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Our Story

Hi, friend! We’re so glad you’re here.

At Em & Friends, we want you to feel truly seen, heard, and connected to the people you love—including yourself!—in good times, crazy times, and really freaking hard times. (Especially those times.) We make cards and products for the relationships people really have and the lives we really lead: relationships and lives that are messy and beautiful, tricky and wonderful, and a whole bunch of everything else in between.

We may be best-known for our Empathy Cards, a more honest and supportive alternative to traditional, platitude-filled sympathy and get-well messages. Life’s toughest times are when we need connection the most, but the cruel irony is that most of us simply don’t know what to say. We specialize in removing the agony of the blank page, and helping folks find words of support that sound like something they’d actually write.  

Originally founded in 2012 by writer and illustrator Emily McDowell, we joined forces in 2018 with the kindred spirits at Knock Knock, uniting as two sister brands under one kickass umbrella, and evolving our work into a collaborative team creation. In 2019, we added “Friends” to our name and our products, adding artists and authors like Lisa Congdon and Elizabeth Gilbert. And, in 2022, along with Knock Knock, we joined the Union Square & Co. family, and our founder Emily McDowell moved on to new challenges. But no matter how we evolve, our goal remains the same: to help people feel more connected and less alone.*

We love you!
Team Em & Friends

*Except, possibly, in a nice hot bath at the end of a long week… with the door locked… and maybe some cake?


This is our manifesto. Join us in committing to be a better-than-average human.