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diy calling cards

In the film You’ve Got Mail, there’s a short dialogue between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan after Tom Hanks’ character (Joe Fox) successfully puts Meg Ryan’s character (Kathleen Kelly) out of business. Joe tells Kathleen that there was nothing “personal” about the bookstore feud that ended in Joe’s triumph and Kathleen’s failure and Kathleen grows suddenly irritated about his attempt to smooth over their less-than-friendly business relationship:

Joe Fox: It wasn’t… personal. Kathleen Kelly: What is that supposed to mean? I am so sick of that. All that means is that it wasn’t personal to you. But it was personal to me. It’s *personal* to a lot of people. And what’s so wrong with being personal, anyway? Joe Fox: Uh, nothing. Kathleen Kelly: Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.

Sick of Joe Fox’s die-hard, killer-business-instinct, Kathleen Kelly lashes back at him for constantly reducing business into an only-the-facts, survival-of-the-fittest, world. To her, her business was a legacy from her mother, a thing that filled her life with joy, and gave her purpose–not something to only provide income, status, or power.

In the Victorian era, men and women of the upper classes never went anywhere without “calling cards.” Calling cards had multiple purposes: some were simply to notify a neighbor or friend that you were intending on making a visit, some were sent from single men seeking to break through the rigid Victorian rules of courtship in an attempt to get a little more personal with a lady who had caught his eye, and some were merely a sweet, concise summary of an individual’s occupation or contact information.

victorian calling cards

Regardless of the purpose of the calling card, each one was essentially a personal business card. Two people, often before meeting face to face, had to be able to sum up their personalities in 3 1/2 by 5 inches. Victorian society was much like a business. There were rules, procedures, and very specific ways people could and couldn’t interact. Calling cards were a small way to bring personality back into a very rigid realm of social rules. So, why not bring calling cards back? Why not make “business cards” personal? I think Kathleen Kelly might agree that business doesn’t have to be quite so serious and that a touch of personality can bring a bit of humanity back into any corporate realm.

In the beautiful book Victoria Calling Cards, there’s so many great ideas for making your own personal, business “calling” cards.

business card design tips

The one I chose is perfect for a sewing business, my inspiration artist attached her business contact information to a piece of “punchwork” which is a plastic-like embroidery tool used to create patterns by separating the thread:

personalized business cards

It’s so fun because you can personalize the stitching on each and every card, and it also serves as a wonderful protector for the card during shipping of packages. Of course, embroidering your business cards isn’t appropriate for all businesses and it’s (trust me) a rather time-consuming technique, but, you get the point, right? Making a connection with a customer you may never meet in person is a really important way to gain trust and a little bit of an emotional connection between you and a potential, or current, customer.

diy business cards

diy business cards

  1. Cut out a piece of punchwork a little bigger than whatever size business card you’re using.
  2. Using embroidery thread, stitch whatever design you’ve chosen onto the top of the punchwork.
  3. Attach the card to the punchwork with some superglue. If your stitching doesn’t look too pretty on the back, cut out a piece of cardstock the same size as your punchwork and glue that to the back to cover up any unsightly stitches. My  heart design turned out super clean on the front and back of my punchwork though so I didn’t need that step.
  4. Done! A personal and completely unique card that will definitely stand out from anyone else’s and will make a far bigger impact than an everyday piece of cardstock:

diy business cards

source: Victoria calling cards, hearst books, new york, 1992

– ❤ A. 

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