For every Mary Engelbreit or Anna Bond, there are hundreds of smaller makers who are not only sustaining themselves by staying small, but wearing it as a badge of honor — no household name required. Joanna Alberti ofPhiloSophie’s got a huge boost early in her career, in 2005, when she was named one of Business Week’s Top Five Entrepreneurs Under 25. That same year, she and her cards literally put themselves on the industry map with their catwalk debut at the LOUIE Awards gala, held at Manhattan’s Chelsea Piers during what was, as far as I know, the only GCA-sponsored card fashion show to date.
Buoyed by that promising start, Joanna has built her brand into a thriving business that “creates joy for others as well as myself.” Over the years PhiloSophie’s has released an impressive slew of custom creations, corporate collabs, and licensed gift offerings, all administered from Joanna’s cozy studio/shop in Spencerport, New York.
PhiloSophie’s is populated by Joanna’s very versatile spirit cartoon animal Sophie, who is much more than an icon ready to be personalized. Sophie owes her success to the fact that Joanna shaped her from the start into a vehicle for the upbeat, uplifting story Joanna wants to tell the world.
Joanna shares how Sophie has consistently dispensed “aspirational positivity” — like the wisdom of not taking yourself too seriously, or the perils of bowing to your ego. Joanna describes how she has pivoted due to COVID-19 — and how spreading joy can be not just an act of resilience, but resistance as well.