Originally published in the Winter 2021 Georgia Magazine.
Jill Rulli BS ’11 says she hopes to impact the world in a positive way, one greeting card at a time.
After a successful career as a political consultant, Rulli is now dedicated to helping others be a little more thoughtful. “We all say it’s the thought that counts.” she says, “If the card makes you stop and you feel seen and appreciated, or heard or not alone, or like your moment of whatever experience is shared, then mission accomplished.”
Rulli’s career has been anything but conventional, starting with her academic journey.
She transferred into the University of Georgia her junior year but left before receiving her diploma. After five years away from the university, Rulli returned and, in between working on political campaigns, earned her degree in political science.“It is the thing that I’m probably singularly most proud of now,” she says. “I love Georgia, not because I had a very typical four-year love affair with Georgia, but because I chose it and it chose me in a very personal way.”
Rulli also credits much of her professional success to her time as a UGA student volunteer on then-congressman Johnny Isakson’s BBA ’66 2004 campaign during her first stint at the university.
“There are very few people that I think of as highly as I think of Johnny Isakson,” Rulli says. “I really couldn’t have imagined a better first political experience than to be with good people who believe in what they’re doing and are working in the name of somebody who is honorable and decent.” Rulli went on to work with Isakson in several positions throughout her career.
However, after more than 15 years in the world of politics, Rulli felt it was time for a change, but she wasn’t sure of her next steps. But she did know what it was like to have a busy schedule, and to miss important events such as a her parents’ anniversary or her brother’s birthday.
“That’s not okay, and why is that so hard?” she recalls thinking. “Hallmark for sure has to have this figured out, right?”
But after some research, she realized no major greeting card company had found a solution, so she decided to take it upon herself.
“I never envisioned myself being a business owner or an entrepreneur, but if there is a problem that needs a solution, why not give it a shot,” she says.
Through this, her company, The Thought, was born. Shoppers can find distinctive artisanal cards, (stamp included) in her online store. They can also select from an array of add-ons, such as handwritten notes, cash, or gift cards. The best part, however, is their free reminder service that allows customers to create an account and set important dates they want to remember.
“Tell us what you want to remember or who you want to remember, and we’ll make sure you never forget it,” she says.
One of The Thought’s core values is “adamant about authenticity.” After her career in politics, she has come to deeply appreciate sincerity, and wants people to be unafraid to be themselves.
“Even if I disagree with a person on absolutely everything under the sun, I always want to say, ‘That’s still OK. You do you,’” she says. “I think we’re all better off as families and communities when we’re considerate of all of our differences, and we still show up as ourselves, instead of something other than that.”