Greetings Today April 2022

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March/April 2022 Issue 4 Volume 23


Home of the finest arts brands E:


Tel: 01373 462165

March/April 2022

contents the team

REGULARS 05 Leader

Spring has sprung and we’re feeling optimistic…

06 News

Rounding up what’s been happening, with more online at www.

10 Eco news 15 Diary of a card shop

Tim Reynolds at The Medici Gallery Shop talks about his latest orders

18 GCA news

The latest from the UK Greeting Card Association

Editor Naomi MacKay

44 John Ryan

John Ryan considers what Moonpig’s latest financial results could signify for independent retailers

45 Shop Talk

Retailers tell us what’s happening in their stores

50 Retail Advice

Retail guru Henri Davis looks forward to the rest of the year

24 Ward’s Words

FEATURES 10 In Focus

38 F ocus on…

12 London Stationery Show preview 14 British Craft Trade Fair preview 16 Cover Story

40 Right on Time

M!NT’s Tee Cards

26 Trends Number cards

29 Focus on…

Artist Catherine Rowe for M&G

Managing Director Mark Naish

Keep in touch follow us:

Artist Sara Miller for The Art File Our roundup of calendars and dated product


43 M y First Card greetingstodaymag

47 R etail Interview:


48 Retail Interview:


Kali Stileman

With Sam Bednarczyk, cards and stationery buyer for McColl’s With Leona Janson-Smith, co-owner of six Postmark shops in London


28 Looking for…

01442 289940

Circulation Manager Robert Thomas

Sarah Ward looks at the latest trends

18 In Focus

Advertising Manager Marian McNamara

Chairman Malcolm Naish

A selection of new products

Cherry Orchard’s elegant Grace and Grayson ranges

01442 289940

Production Director Paul Naish


20 Spotlight

Eloise Hall

Publisher Mark Horsnell


Lema Media Ltd 1 Church Gates, Wilderness, Berkhamsted, Herts HP4 2UB

30 A Match Made in Heaven

Telephone: 01442 289930

36 In Focus

Greetings Today has a circulation of 6,076

Wedding and anniversary designs

Real and Exciting Designs’ Voila range

37 Inkpact

A service sending handwritten cards

Subscription per annum: UK £60 (free for people in the greetings industry), Europe £80, ROTW £100


14 BRAND NEW Flower Press designs A collection of delicate wild flowers Traditional Flower pressed panel detail Gold foil text & icons on textured board Supplied with Craft envelopes Great value at C50

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leader Editor Naomi MacKay


s we go to press, spring has most definitely sprung - and the warm weather seems to be having a positive effect all round. The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) is predicting strong Mother’s Day trading - and certainly all of the retailers I have spoken to have said they are keeping busy in the run up to one of the busiest weekends for independent card shops. I’d love to hear from you after the big day, to find out your impressions about what has been selling well. The warm weather has also increased footfall in high streets up and down the country, according to the retail experts Springboard, which has also noted another trend. Insights director Diane Wehrle said: “There was a surprisingly strong uplift in footfall in high streets on Friday given that it was a working day, which was more than five times as large as the rise on Saturday. Interestingly, this could be a real sign that hybrid home/ office working may be making it more feasible for consumers to make spontaneous trips to destinations outside of the weekend, a trend we expect to see rise.” Again, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this - and whether you are noticing this difference. In the last issue, I wrote that I was looking forward to making my first visit to Spring Fair as Editor of Greetings Today, and it didn’t disappoint. It was lovely to put a face to the name of so many suppliers and retailers - and it was fabulous to see how positive and upbeat the atmosphere was, with many card publishers reporting bumper orders from visitors who were keen to get out and touch and feel product again. Of course at that time, we were unaware of the

events that were about to unfold in Ukraine. But, as I am learning about this industry, it is full of people who are ready to take action and help others, including Sarah Laker, owner of two Cheshire stationery shops, who has teamed up with one of her artist customers to produce a special notebook to raise funds. You can read her story in our news section. I’ve also introduced a few new features into the magazine, which I hope you will enjoy. The Diary of a Greeting Card Shop for this issue comes from Tim Reynolds at The Medici Gallery Shop in London. Then there are some features where we meet some of the talented artists who make all our fabulous cards possible. We have also introduced a trends page to focus on the latest themes - this month it’s all about pets. Finally, the Looking For page was inspired by a retailer at Spring Fair who had some specific requests for number cards. If there is something you are looking for to complete your own card offering, do drop me a line and we might dedicate a page to your search! Talking of trade shows, there are more chances to get out and about with the upcoming London Stationery Show and the British Craft Trade Fair - find out more in our previews I’m always happy to hear from readers - if you’d like to take part in our Shop Talk feature or have a news story to share, do please get in touch with me at, or connect with me on LinkedIn.



Send your views and submissions for the magazine to

in the news Bira predicts strong Mother’s Day trading As Greetings Today went to press, the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) was predicting the strongest Mother’s Day trading in over two years. The head of Bira said he believed this would be the strongest trading period of the year so far as shoppers would be able to hit the high street without lockdowns or further Covid restrictions, which have limited Dyson Designs trading since 2020. Bira CEO Andrew Goodacre said: “For the first time in two years, people can look forward to a more normal Mother’s Day on 27 March. “Shops, cafes, and restaurants will all be open for what is traditionally one of the busiest times of the year. As we approach this day, independent retailers will be focusing on selling those unique, diverse gifts that people look for to celebrate this day. “As we leave winter behind, from a retailing perspective Mother’s Day is one of the first retail opportunities of the year, and this year people can celebrate the occasion in a more normal way.’’

Certification launched in bid to protect retail workers from abuse

Stationery shop owner notes bright idea for Ukraine kids charity Sarah Laker, the owner of two Cheshire stationery shops, has joined forces with one of her customers to create special notebooks to sell for a Ukraine charity. The charity notebook, which features a sunflower image (the national flower of Ukraine), hearts, doves and the message ‘peace – love – unity’, has been created by Dominic Phillips Art. All profits will go to Ukraine Bright Kids Charity, which supports children with disabilities and their families who are often unable to get to safety due to complex medical needs. The pair has produced an initial 100 notebooks – each A5 size with a 100% recycled kraft cover and 32 pages of 140g natural ivory plain cartridge paper – and plan to take pre-orders if they sell out. They retail for £4.50 each via the shops or the shop website. Sarah, who runs Stationery Supplies in Marple and Wilmslow, told Greetings Today: “I think that, like everyone, I’ve been so shocked by what’s happening in Ukraine and really felt the need to try to help in some small way. Supporting families with disabilities is very close to my heart as our youngest daughter has a congenital myopathy, so the Bright Kids charity felt like the right fit for us. “Dominic Phillips is both a customer and a friend, and when I approached him about a collaboration he was only too pleased to help by designing the artwork and helping to spread the word to his followers.”

National law firm Foot Anstey LLP and the UK’s retail industry charity the Retail Trust have launched a new certification aimed at protecting and reassuring shop workers as they face rising levels of abuse and inappropriate behaviour. Several well-known retailers are now in talks to commit to The Retailers Against Harassment Certification, which has been designed to create safer working environments for staff. Participating employers will work with Foot Anstey and the Retail Trust to review and improve the measures they have in place to protect their workers and deal with any complaints of harassment. The Retailers Against Harassment Certification will then be awarded to each retailer to demonstrate the actions it is taking to tackle abusive incidents. The move follows research by Foot Anstey that found nearly two thirds (61%) of shop workers have experienced offensive behaviour at work since the pandemic, causing stress, anxiety and a loss of self-esteem. However, only 15% of retailers told the Retail Trust that they have raised awareness or implemented training to deal with the issue. Retailers looking to achieve certification will be assessed across multiple aspects, including the policies and procedures they have in place to deal with harassment, their leadership’s commitment to tackling the problem, employee experiences, and how complaints are handled. Foot Anstey’s legal advisors will work with the retailer to identify risks and opportunities to improve and, where appropriate, will refer the retailer to the Retail Trust team for further support and advice. The creation of the certification follows the British Retail Consortium’s open letter to the Prime Minister in July 2021 calling for greater legal protection for retail workers, which was signed by the leaders of 100 retailers, including Ikea, Sainsbury’s and Tesco. New legislation in Scotland, that makes it a criminal offence to assault, abuse or threaten retail staff, has not yet been introduced across the rest of the UK. Find out more at

Obituary: sales agent Paul Brewer Alan Hawkes, former MD of Paper Rose (1984 - 2007), writes: “I’m sad to report the death of stalwart East Midland greeting card agent Paul Brewer (and my best pal for 53 years) . Paul began his career in the mid 1980s, covering the Midlands. He represented some of the best publishers in the industry both past and present, and contributed to the success of many retailers and publishers. He was much liked, and his warm charm, wit and integrity will be missed by his many friends and colleagues in the industry. He represented scores of agencies over the years but latterly he worked with Dry Red Press, Black Olive, Sooshichacha, Louise Tiler, Lisa Angel, and Quire Collections. He died after a short battle with cancer at the age of 68.’’

LONDON STATIONERY SHOW 17-18 May 2022 Business Design Centre

Register today The UK’s only trade event dedicated to stationery, showcasing the biggest selection of writing and paper products from around the world.

Scan the QR code or head to to register and enter code GREETINGSTODAY for the chance to have your passes upgraded to VIP.

in the news

Danilo launches Batman card range Following the release of The Batman movie earlier this month, Danilo has launched a new official Batman greeting card range. Utilising the dark red, blue and black colour palette from the film and iconic imagery of the Gotham superhero, these cards create a strong impact. With general birthday and ages six to seven designs, these cards should resonate well with DC fans.

The Giftware Association donates funds to DEC Ukraine Appeal The Giftware Association, working in collaboration with the British Allied Trades Federation, has donated £5,000 to the Ukrainian humanitarian crisis. Alongside association partners in the British Allied Trades Federation, The Giftware Association has donated £5,000 to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s (DEC) Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal to help provide much-needed food and supplies for those fleeing the conflict. While hope continues for a peaceful resolution, millions of Ukrainian refugees require immediate support, and donations to the fund will be used to provide urgent supplies where they are needed most. The UK Government has pledged to fund match donations to DEC up to a total of £20 million, meaning contributions are automatically doubled. The Giftware Association encourages member companies to contribute to this vital appeal in any way they can. Donation at Donating to the Disasters Emergency Committee The Disasters Emergency Committee brings together 15 of the leading UK aid charities in times of humanitarian crisis. British Red Cross, Action Aid, Oxfam, Save the Children, and many other charities respond quickly to overseas disasters and emergencies. £30 could provide essential hygiene supplies for three people for one month. £50 could provide blankets for four families. £100 could provide emergency food for two families for one month.

ExaClair releases new Kenzo Takada Collection

Still time to book a place on the Greetings Today Golf Day

ExaClair, the UK supplier of Clairefontaine, has launched a new range of stationery products increasing its renowned Kenzo Takada collection. Named after its designer, who died in 2020, the collection is inspired by the luxury home and lifestyle K-3 brand. It incorporates items that carry the Kintsugi mark, which is a tribute to an ancient Japanese art that invites people to repair a broken object by highlighting its scars with gold leaf instead of hiding them. These latest premium stationery products have new designs that feature the K-3 Sakura and Maiko themes. These combine intricate floral imagery in tranquil pastel colours with geometric and organic shapes that feature vibrant reds and pinks. Included in this new premium range are notebooks ranging from pocket size (11x17 cm) to A4, and a travel journal contains 30 sheets of grained drawing paper.

There’s still time to book your spot on the green at the 16th annual Greetings Today Golf Day. The annual event returns for 2022 after a two-year hiatus. It was a hot topic with golf fans at Spring Fair, with many suppliers already booked to come along, enjoy some friendly rivalry and most of all have fun after such a long wait. A great day is in store for everyone at Puckrup Hall in Gloucestershire on the edge of the Cotswolds on July 1. There’s a nine-hole Texas Scramble in the morning, followed by lunch and an afternoon 18-hole individual competition. And of course there’s the hotly-contested four-ball U.K. Greetings mega trophy! Prizes will be handed out after a delicious barbeque. Tickets are £100 per person – email malcolm@lemapublishing. or call 0788 9991513 to book your place. 8

in the news

Laura Darrington Design makes a move Laura Darrington Design has recently moved its fulfilment warehouse responsibilities to 2WL, based in Mansfield. The move had been made due to the company’s expansion and was promoted by a successful Spring Fair. The change was part of Laura Darrington Design’s push to improve upon its overall customer service as well as implement a more sustainable business model, by encouraging the reduction of single-use plastic on the majority of its UK orders.

A lucky escape on Monday morning The manager of York shop Shared Earth had a narrow escape in March when a lamp post outside the store was knocked down by a passing lorry. The electricity box, in front of which he locks up his bicycle every day, was smashed open by the lamp post only 20 minutes before Jeremy Piercy arrived for work. Jeremy started Shared Earth in 1986 as a small shop in Goodramgate, York. It moved to Minster Gates in 1991 and has now grown to a leading distributor of Fair Trade and eco products in the UK, with sales of nearly £4 million and increasing every year, as the public becomes more aware of the need to tackle climate change. Shared Earth supplies more than 1,500 other retailers around the UK and will be exhibiting at the Natural & Organic Show in London on April 3-4. York is of course a tourist city and Jeremy frequently shows passers-by where he locks his bike – to an old ‘foot scraper’, which he believes dates from the 18th century. They were used when the streets of York were made of packed-down earth and people travelled on foot or by horse, so foot scrapers were essential at rainy times. Few are left now and Jeremy considers the one outside Shared Earth one of the ‘unsung heroes’ of tourist attractions.

Moonpig teams up with Cath Kidston Just in time for Mother’s Day, online cards and gifting platform Moonpig teamed up with Cath Kidston to bring its floral prints to life through an exclusive range of bouquets. This first-ever flower range from Cath Kidston consists of three bouquets, alongside two floral gift sets. The range has a meadow-picked look, and is inspired by Cath Kidston prints. Polly Noel-Storr, head of gifts at Moonpig, said: “We’ve combined the freshness and quality of Moonpig Flowers with the signature florals and joyful style of Cath Kidston to design this range of bouquets.’’ Holly Marler, creative director at Cath Kidston, added: “We’re delighted to be working with Moonpig, another much-loved British brand, to bring our flower designs to life in a way we have never done before.’’

