THE INTERNET — Tom Van Daele and his team at Santa Monica-based Unknownlab, a multimedia marketing outfit, have done something inspiring.
His Web site, cardsofchange.com, has attracted just short of 100 business cards since its launch on April 15, and not one has come from someone with a job. The site encourages a creative and positive yawp from people who, it would seem, would be among those least interested in being constructive: people who just lost their jobs.
The site invites individuals who have recently been laid off to post photographs of their old business cards, rehashed — sometimes literally — in any way that pleases them.
The response has been limited, relative to the successes of other Web phenomena of the same vein (postscript.com, etc.), but has been genuine nonetheless; most importantly, people who have posted cards on the site say it was gratifying and therapeutic to do so.
“I think there is a closure about it; you get a little bit of a voice. That’s all you really need,” said Scott McFarlin, a husband and father of one who lost his job at Tequila, an international advertising firm, back in early April. “It made me feel better. It helps you move on I suppose. That simple gesture allows you to feel better about yourself.”
McFarlin, who has been doing freelance work and job hunting for almost two months, said that at the time of his layoff he had been interested in making a change anyway, but he explained that recent economic conditions have made finding a job virtually impossible.
“I’m finding enough work at the moment, but it’s hard. I have five people who want to hire me right now, they’re just waiting for their business to pick up,” he said, adding that most of the chief financial officers at these potential employers have ordered hiring freezes across the board.
Jules Fox, who was recently laid off by advertising magnate TBWAChiatDay, proclaims herself a “professional surf bum” on her cardsofchange.com contribution, and said she sees the time off as an opportunity to reevaluate her situation and has been spending time at the beach with friends while looking for another job.
Van Daele, founder and creative director of Unknownlab, got the site running on the backs of some of his friendships with people who had recently lost their jobs. But the man is jazzed about the positive response.
“I now get excited when I hear somebody is laid off; it’s somebody who can make the site better,” he said. “But of course it’s not easy to approach them and tell them that this Web site is great for them. There is a big stigma about going through the world after you’ve been laid off.”
Though he was not at liberty to mention specifics, Van Daele said that he was approached last week by a publisher with an offer for a book version of cardsofchange.com, which he said will be in negotiations in the coming weeks.