“I give my heart out to you as a card”
While you were searching for your perfect career, Kiki and Emily were busy turning their passion for art into a business – Bluem Prints. Bluem Prints defines itself as a company that offers “special cards collaboratively created and printed with purpose to grow and develop independence.”
Bluem Prints’ story begins with Kiki’s love for hand making crafts to gift to her loved ones. She started off with jars and quickly progressed to cans, bottles, etc. One day, Colleen, Kiki’s mother, wanted to design cards with Kiki. Emily also enjoys colors and crafts, so she joined in on the fun.
What started as a hobby quickly became a business.
In 2018, Kiki, Emily, and Colleen founded Bluem Prints. According to their website, “Bluem, pronounced bloom, is a combination of Blue to represent Autism and Em for Emily.” The inspiration for the business name came from Kiki, who is diagnosed with autism, and Emily, who is diagnosed with Down syndrome. Colleen is Kiki’s mother and the creative director of Bluem Prints.
Kiki and Emily met in Special Olympics over a decade ago and have been best friends ever since. Now, they are best friends and business partners.
Bluem prints offers unique greeting cards created with old fashion techniques. Each card design is created by coloring, cutting, pasting, and texturized to add cool effects.
Eric Carle, author of A Very Hungry Caterpillar, is their source of inspiration. Eric Carle inspires Kiki and Emily to create collages that incorporate bright, vivid colors in every card design. Each card design is drafted, tested, and refined by Kiki and Emily.
Once they are satisfied with the design, they use a “window”, which is a paper with a cutout to find the best writing around their imagery. This becomes a template that is sent to the printers to create the final product: a greeting card made with love.
For Kiki, giving cards to people makes her feel “something special” inside. Kiki enjoys using art as her language of communication. Her cards provide a way to communicate and share feelings with other people.
“I love sharing cards because I give my heart out to you as a card. You can sign them and give it to people. We just blossom with them. It’s like giving your heart to people and letting them see what’s inside me,” says Emily.
Through their business, Kiki and Emily have learned to work on a team to select the style and typography for each design. As a side effect of creating the products by hand, they have also improved their writing and fine motor skills. Emily’s handwriting used to be very large and now, the font size of her writing is the size of a pen cap.
The biggest thing Kiki has learned from working at Bluem Prints is being proud of her creations and making new friends.
“Bluem Prints is a business that I have created to provide a program where Kiki, Emily, and adults with disabilities can thrive & learn in a creative, positive and supportive atmosphere of the day to day of a locally-owned small business and work within their community. My goal is to empower the girls and have purpose,” says Colleen.
“For many people, language can be a barrier and close a lot of doors,” says Colleen. Bluem Prints was created out of a desire to utilize a different language of communication: Art.
In the future, Bluem Prints would like to foster a creative and collaborative space in Roseville for individuals with special needs. Everyone would be coloring, writing, or cutting paper. The goal is to encourage individuals with special needs to make cards, have fun, and be creative!
Emily believes the best way to empower people with developmental disabilities so that they feel valued is to cultivate independence, which Bluem Prints has done for her. Bluem Prints has also provided Kiki and Emily with valuable work experience such as leadership and teamwork. They hold regular meetings to make design and business decisions using visual strategies.
Emily’s personal career goal is to become a job coach. “I want to work with kids with special needs. It makes me feel happy and gives me a purpose in life. I see the potential in them and they can’t let it out. Maybe if we do it [a different] way, it’ll come on out, and they’ll bloom,” says Emily.
Bluem Prints’ cards can be purchased online and at the following stores:
- Learning Express Toys, Roseville, CA
- Learning Express Toys, Reno, NV
- Brainy Zoo Toys, Folsom, CA
- Foothill Mercantile, Grass Valley, CA
- Bird in Hand, Chico, CA
- Michaelangelos, Roseville, CA
- Geared for Games, Tahoe City, CA
Their cards are beautiful and we encourage you to check them out!