Warm weather sees high street footfall rise According to retail expert Springboard, the warm weather seen in March helped to increase footfall in UK high streets. When the weather became warm and sunny (w/c 14 March), footfall rose from the week before by 8.1% across all retail destinations and by 12.4% in high streets. On the Friday, the uplift doubled to 16.1% across all retail destinations and more than doubled in high streets to 25.8% from the previous week. In coastal towns on the same day, footfall rose by a 40.8% from the previous Friday, versus an average of 24.7% in other town types, and then by 10.7% on the Saturday, while across all other town types it rose by just 2.1% on Saturday. Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said: “There was a surprisingly strong uplift in footfall in high streets on Friday given that it was a working day. This could be a real sign that hybrid home/office working may be making it more feasible for consumers to make spontaneous trips outside the weekend, a trend we expect to see rise.”

eco news in the news

Davora announces plan to phase out cello bags Specialist greeting card publisher Davora has announced plans to phase out the use of cello bags across its ranges. “We want to do our bit for the environment,” said Raj Arora, director of Davora. “It’s something we wanted to start a couple of years ago, but with the Covid shenanigans of the past two years, we’ve struggled to clear older cello-wrapped stock, which means our plans to cut back on cello have had to be delayed. “We’re back on track now though, and so all our new designs will be without cello and the older designs will be phased out over the next couple of years. The plan is to remove cello from single cards first, and we’re working on a non-cello solution for our multi-packs too.’’ Davora’s trade website at will show which designs are to be supplied without cello, and any retailers who still need cello bags can purchase them from the website for self-wrapping.

Focus On

Cards that help save bees Plantable cards are an eco product that has been embraced by many retailers this year; an exciting new concept for sending a card and a gift in one, and a lovely surprise for any wildlife and nature lover. The Love Country Collection is a finalist in the Gift of the Year Awards for 2022. These colourful fine art designs offer affordability and style, and each card is embedded with a variety of flower seeds rich in nectar and pollen designed to support bumblebees and wildlife. This allows the consumer to do their bit for the environment and make someone smile too! Once the recipient has finished with the card, instead of throwing it away, they can plant it and grow their own flowers for the bees. Cards are supplied in 100% biodegradable cello with a recycled envelope. A display stand is available and more designs will be launched later this year. Love Country is an official member of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and donates 10p from every card sold to the charity.

Eloise Hall

Back to nature

Greetings Today talks to Eloise Hall about her designs, which focus on plants and flowers Tell us a little about Eloise Hall. Based in the heart of Somerset, I create stationery and natural wellbeing products inspired by the beauty and power of nature. The brand started seven years ago at Top Drawer and it’s been a very exciting journey ever since! Why do your designs focus on flowers and plants? Being based in the countryside I’m often inspired by the amazing flowers and plants discover on walks with Bramble my dog. Each collection I create starts with a handcrafted collage using hand-cut shapes from beautiful patterned origami paper along with ink drawings. These designs are used to create luxury greeting cards and stationery made with the finest paper stock: a real treat to use. What about new ranges? The new Bright range is a really exciting adventure into colour and it’s turned out to be very popular, so I’m over the moon about that. This gorgeous collection has 54 enticing floral designs created with debossed gold foil and pink foil set on colourful backgrounds. Created with 350gsm GF Smith stock and sold with a cream envelope, this luxury range includes mood-boosting blanks, birthdays and occasions.

20 10

Tell us a little about your non-card offering. I work closely with a master natural perfumer to create our bespoke fragrances. Our beautiful natural wellbeing range has won 17 awards and smells incredible. We’re proud to have the first carbon-neutral product in the UK for our hand products. Our small batches are created in the South West and are crafted with great care. The wellbeing collection will soon be jumping off the shelves with a new Bright foiled look, which we can’t wait to share! What are your bestselling ranges? The Bright range is a dazzler but other goodies include the Botanical range, Nature range and Africa range. Do you have any eco-friendly credentials you would like to mention? We’ve gone naked and introduced our new eco card corner clasps. We also work with the Eden Reforestation Project to plant five trees for every £100 spent with Eloise Hall. Anything else we should know? I’m easily bribed with Haribos! Tel: 01963 441187 Email: Web:

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Phow S review Preview


London calling

Greetings Today catches up with London Stationery Show Event Director Alex Butler, to find out what makes a visit to this event a must-do on retailers’ calendars What’s new for the show? This year we have a new feature highlighting how the stationery industry can have a fully sustainable future. Sustainability Matters will showcase eco-friendly products from brands around the show. Exhibitors and visitors will also be able to submit their sustainability promise onto our centrepiece as a symbol of commitment to improving their environmental impact. What up-and-coming trends can we expect to see? We’re expecting to see a lot of brands using the Pantone colour of the year. It’s been

incredibly popular already, and we’re looking forward to seeing how brands are using Very Peri in their new products. Our experts are also predicting the use of ‘modern florals’ on lifestyle stationery products. While florals are a consistent trend year on year, 2022 will see a new twist to this nature-based theme. Finally, we’re anticipating ‘updated classics’ to be a big hit. Think old school products, reimagined for a new generation. Tell us more about some of the companies exhibiting at the show. We cover such a huge range of stationery products from the world’s biggest brands through to independent boutique designers. Industry staple Envelopes returns this year to showcase its worldrenowned range. Japanese Stationer JP Books will be bringing exciting products to the event, and for those stores looking for something luxurious, notepads and planners will be available from Leuchtturm. Plus, Manuscript Pen Co will be bringing the latest range of LEGO Stationery to this year’s show. We also have new names including Sylvia Prince and The Dybdahl Co. Tell us about Retail Matters. The Retail Matters Live Talks give visitors the chance to hear from experts on subjects including trends, social media, PR and more. Already confirmed for this year are Rachel Emma Waring, whose session entitled ‘Content Strategy - finding Your style’ will focus on how you can easily improve your social media presence, and Colour Hive, who will be discussing ‘Colour, material and finish forecast: Spring Summer 2023’. There’s no need to book into the Retail Matters Live Talks, visitors can simply arrive at the stage and take a seat.


“Exhibitors and visitors will be able to submit their sustainability promise onto our centrepiece as a symbol of commitment to improving their environmental impact’’

Tell us more about Launchpad, and what it will offer retailers. LaunchPad is a fantastic initiative that allows visitors to meet with new brands and find something unique for their customers. The LaunchPad exhibitors beat off the competition to win their space at London Stationery Show and each year it’s great to see them meeting with buyers as they discover their products.

Alex Butler’s five reasons to visit the show 1.

Discover new: Keeping your stock up to date and on trend is vital for success now more than ever. Consumers are always looking for the next big thing and attending London Stationery Show means that you’ll find it first.


Buy original: We’re proud to host more than 150 brands at London Stationery Show and we know that our visitors return year after year as they are able to find unique products from a range of stationery categories.


Be inspired: We run a fantastic educational programme during the show, which includes talks, workshops and clinics. We are committed to helping businesses through our free-to-attend sessions.


Come together: We understand how important it is for independent businesses to feel part of a community. It’s been difficult over the past couple of years to connect faceto-face, but London Stationery Show is the perfect place to change that. You can meet with like-minded business owners and network with key industry players.


Create content: Consumers love to see what happens behind the scenes of a business. Attending the show will give your audience a glimpse of your buying process and a first look at the latest products.

Creative Matters offers visitors the chance to get hands on with products - tell us more! We love the Creative Matters workshops as we get to see our visitors really enjoying the products. The full line-up is yet to be announced, but readers should keep a lookout on our social media channels as we’ll announce the sessions soon. Only pre-registered visitors can book into the workshops, so we’d advise registering early to be the first to receive the booking link. Spaces are limited, so as soon as you receive your email, get yourself booked in. Indie Matters - how does this work, and how can retailers get involved? We had such huge success with our guest expert Catherine Erdly’s Resilient Retail Clinic in 2021 that we’ve decided to expand the offering this year. Under the new name Indie Matters, retailers will be able to receive tailored one-to-one advice from a range of experts throughout the event. Catherine Erdly will return once again alongside Rachel Emma Waring and Untld Project, as well as others who will be confirmed later this month. Please tell us more about the Awards at the show. The Stationery Matters Awards celebrate the latest products in the industry. Our categories include Arts & Crafts product of the year, Children’s Stationery product of the year, Working From Home product of the year, Diary, Organiser, Calendar of the year, Sustainable Stationery product of the year, Filing & Storage product of the year, Gift Packaging and Wrap of the year, Licensed Stationery product of the year, Notebook, Journal of the year, Novelty Stationery product of the year, Social Stationery product of the year & Writing Instrument of the year. The shortlisted

products will be available to view during London Stationery Show. What else can we look forward to? We also have the Boutique Collection, which showcases beautiful and original designer stationery, gifts and greeting cards. This area of the show can be found on the ground floor and includes brands such as Pencil Me In, Papydo, Once Upon A Tuesday, Storigraphic and Latitude Notes, among others. If you’re looking to add something unique to your store, this is the place to visit. Any advice for new visitors? Our three key pieces of advice are: 1. Make sure you give yourself enough time. While London Stationery Show is an intimate event, there is still a lot to do. We have 150 brands and our education programme, so make sure you give yourself enough time to do everything during your visit. 2. Before attending, ask your customers what they want. This way you will know what you’re looking for when you are browsing the products. 3. Enjoy it. Many retailers say buying is one of their favourite parts of their job, so make sure you give yourself time to take it all in (and don’t forget to post about your time on socials, too). Anything else you’d like to tell us? Registration is now open and is really simple. Pre-registering for the show means you will receive fast-track entry on arrival. Head to to register. What’s your favourite London Stationery Show moment? Last year was my first London Stationery Show as event director. I joined in autumn

“We’re anticipating ‘updated classics’ to be a big hit. Think old school products, reimagined for a new generation’’

2019, so spent six months planning for a show that didn’t happen. So, I would say opening the doors to London Stationery Show 2021 last October has to be my most memorable. To see brands and buyers come together after such a long time apart will really hold a special place in my heart.

Show essentials When: Business Design Centre, Islington, London Where: 17-18 May Web: 13

Phow S review Preview


Back to Harrogate The UK’s only trade exhibition dedicated to the British handmade craft and design market is back at the Yorkshire Event Centre this April


he British Craft Trade Fair (BCTF) returns to the physical exhibition space this April following a two-year hiatus. The show, owned by Kerrison Exhibitions, will take place from 10-12 April at its usual venue of the Yorkshire Event Centre (YEC) in Harrogate. Having run for more than 45 years, BCTF is unique in its focus on purely handmade British goods. From exquisite hand-wrought jewellery and spectacular works of fine art, to the best of British-made ceramics, woodwork, metalwork, paper products, textiles and more, BCTF is proud to fly the flag for British artisans. With the appetite for locally-made, impeccablysourced products at an all-time high among the British public and overseas consumers, the 2022 event promises to be a real treasure trove for discerning retailers keen to champion British handmade products. Show director Kane Thomas says: “We’re delighted to be bringing BCTF back to Harrogate this April. We’re investing in far-reaching promotion to ensure we deliver the highest possible quality and volume of audience to the Fair. This is in addition to direct mail, email and social activity to our existing database of qualified and registered buyers, which exceeds 10,000 names. Our lineup of more than 250 carefully vetted exhibitors is excellent, with many well-known faces and established brands participating in the show; and this year they’ll be joined by a huge intake of talented newcomers. “I warmly invite all retailers and gallery owners with an interest in British craft to come along in support of these fantastic makers, who are eager to showcase their inspiring new products and collections to the trade.”

2022 is THE year for British artisans The organiser says that all the signs are there that conditions are ripe for further growth in the booming British craft market. Consumers are willing to spend that bit more on thoughtful investment pieces that will stand the test of time.


The once-in-adecade Crafts Council Market for Craft The Awards will take place on the Monday evening (11 April) at report found that the YEC after the show closes, with the following categories craft sales in this recognised: country increased from £883 million in • Award for Excellence, sponsored by The Giftware Association 2006 to £3 billion in • Award for Excellence in Jewellery sponsored by The National 2019, a figure that Association of Jewellers is likely to rise still higher as the British • Best Newcomer Award sponsored by Heart Gallery, Hebden Bridge public strengthens • Form & Function Award sponsored by The Platform Gallery, its determination to Ribble Valley support homegrown talent and pursue • BCTF Award for Excellence sponsored by The Pyramid more sustainable Gallery, York product offerings. • Best Post-Newcomer Award sponsored by Home & Giftware Almost threequarters of British magazine in partnership with adults bought craft in 2019, amounting to 25 million handmade items, while 10.3 million Venue and facilities Brits were reported to be buying their crafts online, The Yorkshire Event Centre is a state-of-the-art a number which has trebled over the past decade. venue offering a pleasant and relaxing buying (The rise of online sourcing and shopping, which environment, with excellent ventilation and acres accelerated during the pandemic, will be reflected of easily accessible green outdoor space where by a follow-up digital edition of BCTF on May 15people can get a breath of fresh Yorkshire air 17. Watch this space for more details.) between meetings. There is also plenty of free onEight out of 10 UK adults want to buy Britishsite parking and a complimentary shuttle bus from made goods and will happily pay more for items Harrogate train station. The town of Harrogate has made in this country, which puts British crafters in a plenty of hotels, shops and restaurants to enjoy. strong position. To register as either a maker or buyer, visit: BCTF is ideally placed to help makers and retailers alike capitalise on this huge potential for authentically hand-crafted products, which are also free from the supply chain problems currently affecting much of the consumer goods market. These important findings from the Crafts Council are also backed up by the Made in Britain Buying British Report, which confirmed that consumers want to support local businesses and to buy more sustainable products – all they need is the reassurance from retailers and suppliers that the products they’re buying have the necessary credentials.

