Erin Newkirk | Her Stamp of Approval

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Erin Newkirk is the CEO and co-founder of Red Stamp.  Founded in 2005, Red Stamp has served tens of thousands around the world and has been featured in dozens of media outlets including The New York Times and The Today Show. Previously, Erin was in brand management at General Mills, and is currently proud of her role as wife, mother + loyal friend.

I have been outfitted with personalized stationery, notepads + pencils from the time I could talk. As a super young child, I have vivid memories of my mom and I sitting down to write thank you notes :: she would write, I would dictate. Even then, I was drawn to my pretty paper, her perfect penmanship, and the promise of pen pals. It wasn’t just the paper…it was what the paper promised. I dreamed of a full social calendar. I was on a first name basis with our mailman. And used to wait for the mail to drop through our front door with a solid thud. Followed by a little wave as Gary stuck his fingers through the slot to signal a personal hello to the child he knew was waiting for his arrival.

Flash forward 20-ish years and you’ll find a woman graduating from college with a degree in advertising. Hopeful that I could/would land a job as a Creative Director, I dreamed of making a living out of my passion for social creativity. But the early 90’s was all about taking the job you were offered, so I settled for Operations and realized that using the left side of the brain could be rewarding, too. I learned the ropes. Was quickly promoted to leadership. Realized to get to the next level, I should go back to school to get my MBA. So I did. Loved it. Teamwork was definitely my thing. I found the internship of my MBA dreams at the company of my dreams. Went to work there full-time. Was quickly promoted.
And then I had a baby. And discovered my beloved dad was terminally ill. Work remained demanding, and rightfully so. My social life took a hit as I suddenly found it harder and harder to juggle it all. I missed my friends, my extended family, date nights with my husband. So cliche, but there is a reason cliches are true. Cliches mean opportunity. And this cliche was no exception.

So, I decided to do something about it. Not just for me, but for others who were finding it harder and harder to keep in touch with those they care about because of their busy schedules. Come hell or high water, I wanted to do something that would help make relationships stronger despite the hectic, sometimes frantic, pace of life.

It was 2004-2005. Life before Facebook. Before Twitter. Before text messaging. People were still mailing greeting cards for birthdays, but they needed help remembering important dates, buying cards/postage, and getting to the post office. So, was born to help people send “Fashionable Cards, Fashionably On-Time.” It was a calendar / reminder service mixed with e-commerce, high end occasion cards. Our twist was that for an additional fee, we would hand-write and send cards on behalf of our clients. It did moderately well. Other card companies followed. It was going well enough for me to get some friends + family money together, take the leap, and leave my job.

Over the years, Red Stamp Cards morphed into Red Stamp. And we started selling more than greeting cards. Desk items, personalized stationery. We moved into a 6,000 square foot warehouse and designed our own line of cards. Our site became a haven for fine paper lovers and while I was proud of what we had built, we moved off our driving mission of making relationships stronger and, to some extent, lost sight of our strongest value proposition.

If I’m completely honest with myself, we became a bit lost in great design, fine paper + outdated etiquette. We touted the value of handwritten notes…110# card stock…luxe envelopes. But what we were really passionate about was the thought that counts, the picture that is worth 1,000 words, that handwritten notes are meaningless if they sit on your desk unwritten. How expressed words of gratitude are more important than the paper it’s {hand}written on anyway.

We were also ahead of our time with technology. We wanted to literally crawl into our clients’ computers and become their social secretary, but we couldn’t get close enough to them via the web, their computers, outdated contact management systems, and the dreaded Internet Explorer. We ran into roadblock after roadblock with development. And while we were making people happy with our stylish stationery, we had not found the application that would give the world the solution I craved back in 2004. Aka, the dream.

At the time, I cursed technology. The struggle was torture. But, the moment we decided to stop struggling and listened to what our limitations were telling us, we found the solution. Mobile. With mobile technology, specifically iOS, we put ourselves at the very place our clients needed us the most. Or, really the places. On the soccer field, on the train, in the cab, on a business trip. The places that people were being thoughtful in their head, but felt as though they couldn’t express their thoughtfulness in a way that was “good enough” for their recipients. With Apple as our platform, we were also finally equipped with the technology we needed to give people the product AND the services we had to give.

Photo-1(1)And we’ve only just begun. Our dream fuels our mission and our mission fuels our dream. And our technology gives us the legs we need to execute both. We are helping people strengthen their relationships in an engaging, friendly + easy way. Which is a pretty amazing feeling.

The big “a-ha” for me is that the process {the how-to} is really just as important as the result {the what-is}. When those things match up, dreams start becoming reality. Chances are, you don’t know how you are going to make your dream come true until you are well into working on your dream. So, decide the governing mission of your dream. Don’t get distracted by pretty objects. And get out there, learn as much from failure as success. And succeed.

Is there something you loved to do as a little girl?

Any perfect storm of circumstances that has prompted one of your dreams?

Paraphrasing Professor Amar Bhide, “For 90% of all successful businesses, the strategy the founders initially pursued did not lead to its success.” Rather encouraging, isn't it?

How has embracing constraints propelled you forward?

How can technology help you achieve your dreams?


When I asked Erin, why the name RedStamp, she said, “Red because it's bold.  A priority. Important. Cut above the rest. Stamp because stamps are the currency of communication.”

To send paper mail, emails, text messages and/or post to twitter + Facebook…right from your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.  Here's how ::

  1. Open the Red Stamp app
  2. Choose the occasion you wish to send your card for :: thank you, happy {birthday, anniversary, congratulations, etc}, holiday, pop-out photo, invites, photo cards, love, pop-out calendars, hello, announcements, support, and new.
  3. Scroll through designs + tap your favorite.
  4. Tap on the card to personalize the text and/or add a photo from your library, Instagram, Facebook. Or take a photo in app
  5. Tap “Send”
  6. Follow prompts to enter the appropriate address information.
  7. All digital sends are free; postcards start at $1.99/1 + include domestic postage. International postage is only $0.30 more.
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