Alex Kurkowski, founder of Tellinga, sketched his way back into being more connected with his loved ones and ended up creating a personalized greeting card business.
While Kurkowski was working on his master’s degree at Rice University, he realized his free time and relationships were dwindling as his workload was increasing. While others might have turned to phone calls and text messages, he began sending personalized stories in the mail. These “mailbox movies” for his friends and family ranged from one day to several months, and he found that the receivers loved opening their mailboxes for the personalized stories.
“I sent the first two to my brother and mother when I started attending Rice University,” Kurkowski told Dallas Innovates. “The story about my brother was based on a running joke we shared about a trip to see the Kansas City Chiefs training camp in Wisconsin. My then-teenage brother asked tight end [Tony Gonzalez] to autograph his ball while fake crying about having come all the way from Houston to get his signature. The one to my mom referenced one of her nicknames: ‘Queen Mamadala,’ a play off of Queen Amidala from Star Wars.”
Now, with his team of illustrators, anyone can get a customized mailbox movie for their loved ones.
Based out of Houston, Tellinga lets customers create their own custom snail mail stories. No matter what the occasion, there are endless ways to craft messages. After selecting the length of your desired narrative, you attach a photo and give a brief description of what you want the story to be about, and illustrators and artists—including some from Dallas—get to work. Customers can expect their orders in the post office in just a few days.
“Tellinga delivers a new platform for young and eager artists to express themselves artistically while pursuing a path of personal and economic prosperity,” Kurkowski says. “Currently employing 25 talented artists from across Texas, Tellinga provides younger artists a chance to demonstrate their hard-earned art degrees by sending 100 percent hand-drawn storybook greeting cards as unique gifts by snail mail.”
Tellinga partners with 32 college art majors across Texas, with six of its artists from or currently living in North Texas, according to Kurkowski. Tellinga’s DFW artists include Elissa Weaver, an educational illustrator; Stephanie Najera, a Fort Worth native; Corey Sherrard, a Digital Media major at the University of Houston; and Gozie Okoro, who has a BFA and MFA in animation.
“Tellinga offers a way to tap back into the tangible and traditional by providing a product that you can touch and feel on a deeper level rather than staring at another screen. It provides that old level of eagerness and anticipation of looking forward to checking your mailbox every day,” Kurkowski says. “It is the same exciting feeling of when you were mailing letters with a pen pal or loved one growing up, looking forward to that new edition of your favorite magazine, or the expectation of receiving a greeting card from a loved one. The goal is to provide an extremely personalized gift that brightens a loved one’s day by delivering little hand-drawn story surprises in their mailboxes.”
Tellinga creates all of its stories on recycled cardstock, giving the stories physical longevity while also being ecofriendly.
“Tellinga is truly where greeting cards meet storybooks meet snail mail!” Kurkowski says.
With prices ranging from around $10 to $70, Tellinga is offering a new way to make snail mail personal.
Get on the list.
Dallas Innovates, every day.
Sign up to keep your eye on what’s new and next in Dallas-Fort Worth, every day.