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Chris Anna Sterling of Luscious Verde Cards

Meet Chris Anna Sterling, founder of Luscious Verde Cards, a boutique printing company.
What is Luscious Verde Cards?

Luscious Verde is a boutique manufacturer and printing company. We make high-end, artisan invitation sets for people's big events like weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, anniversaries and birth announcements. We wholesale to about 350 stationery stores throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Why did you start your business?

In 2001, I was a stay-at-home mom in a playgroup with Wendy Solganik. Our connection upon meeting was instantaneous. Indian food, heavy-duty crafting, dreams of Trader Joe's opening in Cleveland, Beck, and a deep appreciation of the charms of Shaker Heights were just a few of the threads drawing us together. I was pregnant with my second child and asked Wendy to help me gather materials to make my own announcements. Sharing a very similar aesthetic, our bohemian luxury birth announcements were born.

We started making our luscious, handmade announcements and invitations on my dining room table; we were two ambitious, crafty moms on a mission to bring something new to the stationery industry. Today there are many more of us than can fit around that table. And we have three more kids between the two of us. Today, Beck has been replaced by Iron & Wine, but we still love Indian food.

We consider it a luxury and a privilege to be in the business of announcing our customers' major life events. We're passionate about what we do. Most days it's really fun. Every day it's rewarding.

What was the biggest surprise in starting your business?

I would say the biggest surprise is that I barely get to make cards anymore. My days have been filled with business issues like HR, equipment problems, marketing strategies and complications with orders. Thankfully, I really enjoy the day to day challenges. It is new all the time.

Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?

In the beginning, we funded our growth by reinvesting all the money we made to buy more materials. This worked out really well because we had to be so careful with every dollar we spent. Eventually, we needed some big equipment and National City Bank gave us the loans we needed. Now, as PNC, they continue to support our efforts and have been wonderful to work with. They host networking and informational luncheons and meet with us regularly to see if all of our needs are being met.
What advice would you give to someone starting a company here?

I would say start small and see what works. I really like a grass roots approach to business. Some people get all sorts of loans and spend money before they even know if their concept is good and/or profitable. Get to know your market, find out what they respond to and do more of that. Owning your own business is a bit like the Wild West -- totally unpaved. If you like predictable, steady and stable, this is not for you.

What inspires you?

Almost everything around me inspires me and has come to be related to my work. On a basic level, I am always looking at trends in color and imagery. The economy and its trends inspire the financial decisions I make at work. Our employees with their incredible talents and motivation inspire me to work as hard as I can to have a financially stable and fun place to work. I love to be around passionate people -- their energy and enthusiasm really keeps me going.

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