Saving the World One Greeting Card at a Time
What do you do with a greeting card after reading it? Do you put it in a drawer to be
forgotten? Or do you simply throw it away? Bloom Brightly, a greeting card company started by
two Belmont University students, is giving paper a second chance at life with their cards. Their
seed-filled paper cards can be planted into various types of flowers after being read. Instead of
being thrown into a drawer or a garbage can, these cards are reborn into beautiful wildflowers or
basil leaves. I had the opportunity to speak with Annabelle Bright and Jacob Kissamis, the
founders of Bloom Brightly, and gain insight into their brand. Here is a look at my conversation
with these two blossoming entrepreneurs.
What is Bloom Brightly?
“Bloom Brightly sells seed-filled greeting cards that bring life back into paper. When
planted, the cards grow into either wildflowers or basil.”
How did you come up with the idea?
“I got my original inspiration from a similar company in New York. I have always
loved writing letters and have taken up gardening in the past few years, so it seemed to
be a good combination of my interests. From there, I worked with Jacob Kissamis and
Meg Schmalandt to adjust and validate the idea in Venture Planning class with Dr.
Cornwall this past fall.”
How did you get started with producing your merchandise?
“Dr. Cornwall recommended that we establish proof of concept through actually
creating and selling our products. We researched the best raw materials and found a
designer (Suzanna Stapler). Our first day of selling 50 cards was at Green Door
Gourmet farm in November, and we sold another 150 during the Christmas season to
people around Belmont.”
How has the brand grown from your original idea?
“My idea was much broader initially; I wanted to make everything out of seed paper!
However, we have learned that specializing in one type of product keeps us from
‘boiling the ocean,’ or trying to tackle too much at one time. Narrowing down our idea
to greeting cards for the initial launch enabled us to give that product the best chance at
success, but we may want to diversify down the line if we see that as viable.”
Who is currently involved in the brand?
“I work on organizing the trajectory of the venture, and I oversee our orders. Jacob
Kissamis designed the website, prints the cards, and connects us with new clients.
Suzanna Stapler takes our ideas and creates designs for the cards. Meg Schmalandt
offers consulting for aesthetic. We also receive counsel from Dr. Cornwall and Shawn
Glinter, the Entrepreneur in Residence at Belmont.”
Have customers appreciated how environmentally friendly your product is?
“Yes! We have received great feedback about how our products reduce waste and
bring about new life. Additionally, our products give greeting cards a purpose after
their initial receipt, and customers appreciate the value this brings.”
How easy is it to grow the flowers?
“Wildflowers are some of the easiest plants to grow. I have several plants growing
inside at my house, and they sprouted within a few days of planting. Each card can be
cut up to grow several wildflower plants; you just need a few seeds per pot.”
Have you faced any issues so far?
“I think the biggest issue we’ve faced so far is starting the venture while still in school.
It is definitely hard to balance everything, but Belmont offers so much support, which
helps offset the challenge.”
Where do you want the brand to go in the near future? Long-term?
“In the near future, we would like to wholesale our cards to Nashville gift stores,
garden centers, and boutiques. We also aim to have pop-up shops around the city to
gain exposure and new customers. Another avenue we are pursuing is special orders
for weddings and real estate agents. Long-term, we plan to attend the National
Stationery Show in New York, selling our products nationwide. Sooner than that, we
hope to sell our cards at Belmont’s Entrepreneurship Village in April.”
What is the best advice you've been given about starting a brand?
“Talk to people! Entrepreneurship professors at Belmont hammer home the importance
of primary research, and it truly is invaluable. Competitors and others in your desired
industry have valuable insight and lessons learned to share, and many people are very
open to talking to students. Of course, customer feedback is key, as well, and allows
for necessary pivoting.”
What would your advice be for someone starting a new venture?
“Don’t be afraid to test out your idea. Getting out in the market and selling our
prototypes is what showed us that we would like to give the venture a shot. Business
planning and research are necessary steps, but putting ideas into action makes all the
difference and informs how or if to move forward.”
Check out these innovative (and adorable) cards in House Of today!
Written by Kate Hornberger