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9 Creative Alternatives to the Business Card

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In a world with conventions, trade groups, and fierce competition for nearly every service imaginable, it's important for savvy businesses to have something extra to catch and keep a client's attention. And let's face it: The humble business card has become downright forgettable. Even putting your business' basic details on a little bit of swag isn't always enough. Pens, keychains, and the occasional beer cozy emblazoned with a business's name are so routine and dull that they almost guarantee you'll be forgotten.

This has encouraged a more creative approach among ambitious sellers. Turning your business card into an item of unique usefulness helps separate you from competitors, and makes it harder for a client to forget you. Here are some examples of clever and functional business "cards."

1. Cookie business cards

Lady Fortunes specializes in the sweet marriage of business and baked goods. They can even bake you up some business cards by putting an edible print of your actual business card on top of their frosted graham cookies.

2. Seed envelope card

This envelope was specifically designed for the Lush Lawn and Property Enhancement company by the design firm Struck. Unlike some business cards that are printed directly onto seed paper, the Lush design allows you to sprinkle the grass seed on your lawn while keeping the pertinent information on the "card."

3. Lock pick card

Kevin Mitnick is a world-famous hacker, who, after being arrested and serving his time, set up a successful computer security firm. It is fitting that a man famous for breaking and entering past technological barriers would have such a unique and morally ambiguous calling card. His website sells the cards and hosts a video on how to use the tools it provides.

4. Cheese grater card

The JWT design firm in Brazil took utility in advertising to a delicious new place when they presented Bon Vivant, a cheese specialty store, with its new business card. It may not be routinely carried around in wallets in case of parmesan emergencies, but it will likely stay in a kitchen cupboard, and the minds, of whoever has one.

5. Sea salt vials

Lulu the Baker is a blog run by farm girl, chef, and all-around food fanatic Melissa Bahen. She distributes these clever little corked vials of sea salt, imprinted with her name and business info, when she attends conferences. Possibly the most savory marriage of charm, simplicity, and utility on this list.

6. Tea bag cards

When Kim, the blogger behind Blending Beautiful, set out to make business cards advertising her husband's web design business, they thoughtfully included a little bag of comfort with each card. Gluing together their own small bags from pieces of paper bearing the logo, the couple inserted a tea bag (with the logo again pasted to the string tabs) and a formal business card. A soothing way to help set his business apart.

7. Pop light cards

The Light Bulb Flashlight may be mass-produced, but it can still be a great business card alternative. The light bulb very cleverly raises from the base, making this gadget very useful, and very hard to throw away. Especially when it can fit right into your wallet.

8. Soap cards

It's a clever enough idea to include something as attractive and useful as soap as swag with your business card, but to actually have your business card in the soap ensures the message and the medium don't separate. Haley's Dragon Fly Garden can insert your business card into any number of clever soap designs, making your business the first to come to mind when a client gets to her hotel room for a hot shower.

9. Tetris card

The YouTube video title says it best: "My Business Card Plays Tetris." Designed by Kevin Bates, this card is tiny, but it has all the proper Gameboy-esque button placements and a replaceable battery that runs for up to nine hours. "Practicality" may not be the first word to apply to this ingenious little card, but desirability counts for something. Longevity, too. Your grandchildren will find this one day when they clean out your desk, and they'll play with it too.

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Pop Culture
How Jimmy Buffett Turned 'Margaritaville' Into a Way of Life
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Few songs have proven as lucrative as “Margaritaville,” a modest 1977 hit by singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett that became an anthem for an entire life philosophy. The track was the springboard for Buffett’s business empire—restaurants, apparel, kitchen appliances, and more—marketing the taking-it-easy message of its tropical print lyrics.

After just a few years of expanding that notion into other ventures, the “Parrot Heads” of Buffett’s fandom began to account for $40 million in annual revenue—and that was before the vacation resorts began popping up.

Jimmy Buffett performs for a crowd
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“Margaritaville,” which turned 40 this year, was never intended to inspire this kind of devotion. It was written after Buffett, as an aspiring musician toiling in Nashville, found himself in Key West, Florida, following a cancelled booking in Miami and marveling at the sea of tourists clogging the beaches.

