Nelson’s Fiona Richards has taken her paper products business to a whole new level with the creation of apps for iPhones that add an extra touch of class to the way people use their smartphones.

A Nelson graphic designer looks back for a new app

In an increasingly paperless world, a local designer and artist is straddling the line between the past and the future.

In an increasingly paperless world, a local designer and artist is straddling the line between the past and the future.

Inspired by vintage paper goods Fiona Richards began creating paper products and cards from her North Shore studio.

“I’m a graphic designer and have lived in the Kootenays since 1994,” she said. “I moved away for a bit and then when I came back, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do for a business.”

Equipped with her collection and her knowledge of design, Richards began Cartolina about five years ago which creates vintage inspired cards and other products for wholesale.

“I wasn’t particularly surprised with the success of the paper products because it was a plan,” she said. “I’ve been self employed for years and I don’t really get into a business unless I know it’s viable. People respond well to vintage imagery so I hoped that they would respond well to our cards and they did. It was hard work to get us there, but it was planned.”

With the growing popularity of Apple products, Richards wasn’t nervous about the growing paperless world.

She and her husband were Apple fans themselves and addicted to the first generation iPhone.

“We just loved our iPhones and creating an iPhone application seemed like a natural progression for us,” said Richards. “We’ve always stayed ahead of the trends and try to stay ahead of the curve with almost everything we do with business. Apps looked like they were going to be the next big thing so we jumped on it.”

Richards designed their first app for the iPhone, Cartolina App allows users to send pretty texts and emails using 27 designs to customize your message. Leading up to the release of their first app, Richards did a lot of research on what makes an app successful and began marketing her new product.

“The first one has been the most successful one. It got an incredible amount of press right from day one and I think that is because we really researched how to make an app successful and there are ways to do that,” she said.

Richard’s second app is the Cartolina Postale, which allows users to create real postcards using Cartolina designs combined with the individual’s photographs.

The Cartolina apps have appeared in technology columns around North America including the New York Times.

“Being in the New York Times was all part of our plan,” she said. “That’s part of our PR machine and we put a lot of effort into promoting our work. That kind of promotion is free advertizing, so it’s great when you can get it and it obviously hits a lot of people.”

Cartolina is working on a new app.

“It’s really fun and we really enjoy doing it,” said Richards. “We actually don’t sell any from our studio in the North Shore, it all goes wholesale. The apps are really our only retail products and that makes it really fun because we are actually selling it to people. We get feedback from them and we can communicate directly with the people who are buying them. That’s been really fun.”


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