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 August 27, 1999

Mead woman deals all the right cards

MEAD — English majors have a bum rap.
After all, who hasn’t heard at least one joking reference to their marketability in the business world?
Meagan Dawson, just four years beyond her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Washington, has beaten the rap. She has made her way into the business world in an unrelated field, as logistics coordinator at Horizon Organic Dairy Inc. in Longmont. But her own business, Galloping Spirit Greeting Cards, has turned on her ability to string words together artfully.
For the past three years, Galloping Spirit Greeting Cards — each handmade and featuring Dawson’s poetry and artwork — have been catching on with retailers throughout Colorado.
“I’ve always written, and I’ve always drawn,” Dawson said. “It seemed logical to put the two together.”
For three years, Dawson has worked to build an inventory to take to market. Based in a 70-year-old house that she and her husband, Scott, share in the tiny farm community in southern Weld County two miles west of Interstate 25, Dawson spends evenings and weekends assembling and shipping her wares.
For three years, she sold by word of mouth, earning a modest supplement to her income. In March, she took to the Internet. Buyers multiplied, but Dawson realized that the individual orders were a drain on time that would be best spent doing what she does best — words and pictures.
A redesigned Web page, viewable at www.invitationsbydesign.com, is geared toward retailers. Now, Galloping Spirit cards are available at bookstores, boutiques and antique outlets throughout Colorado.
Most recently, Dawson landed her products at the Stone Lion Bookstore in Fort Collins.
A look at the greeting-card industry in the United States alone tells Dawson that a tiny market share can yield big results. Consider this from the Greeting Card Association, a major national trade group:
n In 1998, Americans purchased 7 billion greeting cards.
n At an average retail price of $2 each, cards generated more than $14 billion in retail sales.
n More than 1,800 publishers, ranging from the greeting-card giants to individual artists, share the market.
Dawson draws her inspiration from her childhood in Ferndale, Wash., a small community on Puget Sound just north of Bellingham.
“I grew up on 20 acres with trees and wildlife and farm animals,” she said. “That’s where this really began.”
Galloping Spirit now offers more than 120 designs, each hand-drawn. Animals dominate.
“When I was 10, I conned my parents into getting me a horse,” Dawson said. “That started me off drawing horses — thousands of them. I was obsessed.
Then came rabbits, cats, cows — all done in a primitivo style that translates well in a small image size.
Messages come from Dawson’s own experience, and from the works of authors she has admired. Quotes from famous authors, all in the pubic domain and available for reproduction, account for about half of Dawson’s works.
“I enjoy reading,” she said. “I use some selections from a book that I bought — compilations of quotes from famous authors. I particularly like quotes from authors from the Victorian period.”
The rest comes from her own head and heart, she said.
“I put into words the relationships I’ve had with friends,” she said. “I’ve two very close friends that I’ve had since we were five, and they serve as inspirations. The love poems — I think of my husband.”
Dawson looks forward to being an employer soon, adding one or two people to keep track of orders, and envisions a future that will keep her writing and drawing.
“I can’t think of anything else that I want to do,” she said. “It incorporates every passion I have, in terms of artwork and poetry.”
Dawson’s pursuit, unlike those of some other entrepreneurs who focus on a single product replicated over and over, requires a daily devotion to creativity.
“It’s not like I have a widget,” she said. “I have lots of widgets. Multitudes.”

MEAD — English majors have a bum rap.
After all, who hasn’t heard at least one joking reference to their marketability in the business world?
Meagan Dawson, just four years beyond her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Washington, has beaten the rap. She has made her way into the business world in an unrelated field, as logistics coordinator at Horizon Organic Dairy Inc. in Longmont. But her own business, Galloping Spirit Greeting Cards, has turned on her ability to string words together artfully.
For the past three years, Galloping Spirit Greeting Cards — each handmade and featuring…

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