BCTF Awards

Show essentials

When: April 10-12 Where: Yorkshire Event Centre, Harrogate Web:

Retail Opinion

Diary of a

greeting card shop Tim Reynolds, Manager/Curator at South Kensington’s Medici Gallery Shop, looks forward to the Queen’s Jubilee - and explains why he and his colleague were spotted carrying a torso on the Tube!


he spring season in the card world is always (except for the past couple of years, of course) one packed with a succession of events. Already the predominantly strong reds for Valentine’s Day (where we had several large fold-out hearts hanging in our window) has given way to the softer pinks for Mothering Sunday. As soon as this is over, at Medici we will be making our Easter window, which is one of our favourites to put together. Unfortunately my colleague Charlie [Wheatley, assistant manager] and I were unable to travel to Spring Fair at the NEC, so I was extra pleased that we got to see several companies that weren’t at Birmingham this year but who were at Top Drawer in Olympia, which is just a stone’s throw from us in South Kensington. I was particularly delighted to finally place an order with Amica Felt, whose Easter range of hanging items will go very well with this year’s theme. For many years we have often tied in our window display with what is being exhibited at our nearby neighbour The Victorian and Albert Museum (V&A). Throughout this year it has a Beatrix Potter show on. So we are naturally placing our Easter cards, chicks, lambs and of course bunnies into a vegetable patch scene from the Peter Rabbit story. And who can resist a bunny flying aloft on one of Amica’s felt carrots?

“A greeting card sent for whatever occasion is a very personal way of saying you really mean what you want to say, and have taken the time to do so’’

Platinum planning Of course the other big anniversary looming large on the horizon is the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June. As we lie within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (and as we are no strangers to the odd member of the Royal Family calling by), we will theme our window accordingly. At Top Drawer, another company I was very glad to place an order with was Victoria Eggs, who has produced a splendid range of products to celebrate the Jubilee. We have previously bought her London designs of stationery, but I was particularly impressed by her tea towel and apron designs. My colleague Charlie was able to source a mannequin to show off the apron to its best advantage in our window when the time comes. We won the mannequin in an eBay auction, so we had to collect it from a women’s boutique in Soho. We got some funny looks carrying the torso back on the Tube! The other person who has also produced a superb tea towel and mug, and who is no stranger to royal commissions having done an advent calendar of Highgrove, is the amazing Alison Gardiner (pictured with me above right). We really think she has surpassed herself with its colourful and fun design. Now that our neighbours, the big three museums, are finally opening up fully, and we are seeing a few more foreign tourists arriving back into our special part of west London, we are feeling a lot more optimistic about our future. We may have occupied our site for over 90 years but it’s only recently that our building has again been spared demolition by our landlord’s Transport for

London (and the developers Native Land) with their plans to redevelop the underground station, of which we form a part.

Small but essential Like our neighbour South Kensington Books, we form a small but essential part of what makes our neighbourhood special. Perhaps to the big organisations on our doorstep who advocated our removal (despite their staff using our shops on a regular basis) we are just in the way of easing access to their doors. But to my mind, a greeting card sent for whatever occasion is a very personal way of saying you really mean what you want to say, and have taken the time to do so. Our neighbour the V&A owns probably the largest collection of vintage greeting cards in the world. Their curators only have to look at our walls to see that we are continuing that tradition. 20 15

Cover Story

Cherry Orchard

Amazing Grace The success of Cherry Orchard’s Grace range has led the publisher to introduce a complementary male range, called Grayson


he team at Cherry Orchard certainly have a spring in their step after a great time at Spring Fair. The beautiful display of Grace cards drew in plenty of people who wanted to know more. Grace is a range of cards with stunning bright artwork, foil and flitter on a grey background supplied with a beautiful gold envelope. It started as a range of square open designs and was so successful that other designs quickly followed, bringing in female captions and ages. Double captions wished happy birthday to female relations on their milestone ages. The great success of the Grace range meant that the Christmas 2022 Collection also featured many beautiful Grace designs. Christmas trees, luxuriously wrapped presents and trimmings, wintry Christmas scenes and fizzing cocktails all set against the grey background really made the artwork pop in an explosion of colour. The Christmas Collection also features some of the cute ranges that Cherry Orchard introduced, with its lovable Buttercup bunny playing in the snow with other furry friends. The Christmas Collection has 160 new designs and no price increase and is available to pre-order ready to despatch later in the year.

Grayson As the Grace range grew and success of the Christmas designs was evident, the decision was taken to work on a range of male designs and so Grayson was introduced. Grayson will feature male relations captions at Code 100, 75 and 60


Grace is a range of cards with stunning bright artwork, foil and flitter on a grey background supplied with a beautiful gold envelope

and will also include 14 male open designs. New Grace female designs and the Grayson launch package is available to pre-order and will be delivered at the end of April.

Grace Grace designs also found their way into the new Wedding and Anniversary Collection 2022, with fizzing champagne glasses, ribbons and bows around gifts, floral displays and, of course, a beautiful bride in her wedding dress featured in the designs. The Wedding Collection will be delivered at the end of March. Jackie Collins, owner of Cherry Orchard, explains: “It’s been so lovely to see Grace going from strength to strength. The feedback we received at Spring Fair was just wonderful and unprecedented compared with any feedback we’ve ever had before. Lots of our lovely customers said how well it is working for them, and others seeing it for the first time were keen to open an account. “I know Grayson will be a great success, bringing something different to the market with male designs, which is - as we all know, a difficult area to cover - and to hit the sweet spot for our retailers. We’ve already launched two other new male ranges. which are fantastic sellers: Whispers on the Wind has landscape watercolour artwork and sentimental verse to cover male relations, and our new male range has both male relations and open male designs.

“After a difficult couple of years struggling through the pandemic, it was great to finally be on the show circuit again and catching up with customers, old and new. This year was a particularly strong show for us, partly due to customers being happy to be doing the shows again but also due to the strength of our products, our exemplary behind-the-scenes customer care (which we are constantly praised on) along with an incredibly strong presence on social media and the marketing we do pre-show. “As a team, I also believe our happiness, enthusiasm and pride in what we all do so well shines out to our customers, who we know really appreciate our personal touches. Customer care is what we’re so incredibly proud of and we work hard to maintain our enviable position within the industry.

Down Memory Lane “Our Down Memory Lane milestone age and anniversary cards have been a bestseller for an astonishing nine years. They show the age and the year of birth with iconic images and facts from the year on the inside of the card. Although it’s always sold exceptionally well, we thought we would take a look at how we could add an extra wow factor, and decided upon an embossed fluted foil to the milestone age to make them stand out even more on the racks. We’re over the moon with how this turned out, giving the cards an incredibly strong look. “Continuous improvement means regularly looking at your products to see if you can refine and improve them. It’s something we do all the time. We look not just at individual products or ranges but at the whole portfolio to see if there’s something we’re missing or that can improve on. “We look at every aspect of the product and service. Our cards are all made in the UK so there’s no supply issues, and quality is what we aim to achieve, so we want quality card and lovely finishes for the cards to make them something very special indeed. The envelope is important too, which is why we chose the pizazz of the gold envelopes to complement the Grace range so well. Just like a beautiful picture, it deserves a lovely mount to showcase it. “It wasn’t just meeting up with customers that was so special for us at the show this year. As a company we’re blessed to have such a great team of people working together with positivity and enthusiasm to design and produce great products, and a customer care and sales team who have developed great relationships with our customers over the years and continue to do so each and every day.

I believe our happiness and enthusiasm and pride in what we all do so well shines out to our customers, who we know really appreciate our personal touches Jackie Collins, owner, Cherry Orchard

Cherry Orchard Owner Jackie Collins, left, with Creative Director Beverley Fisher

Orders on their way “Now we’re back at HQ and catching up on all the orders, leads and new accounts from the show. With so many new ranges being released, we’re prepping everything ready to make sure that these orders will be making their way onto the high street to hopefully keep our independent retailers busy. Many have told us how incredibly well Grace is selling, so they have to keep topping up their racks! We have a seamless and easy ordering system, through our website, telephone or email and so we’re able to dispatch the orders quickly so no one loses out on sales. Customers expect quick ordering facilities and dispatch, which we know we can achieve. “While the Customer Care Team and the Design Studio Team are back at their desks, the Sales Team are back behind the wheel. They’re always happy to pay a visit, show the latest designs, share some advice on what is selling well in other shops and have a look with retailers at what sells well for you. Just as Cherry Orchard is always checking how to improve the products and portfolio, they’ll work with you to see how they can improve your sales. “Finally, there’s a whole variety of brochures at HQ that Cherry Orchard is happy to send to customers so they can see the ranges on offer. We are always happy to send out samples so you can also see the quality of the cards. A quick email or call to the office and a package will be sent out to you so you can see for yourselves what we just love doing - producing fantastic cards backed with the very best of customer care!’’

Cherry Orchard Tel: 01684 295500 Email: 17

GCA News The latest from the UK Greeting Card Association

Get your toolkits today! Spring has definitely sprung, so get your shop looking seasonal with the GCA Easter toolkit. These free retail POS kits have been made available for Greetings Today readers to download, absolutely free. To find the toolkit, which has been created this year by Belly Button Designs, head to www.gca. cards/easter-toolkit. And while you’re there, you can get set for Father’s Day in June at fathers-day-toolkit.

Get help to grow The GCA has received information about the government’s Help to Grow campaign, which has been designed to support small and medium-sized businesses. Help to Grow: Management is a 12-week programme delivered by leading UK business schools that includes 50 hours of in depth training, one-to-one business mentoring, and support. The 12-week programme costs £750 and is 90% subsidised by the government. It is designed to fit around existing work commitments, with learning accessed through a blend of online and face-toface sessions.


Show business GCA members were out in force at Top Drawer at Olympia London in late February


Tee-Cards: one size fits all Tee-Cards have been launched by M!NT. Tee-Cards are funky, die-cut designs that fold out to a T-shirt shape, but fold down into a regular envelope as a small letter. There’s a design to suit everyone with birthday blank and relation titles. There’s one for everyone, so simply pop the sleeves out to unfold the fun! Remember - one size fits all! Mint will send out a display card with orders, so your customers can see what they look like.Tee-Cards come in 36 designs, including 10 relations and measure 5x7in, and are priced with Code 60/II. Produced in the UK, there are two ways to receive stock - either in ecoBands or cell-wrapped. 0116 230 4197


Change to CE marking Breed to Breathe campaign The BEIS (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy) recently wrote to the GCA to let it know about the change in CE marking rules. Products that were subject to CE marking will, from 1 January 2023, have to show a UKCA marking. In the case of greeting cards, this will usually apply to products such as children’s cards with attachments. It’s important to know that until January 2023 stock produced and CE marked before 1 January 2021 can still be sold in Great Britain with a CE marking. They will need to be placed on the market before 31 December. You can find the full details at

About the GCA The Greeting Card Association is an independent trade association owned by its members, which acts as a voice of the British greeting cards industry. The GCA promotes the healthy growth of the industry by sharing the joy of sending and receiving cards, and also offers advice and support to members. The GCA has been championing the industry for more than 100 years, and has more than 400 member companies.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has written to the GCA to ask that it draws attention to an upcoming media campaign for the responsible portrayal of pets. GCA CEO Amanda Fergusson says members need to “be prepared if you are challenged by your customers or the media’’. The campaign, Breed to Breathe, was first launched in 2018, and urges card publishers to stop producing cards featuring images of brachycephalic (flatfaced) breeds, such as pugs and French bulldogs on their products. The campaign is now being extended to include all animals with ‘extreme conformation’, including animals such as Persian cats, who are flat-faced, or dachshunds, whose long, low bodies predispose them to spinal problems. The BVA is happy to offer advice - find out more at

A new generation of stamps The GCA works closely with Royal Mail. The service has been in touch to explain how Royal Mail is adding unique barcodes to all its definitive stamps – the everyday stamps that feature the profile of Her Majesty the Queen. As part of Royal Mail’s modernisation drive, a unique barcode will be added to each stamp in order to facilitate operational efficiencies, enable added security features, and pave the way for innovative services for customers. Your customers will be able to use any non-barcoded Definitive and Christmas stamps until 31 January 2023. Or they can ‘swap out’ old stamps for the new type in a scheme starting on 31 March.


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Making an impact The Art File has created several stunning and varied new greeting card collections for Spring/Summer 2022. One of these is Modello, a wonderful collection of 16 designs depicting snapshots into stunning scenes by talented designer Tracy Oliver. The intricate artwork involves a clever process of multi-level emboss and deboss to create extra depth and complexity. These cards are printed on Italian textured board, finished with hot foils, and come with a vibrant coral envelope that makes the cards stand out in the post! This delicate, pastel-focused collection is contrasted by the striking new monochrome greeting card range Ink & Shadow. A beautiful illustrative collection of 16 designs, each Ink & Shadow card has been expertly hand-drawn by lead designer Lucie Cox. Printed on Callisto, an uncoated textured board produced in the Lake District, this collection feels just as fabulous as it looks. The striking black-and-white images are set within a debossed edge and framed within a light grey envelope, really maximising the contemporary monochrome aspect. These cards are sure to make an impact on display, and will appeal to animal and fine art lovers everywhere.

Tel: 0115 8507490 Email: Web:


A selection of the latest greeting cards and gifts ready to adorn your shelves

Don’t forget your Eid cards! Did you know Eid comes around 11 days earlier every year? The Islamic festival, which is observed by Muslims around the world, follows a lunar-based calendar, which means the date changes every year. “But it’s actually more complicated than that,” says Rajeev Arora, MD of Davora, which specialises in greeting cards for Eid and other ethnic occasions. “The exact date is often not known until just a few days before! The date is declared by Islamic scholars, but different communities around the world use slightly different calculation methods. This means Eid can be celebrated on different days in different locations, but they are usually within a day of each other.’’ Davora produces an annual wallplanner with all the dates of key ethnic festivals listed on it. “We have to hope each year that our predicted date coincides with the actual date celebrated by Muslims in the UK. We’ve been right more often than not, but it’s not an exact science!” says Rajeev. For 2022, Eid-Ul-Fitr (which is a major card-sending festival) will be around 3 May. This is preceded by a month of fasting so it’s prudent to stock cards around six weeks before. Davora’s range can be viewed and ordered on its dedicated website. Orders placed via the website will also receive free Eid window posters.

