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In 1991, Gregory Perkins was a Sacramento corrections administrator addled by a calling to accomplish a difference. He accomplished that best greeting cards lacked representation of the African American community. Perkins formed with his cousin, an artist, to advance three Afrocentric greeting agenda designs in an accomplishment to actualize what he calls an “uplifting artefact that African Americans can booty pride in.”

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Initially, Perkins formed out of his barn in south Sacramento but was absolute abroad by the appeal for his baby band of articles while accessory a greeting agenda barter appearance in 1992, breadth he landed a above anniversary with 500 food (he says the alternation has back closed). “That was above for us, abnormally as a baby company,” he says. “Because it’s all about adaptation the aboriginal few years, right? You’ve got to survive afore you thrive.”

African American Expressions started with aloof three greeting agenda designs and now has a band of about 850 items, including figurines and calendars.

Today, Perkins operates his company, African American Expressions, out of a 42,000-square-foot barn in Sacramento, and sells about 2.5 actor cards annually, with over 500 aboriginal designs. The anniversary division is unsurprisingly the company’s busiest, and amid September and December Perkins says it averages 400 orders a day. Some of these appear from ample accounts such as Walmart, admitting his amount audience are mom-and-pop shops beyond the nation, including Underground Books in Oak Park, and archive sales from absolute sellers. “I never anticipation it would be as big as it is,” Perkins says.

African American Expressions barn advisers adapt shipments. CEO Greg Perkins says the aggregation averages 400 orders a day during aiguille season.

Americans acquirement about 6.5 billion greeting cards anniversary year; with anniversary retail sales of greeting cards estimated amid $7 billion to $8 billion, according to a 2012 address (the best contempo available) from the Washington, D.C.-based Greeting Agenda Association, which was accustomed in 1941. The GCA’s aboriginal absolute benchmarking analysis of the industry, appear beforehand this year, begin that added than bisected of agenda makers, designers and publishers said the industry has either abundantly improved, bigger or remained the same. Added letters appearance that admitting this positivity, industry acquirement has been shrinking as barter about-face to agenda alternatives.

One of African American Expressions best best accepted articles is the “From Slavery to the White House” agenda line, which boomed afterwards Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election.

Perkins credits his success, in part, to bushing a appeal for atramentous representation that isn’t actuality met elsewhere. “We serve a charge that wasn’t actuality served,” he says. “We get that everywhere we go.” The aggregation is big abundant to accept becoming a appellation as the “Black Hallmark of America,” which Perkins says is because his is the better black-owned greeting agenda aggregation in the U.S., with aloof two competitors both in the Los Angeles area.

Over the years, African American Expressions’ account has broadcast to accommodate not aloof greeting cards, but ornaments, calendars, figurines, stationery, accoutrements and added — the aggregation now has a band of about 850 items total. One of the company’s best acknowledged articles was a “From Slavery to the White House” 2008 calendar, featuring adorning images of atramentous leaders. It was so popular, in fact, that Perkins has appear adapted versions anniversary year since. Beforehand this year, the aggregation appear the barrage of a new Maya Angelou themed accumulating of jotter and gifts.

Allen Scott is the barn advance who says he went from “homeless to homeowner” afterwards starting assignment with African American Expressions about bristles years ago.

Perkins is abundantly motivated by his Christian faith, which has accountable him to appoint bodies he knows are experiencing homelessness.

Allen Scott, the African American Expressions barn lead, is one of those hires. Scott was allotment of a accumulation of eight hires that Perkins became acquainted with through a bounded church.  Since Scott started in the barn about bristles years ago, he says he has gone from “homeless to homeowner,” purchasing a home for himself and his ancestors in Antelope about two years ago. Today, Scott oversees the orders, trains new workers, and manages shipments and receiving, amid added responsibilities

Perkins has been aerial by the appulse of his aggregation on the barter he serves. He says he was alike solicited for an autograph at a barter show, by a woman who told him that the agency she becoming from affairs his articles helped her augment her ancestors for years. “You never apperceive what you’re accomplishing out there until you apprehend the community’s response,” he says.

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