Daniel Malen recalls a lot of people saying they got him “the greatest card” on his wedding day. But after opening numerous envelopes and finding the same two generic bowties with “Mr. and Mr.” scrawled across the bottom, he wasn’t so convinced.
A handdrawn card from his friend Mark Uhre finally offered some variety, along with the inspiration for a business idea: LGBTQ-inclusive cards.
Since then, Malen, 37, who co-owns a juice company, and Uhre, 35, who works on Broadway in New York, have launched Mark It Proud, to help end the parade of generic “Mr. and Mr.” cards.
“We don’t pretend to be like ‘We’re inventing LGBTQ-inclusive cards,’ but if you go into a Hallmark or whatever, there’s maybe one. And I think there should be more,” Malen said.
Malen believes that their cards will help make the LGBTQ community more visible and “visibility becomes acceptance.” Uhre hopes their cards will help “spread love, spread happiness, because that’s what a greeting card is about.”
“I think there’s so much hate in the world. But I really believe when you have a connection to a community your opinion changes,” Malen said. “Anything that makes visibility and acceptance more common helps.”
The duo has come up with 13 designs so far. Their cards cover a variety of themes, including weddings, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, birthdays and coming out. According to Uhre, the two sit down together and discuss ideas before he starts a general sketch. Throughout the process, Uhre bounces ideas back and forth with Malen before ending with “the strongest image that will get people excited and send love through an image.”