‘Small idea with a big impact’

Posted on Jan 19 2021

Handmade cards by Jill Arenovski are available at all Shell gas stations on Saipan. (Contributed Photo)

These days, staying connected with family and friends is awesome with technology but there is still something warm and intimate about sending thoughts and feelings through greeting cards. Twenty-five years ago, Jill Arenovski put into work how she feels and made her own greeting cards to express herself to family and friends in the mainland.

“I first started making cards about 25 years ago when I had my first daughter. We lived in Guam when I first moved to the Marianas and I was buying lots of cards to send home to my family. It was the first time I had lived so far away from everyone I knew and one day, I went into a store called China Arts with a friend, saw a cute rubber stamp, bought it, and have stamped ever since,” she said.

“A handmade greeting card is even more special now that it was 25 years ago. Now, we send texts and messages and photos electronically, mostly that is instant and gratifying. But when you receive a handmade card in the mail, you know that someone has taken their time to create for you. I send lots of cards and yet I’m still surprised and honored when I hear that the recipient has saved them because the cards mean so much,” she added.

Instead of going to the bookstore or grocery and spend time looking for the right card with the perfect message, making or stamping your own card is limitless. “You can use nearly any design and make a beautiful card for any occasion. For a long time, it was difficult for me to make sympathy cards because they are always related to sadness but then I realized that the note inside is often so important and uplifting to the recipient in their time of need, and now I quite enjoy making cards to send those magical messages,” Arenovski said.

Make a card or buy a handmade card that is warm and intimate. (Contributed Photo)

“Most times I stamp a message inside each card but I also leave a good amount of them blank inside so that the sender can handwrite any message. I still hang onto the letters and cards from my dad and grandmother and cherish seeing their handwriting,” she added

Arenovski shares this passion of making and stamping personalized cards with others. “My Facebook page is ‘SaipanStamper’ and I have a VIP group. Now that I have my cookie business called ‘Saipan Snaps,’ I’m combining both ventures by including a handmade thank you card with each mail order purchase and using my love of paper crafting to offer custom cookie giveaway items for parties, weddings, and other events,” she said.

“I don’t know where the idea originated but last summer, a lot of stampers sent Sunshine Boxes to raise the spirits of those they love. Basically, we took a box, decorated it in yellow, and sent all yellow items (sunshine!) through the postal service. We added things like Peanut M&Ms, yellow masks, lemon hand cream, and all sorts of silly stuff like a rubber ducky. These boxes are so fun to make and send, and these adorable packages are even more fun for the recipient!” she added.

Arenovski also sells handmade or stamped cards that is yours for the picking. The design is uncommercial and provides a personalized feel. “Most times I stamp a message inside each card but I also leave a good amount of them blank inside so that the sender can handwrite any message… A card can complete your package, sending a message of hope or support, of love or sympathy, or of cheer and happiness. Especially during this pandemic, we miss actually spending time with others and a handwritten card can bring others closer in our hearts.

“I sell my handcrafted greeting cards at the Saipan Shell gasoline stations in Susupe, Dandan, Shell Highway, San Roque, and Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico station has the largest card display with the best selection, and the locations are refilled monthly with new designs and seasonal cards,” she added.

Bea Cabrera
Bea Cabrera, who holds a law degree, also has a bachelor's degree in mass communications. She has been exposed to multiple aspects of mass media, doing sales, marketing, copywriting, and photography.
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