How I Decided to Make International Women's Day Greeting Cards

Monday, July 26 2010

How I Decided to Make International Women’s Day Greeting Cards

By Mary Billy


Every year as International Day grew near, I would look through card displays in stores in the hope of finding International Women’s Day cards, or even something approximating them, but never did. So, as is my way, if I can’t find what I want, I try to see if there’s some way to produce it, to make it myself.


I had already self-published two books of feminist poetry, because with the first book, Over the Falls, the first publisher I contacted wanted to take out any poem he thought too feminist or somewhat radical, (not knowing that if it was only ‘somewhat’ radical, it needed strengthening, until it was really radical, but I digress.) The second publisher wanted to shove me off onto a woman who looked after anything of a feminist nature, and she was someone I had already been acquainted with and knew would not be a person I could work with easily. I asked if there was anyone else there to work with and he said no, that this woman was great, blah, blah, blah. And I didn’t want to do it, so didn’t follow up on it.


When I did my last book, Under My Blue Hat, I had an offer of help from graphic artist, Ann Stampfl, who I'd worked with at our local newspaper at the time, so knew her and knew her work. She was very good. And so she willingly and beautifully designed the cover. We worked well together. And to top of all the complements about the poetry, I also received many about the design and work done on the cover.


One night she and I were out for dinner when she asked me what I was doing lately. And as I was telling her, I also mentioned this other idea, a sort of dream I’d had for a long time of producing my own International Women’s Day card, and that I had some ideas of how it should look, at least the front of it.


She asked me what I had in mind, and I said, “A picture of a real loaf of bread out of the bakery, like a whole loaf, not sliced, of wholesome bread, with some red roses lying beside it. And I have a piece of music with the first two lines of the song Bread and Roses on it, and I think that would work great because it was written about the need for better working conditions and wages for women, and also that we need beauty in our lives, hence the roses.


Right then, she said she’d love to work with me on it, and suggested I draw a sketch of my idea, and she would try to find a photo of bread and perhaps another of roses and be able to put them together on her computer.


But she is also a great photographer, so ended up going to the bakery, and bought the type of bread she thought I wanted; went to the florist and bought red roses, then laid them artistically beside each other and took the picture you see today on the cards. Then she got the sheet music from me, and proceeded from there, to design a burgundy frame with shadow roses here and there, giving it a magical mystical quality. Then it was down to all the picky details like what font to use, the size of each thing, what words to capitalize. Finally, she did up a few samples and it was time to pick just one.


In the meantime it was my job to come up with the interior verse, or words to be used, and also what should go on the back, or any other extras needed. Ann also began to investigate where we could get a quality print done that wouldn’t bankrupt us. She had had contacts with printers in the past and after some searching found the one in Ontario that had the best price for the best quality. She sent for samples.


Then we struggled with the inside words. I wanted first of all to really celebrate women in general, then to honour women’s work, both paid and unpaid, especially as I had seen the film by Marilyn Waring, Who’s Counting: on Sex, Lies and Global Economics. And finally to personalize it a bit, so women could honour specific women either that they knew personally or who might be in politics or leaders of other things they admired in some way. And then to make it even more International, I decided to have the names of many countries around the world printed in light gray scattered over the inside two pages. And just to top it off, the name of my company Herspectives Productions, with our full postal and e-mail addresses on the back to make ordering or re-ordering easy. And to announce that part of the proceeds will go to two funds: RAWA (the Afghani Women’s organization); and a fund another woman and I run called: The Defiant Women’s Support Fund, which gives out small interest free loans to BC women for creative projects, or to help them move ahead in their lives. Anyone interested in donating or who wishes more information on either of these funds can get in touch with me at those same addresses: #214 – 1098 Wilson Crescent, Squamish, BC Canada, V0N 3G0. or


Sales for the first year were pretty successful considering the short time we had to advertise. The most help came from a little story in a sidebar in Herizons Magazine, even though we also had a classified ad there. That and by word of mouth, and through a lot of samples I sent out to people. In the first year, (2003), we covered our costs, but didn’t really make any money, so this year we are hoping to finally make enough to have at least one more design made for 2005, so women have a choice. Any suggestions of what you would like to see as a front cover of an International Women’s Day Card would be very welcome. And I’m sure we could arrange some kind of small prize for the winning suggestion. I would like women to think it is their card, to honour those special women in their lives, or even to send one to community or political leaders, writers you admire, or some woman in your own community who doesn’t think anyone notices how much time she spends caring for others, growing her business, or coaching the girl’s ball team.


It’s a card designed for every woman. Inside it says: “To Celebrate Women around the world; honor the work they do, both paid and unpaid, & To honor You on this Women’s Day, March 8. Happy International Women’s Day.”


It's like the way I'd like to honour these women of for supporting this endeavor by wanting to know the story of how it came about. It came about because one woman decided not to censor herself and think she couldn’t do something, create something she wanted for herself. So using my usual consensus of one, I went ahead anyway, and I am so proud of this creation. Happy International Day to you all.


Go to for a look!

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