Postcards were popular in the olden days, especially among travellers and holiday-makers. Wherever people travelled, they would pick up postcards and send it across to their loved ones in distant lands via the local post office. Often, these postcards would be hung on fridges, cupboards and walls as souvenirs of their trips across the state border or overseas.
Lately, with the internet and social media taking over almost every aspect of people’s lives, these collectibles, too, began to fade. Fortunately, sites like postcrossing.com have been able to keep these traditions alive.
Adamant to keep these travel collectors’ items of love and affection alive, Heena Shah, who recently moved to Goa, started creating and selling postcards online. Her whole purpose was to keep these souvenirs relevant and going strong. Not only did she start creating postcards, but she also found a sustainable way to keep them in tune with the environment and nature.
How it all began…
Heena from Mumbai received her first postcard in the year 2011, and much later, in the year 2013, she was introduced to postcrossing.com by a local couchsurfer while interning in Montenegro, in East Europe. The couchsurfer narrated to Heena how she was able to make a friend in Russia, who invited her home by giving her the house keys, and then asking her to join her on her travel journeys.
On hearing this story, an excited Heena returned to India and started creating and writing her own postcards. “I love the idea of checking the mail box daily and waiting to read a postcard. That’s what makes it special for me. You get a completely different sense of joy when you send, and receive, postcards. And, that is what I wanted people to experience,” says Heena.
Today, Heena finds herself designing, writing and sending several postcards. She says that this process was a learning experience for her. “I got to learn about special stamps, different places, addresses, and the messages gave me a real perspective on life,” she adds.
Heena now has a collection of more than 1,000 postcards that she received from more than 100 countries.
She realized that the postcards in India needed a different approach and that is when she put her photography skills to practice. While studying engineering in Sikkim Manipal Institute of Technology (SMIT), she was on the editorial board as a Photographer. She also won a photography competition at SMIT. Even while studying engineering at Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT), she was part of the Photography Club. This helped her use her skills to create postcards.
Her love for travel helped greatly in giving her a variety of themes. Having travelled to over 20 countries, including 45 of the 47 prefectures of Japan, Heena selected photographs from here for her postcards. In India, she has travelled through all the union territories and most of the states. “There are various pictures that I took in Goa, including the beach, food, monuments and various other things from Goa,” says Heena.
You can find a collection of food, sceneries, monuments, etc. in her Goa segment. Other places like Lucknow, Karnataka, Manipal, Sikkim, etc also figure in her postcards.
Her postcards are printed on 100% recycled paper. “It is made from non-seed paper, where the inner packaging is of cloth pouch, handmade from scraps. Re-used material is even used on the outer packaging. Printing, too, is only on one side,” explains Heena.
Not just that, but she also practices sustainability during her travels, re-using and recycling items to suit her needs.
Love of languages
When not in the creative arena, you can find Heena teaching the Japanese and English language, as well as doing interpretations and translations. Apart from Japanese and English, she is also familiar with French, Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati.
She also remotely works a mechanical engineer.
Postcard writing tips
If you’re wondering what to write on a postcard, here are some pro tips from Heena. “One can write about how they spent their day. Or, share a memory associated with the picture. Some can also pen down a story that moved them, or the trip that they took. And, if you don’t really want to write anything, then just draw something that conveys the message,” she suggests.
You can send a postcard to absolutely anyone – friends, family and even strangers, reveals Heena. “You can find people on social media communities, where you can request the address of postcrossing. Once you receive the address, you can write a postcard with a code and send/post it. Once they receive it, in a similar way, someone else altogether will send you a postcard,” explains Heena. However, she prefers the old-fashioned way where you write a postcard to someone, and then the person writes back to you.
You can also check her blog - Heenas.in, where she shares a detailed guide on how to write and send postcards.
Online store - Heenas.in
Price: Rs 250 onwards for Pack of 9