Welcome to Savannah, GA’s “Forest City Of The South.” My name is Alissa, and I am the one creating and managing this website, taking pictures, writing stories and making cards behind-the-scenes. This is a brief introduction to how I got started and why I chose to make greeting cards. I’ll continue to share other personal stories right here on the Journal page, so please come back to visit again soon.
The path that led me here has certainly been long but not without rhyme or reason. I strive to create and work hard, relentlessly, and that keeps me motivated. Through rather timely, happenstance moments, major changes and shifts in my life have always fallen into place naturally and organically, so I’ve been lucky. I look for those moments. When I started flying back to Savannah from New York City a few times a year, simply to walk around and take pictures, I’d look for cards in local shops to send back home, and I could never really find quite what I was looking for. It seemed I’d always end up with cards that weren’t from Savannah at all. Soon, it occurred to me that was something I could do for others…I could make local, handmade cards. And I could marry that idea with my photography, which had mostly remained inaccessible to others, though it had been a passion of mine for well over a decade. This passion and desire finally caught up with the right circumstance and gave me no choice but to start. Just start. It’s been exactly a year since this project was set in motion. Between doing interior design contract work for a firm in New York City, taking time off for the first time in seven years, flying back and forth between Virginia and Savannah and working on a few freelance projects, it took a full year to get from the initial website and product conception to the official launch of both, and it is only the beginning. I like to let things happen in their own time, and this project really drove itself. The story — the story of the forest city — made it happen.
So, when did the story begin? Years ago, I made an album of Savannah photos entitled “The Forest City,” after Savannah’s original nickname, which kind of stuck with me and planted a seed. The name felt like a perfect fit for both Savannah and my photography. But I was too busy with work in New York to direct any attention elsewhere. Finally, in the summer of 2018, I picked up an old notebook and started sketching ideas when I moved away from New York City. My notes quickly became a scattered mess, but the storyline and vision generally progressed unchanged, and I was happy with the direction things were going. I began collecting acorns around Savannah that fall and used them to sketch designs that would represent The Forest City story. In January of 2019, something appeared rather unexpectedly while I was walking through Laurel Grove Cemetery, which I promise to elaborate on in the near future. It’s a good story. That moment was affirmation enough for me, as it connected so many others that came before, and there was no turning back after that. I purchased a website domain that day, and I consolidated my ideas, starting with Savannah’s “Forest City of The South” nickname and the story of the acorn. After working on a few sketches for a boxed set of greeting cards, it wasn’t long before the first shipment of proofs arrived at my door. Months later, 50 complete sets were printed and packaged, followed by another 50. I cannot express the joy I felt, holding something I had wanted to bring to life for so long, which had taken significant time and patience finding the resources, space and means to do so. I am grateful for the people who helped make it possible. And I hope you will enjoy the cards available in our online shop as much as I enjoyed creating them. There will be more to come.
Forest City Of The South™ greeting cards were partially inspired by old Savannah postcards and their timeless, painterly and colorful scenery. I love how these rare and vintage pieces of paper, often with faded, aged handwriting on the back, hold so much meaning now, like preserved messages from the past. Sometimes cards like these are all we have left of our loved ones. Shouldn’t we spend more time leaving these gifts behind? It was once so common. Sending messages in the mail, of course, used to be one of few ways experiences could be shared with others. To this day, I believe these handwritten sentiments are some of our greatest treasures. Most people would prefer to receive a stamped envelope with their name on the front, filled with someone’s very own, unique handwriting. No doubt, it is a certain type of art form.
Though handmade greeting cards date back to the Ancient Chinese and Egyptians, it wasn’t until the 1400s that Europeans started selling and exchanging them, and it wasn’t until 1775 (Savannah was founded in 1733) that the United States created the U.S. postal system. Greeting cards came before postcards, with the first regular publisher in the U.S., Esther Howland, selling handmade valentines in 1849. In 1856, Louis Prang opened a lithographic business in Boston, and America’s greeting card industry began. In 1873, the U.S. started issuing postal cards, and in 1900, we see the first “Real Photo” postcards, or cards with real photos printed on stock paper. Around 1906, collecting postcards became the largest hobby known to the world. By 1908, the U.S. post office cited 677,777,798 postcards mailed, or the equivalent of each person mailing roughly 7 cards a year, as only 88,700,000 people lived in the country at the time. After WWI and the invention of the telephone, the “Golden Age” of postcards and greeting cards ended, but the “Real Photo” card publishing business boomed, and they were sold at every tourist attraction. The techniques, materials, format and style of card making evolved with advances in technology, and production didn’t slow down until WWII, due to shortages of help and resources, but it has been on the rise ever since. We may not be in another “Golden Age” yet, but I think we can get there! I’d love to see everyone writing and mailing cards again.
What I love about Forest City of The South™ greeting cards is what may become of them in the future. That someone may find them – and your handwriting – and treasure them for the time capsules they are. I love that cards, letters and photography so quickly transform into bottled up memories and stories. All my life, I’ve spent countless hours sharing these gifts with others, so it seemed fitting I would continue doing just that. I love the story of The Forest City and how it shines a light on a topic I care deeply about, so I am especially excited to share that story with you. The photographs and materials that we use have been carefully chosen to reflect the mission of this website and online shop, so that everything works together. Each box of cards is packaged as a thematic set, correlating with a story on the blog, so be sure to check those out here. The online shop will grow and change, so feel free to subscribe if you wish to know when new products become available. Thanks for stopping by, and please stay in touch!
**Don’t forget to scroll through the gallery at the top of this blog post (swipe left on a touch pad, hover over the bottom of the gallery to use the slider button, or click to enlarge a photo, and then use the arrows).**