We had the good fortune of connecting with Janine Kwoh and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Janine, what do you want your legacy to be?
My greeting card and gift company, Kwohtations, acknowledges and celebrates the people and moments in life that aren’t always fully represented in the card aisle. For example, many of my cards have characters of different genders and skin colors, and I have cards about chosen families, mental wellness, grief and loss, and celebrating every day wins. I try to acknowledge and delve into the lives we actually lead rather than the ones we’re told we should. At the end of the day, I hope that people remember that I made them feel more seen and less alone.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Kwohtations grew out of a conversation with my friend, Amy, in 2011. We were having coffee and just started talking about many of the life situations that we find ourselves in but that there weren’t any greeting cards for. At the time, we were both in corporate jobs, I was working in finance, which was a good job but wasn’t right for me, so one of the first cards I made said “Yay You Quit!” to celebrate leaving a job, because I think it’s often easier to stay on a path you’re already on than to knock yourself off and try something new.

I started making cards as a creative outlet while working full-time, and then I started selling them on Etsy, at craft fairs on the weekends, and eventually into local gift shops. The growth was very organic – I never really wanted or thought I could run my own business as a full-time job, but the business grew slowly and steadily until I decided to quit my job and work on Kwohtations full-time in 2018.

The content of Kwohtations cards in some ways has remained the same from the beginning—celebrating the diversity and absurdity of life—but I’ve expanded it from being about more lighthearted topics to addressing experiences like grief and loss, mental health, and the idea of expanding our definition of family. Many of the cards have different character options with different skin colors and genders, so people can choose the character that looks most like them or the person they’re giving the card to. I think there’s something really powerful about seeing people who look like you, in terms of helping you feel like you belong, in knowing that this thing, whether it’s a greeting card, or a movie, or a book, is undeniably for you. For example, for my wedding cards, you can pick which two people you want on the card because we don’t all look and love the same, and that should be acknowledged and celebrated.

A lot of the cards are from my own life, things that I struggle with and that have made me feel “other” or alone at some point in my life. Kwohtations has become a way for me to explore and process the issues I’m dealing with, and a way for me to tell myself the things I need to hear. And often, there are others who also need to hear the same affirmations.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If someone was visiting New York, I would take them to some of the must-dos in the city: one of the many museums (The MoMA and the Whitney are my personal favorites), a Broadway show (I just saw A Strange Loop, which was amazing), and a lazy picnic in Central Park. I would also take them walking along The High Line, ending with some food and drink at Mercado Little Spain.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There is no roadmap to being an entrepreneur, and I rely heavily on the wisdom and community of my fellow stationery makers. In particular, our “stationery gang” of Krishna Chavda (NANU Studio), Kate Murray (Quick Brown Fox Letterpress), Daniel Joseph Durkin (Daniel Joseph Durkin Illustrations), Cecily Moore (The Paper Curator), and Ken Crossland (The Lobster Studio) have been constant and vital sources of guidance and friendship for me.

Website: www.kwohtations.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/kwohtations

Twitter: www.twitter.com/kwohtations

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kwohtations

Other: www.tiktok.com/@kwohtations

Image Credits
Opalite Media Michelle Nicole Photography Isometric Studio

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