Finding the right words: Able and Game have a card for that

We’ve all been there — you’ve been standing in the card aisle of your local supermarket for a good few minutes unable to find the perfect card that expresses the exact message you want to give your recipient. If you’ve ever wanted to tell a friend they’re ‘totes defs amaze balls’ or to say ‘sorry about the alco-rant,’ and failed to find the card that says so, then husband-and-wife team Able and Game might be the duo you’ve been looking for. We asked Anna, one-half of this creative team, about the process behind her papery creations:

 

Tell us how Able and Game came about …

I started planning the business in 2008 after my husband Gareth and I collaborated on a Mother’s Day card. I realised he and I, together, could make a good team. I also came up with the name, which combines our initials (I’m Able, Gareth is Game) and liked it so much I didn’t want to leave it, so I built a whole business around it. We launched in 2009 for Valentine’s Day.

How would you describe your work?

Dorky people doing everyday things that people can identify with, on greeting cards.

What does your typical working day involve? 

We have an office space about a 40-minute walk from our home. We have a 15-month old son, Clyde, so we juggle looking after him and working. We have a lovely girl who comes in to help with manufacturing and getting our wholesale orders ready. We still print all the cards ourselves in our office, so there is a bit of work doing that, as well as managing the business. If we are working from home, we have a little office space set up, so when Clyde is asleep we can get some more work done in this time.

Able and Game

We’re curious, where do all these ideas for cards come from? 

The key is remembering to write the idea down, because you will forget it. They come in all sorts of situations, sometimes it is a word I like and I want to base a whole card around that word. Other times it’s a situation, like your Mum joining Facebook. Anything and everything is looked at under the microscope of can it become a card?

Do you ever get writers block or struggle to be creative on command?

Yes, I often think I’ll never come up with a good card again. I work better with deadlines looming, which isn’t a good way to work really, but that is often when the good stuff comes. Also, if I brainstorm ideas, then look at them months later, I can often finish off an idea, or make a new one inspired by something I wrote down.

What’s your best-selling item?

A greeting card with a large fat cat that says I Love You Just The Way I Am. Gareth came up with the idea and sent me Google images of fat cats and a crude drawing of how he wanted it to look. I had to draw it several times to get it right. I wasn’t sure how well it would go, but it has been very popular. It was one of our first cards with a cat on it. We now have many cards with cats on them.

What’s the creation you’re most proud of?

One of my favourite cards is one that says I Touched a Cat and I Liked It. It has a dorky looking man patting a cat. When I designed it I thought it was so ridiculous that I couldn’t possibly print it to sell, but it made me laugh so much I decided to. I was feeling in a bit of a design rut at the time. That weekend at the market I sold a few of them and I asked each person who they were giving it to and why. One woman had a story about how that morning she tried to pat the neighbour’s cat and it scratched her, and her and her husband had laughed at this, so she was going to give it to him that night. This was so good. Here I was thinking I couldn’t sell it because it was so silly, and now I was involved in this wife-to-husband card exchange.

Now when I look at it, it makes me happy. A few people comment that they think it has rude connotations, but when I designed it, this was not on my mind. It was simply a man who was happy because he got to pat a cat.

Able and Game Designs

Have you had any funny reactions to your cards from customers?

We love it when people come to the market and laugh so much they start snorting. Or people get so excited by them they start sharing the ones they love with random strangers also at the stall.

What would you be doing if not this?

I was an art teacher before starting Able And Game and I had an idea for a business that ran holiday art classes for teenagers. Something for the kids who really love art. I envisaged gallery trips and a fancy exhibition at the end where they could invite family and friends to sip (non-alcoholic) sparkling wine and get dressed up.

What’s next for Able and Game? 

We would love to expand our giftware range with more products. Expanding the range of greeting cards. I’m in design mode at the moment as we prepare for a trade show in August in Melbourne.

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WRITTEN BY:
Sonya Gellert

Sonya Gellert is a contributing writer and associate editor for Khoollect. She lives in Sydney....

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Follow Able and Game on Twitter and Instagram to see more. And, check out Anna’s tips for running a creative business.