The Dandelion Patch

Friday, August 8, 2008

Move over, business cards!

Today I was invited by my good friend, Joe Ritchie of Prospective Inc. to attend a luncheon at Il Fornaio in Reston Town Center to learn more about getting more involved with Wolf Trap. Now, being "Mr. Reston", everyone knows Joe. However as I watched the most experienced networkers work the room, I realized that business cards were being swapped at lightening speed.

Enter my girlfriend... who I'll call Molly. She is a stay-at-home-mom, volunteer extraordinaire and an absolutely connected woman. In this environment, she also works the room with one of our hottest items at The Patch-- personal calling cards. Given that her cards represented her personality (brown and blue with a monogram-- purchased at The Patch, of course!) she certainly stood out in the sea of plain vanilla business cards.

If you don't believe me, Time magazine published an article highlighting the popular come back of these oldies but goodies. I've edited it for your reading pleasure:

May I Offer You My Calling Card?

By Harriet Barovick

In the 1800s, there was a certain logic – and a cool distance – to the formal calling card. Those who were part of, or sought a place among, the social élite would deliver a card with their name engraved on it to someone's home to request a visit. But now that you can IM, e-mail or text pretty much anyone immediately, the Victorian practice seems laughably outmoded, right? Not so, according to a growing number of enthusiasts reviving the old-fashioned social-networking tool. "Is it technology fatigue? A colorful way of branding yourself? We're not sure," says Peter Hopkins of Crane & Co., where sales of the cards have doubled in the past two years. "But the demand is clear. They are our fastest-growing item."

For a flagging stationery industry, calling cards – essentially nonbusiness business cards – have brought a welcome dose of energy. Some are teenier than standard business cards, others much bigger, and many come in bright colors that seem anything but stodgy. Among the buyers: playdate-seeking parents eager for a sane way to exchange contact info, retirees who miss having business cards to hand out (Memphis stationer Baylor Stovall calls them "cruise-ship customers") and itinerant young professionals whose cell phones and e-mail addresses are their most reliable locators. Elaine Milnes, a stay-at-home mom in Grand Rapids, Mich., got fed up with searching for pens on the playground and made a card for herself (title: Caroline's mom). She thinks her playdate cards have caught on because they're "a nicer way of connecting than plugging someone into your cell."

For young job-hoppers, a calling card offers not only a sense of permanence but also a chance for self-expression. In June, Mitch Stripling, an emergency planner who recently moved to New York City, printed cards with cell-phone, e-mail and descriptor ("neo Victorian calling card thingy") info for his 10-year college reunion in an effort to reconnect with people he knew he wouldn't have a chance to speak with at length. "I wanted to get away from the whole status thing at reunions, so a business logo didn't feel right," says Stripling, whose card was a buzz-generating hit at Williams College. "Having my own little logo frees me up. It's a way to be expressive of me outside of whatever job I happen to be doing at the time."

Perhaps the biggest reason the cards have delighted jaded 21st century types is that they work. Says Stripling: "I can't say for sure if it was the card or just the effects of a reunion, but I heard from around 30 people from school in the weeks after." Some are even planning visits.


  • At August 13, 2008 at 12:09 PM , Blogger The Entertaining Home said...

    I had my calling cards made a few years back. engraved @ Tiffany's. I would give them to people I met, that I would want to stay in contact with or do business with. They would look at me puzzeled asto why I was handing them a card with just my name printed and hand written phone # or other info. I didn't want anything so permanent, since I did move and travel often, and I wanted to give only the info I wanted them to have. It was also great to have the accompanying little envelopes toenclose with a quick note for an inmpromtu gift or flower arrangement. I am a girl of tradition and would love to see more ladies carry these. Its also such a great networking tool. People are more apt to remeber you when your name is printed in script than if you scrible it on a torn napkin. ~E

  • At August 13, 2008 at 9:22 PM , Blogger The Dandelion Patch said...

    Elizabeth, you're a true "Patchette"-- you really get it! Hope to see you and swap calling cards soon! Your fellow gal of tradition ~ Heidi


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