This week’s magnificent Midwest jewel is The BoxBerry! A one-woman creative enterprise that creates and sells a collection of adorably “punny” greeting cards. Their whimsical, hilarious and heartwarming designs and slogans can capture so many moments in our lives, both big and small.
The cards at BoxBerry are almost as amazing as the woman behind them all, Erin Bonham. Since 2012, The BoxBerry has slowly been getting more and more popular. These hand-sketched designs done by Bonham herself have captured the attention of many, and The BoxBerry is only growing. For the past three years, Bonham has been able to be self-reliant on her graphic design business and The BoxBerry, making her the next woman to watch in the Great Lakes Region.
With over 70 designs to choose from, you’ll find that it is difficult NOT to find the perfect card you’re looking for! From a pair of adorable penguins to gorgeous images of a tent beneath a mountainous sky, BoxBerry has both conventional and incredibly unique designs that catch any eye.
What Began it All?
“One of the reasons I started the card company was because I just loved the idea of sending mail,”.
What first began as a fun, creative way to connect with family and friends, Erin Bonham embraced her love for “snail mail”. “You can’t argue that there’s nothing better than coming home to hand-delivered mail from a friend or for any reason – whether it’s your birthday or just a ‘hello’ – it will never be replaced by just a text or an email,”.
Bonham hadn’t at all thought that she would turn it into a business when she started sending these amazing, heartwarming cards. “I had zero intentions of starting a greeting card company,” she says. “I would wake up at odd hours of the day and had so much time, being up so early, and I would just doodle.” It was like a form of meditation, she says, and sketching or writing little cards and illustrations to her mother, back in Michigan, was for her own use.
It was only after her brother suggested she sell them that she decided to give it a shot. The very first card was “I’m so Very Fawned of You” an adorable picture of two fawns touching noses on a crisp, white background.
This card, among six other woodland creature designs, were the first of the BoxBerry designs to make it to etsy.com where Bonham first began selling. Six months into selling on Etsy, she still hadn’t got a sale. Then, after a long, well-earned wait, she got a sale!
This one sale inspired her to keep going. “I have a really great support system,” she says. In the beginning, friends and family would both volunteer to help her get BoxBerry off the ground. From consignment shops to art stores, street markets and fairs, Erin Bonham worked hard every single day to bring her new business to life!
Does BoxBerry only sell Greeting Cards?
No! In fact, the BoxBerry now offers new products that feature classic designs. Mugs pins and tote bags can now accompany you and your loved ones around the kitchen table, at the beach or on a backpack.
The name BoxBerry was inspired by Bonham’s childhood in Northern Michigan where she spent most of her time at her grandmother’s home. “The one thing about my grandma’s house that was so incredible, that I just think is magical, is that she had a Teaberry plant growing in front of one of her oak trees in her backyard. Teaberry is also known as a boxberry,” says Bonham.
Her first six designs were inspired by the animals in her grandmother’s backyard.
“They grow in the wild, so you have to stumble across them,” says Bonham. Though you can now find these greeting cards on Bonham’s own website, and soon here on Greatlakesmade.com, you may also have found yourself admiring them in many local boutiques and shops both in Chicago and in Michigan.
“I think that feeling of nostalgia and happiness, and being connected to somebody – being connected to that magic – is always something I want to carry through in my card line,” says Bonham. “That’s where the name BoxBerry came from.”
Where does your Inspiration come From?
“It’s kind of changed a bunch since when I first started – like any artist you’ve got to switch things up a little bit.”
Though most of Bonham’s first designs were inspired by nature and wildlife, her recent travels to far off places have inspired her most recent creations.
The “Aloe You Vera Much” cards or “Here’s to New Adventures” have both been inspired by traveling. “I feel like I have so many homes now,” says Bonham, who at first was inspired by her childhood home. “Even in a city in another country, I still recognize that joy that goes into my greeting cards.”
As for the puns, well, “I have my Dad’s sense of humor,” she says. “I never know what the pun is going to be before I draw it,”. Another great card, “Oh, Schnapps!” was “…literally a response to a friend visiting for the holidays who said, ‘I’ll bring the Schnaps,’” says Bonham. It’s clear that not only are the cards full of love, but definitely have a great sense of humor, too!
What does your Daily Life look like?
Erin Bonham is “a one-woman show”, from conception of an idea, to sketching, networking with customers, to getting the cards printed and then to shipping her merchandise out.
“I have a giant To-Do list that I refer to every day,” she says. From checking emails, responding to clients, to managing prints or packaging orders, Bonham is working hard to make BoxBerry as best it can be.
Each card is digitally printed in Chicago and she “can see them coming right off the press,”. She then packages them herself and sets up orders for shipments and mailing to wherever they need to go.
Each card, from the kind of paper used, to the envelopes, to the colors that come out off the printer, is carefully reviewed by Bonham herself and tailored to be as perfect as possible!
Once the work is done, Bonham makes sure to turn off her computer and escape into her designs. A “form of meditation,” she makes sure to give a lot of heart to her art, which is the most important part of the process.
What is the most important part of BoxBerry?
Bonham spoke about how she tries to bring something unique to an overly saturated market of greeting cards. She strives to create designs that appeal to those who are looking for something that you wouldn’t find in a major chain store.
Instead, BoxBerry cards have that boutique or lakeside store charm that you’d find hidden away like a diamond in the rough waiting to be found. “It’s really about creating a feeling,” she says. “Being reminded of someone you care about, and I guess that I always hope that if all my cards are inspired by someone I care about, or someone I miss, then maybe they will do the same thing for someone else.”
“Puns have a way of hitting people and tugging at heartstrings, even though they’re funny,” she says. “We all have someone we miss or someone we are thinking about, and the best part is that these cards can find their way to that person.”
What is Next for The BoxBerry?
“I’m doing a lot of shows,” she says. “The next show I’m doing is in Chicago called Sauced Night Market,” coming in June this year at House of Vans. Be sure to check her out there!
Even though Bonham is taking a step back from events for the time being, she’s been starting to look into the Faire Wholesale platform in order to expand The BoxBerry, to “self-promote and bring it further than just Michigan,”. Here’s hoping that you’ll be able to find BoxBerry cards all over someday!
Finally, the new tote bags, mugs and pins added to the store is a new exploration that Bonham is doing for BoxBerry. “Look out for those in the next six months!”, she says. “New products, new puns!”
Where can I get one?
There are also some boutiques and stores listed below for those local Great Lakes Region folks looking to shop in-person:
- Leon & Lulu (Clawson),
- Poppins (Mackinaw Island),
- Whistle Stop Grocer (Union Pier),
- Suhm-Thing (Traverse City and Plymouth),
- Rail & Anchor (Royal Oak),
- Rebel Reclaimed (Grand Rapids),
- Bohemian Home (Plymouth),
- Craft (Adrian),
- Half Mile Handmade (Bay City)