If you're looking for greeting cards with black or brown faces, there are several brands to choose from. A gay theme? Try to navigate the ever-expanding universe of possibilities. But there's only one national company that specializes in greeting cards for the black lgbt market: Lavender Pop.
Otis Richardson, the company's founder, is a professional illustrator. Since the 1990s, he has been active in Chicago's lgbt community and is a member of the Church of The Open Door, the city's well-known black lgbt ministry. Richardson launched the greeting card line 2004 and "at that time, there were virtually no choices. I went online and searched. Most of the black images were in inter-racial settings and those were all photographs, no illustrations. But it was the right time to launch the company," he added, mentioning the recent explosion of black gay images in books, film and television.
It's been about two years since the collection was brought to market and so far, so good. Lavender Pop boasts 20 cards that feature gay, lesbian, bi, trans and youth themes. The cards can be found in 12 stores across the country—"mostly gay and lesbian specialty shops and boutiques"—but the majority of sales are online. Richardson isn't trying to land his product in every store or retail chain. "We're a boutique serving a niche market," he admits "But it's a market that has been under-represented and has considerable buying power."
What's next? "I'm designing a new line that hopefully will be ready by the summer. Then we'll be at Atlanta black gay pride. It's one thing to sell a product ... but you always have to maintain a community presence."