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How'd You Get That Job? A Greeting Card Designer Tells All

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Welcome to our new interview series, How'd You Get That Job, where we grill people with unusual positions you won't find in your standard career guide.

Meet Erica Sardarian, owner of Sweet Little Nothings xo a handcrafted greeting card company based in Los Angeles. Erica always had a love for cards ever since she was a little girl. Her mom would leave her sweet little notes wishing her luck on a test or letting her know how much she loved her in a card she hand-picked especially for her. Like her mom, she began buying cards and writing sweet notes 'just because.'

Sweet Little Nothings xo was always a dream that never came to fruition until Erica began roaming the aisles of her favorite card shop and wasn't able to find the perfect card to send her then boyfriend who lived across the country. Long distance relationship cards are hard to come by and not finding the right one really inspired her to create her own.

How did you get into designing greeting cards?

I've always had a love for cards. I grew up getting them and sending them. My mother would always leave me sweet little notes when I was a kid and still sends me cards in the mail just because. But how it all started was really unexpected and unplanned. I was working a freelance production job and during lunch one day walked over to a card shop next to the office. At the time, I was in a long distance relationship and couldn't find any cards to send my then boyfriend who lived in Maryland.

Out of curiosity, I asked the associate at the shop how you would even go about selling cards there and he said to send the owner a few samples. It all sounded so simple. Not having any cards to send and the thought of being able to sell at a shop I loved, inspired me to create my own. I had no idea how to even make a greeting card.

I worked as a creative in film and television for nearly ten years and was determined to create something unique to send. I went to a coffee shop and decided to spend the day just writing down ideas. I knew I needed to follow my heart but had a little bit of doubt because it was so unfamiliar. I finally found a place to sit in the crowded coffee shop and as the gentleman before me was leaving the table, I sat down and noticed there was a heart in his latte. For me, that was magic.

From there, I drew a bunch of ideas and met with a designer friend of mine and we created the "i miss you" card with a map of the United States and two cans with a string with "i miss you" below. The feeling I felt when I first saw the card printed is indescribable and it all unfolded from there.

Is there any special education or training required for greeting card design?

If you're really passionate about something, you can do anything. For me, I just love the feeling you get when you open an envelope and read a thoughtful card. Making something that can create a feeling, an emotion comes from within. For me, the ideas and concepts come easily because there's inspiration everywhere. The technical aspect of actually making the design requires skill, training, and a great eye and I'm grateful to collaborate with talented designers who can bring my vision to life.

When did you know designing greeting cards was something you should be doing?

I was working on a documentary, Company Town, telling a story about a small town polluted by one of the largest corporations in the county and working on that film transformed me. Telling human stories and doing meaningful work really inspired me. When the film was complete, I had this strong pull to continue doing impactful work. After going to the card shop and not finding a card I really loved, I was really inspired me to create my own. Starting Sweet Little Nothings xo wasn't planned and I'm so thankful that I get to spread love and kindness through small, thoughtful gestures.

What's the weirdest part of your job?

I wouldn't say there's anything weird about the job specifically but dealing with custom orders for clients or working with printing services can be challenging at times. It requires a lot of attention to detail and there are a lot of moving parts, but that's all part of being a business owner and you learn to adapt quickly to unexpected changes. I am constantly being challenged to be creative and it's always vulnerable to share something you've worked so hard on, but that is what I love about it.

Did you ever consider giving up and trying something else?

I am currently working in digital content creation and am incredibly lucky to sell my cards as a West Elm local (in Los Angeles) while working full time. Eventually, I would love to make Sweet Little Nothings xo my full-time career. It's what I wake up thinking about and go to bed dreaming about. Sending a card is such a thoughtful and meaningful gesture and it makes my heart full to know that something I created can make someone smile.

(Images courtesy of Sweet Little Nothings xo)

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