Ventresca is one of the lucky ones. Her cards are now sold by 20 sales reps to retail stores around the United States and Canada. Even so, she's not getting rich. After five years in business, Carla Cards grosses only $50,000, and the owner still accepts occasional waitressing gigs to make ends meet.
Ventresca's experience is fairly typical of entrepreneurs
selling cards through traditional channels; Rossetti brought in
$15,000 in 1998, her first year. Entrepreneurs earning more tend to
be in specialized markets. For example, Zedlar, who made high
profits in 1998, targets corporate clients for his business-
to-business cards. Shapiro, who started Activegrams a year ago, can attribute his revenues to the advertising space sold on the company's Web site; individual customers aren't charged for sending cards.
Whether it's a labor of love or a cash cow, a successful card line can ultimately evolve into other profitable arenas. Rossetti, for one, has already expanded her business through the creation of magnets and covers for blank books.
But greeting card entrepreneurs say the rewards are more than financial. "I came to terms long ago with the fact that there will be about 12 well-known artists per generation," Rossetti says. "Another aspect of art is to make beautiful things that enrich people's lives, and that's what I'm doing."