Like the other songs on his album, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, it didn’t receive a lot of radio play. Instead, Buffett began to develop his following by opening up for The Eagles. Even at 30, Buffett was something less than hip—a flip-flopped performer with a genial stage presence that seemed to invite an easygoing vibe among crowds. “Margaritaville,” an anthem to that kind of breezy attitude, peaked at number eight on the Billboard charts in 1977. While that’s impressive for any single, its legacy would quickly evolve beyond the music industry's method for gauging success.

What Buffett realized as he continued to perform and tour throughout the early 1980s is that “Margaritaville” had the ability to sedate audiences. Like a hypnotist, the singer could immediately conjure a specific time and place that listeners wanted to revisit. The lyrics painted a scene of serenity that became a kind of existential vacation for Buffett's fans:

Nibblin' on sponge cake,
Watchin' the sun bake;
All of those tourists covered with oil.
Strummin' my six string on my front porch swing.
Smell those shrimp —
They're beginnin' to boil.

By 1985, Buffett was ready to capitalize on that goodwill. In Key West, he opened a Margaritaville store, which sold hats, shirts, and other ephemera to residents and tourists looking to broadcast their allegiance to his sand-in-toes fantasy. (A portion of the proceeds went to Save the Manatees, a nonprofit organization devoted to animal conservation.) The store also sold the Coconut Telegraph, a kind of propaganda newsletter about all things Buffett and his chill perspective.

When Buffett realized patrons were coming in expecting a bar or food—the song was named after a mixed drink, after all—he opened a cafe adjacent to the store in late 1987. The configuration was ideal, and through the 1990s, Buffett and business partner John Cohlan began erecting Margaritaville locations in Florida, New Orleans, and eventually Las Vegas and New York. All told, more than 21 million people visit a Buffett-inspired hospitality destination every year.

A parrot at Margaritaville welcomes guests
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Margaritaville-branded tequila followed. So, too, did a line of retail foods like hummus, a book of short stories, massive resorts, a Sirius radio channel, and drink blenders. Buffett even wrote a 242-page script for a Margaritaville movie that he had hoped to film in the 1980s. It’s one of the very few Margaritaville projects that has yet to have come to fruition, but it might be hard for Buffett to complain much. In 2015, his entire empire took in $1.5 billion in sales.

As of late, Buffett has signed off on an Orlando resort due to open in 2018, offering “casual luxury” near the boundaries of Walt Disney World. (One in Hollywood, Florida, is already a hit, boasting a 93 percent occupancy rate.) Even for guests that aren’t particularly familiar with his music, “Jimmy Buffett” has become synonymous with comfort and relaxation just as surely as Walt Disney has with family entertainment. The association bodes well for a business that will eventually have to move beyond Buffett’s concert-going loyalists.

Not that he's looking to leave them behind. The 70-year-old Buffett is planning on a series of Margaritaville-themed retirement communities, with the first due to open in Daytona Beach in 2018. More than 10,000 Parrot Heads have already registered, eager to watch the sun set while idling in a frame of mind that Buffett has slowly but surely turned into a reality.

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Design
The Secret to the World's Most Comfortable Bed Might Be Yak Hair
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Tengi

Savoir Beds laughs at your unspooling mail-order mattresses and their promises of ultimate comfort. The UK-based company has teamed with London's Savoy Hotel to offer what they’ve declared is one of the most luxurious nights of sleep you’ll ever experience. 

What do they have that everyone else lacks? About eight pounds of Mongolian yak hair.

The elegantly-named Savoir No. 1 Khangai Limited Edition is part of the hotel’s elite Royal Suite accommodations. For $1845 a night, guests can sink into the mattress with a topper stuffed full of yak hair from Khangai, Mongolia. Hand-combed and with heat-dispensing properties, it takes 40 yaks to make one topper. In a press release, collaborator and yarn specialist Tengri claims it “transcends all levels of comfort currently available.”

Visitors opting for such deluxe amenities also have access to a hair stylist, butler, chef, and a Rolls-Royce with a driver.

Savoir Beds has entered into a fair-share partnership with the farmers, who receive an equitable wage in exchange for the fibers, which are said to be softer than cashmere. If you’d prefer to luxuriate like that every night, the purchase price for the bed is $93,000. Purchased separately, the topper is $17,400. Act soon, as only 50 of the beds will be made available each year. 

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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