“With so much texting and e-communication, we’re losing the ability to look into each other’s eyes and share from the heart.” So says writer and colleague Debra Darvick.
Debra and husband Martin, a photographer, have come up a solution: Picture a Conversation discussion cards with his images on the front, her questions on the back. A shot of orange butterfly taking off from a pink zinnia teams with questions about what taking flight means to us. The Detroit couple also produce a line of greeting cards pairing his images with her quotes.
Before the Darvicks boarded a recent flight home to Detroit from L.A., Debra told Martin, “I want to sit next to someone who can help us market our cards.”
Talk about manifesting your reality. Debra was editing a set of cards when her seatmate asked what she was doing. She showed her. One card made her tear up, saying, “I wish I could give this to my mom.” Debra offered her the card. “It’s too late.” She shook her head. “She’s too old and set in her ways.”
Her seatmate’s name: Amy. Debra’s sister’s name: Amy.
“I’ve never met a bad Amy,” Debra says. (Another crazy coincidence. Debra’s sister Amy’s from Louisville. Amy and I just met in Tucson. More about that in a future post.) Seatmate Amy asked about Debra’s marketing plan. Debra said she hadn’t “totally” figured that out. Turns out seatmate Amy’s a marketing exec, flying to the D to help Chevrolet plan a $75 million marketing budget. She suggested Debra approach spas in Ojai, CA.
Having been in Ojai, Debra realized Amy was right. At yoga the next day, Debra ran into an acquaintance. She’d just separated from her husband. Her parents were taking her for a few days of healing. Where? Ojai.
Debra researched several spas and cold called one. On her second call, the receptionist said, “I can hear the passion in your voice.” She put on the owner, who requested samples.
Glitches cropped up along the way. When Debra saw proofs, she realized some wording was hard to read. The bar code was too small to scan. Trying to create a website, she “broke down in tears,” bit the bullet and hired a pro. Debra sums up the process: “One step forward; three, back.” Still, the Darvicks are determined. And optimistic. They ordered 27,000 cards (to make up 1,000 sets) plus 1000 boxes that needed folding. They recruited “very devoted” friends to help them sort and box the cards. “It’s a huge endeavor, but fun, too.”
At a recent event, Debra met someone whose daughter markets products to metaphysical book stores and yoga studios in L.A. And another who runs a day care center and likes the discussion cards for encouraging parent/child conversation. Debra considers these encounters Godsigns.
There’s been some concrete progress. Commitments from the Oklahoma City Museum gift shop and a Louisville, KY stationery store have buoyed the creators’ spirits. A popular Yoga website will feature the cards soon.
“I’m taking all this as confirmation,” Debra says.
I know how hard it is to market a novelty item. In the 70s, actor Lee Marvin’s live-in mistress, actress Michelle Triola, sued Marvin for financial support. The settlement was called palimony. I joked to Burton that someone should market a Palimony Protection Agreement for bar-hopping singles. He said, “You always have these good ideas. Do it.”
So challenged, I developed what I considered clever and funny breast pocket pads with conditions to be checked off. Such as: I promise not to sue you for your Ferrari, your Rolex, etc. Sales were slow, except at one Birmingham, MI gift shop operated by friend Judy Binder. There, one man came in often and bought a dozen or so each time. I was grateful for that guy but disappointed there weren’t more like him. I was done.
Several years later, I was fighting with Burton. “You never do anything special for me,” I fumed.
“Yes, I do,” he said. “Some you don’t even know about.”
“Are you sure you want to know?”
“Yes,” I snapped, thinking he was stalling. Thinking I had him.
“Remember those Palimony Protection Pads? You had one really good customer.”
“They’re still in my trunk.”
A few days later, he opened his trunk and showed me.
As I said, Debra and Martin, I know how tough it is. Godspeed. I’m rooting for I’m you.
AND IF YOU’RE IN FLORIDA—I will be the guest speaker at a fundraiser luncheon for the Indian River Medical Center Foundation at the Quail Valley River Club, 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 1. I’m inaugurating a new series called Her Story. RSVP: 772/226-4952
Want to hear Debra herself talk about this idea?
Watch this 1-minute video …