How many times have you stood around at your local drug store, going through greeting card after greeting card for far too long, unable to find the right one? They’re either too cheesy, too sentimental, too childish, too straight, too this, or too that. It’s out of these frustrations that Natasha Ferro and Elie Chivi came to establish Unfortunately. Tired of the formulaic greeting cards regularly shoved down our collective throats, Co-Founders Natasha and Elie sought to provide the world with a creative alternative that merges sardonic copy writing with tongue-in-cheek illustrations on meticulously handcrafted cards.
With every absurdly honest card, the Toronto based Unfortunately brings out the often hidden humor present in every occasion, whether it’s a baby shower or a birthday, a wedding or a divorce. Your basic Hallmark cards, these ain’t. Initially a morsel of an idea stuck in “wouldn’t it be nice if we ever did that?” purgatory, it wasn’t long before research was conducted, cards were written, and illustrations were drawn, albeit after dangerous levels of caffeine were ingested. The process in place that keeps this engine running smoothly constitutes Chivi doing the writing and Ferro creating the corresponding illustrations/design work while they meet in the middle on all other tasks.
With an emphasis on maintaining a customized aesthetic and helping ensure that no two are ever alike, every card is individually hand drawn and carefully painted per order thus making each one unique. A love of stationary and all things aesthetic also played a large role in the overall look of the cards. “Hopefully this will bring the focus back to the card being as much of a special gift in itself, and not just an afterthought that you read once then throw in a drawer, never to be seen again.”
When asked how they came to pick ‘Unfortunately’ as their company name, Chivi is quick to respond. “The name personally resonates for me because it came from how many times I was told ‘unfortunately, we’re not hiring’ or ‘unfortunately, we went with another candidate’ while unemployed. This is our way of making something positive out of that and every other unfortunate situation.”
Though initially unsure whether people would respond negatively to Unfortunately’s dry, unfiltered messaging, Ferro explains that she now sees it differently. “I don’t see our name, our style of writing, our sense of humor as anything negative, instead, Unfortunately gives us courage. Courage to say what we really think, to not take ourselves so seriously, and to embrace our flaws.” She continues, “There is hope in the unfortunate.”
There’s also hope that the notoriously hetero-normative greeting card industry finally has a queer positive alternative that’s funny, original and well made. With a queer specific section on their own Etsy shop and a diffusion line created specifically for The Gaily, Unfortunately makes it a point to give as much weight to cards addressing LGBT specific occasions as they would to other, more established ones. Just don’t expect them to cut down on the sarcasm.
Cards dedicated to celebrating the joys of gay marriage or civil unions, the difficult act of coming out as well as those poking fun at the many stereotypes that mar the gay community have proven to be some of the company’s most popular thus far.
Not content with following a traditional route, Ferro and Chivi plan to expand to as many non-traditional categories as possible. Beyond diversifying their line, they also plan to eventually make Unfortunately cards available in offline retailers in Toronto and across Canada by fall.
You can now buy Unfortunately for the Gaily in The Gaily Merch store. Stay tuned the afternoon to win an Unfortunately card from The Gaily.