- Lauren Memarian
Think about all those birthday, holiday cards, wedding invitations and stationery — someone is designing them, buying them, mailing them every year. Millions of cards. Then picture a single design that vaulted a couple of local artists onto a global stage while also developing a platform to promote social change around the world. The odds seem unlikely — but that's what happened with Ladyfingers Letterpress in Colorado Springs.
Ladyfingers cofounders Morgan Calderini and Arley-Rose Torsone saw their first minutes of internet fame in 2011, after the couple added their poster-sized wedding invitation on social media. The striking, one-of-a-kind design garnered a slew of requests for other invitations, and ultimately led to the formation of the business.
Five years later, Ladyfingers went viral again, with a greeting card paying homage to the Netflix hit series Stranger Things, marrying an iconic scene from the series with the words, "On a scale from one to ten... you're an Eleven.
Ladyfingers moved to the Springs in 2016, now a fixture of the downtown shopping district at 113 E. Bijou St, and their creative edge never wanes. They're known in stores and online all around the world for their one-of-a-kind works of art, a signature sense of humor and gorgeous designs, and the two owners have won an impressive amount of Greeting Card Association's Louie awards and landed on the Indy's 2018 Best Of list for eclectic shop. But even with all the notoriety, Torsone and Calderini keep community close at heart — and want to use the platform they've built to serve a greater purpose.
"Ladyfingers began as a voice for the marginalized," Torsone says. "And we love being that voice."
That voice gained prominence with the 2016's Women's March, when Ladyfingers first designed protest posters for the local demonstration. Much like the nation's political turmoil, Ladyfingers' collection of the protest messages only grew, covering race and LGBTQ issues, #metoo, Black Lives Matter, education and criminal justice reform, immigration, gun control and more.
"We're a print shop, and we're taking our role seriously," Torsone says. "We want to amplify the voices of the disenfranchised — aside from our regular goofy stuff — and this is an exciting opportunity to do that."
As the 2018 midterms came and went, Ladyfingers amassed a collection of protest posters including "Keep Families Together," "Don't Fail Our Children, " and "Elect More Womxn," and had created another viral hit. Torsone says they've sent protest posters to just about every major continent, and more and more are popping up online and in demonstrations outside of American politics.
"It shows that there's still this united humanity, which is really reassuring — we're not alone," Torsone says. "We're always trying to respond to the wants and needs of our customers, and create things relevant to the times."
The mom-and-mom shop has made all its protest posters available in sets of (15 for $20), with plans for wholesale distribution in the near future. For locals, the deal is even sweeter, with posters available for free at the beautiful downtown shop as you browse their one-of-a-kind handmade gifts, perfect for anyone on your holiday shopping list.
"A lot of people see our storefront and don't realize the depth and breadth of our work." Torsone says."It's like 'Oh, you make cards, how cute.' But we are excited about owning our success, and making this a part of our journey, and helping take these voices to a larger platform."