February 15, 2011
Tally Oliveau loves gift cards so much that she hopes to do away with them altogether — in their physical form anyway.
The Woodland Hills entrepreneur last month launched iCardMall, a service specializing in virtual gift cards and e-greeting cards. More than 80 brands are available through her Web site, covering everything from Chili’s to Sears.
It was a natural fit for Oliveau, 41, since gift cards are among her favorite things to give and receive.
“They’re just so convenient,” she said. “It prevents that whole opening the box and it’s the wrong size, and then the trouble of returning it. The gift card takes all of that bad part away.”
Her goal is to take that virtue one step further. As the former vice president of an environmental engineering company — a job she gave up to become a stay-at-home mom — she understands the negative implications of all those plastic cards floating around out there.
iCardMall customers can simply e-mail gift cards, which can then be redeemed online at retailer Web sites or printed out and taken directly to a store. For those who aren’t sure what to choose, there’s also an iCardMall option, for a small extra charge, which allows the recipient to choose from among any of the companies on the Web site.
Aside from being environmentally conscious, iCardMall is also expedient: It allows customers to get gifts to recipients within 24 hours.
“It saves so much time and money for everyone, from the business perspective and from the consumer’s perspective,” said Oliveau, a member of Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills. “It’s so much cleaner and faster. And you don’t have to get off your tushy!”
Each gift card comes with an e-greeting card — either a free one, or a designed one can be added for 99 cents. That’s no accident either: Oliveau created her own greeting card company, Papier Studio, in 2005. (Even in this endeavor she had gift cards in mind, patenting a greeting card designed to hold a gift card.)
Aside from working on iCardMall for the past year, the mother of three has become interested in mixed-media collage and assemblage art. She co-wrote a book, “Mixed-Media Dollhouses,” which was published in March.
And Oliveau has plenty to keep her busy heading into the future as she continues to add new companies, including local ones, to iCardMall’s site and tries to set up fundraising partnerships with nonprofits. She has high expectations.
“I think iCardMall is going to change the way people buy gift cards,” she said.
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