With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, one unconventional greetings card company based in Glasgow is finding nothing says: ‘I love you’, quite like a swipe to the right.
Text From A Friend is an independent business that sells ‘anti-social’ media for all occasions, featuring humorous phrases not for the easily offended. In 2018, its best seller is a Valentine’s Day card proclaiming ‘I’m glad I swiped right for you’.
Far removed from traditional gushes of ‘roses are red, violets are blue…’, the popularity of the card gives a nod to the integral role that dating app Tinder (once thought of as mainly a facilitator of one-night stands) now plays in forming many successful relationships.
The Tinder-inspired card is one of business owner Sharon Caddie’s tamer creations. Profanity is no stranger in her collection with other popular cards including the messages “Sending you a ray of f****** sunshine” and “S*** you’re getting old”, both printed in a contrastingly soft rose gold foil.
The idea for Text From A Friend was born when Glasgow School of Art alumnus Sharon started jotting down amusing texts she received from friends and posting on Instagram for others to enjoy, with all senders remaining anonymous. Her followers liked the musings so much, Sharon received an influx of requests to print them on cards and posters, leading to the launch of the business in 2016.
In less than two years, Text From A Friend has seen impressive growth with more than 4000 cards purchased and sales increasing by 230% year-on-year. Products are sold via Sharon’s own website, Etsy, Not on the High Street and through 15 independent retailers across Scotland.
Sharon, who is originally from Carmyle in the east end of Glasgow, said: “The popularity of the cards has been overwhelming in a good way. When I began the business, I kept them in an Ikea box under the bed. I now have ten shelves high worth of storage space and still seem to constantly run out. I think people enjoy them so much because we all love a good swear!
“It’s been a challenge keeping up with incoming orders for the ‘I’m glad I swiped right for you’ card, particularly in the run up to Valentine’s Day. Some of us struggle to put into words our feelings for our other halves, while some of us just cringe at the sight of a soppy card. Perhaps that’s why so many couples resonate with this particular product! And let’s face it – Tinder was the starting point for many of us, so it’s nice to immortalise that with some lovely calligraphy.”
Despite her growing customer base, Sharon has stayed true to her ethos of hand-crafting each card using high-quality ingredients. She hand-draws her text designs, then uses a traditional printing technique with a hot foil press to create the finished product.
Sharon added: “Handmaking the cards will always be important to me – it’s part of their charm and helps them stand out from the competition as most foiled cards are created digitally nowadays. I’ve always loved the smell of paper and printing, so much so I bought my own printing press last year which lets me carry out the entire production process from my studio in St Vincent Place, Glasgow. I’ve also recently been experimenting with new materials, using neon and holographic foil.
“There’s been a real revival in Scotland for hand-crafted, traditional products – consumers are interested in finding out how their stuff is actually made and appreciate quality. With events in Glasgow like Hypermarket and The Big Feed, makers have a fantastic platform to get their creations out there.
“It’s a supportive community too with members readily sharing tips and advice. I do feel there could be more done to raise awareness of the industry, so all the makers out there realise they can turn their hobby into a viable business. I’m an art director and Text From A Friend started as my ‘money while I slept’ idea, though it is fast approaching overtaking my day job.”
Over the next 12 months, Sharon plans to expand the wedding arm of the brand, with ideas to grow the product selection beyond wedding and engagement cards. The entrepreneur is also exhibiting at Pulse 2018, the UK’s leading boutique trade event, which takes place at The Olympia in London during May 13-15.