Email: 20

Amazing animals Young animal lovers will love Dyson Design’s latest birthday collection, which has just launched. For birthdays one to 12, there are creature caricatures from pandas to toucans. And there are six generic birthday cards – a whale, a lion, a fox, a zebra, a rabbit and a tiger – with witty wishes for the young at heart.

Tel: 0116 285 5725 Web:

Helping nature The new Bright range from Eloise Hall is full of colour and joy! The Bright range is the perfect way to brighten your store with 54 enticing floral designs created with debossed gold foil and pink foil set on colourful backgrounds. Created with 350gsm GF Smith stock and sold with a cream envelope, this luxury range includes mood-boosting blanks, birthdays and occasions. These beautiful cards are also supplied with new eco card corner clasps. Your order can also help nature, as Eloise Hall works with the Eden Reforestation Project to plant five trees for every £100 spent with Eloise Hall.

Tel: 01963 441187 Email: Web:

Wonderfully weird Introducing the new Redback collaboration with bestselling author Nathan Pyle. This sweet and funny collection of 16 cards uses designs from the popular Instagram comic. The cartoons spotlight the quirks and eccentricities of human beings through a race of alien life-forms in a pink, blue, green, and purple universe. The 120 x 170mm cards are blank inside for your own message and printed on FSCaccredited sustainable board. These soft touch cards are paired with a quality aqua envelope.

Tel:01752 830482 Web:

The personal touch Ginger Betty has added 12 new open birthday captions to its Owl’s Nest range. The designs are all hand-illustrated by proprietor Tracey Colliston, who says: “I feel this gives a more personal touch, and captures a lovely sentiment. Each card has our signature leaf debossed. The range is growing nicely, and we reacted to customer demand for more open birthday captions.’’ Ginger Betty launched co-ordinated giftwrap and tags, notebooks and small and large plaques at Spring Fair. All products are made in the UK. Ginger Betty also recently launched Sunshine on Leaf. This capsule range of 12 cards features felted animals that appear to be basking in sunshine. Tracey adds: “I wanted to capture a ‘sunny feeling’ so that customers feel like they’re receiving a warm hug!’’

Tel: 01706 557285 Email: Web: 21

Welcome to the jungle ExaClair Limited, the UK supplier of Clairefontaine, has introduced the Jungle Harmony collection of premium stationery, which is based on a depiction of the Amazonian forests. These enchanting sets of designs were created by Parisian graphic designers Tiphanine Massari and Agathe Hondré at Polygonia, Paris. The delicate patterns create a blend between tropical plants, birds and butterflies, which will look stylish in any environment. The notebooks are available in a range of sizes including A4, A5, A6, and small shopping pads. Some feature sewn spines, others are wirebound, and even clothbound versions are available. All the notebooks contain the PEFC certified, super-smooth 90gsm Clairefontaine brushed vellum paper that is loved by pen fans globally. Completing the fashionable look, the collection also features desktop accessories, including letter holders, pen pots and magazine files. In addition, lever arch files, elasticated folders and storage boxes that provide filing solutions for a tidy desk are also part of the selection. Lawrence Savage, marketing manager at ExaClair, says the range was designed to bring a sense of wellbeing: “Perfect for enthusiasts of tropical patterns, the central theme of this collection is being in touch with nature to help create a positive working environment. The pastel green background adds to this feeling with its calming and soothing colour.”

Tel: 01553 696600 Email: Web:


Popping up in the UK Origamo is a dynamic brand in the Italian greeting card market, completely focused on 100% handmade cards. The company’s founder is Furio Ceciliato, who will be known to many UK companies as president of the AIBA (the Italian equivalent of the GCA). The new range Florever comprises pop-up bouquets, which made sales of more than one million euro to shops in Italy in just 45 days! Furio is now bringing the brand to the UK and Florever has already been nominated for the Gift of the Year Award in the Greeting Card and Wraps category. Furio says: “Origamo doesn’t work with Amazon or wholesalers, loves independent shops and specialised chains, and the whole production is 100% handmade and based on the two pillars of ethical production and charity programmes.’’ Origamo is also a new member of the GCA and GA.

Keep on smiling Kali Stileman Publishing specialises in luxury design-led greeting cards and wrapping paper for children and the young at heart. Kali says the latest new tiddly widdly card collection has so far gone down a storm. The Smilies range consists of 40 designs and features a series of kitsch and kooky food items and objects with adorably friendly faces… the favourite in the studio is the groovy goggly-eyed prawn! The mini cards vary in occasion, and come in a paint pot of gorgeous bright and muted tones. All Smilies are printed on 350gsm linen textured board and have FSC accreditation.

Tel: 01305 848899 Email: Web: 22

Tel. 074 23521438 Email: Web:

Delightful dozen Nigel Quiney’s award-winning range Pizazz has a new release of 12 designs. The range is constantly developing, with regular injections of new artwork, and is built upon stunning floral watercolour designs, enhanced with a speckled flitter effect foil, keeping all new releases fully eco-friendly and recyclable. Pizazz continues to exceed the company’s expectations with many of the original designs still among the top performers. A stylish collection, all with a touch of Pizazz!

Tel: 01799 520200 Email: Web:

Bright and bold for kids

Watercolour wildlife The Ophelia collection from Clear Creations consists of quirky wildlife watercolour illustrations, inspired by nature and its beauty. The aim is to offer a fairytale feel to this range and capture the imagination of the consumer. Each animal is set on a bright and colourful background, adorned with hand-drawn foliage, which has then been digitally coloured and composed into place. The 12 open occasion designs can be used for many occasions and each is finished with clear Swarovski crystal. Available with biodegradable cellos, they are printed on FCS, high-quality textured board and have matching envelopes.

Tel: 020 8885 0009 Email: Web:

Tiptoes is a new range of vibrant cards recently launched by Rachel Ellen Designs. The range includes children’s ages one to nine, and features striking neon ink, gold foil and an embossed, die-cut number. Rachel Ellen Designs is well known for its bright colour palettes mixed with Rachel’s appealing characters and illustrations - and this new range does not disappoint.

Tel: 0115 970 0321 Email: Web:

Emotive collection Quire Collections introduces new designs for the Heartfelt Collection, showcasing emotive cards with powerful illustrations. The illustrations were created by renowned artist Paco Yao, who lives in Guangzhou, China, and has designed pieces for Lenovo, Daniel Wellington and Nescafe. The artwork radiates a warmth and serenity that complements the showcased emotion. This is artwork that is truly immersive, transporting you into the story, enabling you to feel the sunshine on your skin, feel the summer breeze and hear the raindrops within the rustling leaves: a story of love, sadness, dreams, anticipation, hope and happiness. Quire Publishing has created striking greeting cards that offer a distinctive product for all occasions. The cards exude elegance and the Italian card stock is of the highest quality. Created in a standard 115 x 163mm, offering a crisp white envelope.

Tel: 01633 746124 | Email: Web: 23

Ward’s Words


Trends in giftware

We may have been hit by major events over the past few years, but Giftware Association CEO Sarah Ward has seen how resilient and creative the giftware industry has been as its risen to the challenge, and here she highlights the latest trends to appear post-pandemic

“It’s been great to see these changes and trends emerge right in front of our eyes and for gifts to be as important as ever’’

Being the head of a trade association for our industry over the past few years has certainly been very interesting, navigating our way through seismic events including Brexit, the Covid pandemic and its many lockdowns, trade show cancellations, the recent shipping crisis and the eventual rising costs associated with the forementioned events. But being at the forefront of our industry has proved just how resilient and creative the gift and homeware world is. We have seen businesses pivot to digital before you can say PCR test; we have seen non-technical members create consumer-facing websites to reach the end consumers and bypass closed high streets; and we have also seen the rise of digital marketplaces fast-forwarded by the need to reach customers through different and exciting channels. It’s been great to see these changes and trends emerge right in front of our eyes and for gifts to be at the forefront of our nation and as important as ever. As things return to normal, trade shows are opening their doors again, and we have visited more than 12 in the first few months of this year alone. It’s so good to be back speaking to people face to face, but also getting an insight into what

they are doing and the changes they have made. Here are some of the trends that we have seen so far across our industry:

Sustainability We know we know, it’s not a trend, it’s here to stay, but it is more relevant and noticeable than ever. One of our compass points for emerging behaviours is our Gift of the Year competition. We added the ethical and sustainable category a few years ago and it has fast become one of our largest categories, and continues to grow fast. The ethical and sustainable element is not just limited to this category either, as sustainability spills across the whole competition as more companies change processes to become more eco-friendly. We are currently highlighting these companies through our own campaign, which showcases the changes these companies have made for the better for the environment and a happier future, featuring firms large and small. As the goal is non-competitive, it’s great to share, and learn from businesses that have made those initial steps. We have also partnered with the Products of Change association, which can help your business take those first important steps into becoming more sustainable.

Convenience An important consumer trend that we have noticed in the past 24 months is convenience.

Sarah Ward is chief executive of the Giftware Association, which is at the heart of the gift industry supporting members by offering invaluable advice and assistance. Coming originally from a retail background, she then worked at Penny Kennedy gaining extensive knowledge in the card, wrap and stationery sector, and now uses these skills across a broader environment. Tel: 0121 236 2657 Web:


As businesses are offering the full omnichannel shopping experience, consumers are more likely to use your business based on the choice you offer and how convenient it is for them. Think of multiple ways to pay, including partpayment options (Klarna, PayPal), free shipping and returns, and click and collect opportunities. A recent study by Kantar revealed that 66% of consumers choose retailers based on convenience and services offered, compared with 47% whose priorities were pricing and value. If you can’t offer these to your end consumer, then you will be overtaken by your competition.

Social media Social media has always been massive, and again probably isn’t a ‘new’ trend, but as the world goes digital it has become increasingly evident that businesses need to be on this channel to reach new audiences. One thing the pandemic has taught us is that businesses need to move fast and evolve quickly when needed. Many brands took to social like a duck to water, and found new audiences and, in turn, social media developed new ways of reaching customers such as increased ads and longer reels to showcase products. Social media is also great way to reach new audiences, with statistics suggesting that Gen Zers use social to finds gifts, which is only going to increase with the generations that are native to new and upcoming apps. • To find out more about The Giftware Association and join as one of our fabulous members to see how we can help your business, please get in touch with us at


For samples and our catalogue, email helen @

The Art File Sausage dog Frank continues to steal the hearts of good folk across the planet with the Call Me Frank collection, full of fun designs capturing Frank’s antics. Each design is finished with detailed embossing, uses a stunning colour palette, and is printed on high-quality cream Italian board, which makes these hand-drawn designs pop.

0115 8507490

Love Country Check out Finn! He is very excited to be off to the beach… read his sweet story on the reverse of the greeting card. A new range of dog cards are currently being designed and will be released later in the year, along with Love Country’s first dog calendar.

01502 507352

Trends: Pets

Middle Mouse The Impractical Cats range is inspired by moggies past and present, each one with individual characters. Middle Mouse launched three new cards at Spring Fair, with more coming soon. The Our New Home card was one of its online bestsellers in 2021.

The huge rise in dog and other pet ownership while everyone was working from home has led to a real demand for pet-themed cards. Here’s some of our favourites…

Mint Introduced in 2021, Bow Wow Meow is based on a licensing agreement with a sub-brand of Stoopid Factory. There are 20 designs in total, with 10 dogs and 10 cats, across a mix of breeds. Ben Dorney, group creative director, said: “We had a lot of fun with the captions and really tried with the cats in particular to get into their head space. I reckon we must be the first publisher to have ‘Enjoy the Dead Bird’ as a captioned card!”

Olive & Clive Party Pooches is a collection inspired by the canines of the world - mixing them with fun and colour! Sustainably designed, these blank cards come as single designs or a pack of five. They can also be customised to feature your own furry friend.

0116 230 4197

UK Greetings As a proud nation of pet lovers, our animal friends became even more invaluable during the pandemic - which is why the folk at UK Greetings will never get tired of celebrating them! From adorable photographic ranges such as Talk to the Paw to this insightfully hilarious card that uncovers the shocking truth about cats, there’s something for everyone!

01924 465200

Rachel Ellen Designs Dogs truly are man’s (or woman’s) best friend and that is where the inspiration came from for this blank design from Rachel Ellen’s Gallery range. Inspired by a staff member’s much-loved Jack-A-Poo Badger, this card is the perfect sunny and happy send for many occasions.


0115 970 0321

Robert James Hull Bestsellers are the pom-pom adorned Celebration Collection birthday cards. Designer Robert Hull said: “They are our bestsellers, and a product that is ‘evergreen’ throughout the year. Those were actually my sister’s Kate’s idea, who suggested why not add a lovely coloured pom-pom to my sweet dog and cat face illustrations, and the collection was born – so yes, I owe her one!”

A unique range of postable Blank and Captioned T-shirt-shaped cards - with designs to suit everyone! Order our new brochure to find out more!


Tel: 0116 230 4197


Emma Bryan Design The Pretty Things age range by Emma Bryan Design features 24 co-ordinating designs covering female relations from 16 to 90 and includes ages for sister, wife, daughter and friend. The 127 x 177mm cards are printed on luxury 350gsm card stock, blank inside, and supplied with a kraft envelope. Available naked or in bio-cello.

Holy Mackerel

The Art File Mulberry & Olive is a collection with a contemporary twist on a classic look, and after the success of the everyday collection The Art File was often asked for age cards finished to the same luxurious standard. These cards feature luxury self-coloured stock, rounded corners, die-stamping, blind embossing, and mounted inserts. Snap to Grid is a bright collection of fresh humour and upbeat sends, with funny comments perfect for each milestone birthday. Contemporary and witty, these cards are embossed (some have foil) and come with individually designed envelopes.

