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Designing Women

A "by women, for women, about women" attitude is making this greeting card company a success.

It's all about the girl talk. at least it is at SimplyShe, a greeting card and gift product company founded by friends Maria Peevey and Lisa Bicker. SimplyShe's signature line of HerSpeak greeting cards targets women going through different, and sometimes trying, life experiences-from marriage and motherhood to career changes and body-image issues. The partners started the San Francisco-based company in 1999 after Peevey ended a relationship and was consoled by funny yet poignant cards from one of her best friends (now the company's co-creative director). Says company president Peevey, "The whole reason we're able to [address] these various events is because they're events we've experienced ourselves."

Getting the greeting cards into the hands of women was another triumph. While most card companies just focus on stationery stores, Peevey, 33, and Bicker, 39, were determined to get their product into fashion and home furnishing stores as well. In less than six months, the pair succeeded in placing their cards on the shelves of such specialty fashion boutiques as Fred Segal and Henri Bendel. Today, they're sold in more than 300 stores nationwide, and the company is expecting 2002 sales of $1 million.

And because their wide variety of greeting cards (and additional product lines of calendars, journals, T-shirts and books) speak to the situations women face every day, SimplyShe avoids the seasonal lulls other greeting card companies experience. Says CEO Bicker, "This not only enlarges our market, but it makes our products relevant to women at any time."

This story appears in the July 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »