Dani Kreeft: Owner, Dani Press
Toronto-based Dani Kreeft believes there's nothing like a good old fashioned letter. Her self-made line of greeting cards are far from conventional, using photographs she's snapped along her travels matched with witty, perfectly-thought out phrases.
Although it wasn't obvious to her at first, she shares her story of how her business Dani Press came to be, and why you shouldn't fret the 'what should I do with my life?' question.
When I was 18, I wanted to make stationery. Greeting cards, to be specific.
My boyfriend bought me one of those ‘design-your-own’ computer programs in a sincere, cheerleading gesture, but I never opened it. It's probably in a Salvation Army somewhere now.
"That's not really a job."
"What would I even make?"
"That's kinda dumb."
It's not as though these passing thoughts plagued my sleep or transfixed my mind so much that I found myself staring stiffly at myself in the mirror, my motionless toothbrush hanging out my mouth. Rather, they ticker-taped through my mind and I shrugged them off and biked over to 7-Eleven. I was eighteen.
Over the next six years, after recycling an acceptance letter to a photography program I had actually bent over backwards to get into, I hit the road. And this wasn't a casual penchant for pavement or light preface to my real life. The first of five times I boarded a plane to South Africa, it might as well have been a slingshot because I was gone. Malaysia, Indonesia, Holland, Uganda, France, England, Thailand, New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, Lesotho, everywhere and anywhere. When I was home, I was serving coffee at 6 a.m. and serving beers at 6 p.m. to fund my adventures cannon-balling into the Indian Ocean, uncomfortably sleeping in all kinds of airports, and lugging around a 50-pound pack up grass terraces in Bali.
But one spring day, after snapping a quick, wobbly photo following my friend Dylan as we biked through the woods in Holland, I looked down at the photo and thought,
"That could be a card."
And I guess that was that. Well, I know that was that. It was my first one when I started my stationery company, Dani Press, just under two years later at 26-years-old.
So here's the thing. Something I quickly discredited and expelled into hobby territory was my gift, my mission. At first I didn't see it that way because there were no blaring bells or whistles. It didn't take four years of drudging through school to be certified in it, and it didn't feel like an important calling like I imagined defense lawyers or surgeons felt about their gigs.
It didn't feel tremendous and I had some un-tested notion that it should've.
Thank God, literally, that it was still sitting there after eight years of waiting for me to come around. That I was wise enough at that point to pick it up, recognize what it was and start running with it. All those small nags and pulls might be what becomes tremendous. You have to pay attention.
Besides, someone has to cut someone open and fix 'em up, but someone also has to make encouraging and get well cards for when they wake up.