As she stood flipping through an endless sea of birthday cards, Julie Korona couldn’t find a single one that would send the right message to her then-fiancé, Tyler, she recalled.
“All of the cards that I was looking through either said ‘husband’ or were super generic,” said Korona, co-founder of Paloma Post — a newly launched greeting card startup that enables people to customize their own cards.
Paloma Post pieces are designed by a slew of local artists and tailored to fit any occasion.
“I was just thinking, if I could change one word in this card it would be a lot easier,” she said of the moment the idea for Paloma Post began to form. “I also realized how limited the options are for anyone who has any skin color other than white — or anyone who’s gay, who maybe speaks a different language.”
Solving what had become a card conundrum became a personal challenge for Korona and co-founder Andrew Carlson; one the Paloma pair had become creatively curious to tackle, she added.
“[Having worked together in the past] we’ve done a lot of successful projects for clients. … I mentioned the idea to [Carlson] and he called out even more problems with the way [cards are designed] and more ideas for innovating on it,” Korona said.
Evenings and weekends spent in coffee shops and holed up in creative zones — shared between the duos homes — allowed Paloma Post to take shape surprisingly quickly, the co-founders said.
Click here to send your own Paloma Post creation.
An opportunity to promote the need for more accurate and inclusive representation in Kansas City, Paloma Post has already left an imprint on the metro — despite just having launched in January, Korona said.
“[We had someone] reach out saying that they were able to celebrate their first Valentine’s Day and write a note about a gay couple who had just adopted a daughter shortly before,” she said. “We had a card for Valentine’s Day with two women [on it] and she mentioned that it was a perfect way for her to send the card.”
Tapping into something special and resonating with a client base that has long felt marginalized, the public response to Paloma Post has been a mix of overwhelming satisfaction for Korona and Carlson, they said, reflecting of the first leg of their startup journey.
“Being able to celebrate such a unique and special moment for [a gay couple] or allowing them to do that for each other — for me — was such a good example of kind of what I was hoping that this business would do for people,” Korona said.
Developed in the shadow of greeting card giant Hallmark, there’s plenty of room for Paloma Post to innovate territory long held by the gold crown, Carlson said of the startup’s disruptive qualities.
“I personally have some friends and relatives who — no card really speaks to them. Whether it’s because of their sexual orientation or their religion or race or anything, but if they’re not represented, they oftentimes will go to custom cards,” he said. “They’ll pay for custom designs or they’ll do custom things themselves. And that just takes a lot of time.”
Using Paloma Post, customers can also send cards that have been digitally signed — a twist on the traditional ecard, Carlson said, citing an example of other innovations from the company.
Giving customers an opportunity to freely express themselves in a world where acceptance is often hard to find, could be what helps Paloma Post find its footing as a growing startup, Carlson added.
“Having an accessible option that people can reach for, that they can fully customize to their own liking — that will actually fit their needs — is really important to us,” he said.