biz ladies: designing business cards + free card contest!

Today’s Biz Ladies post comes from Rebecca Kutys of Moontree Letterpress in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Together with Breck Hostetter of Sesame Letterpress, Rebecca began a joint venture called “Brooklyn Social Cards” to create letterpress business cards for clients. In this post, Rebecca offers some do’s and don’ts to business card design. From the appropriate information, to the placement of text, Rebecca shares some helpful advice to creating a memorable card!  Thanks Rebecca for this great post! — Stephanie

**Rebecca was kind enough to donate business cards to one lucky reader! If you’d like to throw your hat in the ring to win 250 custom one-color business cards from Brooklyn Social Cards (they made Grace’s cards!), leave a comment below describing a situation in which you wished you’d had a business card with you and why you’d like a set now. Comments will close tomorrow at 9am EST**

UPDATE: Congrats to A. Krause who won the contest! Rebecca and Breck selected her comment below as their favorite. Thank you to everyone who entered!

CLICK HERE for the full post after the jump!

In my first year as a full-time letterpress printer, I got an early lesson in the power of having great business cards. I was struggling month to month, trying to drum up work wherever I could (on a very limited budget). So I decided to put some time into designing and printing really nice business cards for myself. I had no money for advertising or PR, but I figured this was my one slam-dunk marketing tool.

Image above: Chris Shiflett (’s cards designed by Jon Tan

In those early days, I would spend one day a week pounding the pavement in New York City, stopping in at my favorite shops and leaving my business card at the desk. It didn’t matter whether it was a restaurant, salon or yarn shop, I would just leave my card and ask that it be passed along to the manager. One day I got a call from the owner of a high-end Soho stationery store. He said, “I don’t know who you are, but your lovely card is sitting on my desk. Tell me about what you do.” I went in for a meeting the next day and thus began a fantastic three-year collaboration.

Your business card is what represents you after you leave the room, so be sure it’s worthy of you and all the great things you have to offer. We used to hand out business cards so the recipient would have all of our contact info and clear idea of what we did. Before the Internet, you would likely have a hard time tracking someone down again if you didn’t get their card. But times have obviously changed . . . and I believe the key role of the business card is a new one.

These days, cards are no longer used just to provide basic information about yourself and your company. They are an invitation to look you up online and fine out more about you. That’s when the real magic begins. So make sure you design your card with that intention in mind. As for designing cards, here are some DOs and DON’Ts:


1. Remember that the character of your card should match your field. Creative professionals should have interesting and expressive cards, while more traditional fields (lawyers and accountants, to name a few) would do well with more conservative and tasteful cards.

2. Make sure your card matches the overall “brand” of your company and website.

3. Keep it in-check when ordering super thick, deluxe cards. I always hear people saying that they love their thick, 2-ply cards but can only fit three of them in their wallet at a time.

4. Remember that if you go with a delicate 100% cotton stock for your cards, they’re going to get banged up pretty easily in someone’s bag. Better to choose a slightly sturdier stock.

5. Make the info on your card clear and readable. Even though you want to express all your creativity in a small space, make sure you don’t over-design the look.


1. Have your cards made for free in exchange for an advertisement on the back. Believe me, I’m always thinking of ways to spend less money in my business, but this isn’t a great way to do that. If your cards are free they’re going to LOOK free.

2. Hand out cards with perforations still visible. This is specifically in the case of printing cards on your home computer. Office supply stores provide business card templates which are great and economical, but trim them down so the edges are clean.

3. Apologize when you give someone your card. You should love your business cards and feel confident handing them out. If you’re apologizing for how lame your cards are, its time to get new ones.

4. Be afraid to leave some information off your card. As long as it includes your website, the recipient will not have a problem finding you.

5. Cross off a phone number before handing someone your card. When any piece of vital information about your business changes, its time to get new cards.

Here’s a is a quick guide to the many different types of printing for business cards — any of these methods are available in local stores or online.

  • Offset or digital printing — regular flat printing.
  • Thermography — produces a raised, shiny effect through heating the ink.
  • Foil-stamping — looks like letterpress with an impression into the paper, but instead of ink uses foil. Can produce a shiny, metallic effect.
  • Embossing — creates a detailed raised image without the use of ink.
  • Engraving — produces a raised image with ink on metal plates, and can create an extraordinary amount of detail in a small area.
  • Letterpress — uses ink and impression to push image into the card.
  • Handmade — this is totally up to you and your creativity. Some of the best cards I’ve ever received were homemade. Have a rubber stamp or embosser made, buy some die-cut tools at your local craft store, sew a line or two of stitching on each one . . . the possibilities are endless.

Image above: Design by Erica Heinz (

I hope this article has made you think about what message your cards are sending and inspired you to take it up a notch. Thanks for your time — I’m looking forward to reading your ideas and feedback below!