0115 850 7490 ǀ

Holy Mackerel has age cards from one to 101, and for teens and older these are found in the best-selling One Lump or Two range by artist Erica Sturla. The range starts at age 11, and goes up through the teens with every year up to 21, and then every five or 10 years up to the ripe old age of 100! There have been a couple of new additions too, with directors Katie and Sarah spotting that while 100 was well and truly covered, there weren’t many cards out there for those just approaching or just past this milestone, so the range now includes 99th and 101st cards too (and yes, one of the 101st cards features a gorgeous dalmatian, but no Cruella de Vil!).

01395 578571 |

Looking for...

number cards

Several retailers have told us they were struggling to find number cards for teens and older. Here we round up some of Middle Mouse our favourites… The Midnight Garden range celebrates flora and fauna Rachel Ellen Designs This beautiful range of cards from Rachel Ellen Designs combines pretty florals with hand-drawn bold numbers for a contemporary feel. The fresh, spring-like colour palette mixed with gold foil, sparkling gems and deep emboss adds to the appeal. 0115 970 0321

inspired by designer Bec’s Lancashire garden at midnight. It features jewel dark colours on even darker backgrounds, as well as beautiful floral elements and nocturnal animals. It covers ages 18-90. The range is popular all year round, thanks in part to the colour palette and beautifully thick card stock on which it is printed, which is FSC approved. The orange envelope draws the eye and is a pop of colour as the cards arrive on the doormat! This range is available both with cello wrappers or naked.

Redback cards Kali Stileman Kali Stileman Publishing specialises in luxury design-led greetings cards and wrapping paper for children and the young at heart. The gold foiled number cards make the perfect unisex collection for teenagers, through to adults, with a range featuring bold, bright and beautiful numbers against gorgeous gold foiled backgrounds. The designs range from ages six to 90 - they also double up as anniversary cards! The collection is printed on 350gsm linen board to give the gold foiling an extra luxurious finish.

01305 848899


Redback Cards has recently added 12 eye-catching, multicoloured age cards to its Cloud Nine range. These milestone cards cover all the major birthdays from entering adulthood at 18 to the big 60. Choose between two different colourways with these luxury foiled cards. The designs come in either a bold and contrasting combination with a coloured foil, or a bright rainbow variation with a classic silver foil.

01752 830482

What are you looking for?

We’d love to hear from retailers who are looking for specific types of card to complete their offering. Drop us a line at and tell us what you want to find.


Catherine Rowe

Back to nature

Artist Catherine Rowe has forged a strong relationship with publisher Museums & Galleries, and her designs can now be found on everything from cards and wrap to notelets, tote bags and even paperweights


his spring, Museums & Galleries (M&G) unveiled the latest stage of its licensing relationship with young design phenomenon Catherine Rowe. Starting from commissioning a few Christmas cards several years ago, M&G has now forged a full brand licence relationship covering a Catherine Rowe-branded greeting card range, social stationery, gift packaging, and gifts - and now including organic cotton tote bags, too. So what drives Catherine’s creativity? She says she has always drawn and sketched, particularly animals. Her mother still has on her wall a framed sketch of a leopard drawn by Catherine when she was just seven. Big cats are still a major favourite with the artist.

Catherine’s mother still has on her wall a framed sketch of a leopard drawn by Catherine when she was just seven

However, her cards for M&G cover a very diverse set of wildlife - including smaller creatures that are sometimes overlooked, such as bees. Public reaction to her bees has thrilled Catherine, as her bee design was originally made as a personal gift for the young daughter of a friend, and she wondered how the image would resonate with the wider public. It has certainly been very warmly received, as M&G has now used the design on co-ordinating products including cards and boxed notelets, gift bags, tissue and wrap, journals, notepads and writing sets, and the new tote bag and paperweight. A distinct aspect of Catherine’s work is marrying a confident realisation of the natural anatomy of animals together with a playful sense of overall design and patterning, very much embedded in the art-making traditions of our cultural history. She has included heraldic and slightly magical elements in her cards, including mermaids and unicorns. Catherine has also recently completed a floral collection inspired by medieval tapestries, and is now fascinated by the thinking underpinning medieval and Renaissance alchemy. Does she have any advice for young artists? Catherine recommends reaching out and getting in touch with people whose work you admire. She says it’s easy to feel others are very competitive, but in her experience people always respond well and are willing to help others. Catherine spends most of her working day in her studio,

Guess what… Catherine has included heraldic and slightly magical elements in her cards, including mermaids and unicorns, and has also recently completed a floral collection inspired by medieval tapestries so lockdown didn’t really affect her working process, although she was hugely grateful for the help people gave to small makers and businesses. Catherine herself made and designed her own face coverings, which worked well. Now she has also been inspired to explore her local area on the south coast some more. Lockdown prevented her from seeking out her favourite sources in nature and museums, and she is enjoying getting back into contact with them now.

Web: Tel: 01373 461455 Email: 29

Pocus F review

Autumn W eddings Fair & Anniversaries

A match made in heaven

This evergreen sector may have taken a hit over the past couple of years, but it’s coming back with a bang as all those delayed weddings start to take place, so retailers should be prepared…


We spoke to Jackie Collins, owner of Cherry Orchard, about her weddings and anniversaries range. As an evergreen sector, how do you keep these ranges fresh? We’re always looking at new ideas, getting feedback from retailers and looking at current trends. If a range is working particularly well, we can extend this into wedding and anniversary designs, which is what happened with the Grace range. As Grace was having such a great success with open, relations and ages designs, it seemed the perfect time to introduce those designs into a Wedding Collection.


Alice Scott at Pigme

Do you include same-sex couple cards? We do have diversity cards and have designs for Mr and Mr, and Mrs and Mrs as well as cards for the happy couple.

What about blended family cards? This isn’t something that we currently do. As with any captions, if there is enough demand we can consider it to see if it seems commercially viable. We get advice from our retailers as to whether they would consider there to be enough demand for a particular caption.

Caroline Gardner

Rifle Paper Co

Cherry Orchard

Weddings in numbers

eddings and anniversaries is an evergreen sector for independent greeting card retailers. People • 278,59 weddings every year in the UK will always get married - and while there’s a flurry of activity during the • Over 264,000 weddings were summer, there’s still a steady stream of wedding and anniversary cards being sold postponed in 2020 throughout the rest of the year. • £14.7bn direct spend on weddings Except until the day that Covid struck. In 2020, as many as three-quarters of the every year including a £3.2bn spend weddings planned did not take place in on retail the UK - and a total of £9.6 billion was lost, according to wedding planning Figures from app Bridebook. But it’s not all doom and gloom, because side of the pandemic waiting to have their big day people haven’t stopped getting married. According to at last. UK Weddings - Taskforce, a group set up to represent So with the average wedding having around 100 and support companies in the wedding industry in the wake of the pandemic, none of that business was lost, guests, these 500,000 weddings will have 50 million guests attending ceremonies across the UK - that’s a it was simply deferred. And it estimates that there lot of cards! could be more than one million people on the other

Ask the retailer We asked Leona Janson-Smith, co-owner of Postmark, a group of six independent card shops in London, about the retailer’s bestselling wedding and anniversary cards… •

After a dip over the past few years, with so many weddings cancelled or postponed due to Covid, we are seeing an upswing in wedding cards sales.

What do you think we can expect to see from this category in the future?

Caroline Gardner is always popular in this category with multiple designs selling well across all our branches.

Everyone loves a wedding don’t they? It’s a huge day for a happy family. Hopefully happy engagements lead to happy weddings and happy anniversaries, so there will always be a demand for this category. It’s a special time, so cards that celebrate the occasion with lovely artwork and words will always work well. When two people get married and arrange a lovely wedding, that’s a lot of people who all want to send them a card, so it makes sense that the demand will always be there.

Another popular range for weddings is Rifle Paper Co, which always brings something fresh and contemporary to its wedding cards.

This card from Alice Scott at Pigment (top right) had been a consistent best seller for a number of years now. In fact, I gave it to my cousin when she got married recently!

Another individual card that always sells very well in our wedding section is this beautiful card (above right) from Louise Mulgrew.

Finally, this card (right) from the Pigments Etched range is our most popular ‘fun’ wedding card.

20 30

Louise Mulgrew




Weddings & Anniversaries

Cherry Orchard

Just as Grace Kelly evoked such elegance, Cherry Orchard’s own lady has graced its stylishly fashionable Wedding & Anniversary Collection for this year

The Cherry Orchard Team has an extra special endearment for its Wedding & Anniversary Collection for 2022 as not just one but two of the lovely ladies that work in the fabulous creative studio are taking their very own marital vows! As you can imagine, wedding ideas galore are in abundance and this has spilled over into the stunning collection for this year to make it an extra special one. Taking centre stage is, of course, the elegant and sophisticated Grace range. Just as Grace Kelly evoked such elegance, Cherry Orchard’s own lady has graced its stylishly fashionable Wedding & Anniversary Collection for this year, giving it an iconic look with verve and finesse. Grayson too makes its dapper appearance in the collection with an eyecatching Husband Anniversary design, along with a fizz and champagne design for double title anniversary designs. Of course, never forgetting the more traditional designs, which work so well for both wedding and anniversary designs with white and pastel backgrounds and artwork featuring floral displays, champagne fizzing away in clinking glasses and tiered wedding cakes. Cherry Orchard has combined these with the beautiful verses that its customers have come to expect. In total, there are 18 gorgeous new designs across a range of price codes including Code 100, Code 75 and Code 60. Cherry Orchard is bursting with excitement at the launch of this extra special collection for 2022 and has been taken aback at the response and uptake of the pre-sold orders already. Owner Jackie Collins said: “I would like to wish both Sophie and Lottie huge congratulations for their respective weddings this spring, and to thank them for their input into the W&A Collection. “Cherry Orchard would also like to wish all our customers a very prosperous wedding & anniversary season for 2022 after so many cancelled weddings in 2020 and 2021. Let’s raise a toast to all the beautiful weddings and anniversaries taking place this year!’’ The Cherry Orchard HQ has a whole range of brochures to show its different ranges. Email or call for more information, brochures or samples of the Wedding & Anniversary Collection. Call the customer care team if you’d like a visit from one of the sales team.

Email: Tel: 01684 295500


Dyson Design

Dandelion Stationery

Weddings and flowers go together like happy couples. Love is in the air with the scented David Austin Roses collection, one of Dyson Design’s best-selling floral ranges. The collection includes a pale pink rose captioned ‘On Your Wedding Day’ and a peach rose captioned ‘Wedding Day’. There are also David Austin Roses cards specifically for ruby, silver, golden and diamond wedding anniversaries that are available to trade as a mixed pack. Other wedding cards in the Dyson catalogue include a stunning white rose and a delicate lily of the valley, both captioned ‘Wedding Day’. Both come from the popular Fabulous Flowers collection, which also includes many beautiful blooms with blank inside.

Wedding season is finally back! Designed to celebrate and congratulate the happy couple on their big day, Dandelion’s extensive wedding card range offers contemporary as well as traditional designs. Find designs featuring flowers, wedding cakes, wedding rings and more across the different card collections. Celebrate both general and key anniversaries there’s a variety of unique designs available, from funny to meaningful, suitable for husband, wife, partners and more. The milestone anniversary range includes first anniversary, silver, ruby and golden anniversaries.

Tel: 0116 285 5725 Web:

Tel: 01332 504940 Email@ Web:

Holy Mackerel


Even in the modern digital age, traditional photo albums make a perfect gift for the happy couple. The radiant newlyweds can create an album of photos and cherished memories of their wedding day that will last a lifetime. ExaClair Limited, the UK distributor of Exacompta products, has expanded its collection of premium quality wedding photo albums with the addition of the Me & You design. This traditional large size album (32x32cm) has high-resistance textured paper over board covers to ensure good durability. The attractive two-tone cover features three square cut-out windows for favourite photos. This new album features 60 pages of premium quality 250gsm black card with crystal sheets for protection and can hold up to 360 photos. The black pages are perfect for adding captions and notes with silver or gold pens. Made entirely in France from raw materials to the finished album, it uses FSC certified card and board, making them the perfect purchase for ecologically conscious consumers. The full range combines a comprehensive selection of traditional designs, while incorporating a modern contemporary twist. It offers quality products at an affordable price point, ideal for those who are looking to safely display cherished memories of the happy day in an attractive and long-lasting album.

Rosie Brooks joined Holy Mackerel as an artist back in 2020. Known for her gorgeous music and opera-themed cards created in pen and watercolour, Rosie has now created a fabulous occasions range called Whole Lotta Rosie. A real highlight of the range are Rosie’s cute and quirky anniversary cards, especially her numbered anniversaries. These run from first anniversary (paper) every year up to 15th anniversary (crystal) and then every fifth year up to 55 (emerald) with more on the way! Printed in the UK on a beautiful textured board, the cards are 150mm square, and come with a colourmatched envelope. With Rosie’s beautiful artwork and touch of humour, they bring a little romance to any display.

Tel: 01395 578571 Web:

Tel: 01553 696600 Email: Web: 33


Weddings & Anniversaries

Kali Stileman

Kali Stileman Publishing specialises in luxury design-led greeting cards and wrapping paper for children and the young at heart. Its best-selling floral collection features occasion cards in muted bright colours with lovely lettering and floral motifs. Its ‘wedding congratulations’ card is one of their latest (and loveliest!) designs: an explosion of colourful flora, with silver foiled lettering to give the card an extra special touch. The anniversary cards from the collection are also widely popular: whether a gorgeously girly anniversary card in soft raspberry hues or the best-selling teal

anniversary card, which customers love as a more gender neutral option. All cards are printed on 350 gsm linen board for a luxurious finish.

Tel: 01305 848899 Email: Web:

Rachel Ellen designs These loved-up designs are part of the Peony range and are the perfect way to send happy wishes for weddings and anniversaries. Beautiful iridescent gems embellish deeply embossed and gold foiled artwork.

