Card Designer Spotlight x 2021co

The Card Designer Spotlight is a series featuring independent makers whose greeting cards you can find in Paper Source stores. Meet and be inspired by a new designer every month on our blog!

Celebrate National Card and Letter-writing Month with our April Card Designer Spotlight featuring 2021co with Nicole & Emily. 2021co was officially launched in 2017 with the straightforward philosophy that ‘a simple card could change someone’s’ life for the better. Read more about Nicole & Emily’s card making careers and personal tidbits here.

How did each of you begin your card-making careers?

Paper has been a huge part of our individual lives for as long as we can remember! And—it’s what brought us together as friends over 16 years ago. Nicole has worked for years in the printing industry as a skilled salesperson and paper expert, and Emily has been using paper to create artwork since she was in preschool. Emily started creating greeting cards a few years after college as a secondary source of income while working for a local college in their publications department. That’s where we met, and instantly bonded over a love of paper, words and the strong belief that sending a simple card could change someone’s life for the better. We officially launched 2021 Co. in 2017 with the goal of use beautiful cards to put some good into the world.


Where do you draw inspiration from? Food? Pop Culture? Timeless Motifs? Playful Puns?
(Nicole) For me, inspiration comes from the human experience. How are people feeling? What messages are most in need and how can we make them beautiful and accessible. (Emily) I find inspiration all over the place, and I’m constantly snapping pictures and taking screenshots. Things you can find in my camera roll: unique color combos, lettering, pattern and foliage! That said, words are critically important in every card we create. We use a lot of hand lettering to make a message feel extra personal. What does your day look like as a card maker and designer? Every day is different! Sometimes it’s the pure magic of creativity coming to life, other days it’s all about putting out fires. We try to balance running a business while also supporting the creative mind required to put something special out into the world. It requires a lot of time management, inspiration, coffee and gratitude.

What is your preferred medium?
(Emily) It’s evolved over time to be honest! When I started most of my artwork and lettering was made with pens and drawn. Then for awhile watercolor came into play and I layered that in to some of our collection. Today, I paint with Gouache for many of our cards. I love the opaque nature of the paint and the ability to layer and add detail. I still prefer creating on a real piece of paper to making things digitally. Old habits die hard!

What does your creative process look like?
Each new card starts with a brainstorm session on what message we want to add to thecollection. A lot of times one of us will have an idea and Emily can immediately begin to see it in her mind and captures it as a pencil sketch. ( SO MANY SKETCHBOOKS!) Then, each design is either painted or drawn, scanned into the computer, designed and printed. The best day is the day the new cards arrive in the office. Pure excitement!

What are you most proud of as a creator and card maker?
(Nicole) Wow, that is a hard question. There is so much. When someone tells us that they purchased or received a 2021 Co. card at either a difficult or celebratory moment in their life and it meant the world to them. We make cards and paper products yes, really, we foster human connection by giving people tools to communicate and THAT is what makes us most proud.

( Emily) Ditto to what Nicole said! It’s a very special and magical thing, when you create artwork- it’s a little piece of yourself. When someone
likes it and validates it, it is such an honor. I’m proud to work in an industry that understands that connecting with one another in the good and bad times is what it’s all about.

Any Personal tidbits? Special talents/fun facts to share with us?
These are my favorite questions in any interview! ????

(Emily) OK, my go to cheat snack hands down is cheez-its! Extra toasty if you please. ( I love them so much we did a blog post about gratitude and I literally lettered the word in cheez-its). I’m currently preparing for my first degree black belt test in Krav Maga. It’s been a 4+ year process and I’m so excited to earn that rank. I love travel but hate flying, a common paradox. I’m a mom of 3, a wife, and a true cat lady who, if it wasn’t for an allergic husband, would have many more rescues than my two current babies!

(Nicole) I am the pickiest eater and am zero fun to eat out with (my friends might not admit this, but I can feel their eyes rolling when I order). A former triathlete and marathon runner, I now spend way too much time watching TikTok and reading personal development books. Insanely curious about other people and their life stories, I love finding connections to help make everyone’s life more meaningful. I have two
human kids with my husband of 25 years and one Great Dane, Atticus (who is hands down the favorite in the family). We both love caffeine, cheese, dark chocolate and believe in the power of therapy, a good podcast, and eating a chocolate chip cookie to solve most problems.

Find 2021co cards, such as the So So Proud of You Greeting Card,  I’m So Lucky Love Card, and All Shapes and Sizes Pet Sympathy Card at our local stores or online at For more inspiration and behind-the-scenes action, follow 2021_co on IG.