Dirty Laundry Designs: Spreading Addiction Awareness


Dirty Laundry Designs is a card line pertaining to addiction and recovery, and was started by Colleen and John Gardner. They say that it was created out of a need - they struggled to find hip and artistic greeting cards, so they created their own! They began photographing, designing, and sending them, and eventually they started a business.  This project speaks to our spirits, sheds light on a serious disease and help breaks barriers and stigmas associated with addiction and recovery. I was fortunate enough to get an interview with Colleen, so read on to discover how she's using her creativity to help the community.

1. Why did you feel as though you had to "hide your dirty laundry" (hide your feelings) when you were growing up? 

Pure fear that others would judge me and my family. The hiding-it was never said.  Just implied.  I come from a long line of addiction.  It was never talked about because there was such a stigma associated with addiction.  It was a vicious cycle.  My great grandparents, grandparents and parents never talked about it so we didn't know any different and the unhealthy pattern of hiding just continued. Because no one ever talked about addiction as a disease, the help and support wasn't readily available as it is today.       

2. When was the first time (or one of the first times) that you realized that hiding your feelings from your loved ones wasn't healthy? 

When my brother was on life support after a long battle with addiction.  There was no hiding that one.  We were told and truly believed that he wasn't going to make it so I was forced to tell people why he was so sick.  I realized that it was unhealthy because I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep and my codependency consumed me.  I realized that I needed support too.  And to my amazement, everyone I told had their own story about how their life was affected by addiction.  

3. How did your family react to your new philosophy?

My family and friends have embraced the new philosophy and have been extremely supportive.  And quite honestly I think that there was a huge sense of relief for everyone.  A weight had been lifted.  Continually, we feel the love and support from my entire extended family and friends and that has been really awesome!

4. How did you come up with the idea for greeting cards?

With several family members in recovery, I struggled to find greeting cards that applied to addiction and recovery. They are out there but I didn't want to send cards that looked like a sympathy card because recovery should be celebrated. I was looking for hip, artistic, inspirational and sometimes humorous cards.  With a photography background, I started making them for family members using messages that applied or my own messages that I so dearly wanted to say to them.  Every card has its own story behind it.  

5. What was one of your most memorable moments when you and your company were able to help someone dealing with addiction?

Early last year, we debuted our card line at a recovery conference, the positive feedback and the pure enthusiasm for our card line was incredible.  I was so deeply touched and moved hearing people's addiction and recovery stories.  We are so honored to be part of their journey to health and wellness.  

Another memorable moment, when a customer emailed me saying that she had bought every single card for her nephew who is in a rehab center.  And they framed all of them and they were hung in his room.  That made me so very happy!  

6. What do you believe are the most important things to remember when helping a family member battle addiction?

That reminding yourself that addiction is a disease.  Forgiveness--they are not responsible for having the disease but are responsible for the cure and utilizing the support available. 

7. What do you believe are the most important things to do for yourself (to keep yourself healthy and happy) when you are dealing with an addicted family member?   

Making yourself a priority and utilizing the help and support widely available for family members.  Forcing yourself to set clear boundaries so that you continue to live your own life in a healthy way.  

8. What is your best advice for a recovering addict who's had a relapse and wants to get back on track?


There is always hope.  Miracles happen. Recovery proves it.  Whatever your recovery program or support, keep investing in it.  You are worth it. 

More information about Dirty Laundry Designs, from Colleen:

The card line is equipped with 49 different designs and we are continually working on new designs.  Currently, we sell in our online store, select boutiques, select recovery and rehab bookstores and several recovery organizations.  Wholesale and Volume Pricing Available. We truly hope you enjoy the cards as much as much as we enjoyed creating them for you.

We welcome you to visit our online store at Dirty Laundry Designs or contact us at info@dirtylaundrydesigns.com

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Thanks Colleen! What a great cause!!


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