Brothers in Business

One of the more successful greeting card lines in the country began in 1979 in boxes stored under the Armington Hall bed of Carl Bjorkman ‘80.

He and his brother, Steve, who attended Trinity College, today own Bjorkman Brothers of Irvine. Their cards are part of the popular Recycled Paper Greetings line found in a broad variety of stores across the nation.

In addition to the cards they make for the general market, they have a new line called Connections: Connected to One Another Through Christ. Offered by Bob Siemon Designs of Santa Ana, these cards emphasize a Christian perspective. They are gaining in popularity in Christian bookstores all over the country, including the Westmont College Store.

It all started in the summer before Carl’s senior year. Steve had done some drawings about college life, which they thought were marketable. Their initial idea was creating an academic calendar, but they worried about losing money on a dated product if it didn’t sell. So they decided on greeting cards.

They started out by marketing them through direct mail: The fledgling company’s very first business address was a post office box at 955 La Paz Road!

The early response was encouraging: 10 percent of the college bookstores they targeted bought, including UCLA, Biola and Westmont. A larger mailing yielded the same return.

By the spring semester, the company was a small but thriving cottage industry.

They expanded from college cards to seasonal and more general themes. In 1985, they contacted Recycled Paper Greetings, the fourth-largest card company in the United States. They’ve been designing for it ever since.

Today, Carl and Steve create 200 to 300 new card designs a year. Steve does the artwork, and both work on concepts and writing. Carl handles most of the business side of the company.

“We work well together,” Carl said. “We continue to enjoy a great friendship as well as a successful working relationship.”

They’ve ventured into other product lines as well, such as frames and, at one time, party goods. With Recycled Paper Greetings, they’ve been able to try some new and creative designs, like laser die cuts, pop-up cards with several layers, and square cards, Carl said.

The success of the new Connections line has been an additional blessing.

“Connections has been well received and it has been extremely satisfying for us to develop,” Carl said. “Connections cards allow us to express our faith, and we hope they encourage Christians to stay connected to each other in the midst of their busy lives.”

Carl and Steve’s sister, Karen ‘84, and their wives will often contribute new ideas and design concepts.

Carl was a business and economics major while at Westmont, and remembers with fondness and respect Professors Roy Millender and Bob Gundry. Chapel and Spring Sing were highlights for him, as was Europe Semester. Carl said that trip was especially significant in the development of his faith.

Carl and his wife, Cathy, have a daughter, Gracie, who will be four years old in March. They attend Coast Hills Community Church in Aliso Viejo.

Steve and his wife, Diane, have three children: David, 15; Kristi, 12; and Michael, 11. They attend Voyagers Church in Irvine.

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