Hallmark Cards, Inc. (MO)Foster Critical Thinking
Fostering a Creative Corporate Culture
Founded more than a century ago, Hallmark Cards is an iconic brand rooted in making meaningful connections with others in both the big and small moments of life. The $4 billion company remains based in Kansas City, MO., is privately held, and still led by members of the founding family. The culture of Hallmark is grounded in the spirit of creativity and drive for innovation. An active leader in the arts since the late 1930s, Hallmark Cards was honored at the 2014 BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America.
The company looks to the arts as a resource, training mechanism and reward system for its 6,600 employees in the U.S. Hallmark partners with the arts to nurture its creative talent. From corporate contributions and employee volunteerism to employee engagement initiatives and corporate art collections, Hallmark successfully integrates the arts into corporate practices.
Hallmark hosts a series of artistic initiatives to further challenge and inspire its employees. These include guest artist lectures and events devoted to cultural trends and creative development. In 2014, Hallmark celebrated its 5th year of “Hallmarket: A Hallmark Art Fair,” a showcase of over 100 employees’ personal artwork such as sculptures, jewelry, paintings, and textiles, all of which are created outside of the employees’ work at Hallmark. The art fair is open and free to the public, with the option to purchase the art on display. In addition, the creative trend studio at Hallmark hosts a blog, “Think. Make. Share.,” to share their creative inspirations, new trends, and DIY tips directly from the Hallmark creative team.
The company also offers more intensive artistic studies for its staff. In 1998, a creative sabbatical was established, the Barbara Marshall Award, named in honor of Barbara Hall Marshall, daughter of founder J.C. Hall and member of Hallmark’s creative division. The program awards recipients of Hallmark’s creative staff up to six salaried months of independent artistic exploration for individual renewal. Sergio Moreno, a creative strategist at Hallmark, received the 2014 award and is currently on sabbatical, documenting his time and progress through a blog. Through the arts, Hallmark encourages employees to pursue and share their creative interests, which fosters a creative workforce and cultivates strong relationships with Hallmark’s many communities.
Rewarding its employees for their hard work and fueling the local artistic community is a priority of Hallmark. The 50/50 ticket program does both by partnering with local arts organizations to match ticket purchases for Hallmark employees. One ticket is paid for by the employee, the other is from Hallmark. Linda Odell, Corporate Media Relations Manager at Hallmark, describes the program as a win-win: “The arts groups welcome more people in the seats… plus, the Odells get to enjoy many more glorious performances than we otherwise would.”
Darren Abbott, Creative Group Vice President comments on the impact the arts have on Hallmark employees, saying, ”At the end of the day, Hallmark creates business value by nurturing our creative staff in ways that allow them to explore their creativity, express themselves individually, and engage in the broader creative community.”