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Greeting cards for a captive audience

Brenda Guiden had trouble finding greeting cards for her two brothers in prison. By December her idea had turned into a new business: Prison Expressions.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Brenda Guiden was having trouble finding greeting cards for her two brothers in prison.

“I didn’t find anything appropriate, as far as what I wanted to say,” Guiden said. “They said a little bit, but they really didn’t touch home the way I wanted them to.”

The thought of creating greeting cards for inmates initially started as a joke, she said. But by December the idea had developed into a new business.

Prison Expressions now offers greeting cards in both English and Spanish for inmates, their friends and families. Most of Guiden’s sales come from word of mouth or from fliers she passes out.

Some of the cards are humorous, with messages such as, “Happy to hear from you! But WHERE’s the money?” Others are more serious: “You know the choice you made when you were out. You know that it did not only hurt you, but it hurt us too. However, we still love you. Love always, Family.”

The cards sell for $5 each online, $4 at two Wichita shops and $1 for inmates.

“They really look forward to mail,” Guiden said of the prisoners. “It’s very high on their list of priorities. They really like the telephone calls, but a call is expensive. Staying in touch with the outside is really what they want to do.”

Guiden, 44, says in addition to her brothers, she also has a nephew, an ex-brother-in-law and a friend in prison. “And I stay in close contact with them,” she said.

The company is working on having about 50 different card designs and hope to have new ones by Mother’s Day.

“It’s important for their families to let them know they are not a disgrace,” Guiden said. “They’re the ones who really need us.