South Coast Plaza, Brea Mall,
The Shops at Mission Viejo
The digital revolution has done wonders for the greeting card business. Few know it better than Dominique Schurman, whose parents, Marcel and Magrit Schurman, founded the art-quality paper and card company PAPYRUS in the kitchen of their Berkeley home 62 years ago. The business thrived; in the early 1970s, Magrit’s innovative museum-style PAPYRUS boutiques revolutionized consumer perceptions by presenting greeting cards and wrapping paper as accessible fine art.
Dominique loved working in the company even as a girl, and was glad to take it over when her parents retired. She’s since grown it into the hugely successful approximately 450 store-strong PAPYRUS/Schurman Retail Group, which acquired American Greetings and Carlton Card stores in 2009. Yet some of her friends worry for her future.
“I can’t tell you how many people have said to me, ‘What with email and e-cards, your business is doomed! What are you going to do?’” Schurman says, laughing. “The reality is that it’s been the exact opposite. I think all those things have made greeting cards more special.”
She’s observed that women particularly value how high-fashion paper and gifting products establish and sustain personal connections in especially meaningful ways. Hand-written thank-you notes and elegantly wrapped gifts, whether they’re small hostess offerings or well-thought keepsakes, have been the hallmarks of class and good manners for centuries. But in an era when phone calls, texting, and emails dominate how people connect, such thoughtful mementos of friendship that people can touch, hold, and enjoy for years to come can be deeply moving.
“It’s interesting to see how as communications becomes more impersonal, more people are discovering how beautifully and seamlessly high-fashion greeting cards and gifting items fit into their lives as expressers of heartfelt affection as well as fashion statements,” Schurman says.
In 2011, Schurman established the NIQUEA.D line of designer greeting cards, jewelry, handbags, scarves, hats, and candles. Its products are high-end, if not necessarily high priced. They are, however, carefully curated to reflect a unique brand identity that is soft, feminine, and guaranteed to be received with delight. So far, there are only 30 NIQUEA.D boutiques in the country, including one at South Coast Plaza. The response, Schurman says, has been fabulous.
“NIQUEA.D pairs beautifully with the PAPYRUS experience because of the heirloom quality of the products. Ever since my mother came up with the idea of using her art history background to present PAPYRUS’ products in an art museum-style setting to draw customers into the store, people have been framing PAPYRUS cards, and even the wrapping paper, and keeping them in their families. With NIQUEA.D, the keepsake tradition is evolving to a new level.”
Schurman had been toying with the idea of breaking new ground with PAPYRUS for years before taking the first step in 2006 with the launching of a symbolic new logo of a hummingbird. It represented what Schurman believes greeting cards should do: hover above time to stop and savor special moments.
The company then began creating elaborate custom cards for events such as weddings and showers, taking them from ink and paper “to a completely new place,” Schurman says, making works of art using such techniques as embroidery, glitter gems, fabric, layering, embossing, and more.
“Creating products worthy of being framed has always been our core principle,” Schurman says. “But in the end, what we do revolves around the idea that emotions and connections matter. I want PAPYRUS to become a household name for making those connections as lasting as possible.”