Concussions do not stop Hailey Herring-Newbound ’16. If anything, they are a blessing in disguise for the recent alumna, whose handmade cards are now sold in Where’d You Get That?! and the Store at Five Corners in Williamstown, in addition to stores in California. The cards are simple yet elegant and fun, with a watercolor fruit, vegetable or loaf of bread accompanied by a friendly pun greeting the reader.
The cards started as something to do during Newbound’s month-and-a-half-long recovery from a concussion which started a week before spring break her senior year. “After about a week of just lying around, you kind of begin to lose your mind a little bit,” she said. “To entertain myself, [I] started water-coloring because I found that it was the one activity that would keep me entertained but also didn’t hurt my head for whatever reason.”
Newbound credits her dad with helping her match puns to pictures. “My dad has always been a pun master, and the two of us are just constantly coming up with puns. We spent our days going back and forth and coming up with puns for all of the different fruits and vegetables, and I just started writing everything down,” she said.
After an initial round of water-coloring and creating puns, Newbound took five cards down the street to the Store at Five Corners to see if the owner would consider putting them up for sale. “I showed [the cards] to her and asked if she would be at all interested in selling them and she instantly took them out of my hands,” Newbound said. “And then she started selling, and she kept reordering, and then I got them into Where’d You Get That?!.” Just like that, the cards were officially on the market.
Newbound returned to classes, finishing her time at the College while selling the cards and creating a website to increase sales. After making her way west, she began spending almost every weekend working at craft fairs and printing cards. Her website (cardsbyhailey.com) now boasts the names of nine stores that sell her cards: five in San Francisco, two elsewhere in California and two in Williamstown.
Newbound got another concussion while in San Francisco. “My whole story is going to be about concussions,” she said with a laugh. “I would come into work for 20 minutes, and then the room would start spinning and then I would have to go home … I sort of started thinking that the job was something that I did not necessarily want to pursue. And I was having so much fun doing the card stuff — that was what kept me up at night, that was what excited me so much more.”
Newbound left her job in San Francisco to move to Australia in January, following a “voice in her head” urging her to go abroad. Many of the illustrators and artists of whom Newbound is fond also live in Australia, so when her best friend from the College who had moved to Sydney suggested she also come, Newbound said yes. “I made the leap, and it’s been great,” she said. Additionally, the card-making “just kind of took on a life of its own, so I’m kind of the one following it.”
This business “was never something that I thought I would ever be doing,” Newbound said. “I’m selling prints as well. I made one print to see what would happen, and I sold it at a fair in San Francisco and it did really well, so I started making more.”
As for where she gets the endless collection of puns, “for whatever reason, it’s a blessing or a curse, it’s kind of just the way my mind works,” she said. “I’ll sit down and be like I’m going to do all breads, and I’ll Google-search bread and just have a list of types of bread and go down the line, coming up with puns for them.”
Throughout this process, her family has been “kind of laughing alongside of me, like, ‘Why am I doing this? Why does this work?’” she said. They continue to support, encourage and push her as the cards continue selling.
Newbound credited her history of concussions with the change in her plans. “I didn’t know at what point I would get another concussion and be out for another two months,” she said, so stepping away from the demanding schedule of a “9-to-5” job made the most sense and has allowed her to take time for herself, travel and work on the cards.
“I’ll keep it going as long as it keeps going,” she said. “I don’t know if it could ever be a full-time gig, but it’s great to have on the side.”