Introducing the first in a new series of interviews exploring representation in greetings card design.

Greetings cards are familiar items to most people. They’re used to celebrate and console, mark special days and ceremonies, and share important life events and experiences. But what happens when this major industry and what you see on the shelves of highstreet retailers does not reflect your life experiences?

One of AfroTouch Design’s birthday cards

Throughout 2021, we have been collecting greetings cards to capture some of stories of makers and small businesses driving change. Over the coming months, we’ll be sharing interviews here on our blog with makers, creators, and businesses about the importance of diverse representation in greetings card design. The interviews will explore personal approaches to design, what inspired them and why it’s important that these designs will be available for future generations to discover in The Postal Museum’s collection.

First up it’s Georgina Fihosy, founder of AfroTouch Design. AfroTouch Design is an African-inspired brand that produces personal stationery, greeting cards and gift items that showcase West African designs. Over 5 years, the business has grown from a small stall at birthday parties to being the first female, Black-owned greetings card publisher stocked by Waterstones.

Georgina Fihosy, founder of AfroTouch Design

Hi Georgina, can you tell us a bit about yourself and AfroTouch Design?

I’m the founder and creative behind AfroTouch Design, an African inspired brand that produces personal stationery, greeting cards and gift items that showcase West African designs in a unique and memorable way. What I try to do is share a touch of West Africa through our stationery and gift items.

I’m a British born Nigerian and a proud mum of 3 beautiful children. I was brought up by a proud Nigerian Mother who instilled in me that I could do or be whatever I wanted in life, all I had to do was put in the work! That message has stayed with me.

By day I inhabit the corporate world as a pharmacist working within the pharmaceutical industry. I run AfroTouch in and around my family and working life.

What inspired you to set up AfroTouch Design?

I started what was known at first as Special Touch Designs whilst I was on maternity leave, I was searching for a greetings card for a friend that truly represented her African culture. I couldn’t find anything online or on the high street, so I decided to get some African fabric, a piece of card and put something together myself. My friend loved it. At my son’s 1st birthday party, I set a small table at the back of the hall and sold Valentine’s Day cards to our friends and family – they were a huge hit and I just kept going from there. The business has grown so much. I’ve gone from one or two sales a month on Etsy to being stocked in major high street retailers such as Waterstones, John Lewis and Selfridges in just under 5 years.

How did you get into greetings card design?

I’ve always been creative and loved making all types of things when I was younger. I’m not technically trained, I’ve learned how to do most things through Google and online courses. I have to say my first card designs were terrible and I’m glad to say I’ve perfected them over the years. I had thought about doing wedding invitations after I designed and made all the invitations for my wedding, but I loved the idea of greeting cards and the personal nature of them. Even in this digital era, people still like to receive a greetings card.

One of AfroTouch Design’s birthday cards

Can you tell us a bit more about the greetings card designs The Postal Museum has collected and what they mean to you? How did they come about?

All my cards are hand finished with African print fabric. The cards selected are from the Live in Colour collection. They represent the vibrancy and beauty of West African culture. As a British born Nigerian, I have grown up around different types of African fabrics and designs. They are often worn at celebrations and are a sort of unspoken communication. For me the fabric represents togetherness and creativity. What’s great about my cards is that no two cards are ever the same because of the nature of the fabric cut. Even if you buy the same design twice, it will always be different and unique.

What would you like someone to feel when they see AfroTouch Designs on shelves?

I want people to feel represented in the images that they see. I want people to be able to feel the texture of the fabric and see the beauty that I see when I make them.

What change were you seeking to inspire in the industry and what more do you think needs to be done to improve representation?

One of my missions has always been to try to break down the diversity barrier within the greeting card industry and create a buying option on the high street for people looking for culturally reflective cards. We live in such a diverse nation, and we all want to feel a sense of belonging, I hope my cards and products help to do that.

I was recently nominated for an industry greeting card award. It was a new category covering diversity and inclusion and although we didn’t win it was great to be nominated and it showed that the industry is starting to make a change.

Have you received any feedback from a stranger who bought your greetings cards that really stood out? What difference did your cards make to them?

I recently had a message from someone in the states who drove from Pittsburgh to Chicago just so she could hand deliver one of my cards to her daughter – she said her daughter loves seeing herself in the card as she sits in the kitchen doing Zoom meetings. That’s just amazing to me.

What do you see as the future of greetings card design?

I think there will be a move to more designers using them to make personal statements and really supporting inclusion. I don’t think they’ll ever go away – who doesn’t like to receive a timely card.

What would you like someone who discovers these cards in The Postal Museum’s collection to know about them, about the moment that inspired their creation and about their significance?

I’d like people to know that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and following the death of George Floyd, a death that shocked the world, a wave was created which led to brands like AfroTouch Design to become more visible. This in turn ultimately led me to becoming the first female black owned greeting card publisher to be stocked by Waterstones bookshops.

The designs were inspired by a need to ensure more inclusion in the industry and lead to open and honest conversations about the lack of diversity and a commitment to make a change.

You can find out more about AfroTouch Design on their website. Look out for our next Meet the Maker interview, coming soon.