Sharon Glassman was performing at a music gig when after the show, one of her fans said, “If only there was a way we could take you home and put you on the wall so we could hear your songs and see the happy vibes you create every day!” Sharon loved the concept and set out to make it happen. “I loved this idea. But how could I do it? It took me a minute to realize that everyone loves greeting cards. I couldn’t stop smiling! Being a greeting card designer was a dream of mine I’d put on hold while I pursued careers that I was ‘supposed to do,’” Sharon said.
The creative entrepreneur spent the next few months learning graphic design, creating a home recording studio, and learning how to produce music. Next, Sharon had to figure out how to make her cards sing. “After some R+D, I realized QR codes were perfect for smartphone lovers and more eco-friendly than plastic chips.” Soon after working out all the details, Sharon launched Smile Songs musical greeting cards. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and Smile Songs was named “Best New Product” at the 2022 Las Vegas Souvenir and Resort Show. Learn more about Sharon’s story and be inspired by her path to creative entrepreneurship.
Artisan Joy: You created musical cards and showed them to people. When did you realize you could turn Smile Songs into a full-fledged business?
Sharon Glassman: When I heard folks saying, ‘I love this! I have to get one for myself and another one for (insert name of the person they love).’
AJ: How do you define success for your creative business?
SG: Success, like love, is a many-splendored thing, to quote an old song. Smile Songs recently won the Best New Product award at one of the country’s big gift shows—it was the first show I’d ever attended. And it felt so validating to be chosen by buyers from around the country from hundreds of new brands. It was also surprising—not gonna lie—I cried happy tears. Equally meaningful to me: a staffer at a Colorado general store that stocks my cards told me that she recently went to her niece’s first birthday party and saw the baby had received one of my musical greeting cards—from someone in Indiana! Her smile as she shared this story with me was a real success marker. My line is growing and gaining an energy all its own. And there’s a loving community that supports my products and me.
AJ: Where do you find inspiration?
SG: From things I hear in my daily life. It could be something I overhear someone saying, the sound of wind in the leaves or even the ‘voices’ of people I read about in the newspaper.
AJ: What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
SG: I’m a gregarious introvert. I love connecting with people at shows, by email and on stage! And then, I need to recharge my batteries with a healthy portion of alone time.
AJ: As creatives, we can be continuously creating and refining our art. How do you handle perfectionism?
SG: I learned a really helpful reframe about perfectionism in a class I took last year. The instructor said that many creatives are natural ‘A students.’ But in the real world, being okay with B+ can lead to greater happiness, success and inner peace.
AJ: What advice would you give to someone who wants to begin selling their art or creative product?
SG: Research the market so you can be of service to customers and buyers in terms of pricing, packaging and explaining what you’re offering. But trust your gut about the creative stuff.
AJ: What’s something that surprised you about running a creative business?
SG: That what I’m really creating is joy—for others and for myself as well.
AJ: Running a business brings joys and challenges. What advice would you give to someone about handling the highs and lows?
SG: Highs and lows both can change in an instant. Find a person or group that you can talk to about both. Change isn’t a judgment about you or your product. It’s a human constant and, ideally? A connector.
AJ: Has someone ever criticized your work? How did you handle it?
SG: Every so often, I meet someone who says that they feel my products are for kids because of their happy art and songs. Their tone of voice tells me they’re being critical. But honestly? I see their comment as a compliment. I believe vulnerability in art—and life—is a superpower. And I’m all about celebrating our inner children, no matter how chronologically young or old we are.
AJ: What’s a cause you are passionate about and why?
SG: I’m passionate about food security and support the Food Bank of the Rockies. I’m also working with another artisan on a collaboration that will support a wildlife protection organization. Stay tuned.
AJ: What brings you joy?
SG: So many things! The sound of water on river rocks, baking biscotti, writing music, designing art and products that matter. Mountain views. I could go on for days, and that brings me joy, too.
Learn more about Smile Songs and shop their singing greeting cards at smilesongs.com.
Editor’s note: This interview was edited slightly for length and clarity.