Every once in a while, a card maker comes along who strikes a cultural chord at exactly the moment it needs to be struck. If I’m lucky enough to spot the range early on, sitting back and watching the world fall in love with it is truly a wonder to behold. I saw this when Emily McDowell and her magnificent empathy cards came on the scene several years back. And now, although 2020 has completely sucked, it’s not a complete wash for me as I’ve stumbled across Janine Kwoh of Kwohtations.
Janine’s Welcome to the Grief Club is to the sympathy category what Emily McDowell & Friends is to the thinking of you category. The Brooklyn letterpresser “makes cards as she needs them,” and her range has strong themes of inclusion, representation and honesty running through it. Janine’s creations help get difficult but necessary conversations started, and in the age of COVID-19, they are more relevant and prescient than ever. Who would have guessed that a card, a sticker, an art print or a care package could help us authentically connect, comfort and validate each other when we are needing it most — but that’s the emotion behind every last Kwohtations sale.
Janine made her trade show debut this past February in the Emerging Designer section at National Stationery Show/NY NOW, and I could barely introduce myself to her through the ever-present crowd.
Now Janine is compiling the world’s first illustrated book on grief for adults, with a working title of Welcome to the Grief Club, to be released by Workman Publishing in Fall 2021. Janine sits down with me to share more about her background, her work and how stationery can help us feel a bit more seen, a bit more connected, and a bit less alone.