Tel: 0115 970 0321 Email: Web:

Loveday Designs

Introducing one of Loveday Designs latest greeting card ranges Fizz-Tastic Day. There are eight cards in the range, but more are planned, and each features illustrations and graphics based on champagne and prosecco bottles and labels. The range has cards for a variety of celebrations and occasions, including wedding, anniversary, birthdays and graduation. Creative director and owner Michael Whorrell says: “All of the cards feature wonderful graphics and are beautifully illustrated, and all are sure to brighten up any celebratory day.’’ The cards are 140 mm x 140 mm, blank inside, paired with recycled envelopes and printed on FSC-accredited sustainable board.

Email: 34

UK Greetings Ohh Deer

Ohh Deer has become known as the place to find quirky, arty and funny illustrated products. Bob Ross, the artist and now pop culture icon, has found a home at Ohh Deer with a best-selling licensed range that continues to grow. It’s a firm favourite with customers and always a crowd pleaser at trade shows. As we know, the rainbow is a symbol of LGTBTQ Pride and Ohh Deer’s wedding cake themed card has inclusion at its core. The aim is to design and curate a diverse and inclusive product range. As a company that strives for diversity and inclusion within the industry, co-founder Mark Callaby gave a talk at the GCA in October where he concluded, borrowing Vernā Myers’ now famous line: ‘Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.’

At last, it’s time to say ‘I do’ with these stunning new wedding designs. And because so many couples have been waiting for their big day to finally arrive… UK Greetings has pulled out all the stops! From celebratory 2022 callouts to sustainable wooden keepsakes, the publisher has endeavoured to make the line both special and treasured. And for a more personal touch, captioned cards offer a heartfelt and meaningful option – such as this Daughter & Son-inLaw design. And whether it’s a big wedding milestone or simply celebrating two weeks together, every anniversary is important. So there’s a variety of looks and styles in this line refresh. From heartfelt and romantic words to fun and playful designs (like this happy fried egg card), UK Greetings has made sure to cover as many tastes and tones as possible.

Tel: 01924 230 4197 Web:

Tel: 01509 812075 Email: Web:

Laura Darrington As part of the staple Halcyon Collection, Laura Darrington has new additions to its anniversary/wedding offering with 11 exciting new designs. Standard captions include Husband/ Wife on your Anniversary, but they also cater for a more niche market with captions including: Sister & Brother in Law, Daughter & Son in Law, Brother & Sister in Law, and Son & Daughter in Law. Every Halcyon Collection design features a deep emboss, beautiful foil finish with a matching bespoke envelope.

Tel: 0116 2849660 Web: 35

Focus on

Voila by Real and Exciting Designs

Ooh la la!

Introducing Real and Exciting Designs’ new Voila range Voila is a new range from Real and Exciting Designs (RED) that has been created by Sarah Curedale-Raynor, who is known for her fashion-led designs. Voila is a beautiful, simple, elegant card range at a great price point. It features embossing, debossing and a gold ink to give it the extra special touch. The range has a fabulous Continental/French feel to it, as Sophie Bylina, administration and relationship manager at RED, explains: “After two tough years of the pandemic we wanted to release something that was a pretty pastel, and floral based. People have become more attuned to nature in the past couple of years and have also been dreaming of travelling, so combining the two themes felt like a natural fit. “Flowers and plants are also becoming a more important feature in people’s homes as part of their wellbeing and self-healing.’’ The range has 32 designs in total, with 16 birthday, seven female relation and nine occasions variations. Retailers can order now - and can choose from cello-wrap or ecoBanded cards. Sarah Curedale-Raynor’s most recent range is Circus. She also designed Panache Neon and Panache. She is also known for leading the way with her selection of Christmas advent calendars and cards. This year, new advent cards, calendars and 3D advent calendars have been added to the range.

“People have become more attuned to nature in the past couple of years and have also been dreaming of travelling, so combining the two themes felt like a natural fit’’ Sophie Bylina Administration and Relationship Manager Real and Exciting Designs 36

Focus On Inkpact

The writing is

on the cards

In 2020, John Lewis sent almost 80,000 genuinely handwritten Christmas cards, wishing its customers a very Merry Christmas. The company did that with the help of Inkpact. Greetings Today finds out more from marketing executive Annie Muggoch Tell us a little about Inkpact’s history - how did it come about?

Inkpact was set up in 2015 by Charlotte Pearce, our CEO. She was at an ActionCoach event where someone was moaning about the lack of progress they were making in setting up meetings – with emails having no effect whatsoever. She offered to send some handwritten letters to see if this was more engaging – and it was. A business was born and we now have hundreds of freelancers (known as the Scribe Tribe) working on customised, handwritten mailing campaigns for retailers and others in both the UK and US. Our scribe community is so important to the business and something we work very hard on. Charlotte partnered with Andrew Martin, now CTO of Inkpact, as the business needed a scalable tech platform to function as a quality control mechanism and to allow for remote working. We now have some of the best tech out there, allowing us to make handwritten notes scalable.

And can you explain what Inkpact does?

We are a CRM tool that connects the world’s brands with their customers through a tribe of remote, homeworking scribes. We craft personalised, hand-written marketing material that has proven to drive sales for global brands and put a smile on their customers’ faces. In a year when the world lost human connection, we helped global brands put it right back into the transactional experience. It is all about thinking human-to-human and proving that it can bring huge success for businesses. Personalisation within traditional communication channels has never been done on this scale, with such impact.

Tell us a little about your customers.

Our previous focus was on B2B (businessto-business) companies but that dropped off during the pandemic as people no longer worked in offices. We switched to B2C (business-to-consumer) - primarily retailers - with huge success. People needed human connection, and online brands especially struggled to get that real human connection into their comms. We offer a real, authentic way to communicate with their customers while putting money back into the UK economy through our scribes. And they get results like no other CRM tool - a 99% open rate. A good example is a Sweaty Betty campaign, which targeted consumers who had shopped with the brand for 15 years and who were sent a card and a discount voucher. Over 30% of Inkpact recipients transacted and spent a whopping 210% more than the control group.

How do you choose the cards?

For smaller clients who may not have a creative team, our amazing scribes have designed some Christmas cards that they can choose from. But most of our client partners design their own, beautifully branded greetings cards to really get their message and look and feel across.

Our cards are branded depending on which client the campaign is for. We have previously had some unbranded stationery. We would be open to designers/ illustrators approaching us and discussing collaborations, but we have not previously worked with card publishers. We hope to continue our relationship with Prime. Our clients provide their logos and we print all our own cards ourselves through Prime.

We craft personalised, hand-written marketing material that has proven to drive sales for global brands and put a smile on their customers’ faces

Tell us about the Scribe Tribe.

The Scribe Tribe is one of the unique selling points and a feature that brands love. In usual times, single mothers, people recovering from illness, students and those with some disabilities are all represented and now, thanks to the pandemic, artists, restaurant workers and those in the entertainment industry have joined the team. We help to put real money in real people’s pockets. It is for this reason that Inkpact calls itself a social enterprise. In fact, for one Boden campaign the Scribes were actually asked to sign as themselves working on behalf of Boden as that direct connection was felt to add so materially to the value of the campaign.

What times are busy for you?

We are busy all year round, as we are not just used for seasonal campaigns. Campaigns range from the seasonal Christmas and Easter types to out-ofseason one-off promotions, recognition of new consumers, cross-selling to existing clients, and thank-yous to long-standing customers. The company has done gifting campaigns, most notably with John Lewis, which sent a Christmas decoration and card to some of its most loyal customers.

Inkpact in figures

94121 - number of notecards written in November/December 2021 319 - number of scribes writing in 2021 139 - number of countries Inkpact has sent to in 2021 37


Sara Miller

Creating the

unexpected Sara Miller’s design career began in New York, and she has travelled around the world gathering inspiration for her designs, many of which appear on cards from The Art File Tell us about you. I’m Sara Miller – I’m based in North London and the lovely Art File publishes my greeting cards. I love being based in London – it’s one of the most dynamic and fashionable cities in the world and a real creative hub. It helps me keep up to date with current retail trends and how we can support retailers with new product that creates theatre and drama in store.

How did you become an artist? For as long as I can remember, I have had an obsession with print, pattern and colour; I have always been happiest when I am tucked away with a sketch book. My Mum will tell me about the hours I spent as a child sitting at my red Fisher-Price table with my pad of paper, colour pencils and a big imagination! I’ve always loved exploring new colour combinations and creating something unexpected. I did art all the way through school and then studied Surface Pattern design for my degree, which led me to start doing print design across all surfaces, so it was quite a natural progression for me to end up with a career in design. I graduated from university aware that the first bit of work experience I got would be the hardest - but also the most important. After phoning around a lot of textile design studios I managed to land a placement in New York at a fashion print design studio. I went for a few months and started creating prints for them which were shown to customers across the high street. I remember selling to Liz Claiborne and found it a really exciting experience. From there I built up a portfolio and came back to London and in the end realised my love for greeting cards.


What inspires you? I am hugely inspired by travel and have a passion for discovering different cultures. I visited India for the first time a few years ago and absolutely fell in love with it. I was completely bowled over by the colour, vibrancy and warmth of the country. In Rajasthan, absolutely everything I saw was decorated – from doorways to saris - even the buses had pompoms hanging from them! It was all so full of embellishment, detail and colour. From the elegant scalloped archways, impressive latticework windows and in-laid ivory panels of

“I am hugely inspired by travel and have a passion for discovering different cultures’’ the palaces, to the excitement of the bazaars filled to the brim with bangles, parasols, mirrored bedspreads and gem stones - a complete visual overload and a true feast for all the senses. I was in awe of the attention to detail and it’s been a huge source of inspiration in my designs. Likewise, I travelled to Kyoto one autumn and the views and colour there were just really spectacular. I also found the fluidity in Japanese art very beautiful, and back home I spent a lot of time at the V&A Museum studying those collections. It was a visual feast absorbing it all, then translating that inspiration - combined with my knowledge of what’s commercial - to create Sara Miller London designs.

Your designs have a touch of the exotic about them... I have always been inspired by my adventures around the globe. I love exploring and always try to capture a little piece of the exotic into my designs – whether it’s the uplifting jewel colours inspired by the crystal blue waters of the Indian Ocean, the intense pinks in Japanese cherry blossoms, or the fusion of exotic fragrances from all parts of the globe in our bath and body products. Most importantly, my aim is to always create something enchanting and unique, that adds colour and personality into people’s everyday lives and brings happiness.

What was your first card design? My Green Birds design was one of the very first Sara Miller designs launched as a greeting card and is still part of the range today. The print has now been featured on more than 50 different products from bed linen and blinds, to mugs and notebooks.

Talk us through how the process works when you design a card. To design a new card collection, it really starts with an idea or theme and then I use mood boards to build up the atmosphere I want to achieve. I always have colour on my mind and constantly collect samples of interesting colour combinations as well as photos and sketches from recent travels. This helps me work out a palette that feels really fresh and new. Then I start with sketches and take these to the computer to continue the design process.

What’s your favourite subject to draw? I love birds! Their feathers give such a lot of scope for adding colour and detail, and they add lovely movement – whether it’s a soaring swallow or hovering hummingbirds. I also really enjoy the huge variety of bird personalities, which gives a design real character – from flamboyant flamingos and quirky toucans to beautifully elegant herons.

Where else might we see your work? We now have a huge collection of more than 1,000 products sold in 60 countries worldwide across fashion accessories including watches, purses and handbags, home fragrance, bath & body, stationery, gifts, giftwrap, luggage, wall art, cushions, bed linen, upholstery, wallpaper, kitchen storage and textiles, as well as ceramics with British pottery specialist Portmeirion. I have also just published a children’s book, Party Parade (published by Scholastic) with my sister, which was a childhood dream come true.

What do you do if you have a creative block? Go out! Getting away from my desk and getting some visual stimulation is usually the best way to get me inspired – whether it’s to an exhibition, eating in an inspiring restaurant space, a trip round the shops or getting away somewhere more exotic.

What do you like about working with The Art File? The Art File is renowned for the quality of its products – beautiful boards, high-quality print, fine foiling and embossing, and such expertise in its area, so I know my designs will always be presented in the best possible way. The team at The Art File are also absolutely lovely to work with, plus they have great relationships with their retailers and had such success from the very start with our range in both independent and major high street retailers. Together we have been nominated for 10 Henries awards since our range launched, which is testament to our great collaboration.

“I really enjoy the huge variety of bird personalities, which gives a design real character – from flamboyant flamingos and quirky toucans to beautifully elegant herons’’

What do you do in your spare time? As a mum to two young children, pretty much any time I have not working is spent with them! But if I do get some rare time to myself I always love a trip into central London – I find it so vibrant and exciting: whether it’s just enjoying some of the beautifully dressed shop windows or trying somewhere new to eat with friends.

