A clever card snark

| Print |  Email
Archives - June 2009
Monday, June 01, 2009
ATSSnarkyThe anti-Hallmark: Alisa Star's Snarky Cards are bitter, biting and popular. Just the right thing to commemorate a divorce or psycho breakup.
Photo by Michael Halle
It’s 9:30 p.m. on a Sunday evening and the Triple Nickel bar on Southeast Belmont in Portland is relatively quiet. A woman dressed in bright red walks up to a table of people and makes a pitch: “Hi, I’m Alisa Star and I make brutally honest greeting cards.” In a few minutes, the people at the table are laughing uproariously, passing stacks of the handmade cards back and forth and shouting out the names of friends who fit the messages on the cards.

Each card is made of handmade paper, decorated with a simple painted flower, and covered with typewritten text that starts with “Dear” and ends with “Sincerely.” What comes in between those two words is usually language and topics that can’t be reprinted in a general-circulation magazine. A few however, are PG rated:

“Happy divorce! Now you can start sleeping with someone who likes you!” “Congratulations on getting a grownup haircut.” “I wish you were cooler or I was more lame. Either way I don’t see this going anywhere.”

They’re biting and acerbic and Star has come up with about 400 designs for her aptly named one-woman business: Snarky Cards. The cards are about relationships, breakups, one-night stands and, for the most part, sex. They sell for $2 each or 3 for $5 and since she quit her job selling printer supplies in mid 2007 to go into business for herself, she’s sold approximately 12,000 cards in 50 Portland bars and stores, and online.

Star, who is 29, moved to Portland from San Jose, Calif., three years ago, following the siren call of the city’s artsy, laid-back reputation. Her background is in sales: business-to-business phone sales, dating service phone sales. The idea behind Snarky Cards came from her own snarky personality. “My nature determined what I’m doing,” she says.

The first thing Star found when she started bringing her cards to bars is that selling sarcasm to the inebriated is easier than selling printer toner to sober people. “People come into bars expecting to have fun. If you’re offering them something funny in that environment, it’s not a hard sell.”

Bar sales require more than just an engaging pitch. She considers herself an entertainment package: She dresses with flair, carries her cards in a handmade box she hangs from her neck and spends as much as 20 minutes at a table, joking and teasing with customers. She’s established a strong enough brand that a large percentage of her bar sales are to repeat customers.

Outside of the bars, Snarky Cards is growing. Retail stores have begun approaching Star on their own accord. She found that by attracting the attention of bloggers, it’s driving her online sales higher. She’s not sure what the economy will do to business. Already she’s seen people become more selective with their purchases. But she’s responded as well, coming up with her own appropriately sardonic take on the meltdown.
ABRAHAM HYATT
 

More Articles

Photo Log: Shooting 10 innovators in rural health care

The Latest
Monday, August 03, 2015
007blogBY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

You may have noticed the photos of our rural health innovators departed from the typical Oregon Business aesthetic.


Read more...

Grain Food

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

A Power Lunch at Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Store and Restaurant.


Read more...

Up on the Roof

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

In 2010 Vanessa Keitges and several investors purchased Portland-based Columbia Green Technologies, a green-roof company. The 13-person firm has a 200% annual growth rate, exports 30% of its product to Canada and received its first infusion of venture capital in 2014 from Yaletown Venture Partners. CEO Keitges, 40, a Southern Oregon native who serves on President Obama’s Export Council, talks about market innovation, scaling small business and why Oregon is falling behind in green-roof construction. 


Read more...

The 10 most successful crowdfunding campaigns in Oregon

The Latest
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
081915-crowdfundingmainBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

One of the hottest new investment trends has proven quite lucrative for some companies.


Read more...

Best Foot Forward

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE

Whether you're stepping out to work or onto the track, Pacific Northwest shoe companies have you covered.


Read more...

House of Clarity

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Holding a Power Lunch at Veritable Quandary in downtown Portland.


Read more...

Portland’s long-distance bike commuters

The Latest
Monday, August 03, 2015
Matt KellyresizethumbBY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

Pushing the extreme.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS