MANKATO, Minn. — It took just two--a daughter with a gift for words, her mother with a flair for art--to form a greeting card company that in less than a year ballooned into an enterprise doing business in 23 states.
When Georgia Rettmer of Mankato and her daughter, Kimberly Rinehart of Rochester, became partners in "It Takes Two," they were hoping for some degree of success, but at the same time were "prepared for rejection," Rinehart said.
The venture started as a way to "share Kim's words," Rettmer said.
"I've always written for my own enjoyment," Rinehart said. "I've filled books with thoughts and verse, simply because I love doing it."
Gave Books of Verse
Over the years she gave several books of original verse to her parents, and when her mother, a former art teacher, wanted to give a special card to someone, she made her own, using one of Kim's thoughts from her books.
Friends suggested they go into the card business, Rettmer said. She did put together a portfolio about four years ago, but in spite of the encouragement from professionals in the business, the idea remained dormant.
But after Rinehart was married she decided she was ready for a career change and the thought of cards came up again.
"If we didn't go at it as a full-time business, we knew it would remain just a little hobby," she said.
Both her husband, Tim, and Rettmer's husband, Forrest, urged them to take the plunge.
The first thing they did was register their name, "It Takes Two," with the U.S. Patent Office. They showed their sample cards to a representative, who indicated an interest in carrying their line, and then they started looking for a printer.
After checking with several printers, they decided to give their business to a Mankato firm. It proved to be an excellent choice, they said.
"They let us practically live in their building while we're printing. I think they're as excited about the cards as we are," Rettmer said.
Their cards are designed for people looking for something out of the ordinary. The messages "say something without being trite," Rinehart said. "Even the lighter ones are light without being slapstick. A lot of the market has slipped to extremes--from bizarre at one end to sappy at the other."
The company now has 50 different cards that are sold in about 200 locations in 23 states, from New York to Alaska and Canada, mostly in small shops.
The women do their creative work independently. After deciding what occasions they want to produce cards for, Rinehart starts to write. When she is satisfied with the words, her mother works out the appropriate design to fit the message. The distinctive look of the cards is achieved by Rettmer's artwork, which is all hand-torn construction paper designs, and Rinehart's hand-lettered words.
"Our contributions are individual, but both are intricately entwined," Rinehart said. "We each have a gift and these gifts flow together so naturally."
They are able to work together successfully because their mother-daughter relationship has always been special. "Kim and I are good friends. We've always been on the same wave length," Rettmer said.
Her daughter agreed: "It's been a unique special experience, being partners as well as mother and daughter. It's not even like two very good friends going into business together. It's something innate--we don't have to use words to communicate. We just know it's right."