, the three of us have fostered a strong bond with one another by maintaining open lines of communication.  Success for us is more than having a profitable business; it’s having fun.

Viktoria, a New Woman with a camera, gives us her picture:

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In my reading I came upon an intriguing and bold statement, which, at first glance seemed too good to be true: ‘Do something you love and it will bear fruit.’

Now, there are two essential ingredients to this recipe.  The first is to find something you REALLY love to do, and the second is the active verb ‘do,’ which requires a commitment to keep moving forward.

We spent several months designing and refining our collections, securing the best and most reliable suppliers, discussing quality, size, pricing, packaging, shipping, deciding which nonprofits we wanted to support, and in the process grew to appreciate just how many details have to be fine-tuned before a product can be placed on the market and how important it is to project a cohesive business philosophy.

I saw symbolism in all this, even in our amusing mistakes or my silly episode, which was at the time not so funny.  One afternoon I crawled in ice plant on a plateau overlooking the beach to take a close-up picture of a wildflower.  Within hours, I broke out with a terrible rash.  The culprit?  Poison oak, lying triumphantly beneath the ground cover.  That went down in our history as Viktoria’s Secret Photo-op!

You can see from the pictures that I am older than Sarah and Addie (actually, they could be my daughters!), but speaking for myself, I don’t feel an age gap.  It is a real joy to be working with these young women, who have plenty of fresh ideas and enthusiasm to share.

Now that we all have the first ingredient, we look forward to testing the recipe to see what kind of delightful fruit the three of will bear!

The essence of what this team of entrepreneurial New Women has learned is that “getting your feet wet” is all it takes before stepping fully into the water and swimming.  Or, as the ancients have said: The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.  One thing is certain: courage and team spirit go a long way in making life the grand adventure it was meant to be.

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