Inspiring Designer: Lovepop

August 23, 2016 by Erin Behan

     
Wombi Rose and John Wise, the founders of the Boston-based card company Lovepop, had a hunch that their 3D pop-up paper art designs would be a hit, but they didn't know how special their cards were until they took a prototype to Boston Public Gardens to show strangers and get feedback.

Inspiring Designer: Lovepop
"I remember one woman in particular, named Kyle," Rose says. "We handed her our willow card, and asked her who she would give it to, and she answered immediately that she'd give it to her mom, and she would give it to her today because it was the anniversary of her dad's death, and she knew it would make her mother smile on a hard day.

"That was it for us. We knew we had created something with the potential to change someone's day, and we wanted to do more of it. That day filled with positive responses from complete strangers was a turning point for us. It gave us the confidence to leave our stable career paths and take a leap of faith on Lovepop."

After that experience they went on to found the company in 2014, and since then the company has been breathing new life into the greeting card industry by creating pop-up cards so intricate and detailed that they double as a gift.

The pair have a solid if unusual pedigree. They met at Webb Institute where they studied naval architecture and marine engineering, but it was on a Harvard Business School trip to Vietnam where they became captivated by paper cards that were folded and cut so that when they opened, an entirely new landscape emerged.

Rose and Wise call what they do "slicegami," and it's a bit of a cross between origami (the art of paper folding) and kirigami (the art of paper cutting) with a hefty dose of engineering knowhow. It all fits together quite nicely, Rose says. "From a technical point of view, our engineering background is the foundation for every card design that we create. We use the same CAD software that we used in ship-building; we create paper sculptures along longitudinal and latitudinal lines just like a boat's hull."

Inspiring Designer: Lovepop
But you don't have to be a math whiz to take notice. When a magical pirate ship or a colorful, sparkling unicorn pops out of a formerly two-dimensional paper card, there are few people in the room who won't be impressed.

Lovepop cards do all sorts of amazing things when they open, but for Rose, the Christmas Tree card really captures how the right paper can make all the difference. "We knew we had to create movement to capture the imagination, but the we never realized how cool it would look when we added movement to shiny papers that really catch the light," he says.

The two have taken their paper magic to two episodes of Shark Tank — the reality TV shows that puts entrepreneurs in front of big-money investors in the hopes of getting an investment and a big national TV audience (they got a buy-in) — and they've raised money from Kickstarter and other investors.

Each of their cards is designed in Boston and laser cut and hand-assembled in Vietnam, a conscious choice as it's where they first came upon the idea and where many skilled assemblers live and work. To ensure quality, and that workers are treated appropriately, Rose and Wise use their own factory.

Lovepop has a card for every occasion, from tried-and-true holidays like Mother's Day and Valentine's day, to cards themed around a yellow submarine, surfing, and a lobster drinking Champagne. New designs are constantly being added to the store, to the tune of about 20 per month, and customer feedback is taken seriously. Kate Burke, who heads up the company's public relations efforts, says her son is hoping to see his request of hidden ninjas come to fruition in a card soon.

If time is of the essence, you can have a personal note written inside your card and sent directly to the recipient for an extra fee. And if you want to plan ahead for next time, you can order packs of cards (there's a birthday themed one and another aimed at guys who forget things) so you'll never be caught empty-handed again.

Inspiring Designer: Lovepop
They've also expanded to personalized wedding invitations. Those interested meet with a wedding concierge and designer to customized wedding invitations. It might be a skyline for a city wedding, the happy couple popping out of a vintage car, or whatever tells the story of the relationship or the wedding.

"It's really been a treat to get to know newly engaged couples and be a part of their journey together," Rose says. "And it's so fun realizing that you have built a team that has every bit as much passion as you do for your customers and your product, and a team that is better than you at so many parts of creating these intricate works of art."

SHOP AT Distinct Papers.com for your cardstock.


Erin Behan

Written by Erin Behan

Erin Behan is an L.A.-based writer and editor who considers fine paper one of life's little pleasures.

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