How did sending a simple, handwritten card turn into a booming creative business? In a new Dribbble video, Punkpost’s CEO Lex Monson explains why tangible products hold so much meaning for us in an increasingly digital world. Learn how Punkpost got started, how the business model functions, and get inspired to make someone’s day.
With Punkpost, you can send beautifully handwritten cards through your phone, and they’re all handwritten by artists. So you type your message, we take that message, handwrite it in a card, and mail it off for you.
Hi my name is Lex, I’m the CEO of Punkpost and we’re based in San Francisco, but our artists are all around the United States.
How did Punkpost come to be?
Santiago (who is my partner and business partner), he used to travel a ton and he had a meeting in Boston. He was super nervous about it so beforehand, I just sent a card to his hotel so he’d get it at check-in like, “You’re going to do great!”
For him growing up, getting mail wasn’t a huge thing. When he got that card he thought “This thing is so simple but the feeling is so strong and it feels really good.” Afterwards he was like, “Oh, I want to send Lex a card back, but how do I get a postage stamp?” You know, so it’s all these things that go into a card that are super simple, but become a little bit laborious.
When he got home we were just talking about how cards make you feel so awesome and have a big impact. People have all these intentions of sending them. We talked to so many people who said things like, “I buy cards all the time” but then they sit in a shoebox under their bed. These make people feel good, people want to send them, what if we just help people make good on their good intentions and make a platform where they can come to a card store and we just write it and send it for them.
We have this unique situation where not only do we provide the card, but we also write the message. For example, we have a card that says, “I love you to the moon and back.” Everyone was just writing that in their card. So we thought we should just make that into a card. So really, our users inspire a lot of what we do.
I think seeing so many different artists and what they’re doing is really inspiring. I think that’s something we really leverage as a community — sharing tips and tricks and I think that keeps all of us inspired or at least wanting to learn. If you talk to our community they’ll say the community is their favorite thing, and being able to learn from each other.
Physical products in a digital world…
Technology at its best really makes us more human. Tangible products are something I think we’ll always need and want, especially as things move more digital. It makes things that are tangible feel even more special. No matter if someone writes you like the nicest text message or email. It’s not the same as if it comes to you in the mail. There’s like a feeling that can totally change your day or change your week and it makes you feel like someone’s really thinking about you.
With vinyl, it’s the same thing. There’s something fun about putting a record on a record player. It’s more thoughtful… you thought, “I want to listen to this song.” It’s not just like someone served it up to me. Tangible is almost more important now. Digital is awesome because it gives us access to more and helps us learn more. But, these old school items have a big place in our lives.
Working with remote designers…
People being from different places and having different day to day experiences I think affects the arts. You not only have different personalities but different outlooks on maybe an assignment you give. Our handwriting artists you know, everyone kind of does that part-time. So, some people are in college, some people are stay-at-home moms, some people have day jobs that are creative.
Coming home at night and being able to write these really nice messages, ends up being both a meditative experience because you really have to concentrate, and then the nice messages that people write become a positive force in our lives, because you’re like, “Oh my God, people really care about each other.” Which is nice to see.
Challenges with remote designers…
I think the challenge of working with remote designers is always communication. As a designer, it’s your personal work, and you put a lot of yourself into it. So, I think being able to communicate in a way that’s constructive but also helps keep confidence high, is probably the hardest part but also the most enriching part when you can nail it. When you feel like you’re giving someone constructive feedback and they also feel excited about it as well.
Dribbble and Punkpost…
With Dribbble, it’s people who like your work looking for you — so it doesn’t feel as weird or random. It feels like the marketplace to make contact with designers where you see their work and you appreciate it. Also, just in our card art, some of our handwriting artists are on Dribbble as well.
Sometimes I see them throw up designs and I’m like “Hey could we do a version of that for Punkpost?” So, I think with people just putting stuff into the world, you get to see it and maybe it works for you, or maybe it inspires you to work with them.
I think being super open to feedback. You don’t know what the hell you are doing. As a small business owner, especially when you’re starting out, it all feels really personal because it’s your idea. But at a certain point, it gets beyond you and I think also being honest about that, and being like, “Yes, what this was, was totally me and maybe now it’s part of this bigger group. Which is also awesome and cool, it’s different.” Being open and learning, admitting when you f@#% up, that’s it.