PULL QUOTE IF YOU NEED IT
“I believe by creating and constructing cards for people to give to loved ones, I hope to bring smiles to people who may need it the most.” – Nicole Chiumento
LEOMINSTER – Despite all the ways we keep in touch these days, offering a hand-written card to someone special may still be the most thoughtful way to express your sentiments.
Leominster resident Nicole Chiumento knows first-hand the feeling you get when receiving a personalized card, and because of that, aspires to share her creative talent of greeting card design.
“I first started making cards my sophomore year of college at the University of New Hampshire,” Chiumento said. “It was one of my friend’s birthdays, so I decided to go the DIY route and make a card for her. It was pretty intricate, but I somehow was able to pull it off, it gave me inspiration and confidence for making more cards.”
She continued to make a small amount of them for birthdays or holidays for family members and other friends, just in her own time.
“College and grad school started getting tough, so I took a break from making cards for a couple years but was still able to incorporate card-making into my Occupational Therapy studies during a few of my intervention sessions at a senior apartment facility,” she said.
Fast forward a couple years to 2020, when the unimaginable happened.
At the young age of 23, Chiumento, was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma in April of 2020 and had to undergo six months of a very aggressive chemotherapy regimen.
“Cancer treatment was brutal,” she said. “Even though I received many gifts to pass the time such as coloring books, games, etc., I was in so much pain and felt so sick that I had no desire to do anything other than sleep or watch television.”
When Chiumento was first diagnosed and undergoing treatment, she says she received so many cards from friends and family, even from some people she wouldn’t have expected.
“The kind words written to me made me feel so loved and I will always remember the support I’ve gotten through those times,” Chiumento said.
Chiumento finished chemotherapy in mid-September, but only started to feel better in November.
“I started a part-time office job but still had a ton of down time,” she added. “I was starting to get cabin fever and felt very unproductive with my time, so a friend suggested I start making and selling cards again.”
That is when she said she felt her creative buzz come back that she said had been missing for a while.
“I needed a little extra spending money for Christmas, so I decided to make a post on Facebook and Instagram offering custom Christmas cards and the response was incredible,” she said.
Chiumento ended up making a total of 75 cards in the three weeks leading up to Christmas.
Since Christmas is over, Chiumento says she is still accepting orders for birthdays or other occasions at any time but plans on opening a shop for Valentine’s Day and the holidays to follow.
“I just love seeing the reactions of people when I make their cards,” she said. “For cards I am giving from me, I try to personalize them for each recipient and/or choose a theme that I know they would love.”
Chiumento said she gets a lot of her inspiration from Pinterest, however, every card she makes is hand crafted 100% by her.
“For family or friends’ birthdays, I love to make their cards customized to their likes, interests, and our friendship,” she said. “For example, for one of my best friends, I made her a cheeseburger-shaped birthday card because we both love food.”
Chiumento says she has some more designs in mind for future holidays, as well as some classics she has made in the past.
“For Mother’s Day, I made an apron-shaped card that is one of my favorites, and for Father’s Day, I’ve made a grill-themed card that has been a hit as well,” she said. “I have to say when I think of an idea for a card and nail it when I construct it, it’s a pretty good feeling.”
Chiumento said she has received such great feedback from some of her Christmas card customers, saying that she should sell a variety box, filled with birthday cards, holiday cards, get well soon, wedding and anniversary cards.
“I love this idea and might start to put it in place in the future,” she said. “And of course, customers can order any of my previous designs, but I always like to give them the option of a customized card as well! Some of my favorite cards I have made I am sad to sell but I just hope that their recipient will love them as much as me!”
Chiumento believes that especially during these difficult times, giving or mailing cards to loved ones has increased in lieu of holiday gatherings or parties.
She is happy to say she has finished her chemotherapy and is awaiting her last internship, which starts this month, “and an Etsy shop is definitely in my future plans.”
“I believe by creating and constructing cards for people to give to loved ones, I hope to help facilitate the support of others and bring smiles to people who may need it the most,” she said. “I know how happy a simple card can make me, so I hope to help provide the same happiness to others.”
As of now, Chiumento doesn’t have a website dedicated to her business, but she does have an Instagram (@chim.cards) that displays pictures of some of her creations. People can order through messaging that account, or on her Facebook page.