My Card Decks is a company that is bringing diversity to your card table.
Their Black Excellence edition of ultra-premium quality playing cards depict images that celebrate “the divine diversity of minorities and underrepresented groups in American society, from the past to present day.”
We spoke to the founders Emiliano Styles and Rondel Holder to find out more.
SB: What inspired the creation of the My Card Decks #BlackExcellence Edition?
Rondel: My business partner Emil and I were thinking how much we (Black people) play cards yet the faces are clear representations of old white men and women on them.
We thought to ourselves, Black people need more examples of seeing ourselves as Kings and Queens. And not necessarily the old, historical representation either – but modern day royalty with a contemporary look. So that’s what we set out to do.
Why is it important to you that the faces on the cards are those of Black people?
Rondel: How often do we get to see ourselves in a positive light? Let alone as royalty. Representation matters. We like to think that by putting these cards out there, children and adults alike will be consciously and subconsciously more interested in being their best selves.
Emil: It is important that the faces on the cards are Black because I’ve been to countless Black cookouts, family reunions, and game nights where we play all types of card games, but the people playing the cards didn’t look like the people on the cards. I looked at it like the Black doll test or having Black Barbies, representation is important in all aspects of life.
Even though it is a game, but there are detrimental subconscious effects that occur when diverse representation is lacking. There are children and adolescents who grew up with seeing Black president, when I was growing up, that was never in my mind. Now Black children seeing a Black president will aspire for that goal moreso because it exists and feels more tangible.
SB: Do you have a benchmark for when you will consider your business a success?
Emil: The benchmark to consider My Cards a success is when it is more embedded into our cultural practices. I want to hear people saying, “Man, you’re still playing with those old-style cards. That’s wack. You’ve gotta get My Cards.” My Cards will be the new standard sort of how Netflix is the new standard, not Blockbuster.
The classic White cards that we’ve been accustomed to have been around for over 100 years, and they’ve never considered putting out playing cards for us.
They have special edition zombie cards, St. Patricks Day cards, beer cards, but never put out Black cards. Black people play cards a lot and it is disheartening that we’re loyal to White brands who don’t care if Black people or people of color are represented or not.
SB: What is the most important business lesson that you have learned so far?
Emil: Most important business lesson I’ve learned so far is that running a brand is not easy. Marketing is very important too. You can have a great product, but if no one knows about it, then it won’t sell.
Rondel: I think the most important lesson I’ve learned is listen to your gut feeling as much as possible. If something feels right, do it. If something doesn’t feel right or complete, work on it until it does.
SB:If you could wake up tomorrow as an expert in any business skill, what would it be?
Emil: If I could wake up tomorrow and be an expert at any business skill, that skill would be funding and securing investments.
Rondel: For me it would be distribution. It’s very important to learn and master the art of distribution with products. Getting it to the right people, as many people in the right way. You can’t depend on social media solely as algorithms change every day.
SB: Where do you see the business in 5 years?
Rondel: In 5 years I’d love to see My Cards in major retailers internationally so that we can celebrate our blackness on a global scale and on a regular basis. I’d love for us to evolve and be on to product extensions of the brand as well.
Emil: In 5 years, I want My Cards to be the new standard in playing cards and by then we will have multiple editions and conceptual decks and brand partnerships to license and collaborate with.
Check out their website for more info.
-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson (IG @thebusyafrican)