Neighborly Paper thegrio.com
Carmelle Kendall | Robin Beck (Photo/Courtesy, Neighborly Paper)

Never underestimate the power of sharing positive thoughts.

Two former neighbors, Robin Beck and Carmelle Kendall, realized the impact of sharing positive messages and wanted to create a product that would spread inspiration each day.

They also wanted people to be able to pass it along. The writer and illustrator joined forces to create a brand inspired by their how their relationship was born. And that’s when Neighborly Paper came into fruition.

Together they create original greeting cards they hope will make each day a little brighter. Their goal is to help you express life’s ups, downs, ins and outs.

Get to know more about Robin and Carmelle and why you need their cards in your life for our #25DaysofBlackBiz series.

What year were you founded?  

We started Neighborly Paper in 2016.

What inspired you to launch your business?  

Neighborly Paper was born in Carmelle’s Harlem apartment. We joke that our business proves a big idea can start in a small space. Carmelle is an art director and is brilliant with colors, fonts, and illustrations. I [Robin] am a writer and love storytelling. Each card has a unique message that is brought to life by hand drawn designs. We wanted to make everyday a little bit brighter and we thought the best way to do that was through our own special talents. A greeting card is a message that someone can send to a loved one or frame for themselves. We are motivated by the human connection, expression, and joy that each card brings.

What makes Neighborly Paper unique?  

Let’s start with our name. Our business is called Neighborly Paper because Carmelle and I [Robin] were neighbors growing up outside of Atlanta and again in Harlem in our twenties. We wanted our brand to feel, well, like home. We wanted a brand that was warm, fun, friendly, and kind. And that is what we created.  

Each order comes with a handwritten note to the customer which is a personal touch we treasure. Our instagram page, @neighborlypaper, also represents our brand well as we highlight our products and positive news. You will be able to recognize our brand by the tangible things: the sayings, the handwriting, and the illustrations. However, we think our brand is most memorable by the way you feel when you open the card.

Why should everyone #buyblack this holiday season?  

Why not buy black? At Neighborly we are proud that our brand appeals to a diverse audience. When you buy black you are strengthening the community and the economy. When you buy black you’re speaking with your wallet. You’re saying, “I see you, I support you, and I want to see you thrive.” We often hear the saying “Put your money where your mouth is,” and buying black is an opportunity to do that. If you believe in job creation and empowering others then you should buy black.

How do you pay it forward within your community?

Attending and hosting pop ups in the community has been one of the most rewarding experiences throughout this journey. We have done pop ups at church, at WeWork offices, and local businesses in Atlanta and New York City. We also attended a market on Spelman’s campus to connect with college students. The pop-ups are limited with time, but we’d like to think our connection with the community is lasting.

We believe as black and female business owners, it our responsibility to support other small businesses. We recently highlighted three small businesses on our blog for small business Saturday. In the past, we’ve focused on black entrepreneurs, southern entrepreneurs, female entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs doing business in Atlanta and New York. The local connection and familiarity are valuable to us.  

Every day we learn something new and our business would not have been possible without the help of of experts who happen to be our friends and our families. We love it when aspiring small business owners reach out because we can guide them and tell them what we have learned. Like most things, it takes a village.

What is your business mantra?  

“Everything you can imagine is real.” Pablo Picasso said that. Now, isn’t that the truth?