A D.C. greeting card company features witty, ironic and sometimes touching cards all designed by people who have experienced homelessness.
“You will get through this sht,” “I love you more than cheese” and “sorry I f**ed up” are just some of the cards available at Second Story Cards.
Reed Sandridge, 46, started the company in 2016 as a way to help homeless people garner revenue and connect with people.
“At their core people who are experiencing homelessness are thirsty for connection with people and that’s what we do with greeting cards,” he said.
Each card maker receives 15 percent of the sale price from the card they designed, some making around $2,000 in revenue.
An additional percentage that is given to a charity of their choosing.
“We found it’s extremely healing and rewarding for them to be able to give back and help others,” Reed said.
A bio of each card’s designer and their reason for the design are detailed on the back of each card.
Some backstories are heartbreaking, including a card featuring a bear wanting a hug and the card maker’s saddening description of spending so much of his life desiring a hug while living on the streets.
Two dozen card makers aged between seven and 70 are spread throughout D.C., Ohio, Tennessee and California.
Encouragingly most of the card makers have found housing since joining the project.
They need not have any past experience in graphic design or card-making, just a desire to to create something relatable.
“What I need is people who are able to be open and honest about their feelings as they pertain to life because that’s what cards are,” Reed said.
Second Story has no brick and mortar store, and relies heavily on wholesales, in person sales at pop ups, and sales from their website Secondstorycards.com.
“When the pandemic hit it closed down virtually all of that and we basically lost 90 percent of our sales overnight,” Reed said.
Luckily, he was able to get in contact with businesses and hotels and offer up their services for design needs, which he says has been critical to keeping them afloat.
Reed said one of the best parts of the process is seeing the relationship with card makers transform from being money-driven to the satisfaction of seeing their work come to life.
“It’s beautiful to see that transformation from the relationship being based solely on them getting the money to them having pride in what they do,” he said.
“The best thing you could ever see is to take a card maker into a store where their card is on the shelf and the delight they have.”