Alumni-owned business gives back

Lauren (M.S.’05/B) and Joel (M.S.’05/B) Gryniewski started their Minneapolis, Minnesota-based stationery business, Old Tom Foolery, shortly after graduating from the VCU Brandcenter. Last spring, after brainstorming for a new line of their signature “unsappy, uncrappy” greeting cards, they sought new voices to influence their work and knew they could depend on current Brandcenter students to realize their vision.

“The Brandcenter taught us to strive for something different than what’s already out there, and that has always been our point of view at Old Tom Foolery,” Lauren Gryniewski says. “That training had a major influence on the vision that we have for our products and helped us launch something that people notice in the marketplace.”

Brandcenter students got valuable, real-world design experience contributing written content and design ideas for 12 of the cards in Old Tom Foolery’s Color Commentary line.

“The students produced some great work,” Joel Gryniewski says. “We knew we could depend on them to nail the tone we were looking for.”

During the collaboration, the Gryniewskis pledged to support the Make It Real Campaign for VCU through an annual donation of a portion of the proceeds from the student-designed cards to the Brandcenter’s general student scholarship fund. This February, the first royalties were tallied up, and the Gryniewskis gave $529.31 to support Brandcenter students.

“The scholarships I received as a student made such a big difference for me,” Lauren says. “I’m glad we can contribute in a way that helps reward students for their hard work.”

To see the results of Old Tom Foolery’s collaboration with VCU Brandcenter students, you can browse the full Color Commentary collection.

To learn more about Brandcenter, contact Emily H. Toalson, director of development, at (804) 827-8868 or