Behind The Brand

charito Cards

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Tell us a bit about yourself 

I was born in Vientiane Laos, and then moved to HK when I was around 2. I love arts and crafts. My dad was an oil painter so I grew up watching him paint. I also paint with oils. I do figurative oil paintings. You may check out my other work @kim_helgason_art. Lately, I have been experimenting with digital painting but It’s very different from conventional oil painting. I like both because it helps me open up to more ideas.

What made you start your company?

I was always very fascinated with stationary items. I can spend hours in any arts and craft shops looking at art materials and checking out new items. I particularly like browsing cards that have funny puns or crazy out of the world sentiments. That’s when I started to think of making my own cards.

Tell me about your product and brand?

My cards are handcrafted, I use metal dyes that go through a manual roller to cut the different shapes that I use to decorate my cards. I use cardstock that I order from the USA or Canada. Some I buy locally in Hong Kong (Kwun Tong area). I specialize in 3D pop up box cards. People are always fascinated with such cards. I sell more pop up cards than plain ones. The 2D cards are okay if the designs are based on local HK iconic symbols. I used to make envelopes but it took so much of my time so now I just buy them locally and I also order the square ones from the UK.

What struggles have you faced when starting up a business?

It was back in Canada when I started making cards. At first I would make a simple one that is just ordinary. I would decorate it with teddy bears made of felt, and put some leaves and flowers using my lunch cutter. I did not have other tools to help me cut , not even a 90 degree angle cutter. I wonder why my cards did not look straight. Then I went to Walmart and Michael’s to see what they have. I got a score board from Walmart and other punch cutters. That was how I started. Then later with more sales I was able to get myself “The Big Kick”. It’s a manual tool that you use with metal dyes and roll it in. The metal dyes will cut the cardstock. I was watching YouTube channels of other women making amazing beautiful cards. I got some ideas from them. My favourite card maker channel is “Jennifer McGuire”. She’s one of the best.

How did you get over them?

I don’t think I really had much struggle. I guess it’s because there’s not much competition in handcrafted cards yet. There was way more competition in Canada than in HK. I would be in an arts and craft market event and then there would be 4-5 others selling handcrafted cards. In HK I haven’t had any competition yet. I still kind of struggle with what design I have to come up with.

Any advice for others just getting started?

For advice, you will learn through trial and error. I have learned a lot from my own mistakes and sometimes I still make the same mistakes thinking I could bypass it. Then I would stop and think about what went wrong. I would be checking out what is trending in HK in the magazines and think of ways to improve my designs on my cards. I’ve read that greeting cards are a US$7 billion dollar industry annually worldwide. Over 50% sales are from Birthday Cards, then next is wedding and anniversary cards followed by seasonal cards (Christmas, Valentines, Mother’s Day , Father’s Day etc).

Do you have a favourite quote?

I don’t really have a favourite quote but I can relate to “Life is like a toilet roll” it gets faster as you get nearer to the end. That’s so true. Back then when I was a kid, I would daydream a lot and couldn’t wait to grow up. I never understood then why adults used to say “time flies”. But now I understand and that’s just like the toilet roll thing.

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