Made in New England: Meet Wombi Rose of Lovepop Greeting Cards
Creating magical moments is at the core of Love Pop, a Boston-based greeting card company specializing in hand-crafted 3D pop-up cards. We got to chat with co-founder Wombi Rose about their tree planting sustainability initiative, keeping up with the demand after airing on Shark Tank and the importance of little acts of kindness.
W.R.: My co-founder John Wise and I are originally ship designers, naval architects and marine engineers. We’ve always wanted to start a business together, and in 2014, we were on a business school trip in Vietnam where we discovered kirigami paper art sculptures. We realized the structure and engineering of each design were similar to the way you design a ship and thought it was super cool, so we decided to apply those techniques to create pop-up cards to gift to family and friends.
We knew we had a great idea when we saw the reactions they created—it was like magic. They couldn’t stop opening and closing them, wanting to give them to other people they knew. We realized we could use our backgrounds to make it easy for people to do something magical for the people they care about. That’s how Lovepop was born.
R.K.: How do you go about designing and creating the cards?
W.R.: We use 3D design software from our shipbuilding days and lasers to create each card—each is then individually crafted by hand. Our design and engineering teams are always looking for inspiration and innovations to make every pop-up more intricate, unique and personal. We’re inspired by our customers —who are constant sources of awesome ideas—and the people and places around us. We like to think we see color in a world that’s often black and white.
R.K.: Paper is at the core of everything you do. Can you speak to your sustainability initiatives?
W.R.: Every year we celebrate Arbor Day by recognizing the importance of forests in our lives and sustainable forestry in our company. We take the time to go tree planting to raise awareness as a team, and we select a Lovepop tree design where for the month of April, we partner with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant a tree for every Lovepop sold of that tree design.
R.K.: What did you have to learn the hard way? Any particular challenges along the way?
W.R.: Building a business, there is so much to learn. When we aired on Shark Tank, we learned the hard way how difficult it is to keep up with demand when people are really excited about your product. We fielded 20,000 emails and so many phone calls.
As much as we prepared, we weren’t really ready. That led to a quick investment in our customer happiness team, whose mission it is to go above and beyond in taking care of our customers. Learning that lesson has helped us create hundreds of thousands of better customer experiences in the last few years.
R.K.: Has there been a benefit to starting your business in the New England area that you don’t think you’d get elsewhere?
W.R.: Boston is the home to amazing start-up opportunities that have supported us throughout our growth. We were very lucky to have the opportunity to start our business in the Harvard iLab, and then join the incredible Techstars Boston community. There are also so many communities of students who are exploring entrepreneurship that we’re able to help along their way. Being able to meet and speak with students and fellow startup founders has been rewarding and humbling.
R.K.: What other local brands are you a fan of?
W.R.: So many. Just to name a few: Tracey Noonan and her family at Wicked Good Cupcakes (our Shark Tank sister company), Rica Elysee at BeautyLynk (building an inclusive beauty brand), Kendall Tucker at Polis (building software to disrupt door to door sales), Dexter Ang at Pison (building the next generation of the mouse—a wristband to control your phone, inspired by helping ALS patients), and of course Niraj Shah, Steve Conine and the team at Wayfair who have built a billion-dollar consumer tech company in Boston. But this town is full of amazing companies and entrepreneurs, and it’s incredible to be in their midst.
R.K.: Who has been the greatest influence or role model in starting your business?
W.R.: We’re always looking at Disney. They create magic. We create magical moments. Everything they care about is in the experience, and it’s the same core philosophy that is at the heart of who we are.
R.K.: Do you have a favorite quote or business mantra?
W.R.: “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” —Sam Walton
R.K.: Where do you hope to see your brand in the next two years?
W.R.: I hope we’ve grown well beyond our goal of making one billion magical moments and can now be found in everywhere around the world so anyone, anywhere can experience Lovepop.
R.K.: What advice would you give someone looking to start their own business?
W.R.: “Just do it.”
R.K.: At WELL, we believe wellness comes in all forms. What does wellness look like for you?
W.R.: Wellness, to me, is that amazing feeling you get when you can do something thoughtful or kind for someone else. It could be giving a Lovepop card, or helping someone carry their groceries to their car, or just smiling at a stranger on the subway. Little acts of kindness can go a long way, and I think they feel great, too.
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