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say it with a box, on a box, in a box.

October 3, 2014

Greetabl 1

A conversation with Zoë Scharf about her role at greetabl, gift giving, and her love of St. Louis.

Stemming from the idea to deliver a message in a more meaningful way, greetabl was thought up by Joe Fischer. In the early stages of greetabl, Joe was creating prototypes out of cereal boxes and attempting to send them through the mail. Zoë jumped on board at greetabl as a contract designer at first. Now, Zoë boasts the title of co-founder and creative director with a background in graphic design and an education from the Sam Fox School at Washington University.

Greetabl 2

What’s your favorite part about greetabl?

I love seeing other people interact with greetabl. Usually people are really excited by it because it’s new and different and interesting. That’s really cool. Seeing other people actually get genuine happiness from something you’ve been working on so hard, there’s nothing more rewarding.

Also, I’m learning a thousand things every single day. I’m 24 – there’s a lot of expereince yet to be had in my life and working on something like this, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t learn something new or meet somone new. Especially here in St. Louis. Everyone is willing to help you out, everyone is willing to connect you and give you the name of someone else who can really help you.

What have been some of your favorite partnerships or collaborations?

Working with Strange Donuts was a blast. No one belived that it was going to be possible to ship donuts in the mail, and it totally was. We had no idea what to expect. Corey and Jason from Strange Donuts were not sure if we were ordering too many by getting 400, and we were pretty sure that we were going to sell 200 max. Halfway through the day we had to order more, and ended up selling out of 1000! It was cool because we really only did local promotion, but St. Louis took it so far. We sent donuts to 39 states, plus Peurto Rico and D.C. We hand wrote 1,000 messages and loved reading the excuses people used to send a donut to friends.

You’re not from St. Louis…

No, I am from upstate New York. Not the cool part of New York. It’s like Albany and total suburbia.

I came out to St. Louis on a whim. I’d never heard of Washington University, but applied to the Sam Fox School of Design anyway. Even when I got in, I didn’t really expect to go. I feel like I’ve created my own family in St. Louis. It wasn’t really ever a place I wanted to live, but here I am. I’ve become the biggest cheerleader for the Midwest, and St. Louis specifically. Everyone back home is so confused by it.

Which is your favorite greetabl design?

Maybe not for design reasons, but I really like the St. Louis greetabl. Partly because our product is made in St. Louis. Also, it’s the one we’ve sold out of the most consistently. I also really like Retro Luggage.

What has been the most challanging thing about bringing greetabl to life?

I guess… I get really emotional about things. I just care so much about this product. When we were manifacturing it, we had a problem initially with the tape on the boxes not being strong enough to hold the greetabl together. It was so incredibly frustrating to me, because this is my baby and it’s not doing what I want it to do. I didn’t feel comfortable telling people to buy it. If you don’t have the perfect product, you don’t want to put it out there. It was really hard feeling out of control. It was also a learning experience, especially in sourcing stronger tape.

There are things we’ve improved upon, like the template or the messaging, and i’ll feel uncomfortable having an old one. That’s just me being a perfectionist.

Do you fancy yourself a good gift giver?

I think so. I’ve always prided myself on gifts, actually. I’m super crafty. If I really want to impress a friend, I spend a lot of time on it. For my roommates birthday, I made her a paper version of of a necklace featured in a book we both just read. It took me way to long to do, but was totally worth it. Making things personalized is great. For a while, I was book binding and giving those to people.

Getting creative with what I put into greetabls has been really fun too. I send my mom a giant scarf, and managed to fit it in a greetabl. I probably give greetabls the most of anyone in the world.

What are some of your dream collaborations?

I have so many. I really like the idea of putting a Lego set into a greetabl! I’d love it if there was some custom Lego/greetabl collaboration and you open it up and create something giant out of it.

I’d like to collaborate with….everyone. I get so excited when I talk to anyone who is excited about what they are doing. Anyone who is creative or doing cool things (that are 2.58 inches by 2.58 inches).

I also like to think greetabls make gift cards more sexy.

Who are some of the people in the biz that you look up to/draw inspiration from?

I have a small background in letterpress printing with Paper Boat Studios. The idea of going out of your way to give a better gift – that’s totally what letterpress is all about. That’s what I want greetabl to be all about.

A Mama’s Sauce collaboration would be amazing. I’ve always looked up to them. We actually connected through our mutual friend, Archie, and are working on a collaboration of making a letterpress greetabl. It’s just going to be so cool – the creativity and the aesthetic.

Rifle Paper Co. is always just so beautiful. Knock Knock is really interesting in that they are succesfully integrating something new into the market. They were like “we’re going to make check lists and sell them for money” and they’ve done it! Those lists are in every gift shop. I’m impressed by them.

Brad Woods! I met him at the Cherokee Print League sale. He’s an illustrator who created maginating. Just the way he talks about what he does is inspiring. He put his characters on greetabl and we went to the National Stationery Show with him. I respect him so much for how creative he is, and how he’s doing so well with his business. Fan girl, number one.

If you had a motto, it would be…

We help people make people smile. We just always want to be a resource for people when they want to go the extra mile. I just want to make people happy.

Greetabl 6

Greetabl 3


[All photos by Abby Gillardi.]

Jess Signature

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