this Friday, March 29, 2013 photo the "Love
is Grand" card part of the Crane for
Paperless collection is on display in New York.
Paperless Post has defied its original digital
business model successfully once. Now the online
invitation and greeting card startup is taking
that defiance a step further. The New Yaork
company launched PAPER by Paperless Post in
October after customers requested a way to get
its electronic greeting cards and invitations in
a more old-fashioned way: On actual paper. Now
Paperless Post is teaming up with stationery.
YORK — Paperless Post has defied its original
digital business model successfully once. Now the
online invitation and greeting card startup is taking
that defiance a step further.
New York company launched Paper by Paperless Post in
October after customers requested a way to get its
electronic greeting cards and invitations in a more
old-fashioned way: On actual paper. Starting
Wednesday, Paperless Post is teaming up with
stationery and card maker Crane & Co. to print
wedding invitations. Users will be able to choose from
35 wedding invitation designs that they can customize
and then print on Crane paper.
sounds like an unlikely match: Crane has been printing
cards and stationery on paper made of 100 percent
cotton since 1801 in Dalton, Mass., while Paperless
Post was launched in 2009 by 20-something siblings
with no plans to ever print cards.
it turns out people still want to walk to the mailbox
and send the real thing, even though it's much easier
and less expensive to send invites and greetings
through a tweet, Facebook message or email.
might say paper is dead or dying, but actually, it's
not at all. It's just more rarified," says Alexa
Hirschfeld, who co-founded Paperless Post with her
brother James Hirschfeld. "The choice to send
paper has more meaning because of the fact that you
don't have to."
way Paperless Post presents its cards may have helped
drum up demand for something more traditional. Its
digital cards look like the real thing. When a card is
sent, the receiver first sees a closed envelope. When
it opens, a digital card slides out.
of our biggest help requests was 'how can I print this
card?'" says James Hirschfeld. About 30 percent
of the nearly 11,000 cards on Paperless Post are able
to be printed.
Paperless Post users say they are willing to send
online wedding invitations, says Alexa Hirschfeld, but
their mothers won't allow it. "We've heard that
so often," she says.
Post proposed the pairing to Crane in the fall. The
company wanted to work with Crane because of its
reputation for high quality paper. The Hirschfelds'
mother and grandmother told Alexa as a child that
really nice thank you notes must be sent on Crane
stationery. "I never forgot that," Alexa
Hirschfeld says. "I think a lot of people have
digital companies have gone physical, too. Online
retailers such as men's clothing seller Bonobos and
handmade-product marketplace Etsy have opened actual
stores or showrooms. Amazon.com has placed lockers in
stores where customers can pick up their packages.
before working with Crane, the company's printed cards
were a hit. Revenue jumped 49 percent in the first 30
days after the October launch. Part of the reason for
the increase is the higher price. Customers pay an
average of $1.75 for each paper card, while the
digital ones cost about 25 cents each. The lowest
priced Crane wedding invitations will cost $2.60 each,
without a reply card, and $3.70, with a reply card,
for an order of 500. The price increases with smaller
orders. Save the date cards and thank you cards in
matching designs are sold separately.
main difference between the Crane invitations and the
other paper offerings on the website is that they can
be engraved or include letterpress printing, so that
the printed messages have texture. When an invitation
is engraved, the text pops from the paper. Letterpress
means the text is indented into the paper. Engraved
cards are more commonly used for formal weddings,
while letterpress is used for more casual events, says
James Hirschfeld. A third printing option is
thermography, which creates a result that is similar
to engraving, but costs less.
customers buy a Crane invitation through Paperless
Post, they can also get a digital copy to send to
people online. Senders can then keep track of who they
sent invites to and who responds through the Paperless
siblings started Paperless Post when they were in
their early twenties. James Hirschfeld, now 27, came
up with the idea after planning his 21st birthday
party. He didn't have the time or money to send paper
invitations, but he says he felt the digital ones
available at the time were lacking. "It didn't
reflect how much I cared," he says.
when he came up with the idea of selling stylish
digital cards. "If I have this problem and I'm a
21-year-old man," says James Hirschfeld,
"there must be a lot of other people in America
sister, Alexa Hirschfeld, 29, liked the idea. She left
her job in television news and they began working on
the startup together. The company has raised $12.3
million from venture capitalists. It expects to be
profitable this year and predicts revenue will nearly
double. It has about 2 million active users, and about
40 million people have either received a card, have a
Paperless Post account or downloaded the iPhone app,
siblings never expected to print paper cards, hence
the name. So now that Paperless Post is no longer
paperless, will they change the name? When asked, the
Hirschfelds both laugh nervously. James Hirschfeld
like the name Paperless Post," says Alexa
we're going to have to make it work," says James
Hirschfeld, finishing her sentence. "The name is
here to stay."