When Annette Seletzky’s two boys were grown, she decided it was time to pick up a hobby. Almost on a whim, she began making cards for her family and friends. Seletzky enjoyed it so much she turned it into a business.
Custom Cards, by Annette – the name she gave to her fledgling company – is now a local cottage industry producing customized, hand-made cards and other items for gifts and parties.
For much of her life, Seletzky never thought of herself as a particularly artsy or crafty person.
“I was so busy,” she said. “I had the kids, the family, the job, volunteered at church and school – so there was no time for a hobby. I had two boys and was too busy until they were grown.”
One motivating factor in starting to make her own cards was the fact that nearly everybody in her family has birthdays taking place around the same time.
“I went to the store one day to buy cards” she said, “and when it became $65 to buy everyone a card I decided maybe I could make them a card.”
Seletzky started out by watching YouTube videos to learn the various ways to make greeting cards. Before the days of YouTube, she notes, she might not have known where to begin. But today, everyone can learn to do things they’re interested in, so now she encourages others to do the same, no matter how old they are.
Early on in her research, Seletzky learned about machines that help make cards.
“I thought, I'm going to get one of those machines,” she said. “Now I have every machine and every type of paper and all the equipment and supplies.”
Starting with a die cutting machine that carves a specific shape out for you, she started practicing, and learned quickly.
“Craft companies make a little metal die, let's say in the shape of a heart,” she explained, “or it could be something way more intricate like a heart with a bunch of flowers around it.”
She eventually moved on to a machine that uses a program to help design the card.
“It's called the Cricket, and you have a program called Design Space on the computer,” she said. “You design it there using their designs or you can upload your own.”
That's how Seletzky personalizes her cards.
“You print it out on a printer that can handle cardstock, and the Cricket machine will cut it out for you,” she said. “You can layer them and create a 3D effect.”
Today, Seletzky is having loads of fun creating custom pieces for customers.
“I learned so many things when I was starting out,” she said. “So far, I've had requests for something personal written or they want a certain color. One time I put kids names on sleds because a woman wanted all of the children in her family to have their name on a sled. I've done personalized little stockings hanging over a fireplace, things like that.”
Some of Seletzky’s card creations are even interactive.
“I make snowmen that actually pop up out of the card, and it literally is 3D,” she said. “My favorite item that everyone always loves is a card that is like an easel. It has a fireplace on the front with a clear vellum section, where the logs are. And then I put a flickering LED candle behind it, so it's literally a flickering fireplace.”
Seletzky has mostly worked with card stock but she can also use leather, felt and other fabrics.
“I can make stickers, all kinds of things,” she said. “I do just whatever it takes to make that project work.”
Seletzky’s decision to turn her hobby into an official business happened just before COVID-19 arrived to lock everything down. She and her husband had managed to do two festivals before that, and her cards were a hit. Throughout the pandemic, it was difficult for many craftspeople to make a living. When restrictions finally lightened, Seletzky tried doing more festivals, but they were generally outdoors.
Not an easy situation when your product line is made out of paper.
“They were flying off the table and going onto the ground,” she recalled. “I tried all kinds of different ways to contain them, but you have to have them out so people can look at them too, right? So that was difficult.”
Seletzky ultimately decided to take the business online and her website (customcardsbyannette.com) is currently up and running. Now that she has a way to continue doing business, she’s excited about all the possibilities of new things she can create.
“What I'd love to make the most is a little goody bag for a party,” she said, “with themed items in it that are personalized towards the person having the party like a baby shower. I love being able to personalize things for people so that they can have exactly what they want, to surprise the person that they love. That's my favorite part.”