• slide-1
  • slide-2
  • slide-3
  • slide-4
  • slide-5
  • slide-6
  • slide-7
  • slide-8
  • slide-9
  • slide-10
  • slide-11

Blue Mountain Arts

Blue Mountain Artsfinding bliss through helping people communicate

How many people can say that while their dreams fueled their career paths, those careers continue to give them bliss?

Susan Polis Schutz and Stephen Schutz, married and working together since 1969, are among the blissed-out few who can. I recently spoke with Susan regarding Blue Mountain Arts, the hugely successful publishing company that she co-founded in 1969 with her husband, Stephen. We also discussed her candid and life-affirming memoir, Blue Mountain: Turning Dreams Into Reality. In her soft, calm voice, Susan explains, “An important task of a successful business is to help society by improving the quality of life. Our mission has always been to help people communicate their feelings with clarity and compassion.”

One of Susan’s poems embodies the steadfast determination to live an authentic life that is a through-line in Blue Mountain’s posters, cards and best-selling poetry books (many of which are written by Susan).

We cannot
Listen to what
Others want us
to do
We must listen
to ourselves
So start right now
You can live a life
designed by you and
for you

As it happens, Blue Mountain is also internationally admired, and dare I say, loved, for developing the concept of the non-occasion greeting card. This is the kind of card that contains a poetic message such as the one above, that transmits some form of positive energy. In the late 1990s, Susan and Stephen went on to create another phenomenally successful business, www.bluemountain.com., the free Internet greeting card service that grew into one of the world’s most popular Web sites.

Sincere humanists in an era short on nurturing human values, Susan explains the heart-centered past and present of Blue Mountain Arts. “We love art and poetry and we wanted to be creative and spend all of our time together, so we started making posters in our apartment and sold them to stores around the country.” While Susan was a freelance journalist at the time, Steve, an M.I.T. grad with a Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University, ditched a fast track scientific career to co-found Blue Mountain Arts. “We were free spirits yet strong enough to articulate our mission and vision and commit to carrying them through,” Susan says in retrospect.

With entrepreneurial hippie confidence, the Schutzes lived out of their bright-yellow, pick-up truck camper as they motored around the U.S. selling their posters to university bookstores, gift shops and stationers. Blue Mountain Arts grew steadily as their posters become staples of 1970s lifestyles and they eventually moved into large offices in Boulder, Colorado. As a devoted team, Susan and Steve have always worked closely with each other and their employees. “We each have different strengths. Steve edits all my poems, and I review his art work.”

Thirty-six years, three children and over 1.5 billion greeting cards later, Susan says, “Our work still gives us huge pleasure because it serves our desire, which is to help people relate to one another and bring more light into the world.” Still devoted to each other after all these years, Susan and Stephen share the same office, “and we have a partner desk.”

A guide for making your career a labor of love and passion against all odds, Blue Mountain also recounts missteps such as expensive hiring mistakes, plus a protracted, painful and expensive legal battle with the giant greeting card company, Hallmark. In 1986, Hallmark was legally enjoined and restrained from producing their Personal Touch line of cards, which a judge ruled had imitated the style, substance, paper, typeface, text and emotional tone of the Blue Mountain Arts Aire Brush line. (Hallmark internal memos presented at the trial detailed how Blue Mountain’s designs could be copied; damning evidence such as this helped support the ruling.)

One of the most amusing parts of Blue Mountain describes the unlikely genesis of www.bluemountain.com. When Susan forgot to send a 21st birthday card to their firstborn child and eldest son Jared, who was attending university at the time, Steve quickly went to work on his computer to build a colorful and kinetic greeting that he emailed pronto. “We owned a greeting card company, and we couldn’t even remember to send our own son a birthday card,” Susan recalls in amazement.

Because he had such fun making Jared’s card, Steve decided to make a free e-card Web site. It grew virally: in the month of October 1997, one year after opening the site, 1,623,722 cards were sent. At present, bluemountain.com is still one of the most heavily trafficked sites on the Web. Due to the fact that there are e-cards available in several languages, for free, bluemountain.com is a hub for people all over the world. Chances are that you have sent a card at least once from bluemountain.com: I have sent dozens over the years, especially when, like Susan, I forgot to post a paper card to a loved one and needed to send a greeting right away.

Another intriguing element in the Blue Mountain narrative is how Susan came to write her book, “One World, One Heart.” “After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, I wanted to write a book of poems that would vividly affirm that we are all one,” she recalls. “So I wrote this book, and we gave out 7 million free copies of it to prisons, hospitals, schools, the Red Cross, homeless shelters, fire stations, police stations and so forth.” After a year, Susan continues, “We had so many orders it was crazy, and it was getting extraordinarily expensive. So we put it up on the Web for free.” In fact, you can still download “One World, One Heart,” from Susan’s Web site

While they are still involved with day-to-day operations at their publishing company, the Schutzes each pursue creative endeavors outside of Blue Mountain ones. Steve created and runs a free interactive Web site called www.starfall.com that teaches preschool and kindergarten, first graders to read. Susan is making a documentary film “about how people’s jobs are giving them huge fulfillment and you could say, bliss. The film is about earning a living in an alternative way that feeds your passions and dreams,” she says. “Some of the people in the film include an organic cheese farmer, a half-Chinese, half-Jewish magician who lives in Hong Kong, and a guy in Central Park, New York, who makes his living playing guitar and singing once a week for people.”

No matter what you do in your life or with your life, Susan concludes, “If your dream is worthwhile and it’s something you truly seek, the challenges, adjustments, and hassles will be worthwhile– as long as you don’t compromise what’s truly important.” As she writes in Blue Mountain:

Take the power
to control your own life
No one else can do it for you
Take the power to create your own dream
and try hard to reach them
Take the power to make your life
and very happy

written by kyle roderick

Buy generic Valacyclovir online with no prescription. Buy cheap Viagra without rx.