What do you know about Hallmark aside from the cards and the stores? Did you know that J.C. Hall got tips on buying land from Mr. Walt Disney? Did you know that he invented the way greeting cards are now displayed since they used to be stored in a box behind the register? Did you realize that decorative wrapping paper became mainstream thanks to this man as well? I found out all of this and more while touring the Hallmark headquarters in Kansas City, MO.
Hallmark Headquarters at Crown Center in Kansas City, MO
Since the work I do relies heavily on creativity, I was pretty stoked to learn how the creative juices are kept flowing at Hallmark. Employees collaborate to spark ideas and mini workshops are set up so they can basically experiment with different craft projects. This allows creative teams to come up with fresh and fun ideas all of the time. They even have doodle hours to lighten the atmosphere and spark some imagination 🙂
You can see some of their talent at work on the Think Make Share blog. I will forewarn you that your crafty side may start itching to recreate a project or two, or three, or four… Here’s one of the faces behind the creative force there, Tobe (pronounced Toby).
Displays around the office are changed out often to reflect different themes. While I was there, the theme seemed to center on pets. There is a monstrous library for reference which featuring tons of art and children’s books. Again, more sources of inspiration.
There’s also a special program for employees to take a paid leave of several months. After that time, they can show the results of their creative sabbatical and some even win the special Barbara Marshall award. The submissions were amazing! Unfortunately, I’m not able to share photos of these (and some other works in progress) so you’ll just have to believe me when I say the creative staff is definitely hard at work and they have some serious skills!
Hallmark Visitors Center
We ended the visit with a tour of the Hallmark Visitors Center, which was opened in 1985 for the 75th anniversary of Hallmark. Displays start from the very beginning when the company was first the Norfolk Card Company, then Hall Brothers, and finally Hallmark stuck. Cards from the various decades were on display. One card from 1939 known as the “pansy card” is still in production today and over 30 million of them have been sold. Love the bow-making machine too!
So keep your eye out for even more fun items coming from Hallmark. The creative team is working hard to bring new products to you including coloring books for adults (mandalas). Also, if you’re ever in Kansas City, MO stop by the Visitors Center for a self-led tour as there is no admission fee.
I happened to be in the area and was invited to visit the headquarters as a guest. No compensation was given but the team did feed me lunch 🙂 All opinions are my own.