Local card maker Little City Love is crafting notes focused on the simplicity and power of words.
“What we really wanted to do for cards was kind of get the design out of the way,” says Co-Founder Clay Fuller. “Letting those who said it best actually say it. We’re trying to create a timeless quality.”
Fuller and fellow Co-Founder Lucas La Tour launched the line of cards in May of 2014, largely focusing on quotes – a continued and growing facet of the line. When creating, Little City Love groups their cards into categories like adventure, literature and authenticity, even giving a nod to the average person’s coffee/tea obsession. (When creating the initial designs for the coffee cards, they literally splashed Stauf’s coffee on paper.)
The sentiments span from the whimsical to the motivational. Phrases like “Oh for fox sake,” (one of their best sellers) “Bear with me,” “I like you more than coffee,” and even emoji emblazoned cards add a dash of humor. Another best seller, an Ovid quote, “Be patient and tough: one day this pain will be useful to you,” or a personal favorite of Fuller’s, Van Gogh quote, “I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people,” strike a different cord.
“One of our newest things is this affirmations line,” Fuller adds.
Seeing friends struggling with depression, the duo decided to create a line to fill the void of not knowing what to say. The cards feature phrases like, “You are a work of art,” and “I believe you. I believe in you.”
Fuller is more the creative force behind the operation while La Tour handles the sales and occasionally yays and nays designs. The two met during their freshman year at OSU, rooming together their sophomore year then falling out of touch before reconnecting post-graduation in 2013.
The entrepreneurial thing came at different times for the pair. Fuller had tossed around some business ideas in college, largely in the same way that friends drinking at the bar say, “Dude, we should totally open a bar!” While La Tour went to a Startup Weekend in the summer of 2013 with an idea he didn’t actually end up pitching, but it was all over with from there.
Fuller and La Tour tossed around a lot of ideas, first landing on an app that would basically do all the work of sending a card for you. Heeding some advice from a mentor, they traded the virtual for the real thing.
“I literally made the first designs on Microsoft Word,” Fuller says.
They’ve graduated to better illustration software, as well better space, going from parent’s basement, to a box-packed apartment, to their own office space on Gay Street Downtown.
Their reach has expanded as well. Little City Love’s first customer was Stauf’s, adding the Book Loft and Helen Winnemore’s in German Village in a matter of weeks.
“We had three big Columbus locations that were really supportive right away,” La Tour says.
There hasn’t been an exact science to their growth, but Little City Love is now shipping out thousands of cards a month from coast-to-coast. Stores in California to Martha’s Vineyard stock the $3 cards, including Rosewater, local entrepreneurs Chris Celeste and Nancy Kramer’s social enterprise.
The product line will grow along with their reach. Almost all of the expansion products Little City Love is eyeing have come from customer requests – wall art, posters, shirts. They are also focusing on the interior experience with frames and other ways to display and hold cards.
“We have some creative partnership in the works with other brands,” La Tour says.
As young entrepreneurs, the duo have relied on some mentors and resources along the way, but, “One of the most influential things that we’ve done is really just start to get involved in the Columbus community,” Fuller says.
The duo have gotten involved attending and volunteering at events like Startup Week, Startup Weekend, WakeUp StartUp and SunDown RunDown. La Tour says the network has been fantastic, adding that if an entrepreneur makes the effort to get out there and meet people, the whole community is willing and ready to help.
Check out Little City Love’s cards online at littlecitylove.com. Little City Love will also be part of a pop-up shop at West Elm at Easton this Saturday from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Photos via Instagram: @bridgeycolleen, @rosemary.fajardo, @josiefeather, @lauralucy_f