Committed for Better Business

Everything man-made that we see and use today has a creator. This creator had an idea that became a concept. From that concept came the vision. Then the vision became a reality, but with the reality come various questions such as “What will it look like?”, “Is it needed or wanted?” or “How will the end user apply it?” all of these need answers. With each new product that is made, someone else who has another vision can adjust it and so the production cycle continues and grows.

A man named Cleven Goudeau AKA (aka) “Goodie” had that vision, way back in 1963. Mr. Cleven Goudeau’s vision has enabled many, including myself, to participate in the journey that began so long ago. A journey to recognize that black art and culture exist and must be seen.

Goodie is rightfully the pioneer and innovator of contemporary black greeting cards. He had to start somewhere and he started with this man. black greeting card companies today, whether they are an internet site or a market store in your local town, did not exist. Come to think of it, when Goodie’s artistic talents were first printed in a newspaper in 1951, the Internet, on which we now depend, hadn’t existed since the World Wide Web was born in 1969. None of this existed when Goodie took those bold first steps and developed his first black card in 1963. Other people didn’t even realize that it was necessary to take these steps. But that’s the beauty of ideas, it only takes one person to visualize something special and follow through on it. So that idea brings big changes to society and then society adjusts to let those big ideas in. It took many years for this “Goodie” man to be recognized and bestowed with such a title of “Pioneer of Black Greeting Cards”.

It has opened many doors for ethnic greeting card designers like me, but many black people still don’t know that this brave man exists and what he accomplished. I truly believe that without the vision of him in 1963, we would not see black cultured greeting cards today.

You also have to remember that when Goodie’s vision happened, segregation still existed. A time when black people were looked down upon, not worthy of sharing the same schools with our white counterparts. With all of this going on, what Goodie did was a heroic achievement up there with Rosa Parks, riding at the front of the bus achievement. Its people like Goodie is what inspires me and makes me really love my black culture. A culture that has overcome numerous obstacles and is still breaking down barriers today.

The turning point for Goodie was when her mother got sick and had to go to the hospital. Wanting to give you an exceptional card, he designed his own Get Well card. The doctors and nurses enjoyed it so much that this unique black greeting card was spread throughout the hospital. With such an outstanding response his first line of “Goodie Cards” was born. Which I find ironic because that was the reason I started my line of greeting cards, but I designed my black card for mother’s day. His cards were sold at local specialty stores in 1966. He tried to get help with a $50,000 business loan, but was denied. Goodie was entering an industry with a brand new product that had no rules, standards or anything. An outstanding product for more than 20 million blacks to enjoy, but the white establishments in the industry did not understand it. The greeting card industry was then worth $800 million a year and had only four major players. However, these major players were not creating black greeting cards. In 1968, Goodie became co-founder and CEO of Onyx Enterprises Inc. This was the only greeting card company to create black greeting cards and white greeting cards at the same time nationally. Unfortunately, Goodie left the greeting card business in 1973 due to unsatisfactory sales and marketing complications.

His product had its own merits and required nothing more than the same buy-in from companies already in the greeting card industry. Because it was in a time when black people had to prove themselves. This great vision was not accepted as it should have been because they did not want to understand what black people needed and wanted. Thanks to the highest and his blessed gift, his range of Goodie Cards enabled him to put three children through college, however Hallmark and other greeting card companies will happily support the claim that “there was no market for greeting cards black” and completely deny the black market. However, his statement just doesn’t add up, because black people have always existed and we have the same demands as any other culture. So if white people have a way to share happy and celebrated moments by sending greeting cards, why wouldn’t their black counterparts want the same?

Today, Goodie works with students introducing them to the world of cartooning through classes at Micheal’s in Vallejo, while also teaching classes at the Vallejo Arts Foundation.

This great man should be a part of black history and commemorated for what he has done, for so many of us who strive to succeed in the greeting card industry with our own range of black greeting cards. He has accomplished so much and broken down so many barriers for us, yet this great man is so humble, he is truly blessed.

His words, is the only way to end this epic story:
“I believe things that cannot be denied.”

Happy learning.

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