In the uniquely immersive Broadway musical, Natasha and Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, the characters explain to the audience that "In nineteenth century Russia we write letters / we write letters / we put down in writing / what is happening in our minds."
A slower time, a gentler time? Well, given the source material being War & Peace, perhaps not quite a gentler time, but the message of the second act's opener has been playing through my head as I prepared to sit down and write this piece.
My generation, and those before, did write letters. We did use diaries. We bought cards and wrote sweet somethings inside. We dispatched them with a kiss and a stamp. And when we were in receipt of someone else's written efforts, we felt special. We curled up with the letter, held the card to our hearts.
And then, to quote Brooks Hatlen in Shawshank Redemption, “The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry.”
Technology pulled us in and along, dispatching stationary to the dustbin in favor of the immediacy of email. Card manufacturers began to feel the tide receding and created online stores where you could pick an ecard and send it via email. And invitations to parties and events found their online presence as well. RSVPs with the click of a button, not a drive to the post office.
We are all guilty of indulging our inner Maverick and Goose with "the need for speed." I am not an exception. I love technology. I love the reach, the immediacy, the scope. But I also admit I miss the intimacy of writing a letter, choosing the perfect card.
So when I was approached about reviewing a unique concept in the e-commerce communication field, I decided to give it a go.
Paperless Post, where making the paperless personal is the goal.
Developed in 2008 by siblings James and Alexa Hirschfield, their concept has grown beyond a unique and personal selection of ecards to being able to design printed stationary, invitations, etc. And forget generic options, designers like Kate Spade have partnered to provide even more elevated experiences from which to choose.
And let's face it, 100 million users can't be wrong, so in I jumped.
What I found was a wonderfully indulgent, comfortable, user friendly website that welcomes you in from the front page to the moment you hit send. I set up a free account, and as Valentine's Day was in the offing, I used the funding provided me by the company to set to creating the perfect ecards for each of my children.
And it was funstrating. Fun and frustrating. Fun because of the myriad options. Frustrating because of, well, the myriad options. Each time I thought, "Yes! This one is perfect!" I would look at others and go, "Oh, wait, THIS one is perfect!." Options ranged from the funny to the snark filled to the tear inducingly heartfelt.
As I found the perfect card to capture the unique relationships I have with each of my kids, I moved through the easy-to-follow personalization process. You can design everything from the background behind the envelope, to the font, text sizes, personal messages, even the "stamp" in the upper corner of the finished envelope. Within moments of hitting 'send' I heard from all of my kids - they loved the cards, the delivery, the unique message inside from Mom.
I moved on to a card for my husband, happily diving into the dizzying options for romance. A few days later, Paperless Post helped me do the near impossible - find and create the perfect card for my in-laws.
Navigating through the website, the range of cards, wedding invitations, party invites, even a Beta program for flyers, is impressive. And the ability to create from the site and turn them into real world, gorgeous invitations or stationary? Well, it makes me want to create my own and begin indulging my inner Natasha & Pierre - I write letters/I write letters...
Now, as I mentioned, I was given an amount of funds to use as I set to reviewing the service. But, even if your budget is slim to none, you are welcome at Paperless Post. A wide range of cards are available free of charge. And the cost for others depends on your choice of ecard/e-invite, and the options you may wish to choose as you move through the design process.
What I found is that they truly have managed to capture the feeling of creating something that feels one of a kind, personal, and old world, yet harnesses the technology of the here and now to deliver the goods.
Give them a try. Brooks may have been right about the world and its big, damn hurry, but even the gang from Great Comet would appreciate the beauty, artistry, and intimacy found at Paperless Post, and upon receiving one find themselves enthusiastically singing the lyrics, "I read it twenty times, thirty times, forty times! Each and every word."