Stay-at-home mom designs cards for a personalized Valentine | NevadaAppeal.com

Stay-at-home mom designs cards for a personalized Valentine

Becky Bosshart
Appeal Staff Writer
Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal Carson City entrepreneur Colleen Bannister, 32, shows the concept behind her "A Gift from the Heart" cards. Bannister started the business so she could stay at home with her 19-month-old son.
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It’s hard to say “I love you.”

As Valentine’s Day approaches, many longtime couples may find it even harder to recapture the passion in a fresh and creative way.

Carson City entrepreneur Colleen Bannister, 32, is betting that many couples have this problem. Sacrificing the security of a double income to stay at home with her 19-month-old son, Bannister created a business in her home by linking two factors: greeting cards and personalized memories.

Seven years ago the Carson City native married Arik Bannister, whom she met while attending college. Full of creativity and short on funds, they often made Christmas gifts for one another.

The Gift from the Heart card pouches evolved from one of these gift exchanges.

The concept is simple and it starts with completing a sentence, such as: “Remember how funny it was when …”

Bannister’s answer: “… we got each other the same card for a wedding anniversary.”

The pouches are sold in gift stores and coffee shops around Carson City.

“People will spend $3-$4 for a Hallmark card,” she said Monday in her Carson City home. “But here you get 35 cards for $9.99, and I’ve written half of them for you.”

After only about four weeks in business, sales are satisfactory and Bannister said she expects to make $2,000 in February. She receives 50 percent of the profit off each pouch. She plans to expand her product sales to other Nevada cities. She has a pouch for children, and is working on a Spanish version.

“Obviously, the entrepreneur spirit is very alive here,” her husband said.

Arik Bannister works full time as an X-ray technician at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Reno. A former musician, he also designs Web commercials from the home.

Bannister said their son, Cole, already shows signs of inheriting his father’s love of music, and that was something she didn’t want to miss as a working mom.

“I would rather go without material things and be on a tighter budget than miss this time with him,” she said. “Their first years go so fast. He’s not going to remember these years, but I will and this time is for me to enjoy.”

A Gift from the Heart card pouches are available at Comma Coffee, 312 S. Carson St.; Java Joe’s, 319 N. Carson St.; Romantic Image, 2050 N. Carson St.; Westside Ink, 710 N. Curry St.; Alie’s Flowers, 1233 S. Carson St.; Rhonda’s Floral Gallery, 1933 California St.

Diane McEachin, owner of Westside Ink, said she expects sales will increase before Valentine’s Day.

“We’ve done pretty well with her sales,” she said. “I think people just think that they are something different.”

Ten percent of all sales benefit the Second Chance Fund, set up by the Carson City Deputies Association for the needs of the two Carson City children who were allegedly imprisoned and starved by their family for years.

— Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at bbosshart@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.