For Every Occasion

For Every Occasion

Lisa Lenoir always knew that there was an artist inside of her, waiting to emerge. And following a romantic breakup five years ago, she decided to set her free. All she needed was an X-ACTO knife, some colored pencils, and good paper stock.

The result? A custom greeting card business that she calls Elle Squared. “It was therapeutic,” offers Lenoir.

By day, 37-year-old Lenoir is travel editor for the Chicago Sun-Times. Having previously covered fashion for seven years, she easily incorporates stylish touches into her greeting designs. One note card displays a pomegranate-colored corset with gold closures. The outside reads, “In a pinch?” The inside reads, “Don’t worry — I’ve got your back.”

Other creations include unique gift note cards as well as Rosh Hashanah and Hanukkah cards (about $50 for 10) with Yiddish sayings inside. Word of mouth nets most of her orders.

“In the news business, you’re always scrutinized, both inside [the newsroom] and out,” says Lenoir. “What I love about this is nobody can touch this because it’s mine. It’s quite liberating.”

Getting Started
Take a class. They are affordable and short term. You will learn the mechanics as well as surround yourself with like-minded creative types. Check out places like Chicago’s Discovery Center ( and Washington, D.C.’s First Class Inc. (www.takea
Work for fun. You will make valuable contacts and discover if you’ve really found your niche. For three years, Lenoir spent weekends moonlighting at a Chicago art and frame shop.