Is there a famous person or celebrity who you would love to design a card for - or send one to? We spotted Holly Willoughby using one of our plates on This Morning last week so it seems like she might love to receive one of our cards! More seriously, I love the fact that our designs appeal to women of all ages – from those in their 20s to grandmothers. 39

Pocus F review

Aalendars C utumn Fair and Dated Product

Right on time Calendars and dated products are consistent good sellers at the right times of the year. We ask suppliers about the state of the market - and what the future holds


near future? Danilo’s Claire Bates says: “With the a younger style: “M&G has traditionally focused on return of a stable movie slate this year, Danilo will heritage-based classic art and design calendars, be delivering a range of calendars and diaries for especially from the V&A, Transport for London, and the nearly all of the big box office releases including British Museum, but in recent years we have seen the growing success of young artist and designer calendars. the likes of Jurassic World, Minions 2, Doctor Strange, Black Panther 2, Thor, Fantastic Beasts For 2023 M&G has added calendars featuring the and even an Elvis movie, to name just a few. work of Catherine Rowe, Sarah Campbell and Helen Ahpornsiri, which join existing bestselling titles by Lucy Grossmith and Annie Soudain.’’ Eco-friendly and sustainability are watchwords within the industry - and it’s no different in this category, says Eddie: “Last year M&G went completely plasticfree with its calendars and year Eddie Clarke, Licensing Manager, M&G planners, and the development “Danilo is also really pleased to be working on the was widely welcomed by retailers and customers Marvel licence again and will be delivering a range alike. This year, M&G has continued to refine of calendars and diaries utilising the Universe of its plastics-free approach, taking into account Marvel superheroes. Having seen the emergence of customer feedback and suggestions.’’ the Anime genre, we will also be further expanding The same is true for Danilo: “We are delighted the anime offering with new additions including with what we have achieved to date but we are One Piece and digital superstar Hatsune Miku. striving to do more and retailers can expect to see “Preschool still remains a strong genre, especially this coming through in the next few years,’’ says within our family organiser product range and Claire Bates. “As well as reducing plastic packaging Danilo is delighted to welcome the Bluey licence to and continuing to improve the recyclability of all further enhance the preschool offering.’’ our products, we are also incorporating secondary M&G, meanwhile, will be “launching a new title use more into our product design - from existing celebrating the wonderful and charmingly detailed products such as the deluxe calendar, where the world of Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem. The books pages can be easily removed and framed, through take a strong seasonal focus, absolutely perfect for to our children’s activity calendars, which can be calendars,’’ says Eddie Clarke. used again and again.’’ He adds that the category can expect some So what can retailers expect to be selling in the changes in the future: “In terms of production qualities, the rise of the ethical consumer is unstoppable and we don’t see plastic-wrapped product surviving in the marketplace.’’ Claire Bates at Danilo echoes these sentiments: “We can expect to see dated products becoming more reusable and sustainable, in their design, functionality and packaging, as climate change Manager, Danilo continues to be a crucially important issue.’’

ow that life is returning to normality, and we’ve all actually got some events and appointments to go to, we’d expect that calendars and dated products would be back in demand. We asked some suppliers how they thought demand for the products had changed over the past couple of years. “Within a mature market such as calendars, there is a consistent level of sales with consumers quite often purchasing the same calendar format and title each year,’’ says Claire Bates, marketing manager at Danilo. “This is where we can really build a product range that appeals to the existing consumer base. Outside of this, we look to develop new product formats and bring in new licences that attract additional consumers. “Over the past few years, Danilo has embraced the opportunity to develop new product formats that have created renewed interest in the calendar market, such as the Collector’s Gift Box Set, A3 Deluxe Calendars and the Musical Advent Calendars. Not only do these formats offer something new and interesting, they also provide a wider variety of price points that give customers the option to upgrade their calendar or diary offering.’’ Museums & Galleries (M&G) has been receiving interest in another area, as licensing manager Eddie Clarke explains: “M&G has always aimed at serving independents and multiples with its select calendar and year planner offer, but in recent years we have been receiving growing national interest in bespoke calendars and diaries, which is something we are interested in exploring further.’’ The company has also been looking at adopting

“The rise of the ethical consumer is unstoppable and we don’t see plastic-wrapped product surviving in the marketplace’’

“With the return of a stable movie slate this year, Danilo will be delivering a range of calendars and diaries for nearly all of the big box office releases’’ Claire Bates, Marketing 20 40

Museums & Galleries

Museums & Galleries has traditionally focused on heritage-based classic art and design calendars, especially from the V&A, Transport for London, and British Museum, but in recent years has seen the growing success of young artist and designer calendars. 2023 will see calendars featuring the work of Catherine Rowe, Sarah Campbell and Helen Ahpornsiri, joining existing bestselling titles by Lucy Grossmith and Annie Soudain. There are nine designs in total for these square calendars, which measure 300x300mm. M&G has produced them with zero plastic packaging - they each include card stiffener to ensure they will stand up strong in spinners. Designs include: • Sarah Campbell • British Library • Wild Press • V&A Voysey • Catherine Rowe • Eric Ravilious • Bramley Hedge • Annie Soudain • Lucy Grossmith’s Coast & Country

Tel: 01373 461455 Email: Web: 41


Calendars and Dated Product


Love Country

Calling all dog lovers! This year a new style of dog calendar is set for release by Love Country. Featuring a host of lovable fur babies in its popular heartwarming style of artwork, this calendar is sure to warm any dog lover’s heart. Each month features fun and delightful short stories for each character written by the artist. Get ready for Walkies and Wellies! Available for pre-order.

Danilo is launching new Non-Dated Diaries and Baby’s First Year Keepsake Calendars this year, both of which have been designed to be used as and when the consumer pleases and not be constrained by defined annual dates. Danilo will also be delivering a range of calendars and diaries for nearly all of the big box office releases in the pipeline, including the likes of Jurassic World, Minions 2, Doctor Strange, Black Panther 2, Thor, Fantastic Beasts and even an Elvis movie. Danilo will also be delivering a range of calendars and diaries featuring superheroes from the Universe of Marvel. Other licences to look out for in Danilo’s anime range include newcomers One Piece and digital superstar Hatsune Miku. Preschool is still strong for Danilo, especially within family organisers - and everyone’s favourite Bluey will be joining the Danilo stable this year.

Tel: 01992 702 900 Email: Web:

Tel: 01502 507352 Email:

Flame Tree

After the past couple of years, we could all use a little bit of positivity to brighten up our months… luckily Flame Tree has introduced the calendar A Year of Lovely Quotes, with bright and delightful illustrations by Kaye Hunter. Inspired by the Roses and Castles style of art, normally used for narrowboats and their fittings, Kaye Hunter’s colourful illustrations border 12 beautiful quotes designed to to instil joy and uplift each day. A Scot living in Yorkshire, Kaye says that she takes inspiration from the most amazing landscapes that surround her to motivate her creativity.

0781 697 0696 Ӏ Ӏ 42

My First Card Kali Stileman

Brilliant botanicals In this new series, Naomi MacKay talks to card designers and publishers about where it all started. In this issue, we focus on card publisher Kali Stileman Tell us about the first cards you made. The first cards I did were botanical. We had just moved back from living in Bermuda where I worked for a ceramics company drawing local flowers for their transferware, so I had a stock of images that I could use. The transition to greeting cards really happened when a friend who worked in the flower industry in South Africa asked if I could design a new business card for her. I used the Strelitzia [Bird of Paradise] and then thought that my images might work for greeting cards.

You have now relaunched these cards. Tell us more about why, and what changes you have made. We were inspired to relaunch the Botanical range over lockdown, when everyone became obsessed with house plants. Since republishing the Botanical range, we have given it a much fresher, modern feel. The greeting cards are now printed on linen board for a luxurious finish, and the vibrant designs are against a chalk white background… the originals had coloured backgrounds.

What happened after you’d designed that first card? Did your business take off, or did you have a long wait before anything happened? I did a degree in ceramics and metalwork in Brighton and then worked as an illustrator for The Body Shop, and then later as a primary school teacher. I had a change of direction once I had children and did my first show in Birmingham in 2002, thanks to advice from Dick Pugh who owned Broughton Crafts in Stockbridge. I soon realised that if I was going to seriously get into the card industry, then botanical images that took three months each to paint were not a practical option. At that time there were also very few companies doing childrens

card’s, so that was when I did a total 360 and specialised in kids’ cards. It was a slow process as I was also a single mum of two small children but it eventually took off.

This is your 20th anniversary year - can you tell us what your most proud achievement is over that time? Over the 20 years of Kali Stileman Publishing, there have been many proud moments. I was approached by Random House to write a book after the editor was sent one of my cards. Peely Wally, my first book, was a surprising success and was shortlisted for the Red House book awards in 2012 and was selected to go in the Bookstart bags that all children in the UK receive when they are 18 months old. The Big Book of My World, again with Random House, has been translated into 26 languages and won the Rightstart Gold Medal Toy Award for 2012. My most recent ‘wahay’ however is Kew Gardens stocking the botanical cards. This is particularly special for me, as I was originally taught botanical illustration by Paddy (Pandora) Sellars, a botanical illustrator for Kew Gardens and family friend. A very full circle moment!

Who would you love to send one of your cards to, and why? Not a card, but a big order of our dinosaur wrapping paper was ordered by Kensington Palace a week or so before Prince George’s third birthday… we’d like to think his presents were wrapped in it!

Kali Stileman Publishing 01305 848899 43

John Ryan



the only way is up John Ryan looks at the case of online greeting card retailer Moonpig and what its drop in share price signifies for bricks-and-mortar retailers

“If you want a greeting card arena in which to make money, you could do worse than putting your hard-earned money into a small unit in a location that enjoys healthy footfall’’ 44

If you follow the gyrations of the UK stock market at all, you’ll probably be aware that investing in almost anything is a matter of faith, and that a combination of Covid and now the Russian invasion of Ukraine, have added to what is always a tricky business (although almost every stockbroker will tell you otherwise). If you confine your attention to online retail, things might have seemed a little less fraught as the only way is up. Or at least that’s the way it has seemed over recent years - and you might be forgiven for thinking that Covid can only have given digital home shopping a shot in the arm. Well maybe, but lately, online retailers have been riding a financial rollercoaster in spite of what many were predicting would be a total retreat from the high street. Even closer to home, consider the Moonpig Group PLC. As you’ll be aware, this is an outfit that floated in February last year (it was founded in 2000) and while it sells gifts, the bulk of its business comes from greeting cards. All good. After all, who really wants to schlepp down to the shops to peruse seemingly endless displays of cards in your local emporium? Well, actually, quite a lot of people, if the Moonpig share price is any kind of indicator. When investors queued

up to buy shares in the company in February (the flotation price was £3.50) last year the price initially headed north, breaching the £4.00 barrier in March. A year on and the price at the time of writing was not much more than half of that. Yet the product proposition remains much the same - and if online shopping really is your thing, then a visit to the website would reveal that it’s pretty intuitive as far as user ease is concerned. Have shoppers therefore just opted to buy from real, rather than virtual, stores - or is something else at play? In truth, business for listed companies is posited solely on growth and if it’s not fast enough for the moneymen, then selling happens and buying into a company becomes less expensive. Or put another way, the share price falls. Now, back to Moonpig. It’s a good company and there are few reasons not to use it, but there is the small matter of impulse purchasing. For the past 24 months there have been moments when, other than in supermarkets, buying a greeting card in this manner has been near impossible because shops were

shuttered. For some time now they’ve been open once more, and we’ve all started to recover our faith that it’s okay to go to the malls and high streets. That recovery may, in fact, have nothing to do with the decline in the Moonpig share price, but the downward path does seem to mirror recovering confidence in physical shopping. But what’s next? This is hard to predict. Online shopping as a whole has taken a bashing lately. This is in spite of the forecasts of those who are supposed to know about such things. Is it a case therefore of bumping along the bottom before we all return to our laptops, sparking real online ‘growth’ and a dramatic reversal of fortune for investors? Possibly. But what it does all show is that there’s life in the high street yet, and that if you want to look at a greeting card arena in which to make money, you could do worse than considering putting your hard-earned money into a small unit in a location that enjoys healthy footfall. As for Moonpig, your correspondent forecasts a gentle recovery. After all, the only way really is up… isn’t it?

John Ryan is Stores Editor of Retail Week, a position he has held for more than two decades, and managing director of Newstores, a daily information service on what’s new in retail across the world. @newstores | | 07710 429926

Shop Talk Name Denise Ross, Owner and Card Buyer Shop Suttles of Malden Address New Malden, south west London

Tell us a little about your shop. It’s a 71-year-old stationery shop in New Malden, south west London, nestled between Wimbledon and Kingston upon Thames. The area is famous for having the largest South Korean community in Europe. We sell stationery, cards and art and craft to the local community from kids to centenarians! How did you get into greeting card retail? We’re third generation but second generation of our family. My parents bought the business from Mr Suttle in the 1980s. What are the best and worst things about working in retail? The best thing is the team we work with (customers, staff and suppliers) and the worst is the lack of time off/away. What cards are selling well in your store at the moment? We have a wide range of cards from many suppliers. It’s great that way as we can constantly refresh what the customer sees. Mulberry and Delphine from Paperlink have just landed and are doing well. Rosie Made a Thing is a constant good seller, and we’ve recently topped up on Redback Cards and Tache What card range or category do you always ensure you keep in stock because of its popularity? I always keep Noel Tatt ages in as the range is regularly updated and at a good price point. We love Art Angels; its Angie Lewin designs and Notecard Folios flow out at a really good rate. What’s in your window at the moment? A smorgasbord of everything we sell: Kaweco pens, Ravensburger jigsaws, Leuchtturm notebooks, Pomegranate notelets and the new Abacus Azalea ‘supersized boxed’ greeting cards. What’s by your till at the moment? A Rosie Made a Thing coaster and mini card spinner, a TY Beanie Boos stand

Name Alex Heathcote, Owner Shop Zebra Cards Address Tunbridge Wells, Kent

Tell us a little about your shop. It’s a medium-sized shop full of fabulous cards and located in the busy high street of Tunbridge Wells. We cater for a wide variety of customers from locals to destination shoppers . How did you end up in greeting card retail? I got into greeting cards through my amazing husband who sadly passed away last year . What are the best and worst things about working in retail? The best thing about working in retail is the customers who have supported us through thick and thin. The worst thing was not knowing if we were open or shut in the pandemic. What cards are selling well in your store at the moment? Mother’s Day cards, Simon Drew, Museums & Galleries, Paperbird, Rosie Made a Thing and Think of Me. What card range or category do you always ensure you keep in stock because of its popularity? Rosie Made a Thing. What’s in your window at the moment? Mother’s Day is in the window and Toasted Crumpet’s delightful bee collection in ceramics. What’s by your till at the moment? By the till we have Montezumas chocolate, and Crumble & Core earring cards. What’s the most surprising thing a customer has said? The most touching thing is the amount of customers who thanked us for being open after Covid.

and a selection of impulse-buy pens for when someone needs to write the card there and then. What’s the most surprising thing a customer has done or asked for? Many years ago (when the shop had a carpet) a lady smashed a bottle of whiskey in the shop and the place smelt like a distillery for days! We get asked for cigarettes, newspapers, lightbulbs and many other random things on a regular basis. What do you think makes your shop stand out? Our shop stands out because we own it and I think anyone that owns their business stamps their uniqueness on it (then you just hope people like your uniqueness!). What shows have you gone to/are you going to? And what do you look for? I’ve been to Spring Fair and Top Drawer this year and am always looking for something new or different, either from new suppliers or something new from an existing supplier. I also look for gift ideas that are sympathetic/adjacent to our existing offer. I’ve just bought Rosie Made a Thing, Art File, Redback Cards, Tache and two new craft ranges - Playpress and The Maker Arcade. I’ll visit Progressive Greetings and the London Stationery Show later in the year too. If you could send anyone a card from the past or present, who would it be and why? The Queen, just to let her know we’re here and she’s welcome to pop in whenever she’s in the area! How do trade magazines like Greetings Today help you? They are a great way of finding out what is going on in the industry from a fellow retailer’s view, as well as industry expert knowledge and suppliers’ product information.

