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Teaming Up, Building Out

Sabrina Moyle ’96 and her sister, Eunice, founded the design studio Hello!Lucky. But starting their letterpress greeting-card company in 2003, the same year that Facebook launched, was a risk. Moyle talks about the process of starting out, changing directions, and finally finding her niche.

What are some of the new designs and content you are now creating?

We are designing a wide range of home and gift products, and doing a lot of publishing. Our projects include aprons, tea towels, pillows, rugs, and back-to-college bedding with Peking Handicraft and Maker’s Collective; baby bedding; enamel jewelry; offset printed cards, mugs, journals and novelty items for Ohh Deer; customizable cards, photo albums and calendars for Mixbook; digital cards and invitations for Paperless Post; protest posters for WalkWoke; offset printed cards for Recycled Paper Greetings; socks; and quilting fabric with Robert Kaufman Fabrics. In the publishing arena, we released three children’s books this year with Abrams Appleseed: My Mom is Magical, My Dad is Amazing, and Super Pooper and Whizz Kid: Potty Power.

We also illustrated Celebrate Today!, a fun guided journal by Jessica Macleish. Finally, we recently published two craft books for tweens and teens: Happy Mail, a book about making and sending handmade cards; and Be the Change: The Future is in Your Hands, a guide to creative civic action and community service. We have a half-dozen children’s books slated for release in 2019–2020.

Who are the partners in ceramics and what are those products like?

We are working with Magenta Inc., a ceramics manufacturer based in Berkeley, Calif. We are still in the early stages of developing our collections, but most likely they will include a line of mugs, trinket trays, dessert plates, and serveware, as well as melamine dish sets for kids, all featuring Hello!Lucky’s bright, humorous illustrations.

Did you think you would be doing what you are doing now when you were a studio art minor at Swarthmore?

No, I had no idea that I would eventually find a way to be a creator, let alone in ceramics (the focus of my studio art minor). While at Swarthmore, I thought the only path to pursuing my passion for ceramics was to become a fine artist and, potentially, to teach. I briefly considered applying to MFA programs, but decided to work in arts administration and apply to business school instead. This turns out to have been a great decision.

Now, I have a much better understanding of the economics of making creative products and distributing them to a broad audience, and what it takes to make a creative enterprise sustainable. I do hope to get back to the wheel and to begin making my own ceramics again, which could potentially become the inspiration for manufactured products. That said, with three young children, finding studio time is challenging, so it is a pleasure to be collaborating with the ceramic artists at our partner, Magenta Inc., to develop forms that can be mass-produced.

Was collaborating with others—instead of trying to do everything yourselves—a difficult transition?

Not at all. In fact, it was a relief. That said, we were very lucky. Our first and main partner, Egg Press, is a fellow woman-owned small business in Portland, Ore. The owner, Tess Darrow, is someone who we had known and admired for over a decade, so there was a high level of trust and we saw almost everything eye-to-eye.

From the beginning, we had a very open and collaborative relationship. Our subsequent partners, including Recycled Paper Greetings and Paperless Post, were wonderful as well, and we continue to have strong relationships with them. We later hired a licensing agency, Moxie & Co., which has done a wonderful job helping us identify and vet partners who are a good fit for our style and brand.

Tell us more about partnering with Sheryl Sandberg’s nonprofit Option B to create greeting cards for people for whom Mother’s and Father’s Day are difficult due to loss.

Option B is an organization that helps people build resilience in the face of adversity, anchored in the lessons shared in Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant’s book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy. I have long been passionate about building social and emotional intelligence and resilience in children and adults—an interest that has led me to write children’s books and serve on the boards of my children’s preschool and The Mosaic Project.

Hello!Lucky also has an ongoing partnership with The Dinner Party, an nonprofit organization of 20- and 30-somethings who have experienced loss, with whom we have collaborated on creating communal letter-writing experiences through Write_On, an annual letter-writing campaign with Egg Press to inspire authentic connections through the written word. When Option B approached us about doing Mother’s and Father’s Day cards, we knew it was a fit.

Over several weeks, we worked with their wonderful team to develop a variety of concepts that would speak to different kinds of loss or adversity, from a single parent going it alone; to a parent who has lost a child; to someone whose family structure falls outside of the norm—as well as to honor all the people who play a mother- or fathering role in our lives. While most of us have experienced loss and adversity in our family lives and among our friends, it can be hard to find constructive and empathetic ways to talk about it. We learned through working with Option B about the importance of simply creating a safe, supportive space where tough feelings can be felt and where there is also room for hope and humor. We hope that our cards help create authentic connections and encourage our society to be more open and caring about supporting one another through loss.

Why was that an important product that you felt was needed in the greeting card industry?

The greeting card industry is built around the mission of helping people express themselves and connect with family and loved ones around life’s most important moments. Yet, many times greeting cards focus on happy occasions and promote normative or prescriptive ways of feeling that may not resonate for everyone. The reality is that a holiday is just another day and many of them serve up mixed feelings—for example, the holidays can be a tough time for many due to family drama and societal pressure to be joyful, something that artist Emily McDowell broke through in her original holiday card line for Option B. We are thrilled to be helping the greeting card industry branch out and acknowledge the full range of feelings and experiences that people have over the course of their lives.

Do you ever create handmade cards for your family? Or do you use the ones from your line?

I do love to make handmade cards with my children, and one year I even painted my own holiday card and have it scanned and printed. That said, I do often send cards in our line because it is so convenient!

When you were a child, what kind of cards did you make? Do those ideas still hold any inspirational power over you?

I used to love making Valentine’s cards, and they do still have inspirational power, for sure! When I was in middle school, I made cards for everyone in my class featuring different polar bear scenes; it was a good early experience in exploring different variations on a concept. My sister and I also used to brainstorm children’s books when we were kids. One of them featured a character named Pathos P. Pitiful, who lived in the Land of Sad and needed to adventure to the Land of Glad by way of understanding his emotions. Who knows, maybe that will become a real children’s book one day!

I also remember making a children’s book while doing my junior year abroad studying architecture at Columbia University’s Shape of Two Cities Program. It was a picture book in which architect Bernard Tschumi’s Parc de La Villette is reimagined as a pinball machine, called Pinball Parc. My professor then recommended that I try to get it published. Now, years later, I am actually publishing children’s books!

Were there any authors or publications you turned to help guide you during the transition periods of Hello!Lucky?

I have always had a keen interest in philosophy, spirituality, and continuous personal improvement. I believe that once you have clarity on your values and purpose, and a consistent spiritual practice (whether it be meditating, writing, or going for walks … my great-grandfather used to say that the trees were his cathedral), then everything else falls into place. I have especially enjoyed the writings of Brené Brown, Parker Palmer, Richard Rohr, Eckhart Tolle, Sharon Salzberg, Krista Tippett, Paramahansa Yogananda, Dallas Willard, and Stephen Mitchell’s translations of key spiritual texts including the Tao Te Ching and the Baghavad Gita.

When I was shutting down Hello!Lucky’s wedding business and dealing with deep feelings and repetitive inner stories of failure, two books helped me pull through. First was Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, which helped me understand neuroplasticity and my ability to rewire my brain. The second was Byron Katie’s Loving What Is and her simple framework for inquiring into negative thought patterns, called The Work. These enabled me to turn my thoughts—and thus my life—around and get back on my right path.