HOUSTON (FOX 26) - To appreciate how little people use the "mail" these days, the Postal Service reported almost $2 billion in losses to begin the year.
In a world where the mailbox typically holds junkmail and bills, imagine being excited to find something pleasant addressed to you.
Tellinga is a new service that's inspired to do just that.
Rice University business school grad, Alex Kurkowski, started the business after a friend suggested he turn his penchant for doodling stick-figures on cards and letters into a money-maker.
The name Tellinga is a riff on "telling 'ya a story".
Instead of the stick figures, a group of 25 local artists create custom pictures and stories that are commissioned by gift-givers for friends and family.
The custom art is then dropped in a mailbox to arrive as a welcome surprise for the recipient.
"The whole point is to get back to the mailbox," says Kurkpwski. "Create a story, and have a person, at the end of the day, super-excited to get another piece of personalized art."
The packages can be as small as a single, black and white drawing to a dozen detailed color pieces that tell a story over a month.
Taylor Burkhalter was one of Tellinga's first customers, commissioning something for his wife.
He provided a couple of photos, so artists could fashion the characters, and a story idea.
Burkhalter says his wife loved it, saying, "When she got the idea of what it was, she erupted into laughter."
The concept is only as good as Tellinga's artists, like Patrick Medina, who says he was drawn by the challenge.
"This keeps me fresh," says Medina, "and allows me to practice my craft in a way that lets me get better."
The cost seems reasonable: $7 for a single black and white original, on up to $85 for a 12-part color story that lasts a month.
"I'm just trying to tap-back into the tangible; the real; the old school way of life and get people to look forward to checking their mail again," says Kurkowski.
You can explore the options at www.tellinga.com.