After doubling its workforce to 30 in the last year, Lovepop, a fledgling name in the greeting card industry, is coming to fruition. The startup is an imagination and engineering company that complements everyday life with 3-D popup cards for a multitude of purposes, occasions, and emotions—any form of romance, sympathy, and many more.
Co-founder and CEO Wombi Rose met co-founder John Wise when they were both undergraduates concentrating on naval architecture at the Webb Institute in Glen Cove, N.Y. Wise went on to build boats at Metal Shark for the Coast Guard, while Rose entered the consulting industry. A few years later, however, they reunited when both enrolled at Harvard Business School. For a school trip in Vietnam, the duo discovered magical, hand-crafted paper cards—an extremely popular item in the region. With these cards as inspiration, Rose and Wise saw the endless creative approaches that they could manipulate and construct with paper. Soon after, they founded Lovepop in Feb. 2014.
“When we applied our engineering background and state of the art laser cutters to this ancient art form, we developed a new technique which we call Slicegami,” Rose said in an email.
This interdisciplinary combination of arts and sciences in Lovepop’s card designs incorporates an ancient sliceform structure. This sliceform structure—in which small, flat pieces of paper are used to construct a 3-D object—was originally used in ship design with the paper-cutting art of kirigami.
When Lovepop was founded, Rose and Wise first sold their cards in a basement apartment in Boston. But they had big plans, and hoped that Lovepop’s captivating product would reinvent the greeting card industry.
“Standard cards from the local drug store or paper store with pre-written messages often lack thoughtfulness,” Rose said. “With Lovepop, we want to bring meaning back to giving a card.”
Rose and Wise have since expanded their products beyond their basement apartment to kiosks in New York and Boston, offering hundreds of designs and new releases every week. Their office is located in Faneuil Hall, a perfect walking distance from kiosks in the heart of one of Boston’s main tourist hubs: Quincy Market.
Rose detailed how the great location provides access to real customers and genuine feedback. In addition, it makes it feasible for the headquarters team to work a couple shifts in retail in Quincy Market, providing the team with more interaction and understanding of their customers for improvements and feedback.
When Lovepop was in its early stages, however, Rose and Wise faced many challenges. They opened too many retail locations, some of which were not optimally placed. From this bump in the road, Rose and Wise learned the company’s best chance at growth came from an online focus. So, the duo concentrated on constructing and furthering their online consumer model. From there, Rose and Wise thought that customers could transcend typical card-buying consumer behavior to customize and select specific cards that would fit their intentions.
With more than two hundred 3-D cards to select from, customers can personalize the card with their own special touch for those important in their lives—every one of the cards is blank because Lovepop believes that only the person writing the card can express it best. But for those unable to write their own notes, Lovepop offers a note service. For an additional $5, employees will handwrite the message of the customer’s choice onto a chosen card—in either English or Spanish—and ship it directly to the recipient.
Lovepop’s current customer base spans across all genders and ages. The company has a “happiness team” that interacts with customers on a regular basis to help with designs and ensure satisfaction with the personalization of the cards. Although these teams often find that the cards serve their traditional function for customers—Rose noted how the happiness team has discovered that they have just as many men buying cards for their wives and girlfriends as they have for women buying cards for their husbands and boyfriends—in some cases they become more of a decoration
“We know our cards are used to cheer up loved ones in a nursing home or as a nightstand collection by a toddler’s bed,” Rose said.
But Lovepop’s founders not only focus on building their business, they also ensure that the startup interacts with the community around it. Lovepop’s team partners with and works alongside with The Possible Project, a Boston-area entrepreneurship-focused afterschool program that fosters the untapped potential in students with personalized career planning and other opportunities. Embracing innovative business and underscoring engineering and creativity, Lovepop and The Possible Project encourage bringing great entrepreneurial ideas to fruition. The Lovepop team trains students on advanced 3-D modeling software, as well as launching exclusive designs by students for future inspirations for greeting cards.
And this community interaction even extends to Chestnut Hill. Rose explained how Lovepop exemplifies the possibility for college student involvement in the startup scene. An “invaluable” member of the Lovepop intern team is, in fact, a Boston College student.
Looking toward the future, Rose noted the countless plans Lovepop intends to implement and pursue. These plans include a unique option for customers to create his or her own wedding invitations, an initiative that will begin sometime this spring.
Featured Image Courtesy of Lovepop