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Keepsake cards, created by kids

Creativity: Valencia’s Sobo Cards launches line of crafty collectibles

Posted: May 27, 2010 5:33 p.m.
Updated: May 28, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Sandra Mitchell, left, shows off one of the currently available Sobo Cards designs. The cards are carried at Valencia's Paper Mulberry store, owned by Patti Fincher, right. Mitchell, an award-winning journalist and KCAL 9 news anchor, and her husband, Nehl Bobal, a comedy writer, launched Sobo Cards

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Father's Day was approaching and Sandra Mitchell posed the expected question to her 5-year-old daughter, "What would you like to do for dad?"

Mitchell could have done the usual - bought dad a pair of socks or new tie and placed young Sophie's name on the gift box. But Sophie was just at that age where her creativity and penmanship had started to bud. Socks or the alternative macaroni-glued-to-the-plate sentiment just wouldn't do. Instead, Mitchell typed out some simple prompts such as "My daddy and I have fun when ... " and "I love my daddy because ... " and then she let Sophie do the rest.

Sophie completed the first phrase with "when we squirt water at each other," followed by a colorful stick figure drawing with crayons. "I love my daddy because" ended with "he reads me books."

With the help of her mom, Sophie completed the project with a photograph of her and her father on the front cover. Dad loved it. "I had a lot of moments where I realized this was a keepsake," said Mitchell's husband, Nehl. "When you just let them write what they're thinking or what's on their mind, it's so much more genuine."

When other parents saw and appreciated the card, Mitchell and her husband realized they were on to something. The Valencia family wasn't exactly looking to start a business. Mitchell is an award-winning journalist currently anchors the noon, 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. newscasts on KCAL 9.
Nehl works as a comedy writer.

But the pair felt they had an opportunity literally in their hands that could not be ignored. Just before Mother's Day, the couple exclusively launched SoBo Cards at Paper Mulberry, an invitation and stationary retailer in Valencia. SoBo was inspired by their daughter Sophie's nickname, Sobo.

They started with four templates, "Dad and Me," "Mom and Me," "Grandma and Me" and "Grandpa and Me." Each card features a card-stock picture frame cover with a dedication page inside. Fourteen blank white pages are titled with seven simple prompts such as "When I am older I want my Dad to ... " or "My grandpa makes me giggle when. ... "

"If you prompt a child and get them to use their own creativity and imagination, it's amazing what they can come up with," Mitchell said. "Each card is a reflection of your relationship with your child."

Paper Mulberry owner Patti Fincher said the cards are like nothing else in her store. "(Children) can create their own personality inside the card," she said. "It's touch and feel. It's not out of a computer, and it's sincere from the heart."

Each card is sold for just under $10, but Mitchell said it is not the type of card to be stowed away in a box after a few days of display. "It's a keepsake," she said. "Children are so honest and in touch with their feelings and emotions. It lets you see your relationship with your child through your eyes."

They also don't require many tools. Crayons or colored pencils will do, she said.

The cards have been popular at Paper Mulberry and Mitchell's hope is to eventually see them on display at major craft stores. "Coach and Me," "Teacher and Me" and "BFF and Me" will join the collection.

Valencia resident Katie Merkel witnessed her 9-year-old daughter complete a card for her grandmother on her own. "It was all her own experiences. She wrote the little captions and drew pictures, so it was very special to her nana," Merkel said. "It was just a great gift idea - very unique."

When a grandparent or parent holds the card in their hands to read, it transports his or her mind to what the child was thinking when the gift was created, Mitchell said.

"I think we're in an age of Facebook, Twitter, e-cards," she said. "In an era of instant messaging, it's nice to have something you can hold on to."

The grandparent or parent taking a youngster through the process enjoys the activity as much as the child, Mitchell said. As Mitchell helped her daughter create the initial Father's Day card several years ago, she remembers smiling and giggling as Sophie, now 9, recalled certain moments that had made an impression on her - moments her mother had forgotten.

"As parents we always wonder if our kids get it - do they care how much we do for them?" said Mitchell. "When you open this card and you read it, you realize they really do understand the beauty of the relationship between parent and child. Even 4- and 5-year-olds can express that."
SoBo Cards website is www.sobocards.com. Paper Mulberry is located at 26922 The Old Road, Valencia. (661) 255-3399.

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