When Wilton resident Maxime Francis was young, her slice of paradise was sitting on the floor at her parents’ French bookstore in New York City. She listened to lively, open and honest conversations in this precious place — a discourse mecca where French speaking people gathered to share a piece of home. Francis’ parents embraced and celebrated the ebb and flow of different perspectives. Emotions and volumes always ran high with excited voices chiming in about political strife, controversial events and family dynamics. There Francis learned the power and freedom of storytelling.
College in upstate New York was altogether different. Francis found the truth-telling she’d been so accustomed to as a child now was frowned upon. She was told more than once that her directness could be exhausting and off-putting. She learned to conform, keeping cheeky comments to herself and staying within society’s accepted lanes of neutral topics.
But after a series of life-changing events — losing both of her parents within a few months of each other and the end of her 15-year marriage — Francis realized that her only way of coping through difficult times was speaking her mind. She found her voice again and rediscovered her authentic self with the birth of her greeting card business, “I Have No Filter.”
“I want people to know that they are not alone in feeling the way they do,” Francis explained. “A card is a powerful, transformative tool that gives you permission to say what’s on your mind, to let it out and let it go.”
The message, she added, is less about the recipient. “Whether you send the card to me, keep it to yourself or mail it, seeing your words on paper is more about you being heard and validated.”
Her cards are a powerful combination of honesty and directness with a bit of sarcasm to counter life’s ups and downs. What started as a card to commemorate her one-year ‘Divorceaversary’ cascaded into other musings about co-parenting, blended families and platonic relationships. Her goal is to demystify topics that are often thought about but never spoken about: letting go of disappointing friendships, neighbors that are not so neighborly, parents that often need comforting along with their kids, and that ex-spouse that starts dating again.
“All of these ends in my life gave me the license to start fresh and rediscover myself,” Francis said. “Building this business has been cathartic for me. I want the same for those who purchase my cards — a release of the shame and guilt that often accompanies failure and a mental reset for what comes next.”
Francis was all too familiar with the fear of failure when she decided to turn her one-year divorce anniversary into a business opportunity. The journey of turning her personal story into permanent discourse has been anything but a direct one for Francis.
“Too often, we expect an idea to be perfect before sharing it,” remarks Francis. “I realized waiting for that ‘just right’ moment does not exist in life so why would it exist in my business?”
Her advice is to share an idea early on with friends and be open to feedback that incorporates many perspectives.
“Your idea may not come to fruition quickly or easily but keep at it. These lessons are the moments that matter in life. Be open to the journey,” she said.
The entire collection of greeting cards, including the 2022 holiday collection just in time for season’s greetings, is available on the I Have No Filter website. Whatever’s next for Francis and her journey will be channeled into new selections of her favorite faux pas and reflections on suburban life on the site.