Amy Arnold, of Austin, was simply looking for a unique way to celebrate her son’s birthday. She found it—along with a career that would become a franchise and eventually mushroom to around 500 locations in 45 states.
With her friend Jessica Stanley, Arnold in 2014 co-founded Card My Yard, a company that rents out and installs giant letters in customers’ yards to celebrate various occasions.
“I had a 10-year-old little boy at the time, and we were looking for a way to celebrate his day,” Arnold said. “We had come across something similar [to Card My Yard], and Jessica and I were like, ‘We could do this and make it bigger and add more locations to it.’ We thought [with us being] two moms who want to make this work and want the [work] flexibility, we bet there are other moms out there who want the same thing.”
Fortunately, it was not long after the women launched their first location that others enthusiastically approached them, wanting to take part. In 2017, they began franchising the company, and their husbands, James Stanley and Josh Arnold, also came on board as co-owners.
The old saying that one should not become business partners with friends has not been true for Arnold and Stanley. “It’s worked out great for us,” said Stanley, who is also chief marketing officer for the company. “We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We have different backgrounds, so I think that’s helped us as well. I come from an advertising background, so I bring some marketing expertise.”
“My education is in teaching . . . [and] that helped me with teaching other people to learn how to own a franchise,” added Arnold, who is also the chief brand officer.
Throughout the past eight years, Arnold and Stanley have found that people near and far—like themselves—enjoy being sources of joy. And, also like Arnold and Stanley, they are often mothers of children still at home who desire a business of their own that allows for flexibility. “They’re smart, they’re driven, they can run a business, they can experience success but still be moms at the same time,” Arnold said.
While many businesses were forced to close their doors when the COVID-19 pandemic first struck in 2020, Card My Yard fared well because so many people were looking for ways to celebrate birthdays and special occasions without large groups of people. Personalized “Happy Birthday” greetings outside were the perfect accompaniment to parades, during which, family and friends drove by a birthday boy or girl’s home, honking their horns and tossing out gifts and candy.
The pandemic “was sort of a launchpad for our business, our brand, and the industry as a whole,” Stanley said.
“It was an exclamation point for sure,” Arnold added. “We hope [the parades continue] . . . because it is so fun. Sometimes you can’t invite 50 people to a birthday party, but you can invite 50 people to a parade. I think the idea of celebrating something, a day in your life, or a moment in somebody’s else life, is one that resonates with a lot of people,” she continued. “It brings joy to not only the person receiving but the people driving by. They like to celebrate the good.”
Card My Yard continues to grow in 2022, with an anticipated 85 new locations. “We want each of our franchise owners to be successful, so we’ve divided them up into territories,” Stanley explained. “We don’t want other franchise owners competing for various yard greetings to set up. [Approving new franchise owners is] an in-depth process. We want to make sure it’s a good fit and they are ready to spread joy and that they have the time to build and run a business in their territory.”
“Adding employees has also been a business focus,” Stanley said. “That’s been a huge point of growth for us over the last couple of years. We used to do it all, so we’re really grateful for the fifteen employees we have. Something else we have always been focused on is our technology. We bought a very robust technology platform geared toward a great customer experience. That’s always a goal for us, to improve our technology, and it’s something we’re always working on. We want them to have the best customer experience when they visit our website. It’s a fully integrated e-commerce site. No matter where they are in the country, they go there to book their order.”
“A website that is easy to navigate undoubtedly contributes to sales,” Stanley said. “They don’t have to pick up a phone . . . our website does it all.”
Easy ordering is also a goal. “We know they’re busy, and we want to be the icing on the cake,” Arnold said. “We bring the yard; we set it up. It is always a treat. Everybody loves to see the reactions from our customers, and then we come back and take it back down, so it’s a full-service business for our customers. All they have to do is celebrate.”
Whatever the occasion, Card My Yard can help. “If you want to buy a card for someone, we can say it in their yard. Really and truly there’s nothing we can’t celebrate,” Stanley said. “A big percentage of our business is for birthdays, but babies, graduations, Valentine’s . . . truly you name it, we can celebrate it in a positive way. “We’re about spreading joy, so if we do receive a request that’s negative, we can politely decline it—or use our best editing skills,” she added with a laugh.
Arnold and Stanley said they feel blessed when looking back on their unexpected but incredible career trajectory. “We’re able to do something that brings joy to so many people on a larger scale than we ever could have imagined on our own,” Arnold said.
“We’re incredibly proud of the business we’ve built, and to know it stretches far beyond the four founders of Card My Yard; we love that. There are other like-minded moms and dads out there who have the desire to serve and spread joy, and they can do that . . . [while] having their families as well,” Stanley said.