Starting a Greeting Card Business

Interview with Cheryl Aughton, Founder of EarthTone Greetings

Last year my New Year's resolution was to remember my friends' and families' birthdays. Thank goodness I have learned about Cheryl Aughton at EarthTone Greetings.

EarthTone Greetings was founded in Gibsonia, PA in 2007 by Cheryl Aughton.

Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?

We are excited to deliver to you a new, more convenient and organized way to stay in touch with family, friends and business associates, EarthTone Greetings. Unlike a traditional card store, our site enables you to create and send real, printed, paper, customized greeting cards from your computer. EarthTone Greetings does the rest -- prints, addresses, and places a first-class stamp on each card, then mails the cards either for or to you.

With our online address book, calendar, and CardMaker, cards may be scheduled in advance so working moms (and dads alike!) - whether at home, or in the workplace - will never miss another special occasion, or an opportunity to connect with a business contact again. Everything you need to create and send greeting cards is at your fingertips.

How did you come up with your business idea?

As a working mother with a large extended family, I found it increasingly difficult to stay in touch in a personal way with my family and friends. In particular, shopping for and sending out greeting cards on time became quite the challenge - I was always either late or forgetting someone's birthday! Knowing other working moms were faced with the same challenge, and also wanting a job that gave me the flexibility to be there when my daughter gets off the school bus, my husband and I decided it was time to prepare for our family's future. Hence, was born.

Who did you hire to help you? Bookkeeper, Accountants, Lawyers ...? Would you suggest others do the same?

Lawyers - they are expensive, but you have to have them.

What outside resources were helpful for you?

I really benefitted from Bridgeway Capital, University of Pittsburgh Small Business Development Center, SCORE, and support of other successful entrepreneurs.

Did you have a partner when you started your business? How did you select a partner?

My husband and I melded our backgrounds - my career as a writer, producer and communications project manager, combined with his work as a photographer and his master's degree in information systems. It is a perfect combination.

Temporary labor can be a great asset to an entrepreneur. Have you ever hired temps or contractors? Would you suggest this as a strategy for new business owners?

Yes, we've hired a computer programmer and graphic designer. I definitely suggest this for support in specialty areas of your business. Do what you do best and contract out the other work.

What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?

We have found that word of mouth marketing, trade shows, and an appearance on KDKA-TV's Pittsburgh Live Today talk show have helped our business tremendously.

How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?

It has taken much longer to get off the ground and succeed than what I thought.

What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?

Be very patient, network, network, and network. Above all, be creative and have fun!

Sounds like a great business idea, Cheryl. Thank you for sharing your business tips with our readers at

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