Finding a Universal Expression

It seems like they just show up on the shelf: rows of small cards, some serious and poignant, others sarcastic and silly, each one encapsulating an emotion that anybody can share. But working behind the scenes to provide an ever-fresh selection of greeting cards are teams of writers and editors. Among them: Jessica Dolce '99.

If you have ever browsed a selection of cards produced by American Greetings, you may have read Dolce's work. For more than three years, she has supplied the poetic sentiments and the brief wit for greeting cards displayed in retail stores across the country.

Lemons, says the cover of one of Dolce's cards, decorated with illustrations of lemon wedges and martini glasses. The inside delivers a fresh take on a familiar saying: When life handed her lemons, she added ice, vodka, and a sippy straw. A toast--to wonderful, resourceful you! Congratulations.*

Dolce loves her job because it affords many opportunities for such playfulness. But writing successful cards isn't easy. A good greeting card needs to capture a sentiment, but it also has to appeal to hundreds of thousands of potential buyers. "You have to find a universal expression," Dolce says.

Part of her job involves developing new product concepts, which requires her to be aware of popular tastes. "I keep up on all the current trends by reading a lot of magazines and listening to popular music. I also get a lot of ideas from people-watching, from observing my family and friends," she says. "But every idea sparked by one of those sources always comes through my own voice."

Dolce was an English major at Kenyon, but the seeds of her career were planted much earlier. "When I was little, I had my own line of greeting cards. They were all in rhyming verse with pretty construction paper," she says. "I was making cards for every possible occasion, and it became an endearing family tradition." Dolce's father teased her, saying that she would grow up to be a greeting-card writer. "But I don't think he ever really thought I would," she says with a laugh.

When she first started working at American Greetings, Dolce devoted all of her time to writing cards. Two years ago, she became the lead editor overseeing the descriptions printed on the boxes of several hundred products in the company's multimillion-dollar Christmas ornament line. She also works with a number of other special product lines.

One of her new product launches is Bachelorette Boutique, a line of bachelorette-party supplies that is being rolled out nationally following successful testing in Target stores. "It's a good-girls' version of a bachelorette party. Not everyone wants a risqué, bawdy party," she says, noting that the new line provides a fun alternative. Products in the line include bubbles, tiaras, car signage, and a bachelorette oath that reads, what goes on at the bachelorette party stays at the bachelorette party!*

Dolce holds the Bachelorette Boutique line close to her heart--she was one its three creators. "That line is my baby, something very precious to me. To see it come out on the market is really exciting."

Dolce is currently writing and editing for two new, trendy card lines, Winking Moon and Tremont Studios. Dolce helped write the background story that appears on the back side of all cards in the Tremont Studios line.

Sending a greeting card is a personal gesture. That's true quite literally for Dolce, who often sends friends or family members cards that she herself wrote. "I always autograph the backs now," she says. "They get such a kick out of that."*Excerpts ©AGC Inc.

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