I always refer to envelopes as humble, but really they are deceptively simple items holding endless potential and promise. They can be lined, adorned with vintage stamps, addressed in a beautiful brush script — the possibilities are only limited by the imagination (and occasionally the USPS).
With that said, envelopes are still often overlooked within the entire card exchange process. The first moment someone spies a distinctive envelope peeking out from between bills in a mailbox or sitting atop a sumptuous gift, they know it’s something special.
So for an indie maker looking to differentiate itself, they can also be an important branding tool. Just ask Joe Mihalow, owner/creative director of xou (pronounced “ex-oh-you”). Greeting cards are the main focus, with giftwrap currently available and notepads and stickers in the works for 2020.
“I always think of the envelopes as our invisible foundation,” he explained. “They support the tactile experience of the cards, and the creative elements printed on the cards themselves — so when we receive compliments on our cards I always take it as a shared compliment between the card and the envelope.”
When creating xou, Joe wanted the everything about the brand to flow from the logo, a classic red heart. “It felt right that it was our center and pumped life into everything we create,” he noted. “Red has always felt powerful and passionate to me and I wanted those feelings to be our foundation. So it made sense that that our envelopes — the anchor for our card line — would also convey those feelings to our customers and the final recipients of the cards.”
Joe first became familiar with Keaykolour — distributed solely by Mohawk in North America — through its amazing deck. “I was lucky enough to get one, which I still have in our office,” he recalled. “I love everything about it. From the color palette to the shape of each card, the entire presentation was fun and well executed.”
“Coincidentally, around this time, the red envelope we had originally used — Bright Red Poptone — was being discontinued,” Joe said. “There’s a ton of red envelopes on the market but I knew I wanted to stay with a signature red. Instead of freaking out about trying to match the Poptone, I immediately, grabbed the Keaykolour deck and pulled the Chili Pepper card.”
From there, Rebecca Gatto at Mohawk pointed Joe to Announcement Converters, and he placed an order for 10,000 Chili Pepper euro flap envelopes. He hasn’t looked back since. “I’m happier now than I was with the original envelopes,” he noted. “Everything is better: color, texture, price point. It was a seamless transition for us, our stockists and our retail customers. And what I love, and our customers seem to love, is that Chili Pepper strikes the right emotional tone across nearly every occasion our cards cover.”
And while Joe is enamored with Chili Pepper, he has his eye on several other Keaykolour options. “While I can say today that Keaykolour Chili Pepper will remain as our envelope anchor, xou was created to have fun and be creative, and for me the element of surprise is really at the heart of both. So, I can definitely see projects in the future (from capsule collections to collaborations) using other colors from the Keaykolour palette — I’m absolutely ready to use Lipstick, Orchid and Indian Yellow asap!”