New Marketplace Tackles Lack of Diversity in Greeting Cards
- Kutenda is an online marketplace offering cards and gifts designed by artists and entrepreneurs from marginalized groups.
- The market hopes to standardize the representation of the LGBTQ+ community, the BAME community and those who identify as disabled in greeting cards.
- Nearly 60% of people agree that card stores should offer more gender-neutral designs, according to a GlobalData survey.
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An online marketplace for greeting cards featuring and designed by diverse and underrepresented communities launched on Saturday to mark Black Pound Day, a day that encourages spending at black-owned businesses in the UK.
Kutenda aims to normalize the representation of marginalized groups in cards and gifts so that they can purchase products that accurately represent them. This includes the LGBTQ+ community, the BAME community and those who identify as disabled. Although the UK spends around £1.7 billion ($2.25 billion) a year on greeting cards, the industry does not accurately represent marginalized groups.
Kutenda also showcases the work of up-and-coming artists and entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds, saying “big retailers either ignore minority artists or steal their ideas.” Besides cards, the market also sells gifts including mugs, stationery, and bookmarks.
Founder Avila Diana Chidume said Kutenda hopes to “create a sense of belonging in a world created to fail to provide adequate representation”. The young entrepreneur named the business after the word “grateful” in Shona, a language spoken in her home country of Zimbabwe.
Chidume was motivated to start the business by the cards she received growing up. “I could never understand or understand why I never received cards or gifts with black people on them,” she said, adding that the very first birthday card she received with a black person was on her 21st birthday – and it was one of her own designs from her greeting card company Avila.Diana, which she launched in response to this issue.
Chidume isn’t the only person to recognize this underrepresentation in greeting cards. Nearly 60% of respondents to a GlobalData survey in 2019 agreed that card stores should offer more gender-neutral designs.
Other entrepreneurs have also responded to this issue. Huetribe was launched in 2017 after its founder struggled to find greeting cards reflecting her interracial relationship, and donates a portion of its profits to charities supporting racial, cultural and LGBTQ equality. Since 2005, The Afro Card Company has also created greeting cards representing the black community.
But Kutenda has taken a different strategy, acting as a marketplace for marginalized artists and entrepreneurs to showcase their wares.
Although the business launched on Saturday, it has also set up a crowdfunder to raise £10,000 ($13,200) to maintain its website and support brands selling their products through Kutenda.