Laura Thomson loves sending and receiving greeting cards, but often found the existing cards in shops didn’t quite fit the occasion or the message she was trying to convey. During the pandemic, when she was on maternity leave, Thomson decided to take the leap and start her own greeting card company. Today the Toronto-based mother of two runs WishBird Greetings, a site where customers can create their own cards from hundreds of designs, fonts, and color schemes – and even upload their own photos to their designs. Thomson is proud of the fact that all her cards are printed on high-quality 100% recycled cardstock – and that WishBird takes care of postage and mailing cards for the customer, making the whole card-sending experience easy and enjoyable. As it should be.
Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.
How is your business different from others in your industry?
In Canada, there is no existing e-commerce greeting card company that allows you to create your own personalized paper greeting card that is printed and mailed to the recipient’s home. WishBird Greetings truly overcomes all of the barriers to buying a greeting card in Canada today.
Tell us about your biggest success so far.
It is sometimes hard to acknowledge my successes as I’m still at the beginning stages of launching my business. However, I need to recognize that having the courage to start a business is a success that must be celebrated. As a new startup, one of my most satisfying moments was receiving a card order from a random stranger.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Growing awareness and customer acquisition. The overwhelming feedback from those who have tried WishBird Greetings is that they love the product, with many customers returning to use WishBird for all their greeting card needs. However, building awareness continues to be my greatest challenge, which I am working to overcome.
I’ve tried a number of different traction channels such as building my presence on social media, partnering with affiliates, and using email marketing and PR to help overcome this challenge.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
Having enough time to do it all. I have two young children under the age of 3. Building a business while on maternity leave and now managing a business and a family life has stretched me to the point where I’ve had to learn how to be better at time management.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
Challenges are an inevitable part of the entrepreneurial journey and resilience is a trait I’ve had to learn to cultivate. I’ve learned to go for a walk or get a good night’s sleep when I encounter a big challenge and then I remind myself that there is always a solution. I might not be able to solve the problem directly, however there is always the opportunity to pivot in a new direction.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
On the hardest days, I will review some of my card orders. Each time I read what a customer has written in their card to a loved one or a friend, it reminds me of why I started WishBird Greetings. We truly deliver smiles, thoughtfulness, kindness and love. It is a business that is bringing people happiness and this gives me the inspiration to keep going.
What is your go to song to get motivated on tough days?
“Good Feeling” by Flo Rida.
Who is your most important role model?
I wouldn’t say that I have one specific role model. However, now that I have two young children and have started a business, I have a tremendous amount of respect for entrepreneurs who are also mothers. It is one of the most challenging goals I have ever pursued. ◼