The write stuff: Fishers mom creates a business from a pandemic pen pal relationship


During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fishers resident Erica Seabaugh gave a “mom assignment” to her first-grader, Joseph, when she saw an opportunity to teach him the art of letter writing. From there, a business idea was born.

The “assignment” was to write a letter each day to his grandmother who lives in Florida, thus establishing a pen pal relationship. The communication between grandma and grandson deepened their relationship and sparked Seabaugh’s idea of Postbook, a postcard writing kit that encourages children and adults to learn more about each other through creative prompts.

Seabaugh said at the beginning of the pandemic, virtual learning only did so much to fill the time in her son’s school day.

“In the early stages of the pandemic, after we were all sent home and the schools were closed, the schools were not experts at virtual learning,” Seabaugh said. “(Teachers) did the best they could to arm the parents for the kids’ learning, but my son was a first-grader. There wasn’t a lot he could spend time doing. We tried to do workbooks at home to practice (school subjects) but quickly ran out of those. One of the assignments I came up with was to write a letter every day.

“It took him a bit to get used to the idea, but as time progressed, he started writing about books and movies he had seen recently. It taught him to write letters.”

Those letters were sent to Joseph’s grandmother, who penned her own responses and mailed them back. Soon, Seabaugh saw a business idea emerge, and with the help of Postbook co-founder Jonathan Haag, her idea came to fruition.

Haag and Seabaugh work together at CICOA, an Indianapolis-based organization that offers aging and in-home solutions for older adults in central Indiana. Seabaugh is a care manager and Haag is the vice president of CICOA who oversees the research institute and venture studio. According to Seabaugh, Haag helped narrow the scope of Postbook to focus on bridging the gap between generations.

I had gone to Jonathan, and we talked about wanting to do work connecting generations,” Seabaugh said. “I had a great relationship with my grandparents, and I have a strong connection to older adults, in general, because of my job. I wanted to think about how CICOA could do more in connecting younger and older populations. We walked through the concept of connecting the generations. We spent months talking about what that meant and looking at various concepts throughout the world.

“I mentioned that my son started writing to his grandma and it formed a sweet relationship. It made me realize that the basics of letter writing make us more connected than we think we are.”

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The first edition Postbook set was launched Nov. 16. The set includes two journals, six prompts and six unstamped postcards. Photo courtesy of Postbook.

Each Postbook comes with six postcards and six prompts designed for younger kids to understand. Each page has a different prompt, which Seabaugh said includes thought-provoking questions that are great for any age, such as, “What does light look like to you? How do you bring light into this world? How can you help others share their light?”

The Postbook system is based on trading postcards and answers. One pen pal will fill out a postcard with their answers for a prompt, then send it to their pen pal for review and their thoughts on the questions.

Seabaugh said the process “opens up a conversation with the person” that may have otherwise never taken place.

“As people, these prompts help us realize we’re more connected than we think,” Seabaugh said. “I mean, Joseph was not even 7 years old and didn’t really know how to talk to people. (Postbook) gives people tools to build stronger connections and get past just small talk.”

With the first edition launched in mid-November, Seabaugh wanted to make Postbook products available for the holiday season as a unique gift idea. She wants to see more customers enjoying the opportunity to deepen relationships through Postbook.

“I’m excited to see it in the real world and hopefully impact people in a positive way,” Seabaugh said.

For more or to purchase Postbook, visit

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Erica Seabaugh and her son pause at the Nov. 16 CICOA private launch party for Postbook. Photo courtesy of Erica Seabaugh.

The history of letter writing

According to the Smithsonian, the “art” of letter writing in the U.S. became a focus during the Civil War. Given that soldiers were often stationed far from home, written communication became necessary for keeping in touch with family and friends back home.

The focus of letters written during this period was to pacify the fear of soldiers and family by acting as a wellness check-in for soldiers to write to their families. The letters also reported on news, similar to newspapers, regarding the status of the war and specific battles.