Ryan Scro is a Massachusetts-based designer who creates colorful, uplifting, and fun greeting cards for the LGBTQ+ community and allies. His line contains cards for every major milestone and life event from transitioning to romance to building a family.
How did you get into making? And how did you start your business?
I’m a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design with a degree in Graphic Design and I’ve spent my entire career working in design agencies as a designer. I’m also a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Several years ago, I had the idea of combining those two very significant aspects of who I am to address the sheer lack of greeting cards that focus on LGBTQ+ major milestones and life events.
I decided to write, design, and sell my own line of cards that would be centered around the brand values of being positive, encouraging, supportive, caring, and loving.
What do you consider your greatest achievement (in life or your business)?
My greatest achievement with my business was simply following through with the idea. I admit to having many ideas, goals, and dreams—not all of which I pursue or follow through with. But, I’ve been determined ever since creating and launching my line of cards to see where it takes me and enjoy the ride along the way. I think this is a great indication of where my passion lies.
How has your life changed since starting your business?
I hate to start with something negative, but I think many would agree that we have been surrounded by a lot of darkness in recent years. Honestly, it’s sometimes hard to look through all that is bad in the world and to see the positive. From time to time, customers will share their story with me when purchasing from my shop—telling me their reason for buying a card. And, it’s these stories that remind me of the good in this world, of the tremendous amount of love and support and care that abounds. My cards and my shop have a allowed me to find a way to put some good of my own out into the world, to contribute to a better existence, and to be a part of something bigger than me.
Secondly, this side hustle has given me the opportunity to really be creative outside of my day-to-day work (of commitments to clients, and budgets, and deadlines that I often cannot control). While I’m creating cards for others, I get to design for me, too.”
What inspires you while your designing? How did you come up with your products? What is your process?
Inspiration is everywhere! You just have to be tuned into it. The messages of my cards have been inspired by many things… music and song lyrics, episodes of Queer Eye, blogs and articles, social media posts, quotes and sayings, even my own husband shares ideas.
The designs stay very true to my own aesthetic—one of simple/minimal and clean layouts, typography, bold color, and sometimes pattern.
I find that I have a lot more flexibility to be creative with my greeting card line than I do with my full-time job as a designer/art director. Without having to adhere to strict deadlines, I find that I have the freedom to let ideas simmer for whatever length of time feels right. Some ideas come more easily than others, so I don’t fight it when an idea (be it a new message, or a new design) just isn’t coming into focus right away. I keep track of all my ideas. Some come to fruition quickly and more easily than others. Those that don’t, I revisit and finesse, let them cook a bit longer until I feel like they’re in the right place. I’ve also found that I have the ability to really try ideas that I’m not always 100% sure about—test them without much cost. If I find that a particular card just isn’t getting many impressions in my shop, I can tweak it or remove it all together without having invested lots of money.
What is it that makes your brand and/or story important?
When I started my greeting card line at the end of 2017, there was a huge void of LGBTQ-focused cards in the market, especially in big box stores, but also in boutiques and even online. I saw the opportunity to fill that gap with cards that would address the many major milestones and events in the lives of people in the LGBTQ+ community. We’re everywhere! We’re your neighbor, your waitress, your doctor, your friend, your dad, your sister… And yet, the many happy, proud, even challenging moments in our lives couldn’t easily be acknowledge by a simple greeting card. I set out to create this line to be uplifting and positive about all the various life events we experience—avoiding too much stereotyping and clichés for the sake of being funny.
Where do you see your brand going from here? Are there any particular retailers you would like to see carry your line?
Most of my sales come from individual customers through Etsy. To be transparent, I’ve only had a handful of wholesale transactions—so I’m in a few small retail stores across the country. First, I’d really love to see that side of my business grow. Beyond that, I’d very much like to walk into a Target or Paper Store some day and see my cards on the shelves. Heck, I’d be happy to see a much wider selection of LGBTQ+ cards that go beyond the typical events in these stores. One step at a time.
When did you get started with wholesale and how did you know you were ready?
I started wholesale through Etsy back in 2018, but Etsy did away with their wholesale platform in the summer of that year. I was just starting to get some orders, so it was disappointing to have to find a new platform and start over.
When you receive a new wholesale order, what steps do you take to get to know your buyer?
I generally research the story/buyer through their website. I’ll also look for them and follow them on social media to get a sense of the store and store owner’s personality.
What is one piece of advice you would offer to someone else just starting out with wholesale?
Find someone who is more knowledgeable and has more experience than you and would be willing to guide you.