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Published: Saturday, 11/1/2008

Printed business-style cards help families convey information creatively

BY ANN WEBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Lisa Melby with daughters Frances, left, and Margo. Lisa Melby with daughters Frances, left, and Margo.
HERRALLONG / TOLEDO BLADE Enlarge

Lisa Melby has given up her corporate human resources job but maintains the same professional approach in her current position: mother of Frances and Margo.

It says so, right on her mommy business card.

I have been using them for two years and I love them, says the Holland woman.

The so-called mommy cards or family cards are marketed as a classy alternative to writing contact information on any old scrap of paper you dig out of a purse or diaper bag. They re part of a larger trend of personal business cards also known as social calling cards, a term that evokes Victorian-era etiquette that are being exchanged outside of the workforce.

Given how the world is today ... there s so many points of contact you may have, notes Melissa Crowe, vice president of marketing services for VistaPrint.com, which specializes in small-quantity graphic design and custom printing.

People might have a home phone, cell phone, e-mail address, and personal Web site, she continues by phone from company headquarters in Lexington, Mass. You re not just writing down one number.

Mrs. Crowe, who just gave birth to her first child and now hands out a mommy card, says personal cards also have been used as gift tags, with place cards at wedding receptions, and to announce a family s or individual s new address.

Mrs. Melby s card, white with minimalist graphics in shades of soft blue, says Melby Family on the top line. Below are the names John, Lisa, Frances, and Margo. Her full name is next Lisa Marie Melby above her title Mother.

On the following lines are the family s street address and home phone number, Mrs. Melby s cell phone number, and her e-mail address.

She uses the cards for a variety of purposes, and not just when she meets other moms and new neighbors or bumps into an old friend.

When we go places with our children, we fold up the card and put it in their pocket, Mrs. Melby says. We tell them, if you get lost give this to the security guard or policeman,

Being prepared for an emergency also was on Michele Koering s mind when she listed names and phone numbers of other family members and a doctor on her personal card. The Chicago mother of two and owner of cards4moms.com says many parents list a child s health alerts on the back of the card a peanut allergy or asthma, for example that are helpful for baby sitters and teachers to know.

Mommy cards are the most popular product that Heather Moritz, an Indianapolis-area graphic designer and mother of three, sells on her Web site, MoritzFineDesigns.com.

Not in our area, though. To date, her only customer in Ohio has been from Centerville, and she has had none in Michigan.

I sell at least one order of mommy cards a day, and typically we hit the East Coast and the West Coast, Florida, and Texas, Mrs. Moritz says.

Word-of-mouth helps drive sales. There s a whole bunch of women in Georgia that have them, she points out. I m sure it started with one or two girls, and it keeps coming from that same town.

So it was in Mrs. Melby s neighborhood.

Heather Pitzen, who lives just a few houses away, ordered cards for herself after seeing Mrs. Melby s.

I thought it was a great idea, Mrs. Pitzen says. She also has matching refrigerator magnets that she gives to families at whose homes her 5-year-old daughter Lauren plays, so they ll know how to contact her or her husband, Eric.

Mrs. Pitzen says she used to work in sales, so her personal card is a natural extension of the habit of giving my card out to customers.

She chose the title Homemaker to print on her happy sunflower-on-deep-blue card although she ordered a second card for select friends that says Domestic Goddess.

(Another popular title for moms is Family CEO. )

I just keep them in my purse, Mrs. Pitzen says. We ve run into people we haven t seen in awhile, and Eric will say, Do you have one of your cards with you?

Mr. Pitzen ordered his own cards, which have his contact information and the image of the Iwo Jima flag-raising. He uses them for networking with other Marine Corps veterans, Mrs. Pitzen says.

Card prices vary, as do quality (the weight of the paper stock, for example) and features (one-sided or two). Online, buyers can find heavily discounted or free designs that are sold for just the cost of shipping and processing; another Internet site has two-sided, original design cards priced at $50 for 100. Local shops also make business cards.

I wonder if people are tired of Plain Jane business cards, speculates Mrs. Moritz, the graphic designer, who adds that many people favor something that reflects their personal style over a buttoned-up corporate look.

One of her customers bought personal business cards for her mother, with the title Grandmother and the names of the six grandchildren. Mrs. Moritz says she also has sold cards to college students with their campus contact information, as well as to a substitute teacher and a baker.

Her own mommy card has her name on top, with the next line saying Mom to Luke, Grant, and Cole. Her home and cell phone numbers and e-mail address are listed below.

If my boys go over to someone s house to play for the first time, I ll hand that to the mom so that they have my contact information. Or, if I m out and about and meet somebody new or I run into an old friend, she says.

Ms. Koering whose cards4moms.com has received orders from women all over the world, including India, Sweden, and Australia sees mommy cards in the same category as jogging strollers: evidence of a movement of moms becoming more sophisticated.

Whether it s driven by professional women who have temporarily set their careers aside or dazzling celebrity moms, they re embracing and making momhood cool, Ms. Koering declares.

Contact Ann Weber at: aweber@theblade.comor 419-724-6126.



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