Oswego couple is dropping seeds of happiness and comfort with their new business endeavor
The onset of the pandemic sparked new business ventures for some people. The forced isolation of COVID-19 made one northern Illinois couple focus on a business idea that incorporates an old-fashioned way of communicating.
These days most people use social media to keep in touch with close friends and family. Oswego residents Lo Bannerman Dennis and her husband Steven wanted to make connecting more intimate with the help of the U.S. Postal Service. They did this by creating a greeting card company called Positive Post Co.
Dennis said when she was growing up, greeting cards were always big in her family.
“I was raised in the family where you couldn't play with a gift until you wrote and sent the thank you note,” she recalled. “And every holiday was celebrated with some kind of a tangible card. So, birthday greeting cards, literally anything, there was usually a card going out in the mail.”
She said she wanted to share that feeling she had as a young girl with everyone else.
The couple has a 2-year-old, who turned 1 at the beginning of 2020. Dennis said she realized that a lot of her friends, who weren’t parents, didn’t know how to support her.
One of her friends had given her a pack of cards that had encouraging words on them, and she wanted to create something similar for new parents. This was the thought before COVID-19 took over.
“And then the pandemic hit, and I was like, ‘oh, there's a bigger need here,” she explained. “It's not just moms and new families, there's a global need for connection and love.”
Dennis calls herself a pollinator of happiness. She’s a dietitian and lactation counselor who pulled the self-made title from what she calls her need to help heal people holistically.
The couple started reaching out to friends and family during the beginning of the pandemic. They did this by sending photo cards of their daughter Spud around her birthday. Dennis said she thought they would get responses back since most people were home. Months went by and they still weren’t getting any return mail, so they reached out to see why.
They learned that people were more comfortable with using social media to communicate and didn’t want to buy postage stamps.
Dennis said receiving a card is more personable than receiving a text or chatting over the internet.
“So, we try to create images that are happy and joyful,” she said, “but also ones that are there when someone needs a hug and they're going through a harder time, and you might not know the words to say. And then it's all on 100% recycled paper and the postage stamp is already on it.”
The couple started with eight designs. Two had fun messages. Others were meant for hard times but were sprinkled with upbeat messages.
Dennis said she knows there are plenty of greeting cards companies out there, but she compares them to commercial food.
“When food is grown on a conventional farm, or it's grown in your backyard, you can 100% taste the difference,” she expressed. “And same thing when you cook it. You can tell when food is just microwaved or when it's cooked with love. And so that's kind of the difference I see here too.”
She said the images on their notes are hand drawn and she touches every single card that goes out. She originally outsourced an artist but has discovered that she has a talent for drawing too. All the printing is done in house as well.
She said Positive Post Co. will continue to find other avenues that will help drive positivity and light into the world.
Dennis said she carried a lot of doubt when it came to her artistry, but she is encouraging others to drop any burdens that are weighing them down.
“And if you're listening, and you're questioning how to show up in the world, or you have a little inkling of a business idea, or even a hobby, passion, anything, please follow it,” she said. “You never know where it's going to lead. There aren't any failures.”
She explained that there is always a lesson learned, which can lead to a greater purpose.
- Yvonne Boose is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.