  1. I quit my job as art director and went out on my own a year and a half ago. At first I didn’t have cards because I was too busy with client work. Then because I got engaged and I knew my name and URL would change. I’m all settled now and still don’t have cards! There have been too many situations where I either walked away feeling dumb for having to say no I don’t have a business card or just never spoke up and offered my services to someone who needed a website because I didn’t have a card to hand them. I felt particularly embarrassed when the rock star that my hubby works for asked for my card and I had to say I didn’t have one. I think it’s particularly unprofessional for a graphic designer!

  2. Laura says:

    As I do a lot of work from home, I usually rely on my website to sort me out. From time to time though I’ve been caught off guard whilst working in town, it’s pretty embarrassing.

    I knew I should’ve had a card with me when there was a competition at an art show where all you had to do was put your card in a vase and I didn’t have one.

    I could really do with winning this competition to make sure I don’t lose any other ones!

  3. .tif says:

    I’m preparing to make the jump from an in-office, agency designer to being a freelance designer working from home. I’m in the process of creating a brand for myself, so in a few short months, I will be in desperate need of business cards. I’ve honestly always dreamed of having letterpress cards, and while I’d love to one day make the investment to owning my own letterpress, hubbs and baby and I currently rent a townhouse and don’t have the space (or the finances).

  4. These business cards are absolutely gorgeous! As a yoga teacher and writer, there are so many times I wish I’d had a business card when people inquire about what I do. I currently have two blogs up (that link to each other) along with an Etsy shop and having a business card to get the info out will be wonderful for my online business. Keep up the incredible work. I’ll likely buy from you regardless. These are fabulous!

  5. Amanda says:

    I just started my business a few months ago and got some pretty simple cards just to get by, but the business is really taking off and the way my card looks now is not the proper reflection on my business. There have been numerous times I’ve been without cards but probably the worst was at an industry workshop! I was surrounded by others in my field with a perfect opportunity to network and I plum forgot my cards! I would really love to win them, and they would not go to waste…trust me!!

  6. Holly Brown says:

    i am a stay at home mom, but i am also busily attempting to build a strong foundation for my own photography business, which is set to switch from part-time gig to full-blown career next fall. lately, i have been asked for my business card quite a bit….but hadn’t thought of myself as the kind of person who needs one. obviously, though, i do. I’ve been getting so many jobs lately. I would love to have beautiful cards like these from Brooklyn Social Cards.

  7. Melissa says:

    I would love love love some letterpressed business cards to get my name out there and my foot in the door a little more being a junior graphic designer.
    I would love to have had beautiful letterpressed cards when I had my graduating exhibit to hand to potential clients.
    Letterpressed cards give that extra something that make people take a second look, and they have that modern-yet-timeless feel to them. A worthy artform that delivers beautiful results.

  8. Tanya says:

    It’s nice to have business cards for networking. I wish I had some at the Martha Stewart Bloggers event, and the Nate Day event!

  9. DC Sarah says:

    I’m about to graduate from interior design school and move across the country to Seattle, and thus am in DESPERATE need of a set of business cards! There have been entirely too many networking situations where I lamely rip a page out of my planner to scrawl down my info-now that I’m just about finished with school, that absolutely won’t fly anymore!

  10. Niki R says:

    I started my own company as a freelance eriter and I’ve been so busy with clients that I hanent had time to research collateral. It’s hard to network without a business card and a website these days!

  11. Lica C says:

    I work on Wall Street but dream of making a living through my writing. I took an amazing writing class in my free time and ended up having to hand out my corporate schmuck cards to my fellow writers rather than something really creative and personal. There’s no way they’ll remember who I am by looking at the cards I handed out. Any advice for those of us living double career lives? Is it best just to have two different cards at the ready?

  12. Cyla Costa says:

    I wish I had a business card everyday and every time I go out of my comfortable home office. I am a graphic designer and illustrator – and typographer wanna-be. Being a letterpress freak, I feel sad to be living in a country – Brazil – where this technique is totally forgotten. I want heavenly tactile letterpressed cards!

  13. april lemly says:

    I was just recruited to be a mentor for a chairty marathon-training program; some sweet new business cards sure would be a nifty tool!

  14. Never thinking of myself as potentially connected much less a connector because I generally dislike interacting with people, but to be really honest I’m just awkward. Since I’m loathe to express myself immediately upon meeting, a business card that captures my cheeky humor and personal aesthetic could have come in handy many times.

    OK, it’s not a specific instance. Whatever. Don’t judge me.

  15. Diana Nguyen says:

    These cards are beautiful! The 1 time I wish I had a card was when a cop in Ft Lauderdale asked for one. I didn’t have anything to provide. Luckily, another filmmaker with me had one!

  16. jHill says:

    I always carry cards with me, but what a treat to hand someone a luxe letterpress printed card. I think that always makes a nice impact.

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