ENGLEWOOD — As a gay African-American, Otis Richardson said he rarely could find greeting cards that spoke to him.
Even in gay-friendly neighborhoods, he often didn't see images that he could relate to.
So Richardson, 53, of Hyde Park, started making his own cards, which led to him creating his own company: Lavenderpop Greeting Cards.
Although he's been in business since 2004, he is hoping to grow his company now that he was recently accepted to sell his cards at the new Whole Foods in Englewood.
“When I started I wanted to create cards that I hadn't really seen, especially in the LGBT community,” said Richardson, who graduated from South Carolina State University with a bachelor's degree in art education.
“A lot of the cards I would see in gift shops, say on the North Side like Boystown, would be kind of like porn-star oriented things, but nothing that was really about dating or relationship or love,” Richardson said.
Richards, who works in customer service in the Tribune's syndication department, does all the illustrations and writing out of his home.
He has cards like “Youth Pride,” which reads:
Who I am is not a lifestyle choice./I was born this way and I will rejoice./Some are lucky to have/a family who accepts us./But if they don’t we make our own/because we must.
LavenderPop Greeting Cards come in several different categories. [Provided by LavenderPop]
Before moving to Chicago, he lived in his native hometown of Beaufort, S.C.
From 1999-2001 he and his friend Hana Anderson had their own greeting card business called Black Pop, which was sold in Walgreens. She did the writing and he did the illustrations. They parted ways before he launched his own line.
Richardson says he receives a lot of support from his runners club as well as Soka Gakkai International Buddhists, which he's a member of.
"I identify as gay, although I like the term 'same gender loving,' that’s one reason I started LavenderPop, it started as a black LGBT greeting line."
Besides having cards for those in the LGBT community, he also focuses on including images of blacks.
“A lot of the cards I would see didn't really have people of color so I wanted to be very inclusive,” he said. “The black LGBT community is looking for those images. The community is really big.”
Richardson sells his cards online at www.lavenderpop.com with some starting at $3. The goal is to get into more retail stores, he said.
“The kind of cards I'm doing, they represent diversity," he said.