If you could send anyone a card from the past or present, who would it be and why? The Yorkshire Shepherdess [Amanda Owen from TV’s Our Yorkshire Farm]. As well as having the shop, I live on a farm so I can identify with her in many ways. There are many similarities - my children enjoyed growing up with the freedom of space ,and watched the seasons evolve around them. She is an inspiration as a mother and worker. How do trade magazines like Greetings Today help you? I love getting the trade magazines and seeing new designs and companies to inspire a new look in the shop. 20 45

Shop Talk

Name Paul and Helen Southgate, Owners Shop Cards n Things Address Hellesdon, Norwich Tell us a little about your shop. We are situated in the busy suburb of Hellesdon a few miles north of central Norwich near Norwich Airport. People are often surprised by the size of the store as it’s a lot larger than the shopfront lets on. Established in 1984 by my parents it’s been a very busy shop ever since. How did you get into greeting card retail? From college I (Paul) came into the family business and learned every aspect from both parents. My wife Helen recently joined me just as the pandemic started and has helped enormously to steer us through a challenging time and brought a fresh approach to the business, and is enjoying increasing our range of cards and gifts! What are the best and worst things about working in retail? We absolutely love what we do, and it is the satisfaction of helping customers find that ideal card or gift. We enjoy every aspect of it and very much feel part of the local community, and we are perfectly placed in the heart or Hellesdon to not only serve customers but spend time with those that just want a chat. We try to support the local area as much as we can and most recently had a defibrillator installed, which is available for local use 24/7, and we are now a drop-off point for the Ukraine appeal. What cards are selling well in your store at the moment? There are so many great ranges at the moment but to name a few - Whistlefish, Caroline Gardner, Dandelion, Rosie Made a Thing, Nigel Quiney’s Pizazz and Cherry Orchard’s Grace. What card range or category do you always ensure you keep in stock because of its popularity? As well as the ranges mentioned above, we are constantly topping up our title and age cards; everything from Mum 60th to Grandson 8th; we

46 20

can’t seem to keep up and there are many great designs from Jonny Javelin, IC&G and Cherry Orchard. What’s in your window at the moment? People love to see a fun window display, so we have a local florist that keeps it looking fresh, currently with a ‘spring’ arrangement of cards and gifts including a waving queen from Kikkerland in preparation for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations. We also advertise our Thornton’s Chocolates in the other half of the window. What’s by your till at the moment? We have just displayed our new range of Rosie Made a Thing gifts. They’ve got humour spot on, and you will find the ideal cheeky gift for all your friends and family. What’s the most surprising thing a customer has done? After lockdown a lady brought in a card, wine and chocolates thanking us for being her lockdown heroes by helping get all her cards for her family and friends’ special birthdays while the shops were shut. What do you think makes your shop stand out? People say they can always find that special card they need. We have an enormous range of greeting cards and we also have the benefit of having a seasonal room, so we never have to reduce our everyday range throughout the year. We love posting on our social media and have great customer interaction. If you could send anyone a card from the past or present, who would it be? If we could, we would send encouragement cards to all the families of Ukraine who have lost their homes and businesses at this time. How do trade magazines like Greetings Today help you? We love features on other card shops and hearing their stories of successful ranges and happy customers. It’s such a nice industry to be in and magazines like Greetings Today connect us all and bring the card community together.

Retail Interview McColl’s

‘Always looking for fresh ideas’ McColl’s cards buyer Sam Bednarczyk talks to Naomi MacKay about the challenges of choosing cards for a convenience store chain Tell us about you. I’m the stationery and cards buyer at McColls. I have a background in retail having started off in merchandising in M&S holiday shop. At House of Fraser, I was ladies swimwear and nightwear buying assistant, then moved into accessories. At Tesco I worked in the food preparation arena - so gadgets and peelers etc - and then moved to a junior cards and toys buyer role at WHSmith. I’m a jack of all trades, master of none!

Tell us a little about McColl’s. Historically it’s been a newsagent business - so newspapers, stationery, cards, wrap and then alcohol, cigarettes and chocolates. But newsagents are becoming less and less prominent. So it has moved from being the neighbourhood newsagent and made a shift towards convenience stores.

How important are cards in the business? Some stores have greeting card plans that are 14m, 10m, or 12m. It is a key point of our business and what people come in for. We do have post offices in our stores too. When it comes to stationery we sell a lot of envelopes, postal bags and so on - these heritage categories are really important to us. And they offer a good margin. For example, you can sell lots of cigarettes but won’t make a lot of money because of tax tariffs, but with cards it’s all margin. It also pulls customers into the store. Over the past couple of years, with people not able to see family and friends, they’ve sent a card instead. There’s been a huge increase in thinking of you and open blank cards.

How do you source products? We have a category partnership - we work with UK Greetings (UKG). We have an account manager with them, and a category manager that builds the stock for us. We have put our trust in them, but obviously I still sign off. It works well - they’re experts in the field and work with lots of different businesses. It’s a good working relationship. Some of my favourite brands from UKG include : Kindred, a lifestyle brand, with unique and fun designs designed to feel more personal; Hanson White – humour cards with something to cater to all

tastes; Gibson – meaningful cards brought to life with illustration or photographic designs, and Carlton – celebratory and fun ranges, often with cute characters. A lot of our stores now are becoming Morrisons Dailies, and attract a very different customer. There’s quite a bit of a difference between traditional new stores and the bigger stores and the Dailies. I have to choose different cards, different captions, and different price points. You don’t want to alienate customers who have been coming in for years with a load of high price point cards that they won’t buy.

“There’s been a huge increase in thinking of you and open blank cards’’ Which trade shows do you attend and why? It’s always good to see what everyone is up to and we do still have a smaller supplier that covers the gaps UKG can’t help with. PG Live is my preferred show - I remember the first time I went I thought wow! It was so big - it was really overwhelming. Sometimes I go to Spring Fair, to look at gifting and toys as well.

What is your selection criteria?

The majority of our displays will be gondola and wall units although we do clip strip occasionally. We have cardboard FDUs at Christmas and seasons so we don’t have to take space from the normal displays.

Is there anything you haven’t been able to source that you would like to find? We are lucky because UKG has a big design team. It’s more about getting the space we want in store. There are new stores being transformed all the time - you could be going from 10m to 5m, so I have to work out how I can use that display and make it work even harder.

Have you been affected by price rises and stock shortages? We were getting stock produced in both the UK and the Far East because we didn’t know whether we would get it in time. We ordered twice as much stock - and then stock came in from both sides.

What about diversity within card ranges? We don’t do it in a big way - it is something that we are still looking into. It’s more captions such as ‘to the both of you’, and ‘to the one I love’. We’re also starting to look at cards that customers can customise themselves with stickers.

There’s a lot more focus on ethical sourcing now. For example, at Christmas we used to be full of glitter but not now. I like to find something that’s a bit cutting edge in terms of design, maybe 3D elements or pop-up designs - although we need to keep up our traditional range. For me it’s about how we need to bring in a customer - maybe colour in the envelopes if the plan is looking really white - and getting the caption mix right. Humour is the best category, but we have to get the mix right there too. And I’m always looking for fresh ideas.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

How do you display your card range?

My favourite UKG brand would be Kindred - they’re quite lighthearted, for the younger customers. They’re colourful, and they cheer you up. They tend to be the ones that I send as well.

We need to make it stand out and be easy to see at POS. And of course there’s the shift to no cello bagging as well and keeping the displays as natural as possible.

I’ve probably sent even more cards in the past two years. It doesn’t have to be a birthday any more. I always have a stash of cards - I see one that reminds me of a friend. I think a lot of my friends do the same. We’ve never seen the shift to e-cards really - cards are not going away! There’s nothing that beats receiving a card. It just lets people know that you’re thinking of them.

If you could choose the cards people sent you - which would you choose to receive for a special occasion? 47

Retail Interview Postmark

Making its mark Naomi MacKay talks to Leona Janson-Smith, who runs six award-winning Postmark shops across south and west London with husband Mark Can you tell us a little about how you got into greeting card retail? Mark started Postmark in 2004. At the time I was concentrating on my own career but as the business grew and we opened more shops it made sense for us to work together. We weren’t sure how it would work out but in 2014 I took the plunge, left my career and joined Postmark. I’m glad to say that almost eight years later we’re still talking, and the business is doing well!

And can you tell us a little about the idea behind the shops? We are very much driven by design and passionate about bringing our customers an exciting and enticing shopping experience. All our shops are thoughtfully laid out and we have a very specific way of merchandising our shops, so our products really shine. While our shops are all different sizes, ranging from 250sq ft to 550sq ft, they are all located on local high streets in south and west London.

Tell us about your franking service. How does it work and what difference does it make to sales and customers? We offer an in-house franking service at most of our shops. Our customers really enjoy the service as they can beat the queues at the Post Office and have their letters and small UK parcels franked in-store, which also entices them to browse and shop. In Greenwich we even have a specially designed franking stamp celebrating the area’s famous historic


“We are very much driven by design and passionate about bringing our customers an exciting and enticing shopping experience’’

links to the Greenwich Mean Time, which our customers there, particularly those visiting from outside London, really enjoy. The service does help us to attract new customers, especially in areas such as Chiswick and Wimbledon, where the nearest Post Office is quite a distance from our shop. And it allows us to offer our established customers an additional level of service that keeps them coming back time and time again.

Congrats on your RETAS award - what do you think makes you stand out? We really weren’t expecting to pick up an award this year [Best Greeting Card Small Multiple (4+ stores)] as there was some strong competition, so it was a real surprise when our name was called out. We love what we do, and we put a lot of time and effort into our product mix and shop design - offering our customers great service and providing them with an enticing and easyto-navigate shopping experience - so I think that helps us stand out on the high street. When it comes to shop design, Mark really understands the value of drama and is always looking for something that will ‘wow’ our customers. When he first suggested putting a tree in the Greenwich shop, I thought he’d gone a bit bonkers, but it is genius. We recently replicated this idea in our new Wimbledon shop but this time he specifically opted for a Cherry Blossom tree, as he knows I love them, so it feels even more wonderful every time I’m in store.

How do you source products? We work with our established publishers on current and new ranges and we are always on the lookout for new designers. Trade shows are a key part of our buying.

What is your selection criteria? There are some basics that need to be ticked off but apart from that if it is a fit for Postmark, it’s a fit. Great design is always at the top of our list. After that it’s about looking at the size of the collection on offer and if there are enough for us to work with, followed by price.

How is trading for you at the moment? Trade is good. It’s been a challenging 18 months and it’s taken a lot of effort from the whole team to keep everything on track but we had a really good festive season and we’re feeling positive about 2022.

What’s your demographic like? It does vary across each shop and location but overall women, and in particular women with children, make up a sizeable proportion of our customer base. That said, we also have a good proportion of younger customers, with more than ever now shopping in store.

How do you get word out there? We’re very much a word-of-mouth business with happy customers doing a lot of great advertising for us. Our website is our main marketing tool, alongside local Google searches. We do use social media but due to

“Mark understands the value of drama and is always looking for something that will ‘wow’ our customers. When he first suggested putting a tree in the Greenwich shop, I thought he’d gone bonkers, but it is genius’’ time constraints probably not as much, or as well, as we should!

You sell both online and in store. Tell us a little about your online presence. While online trade has grown significantly over the past 18 months or so, it still only accounts for a very small percentage of our overall sales. However, for us, the value in our website isn’t just measured in sales. It is a very important marketing tool for us, given it’s often the first interaction new customers have with our brand. Traffic to the ‘Our Shops’ page consistently outstrips traffic to other parts of the website, helping customers to find us and shop with us in store.

Have you seen the average cost of your products go up - and if so how have you dealt with it? We are seeing price increases across the board; an unfortunate consequence of the upheaval of the last 18 months. We are being as fair as possible, passing on this increase only where necessary, to our customers.

Do customers ask for eco-friendly product? Is this something you try to stock? The move to more eco-friendly packaging and an end to single-use plastic is something our customers increasingly ask for and we are fully supportive of. We are actively trying to move towards more eco-friendly product and luckily for us the quality of products in this area, particularly in wrap and ribbon, has really improved dramatically over the past few years.

Last Christmas we made a real push to stock more eco-friendly wrap with great ranges from Unique, Glick and The Art File, making our job easy. We also increased our range of fully recyclable ribbon, bows and raffia from Gift Wrap UK, all of which were hugely popular. Our customers were also very happy to see more and more Christmas packs available plastic-free, with Caroline Gardner’s bagged packs proving very popular this year.

What brands have been particularly popular with your customers? We’re lucky to work with some amazing publishers who continue to produce designled, quality cards, which our customers love. Rosie Made a Thing, Rifle Paper Co, Louise Mulgrew, The Art File (including Natural Phenomenon, Snap to Grid), Pigment (including Alice Scott, Etched, Cuckoo) and Lagom (Postco & Postco mini) have all traded strongly across our birthday ranges this year, while Museums & Galleries, Art Press, Kiss Me Kwik, Woodmansterne (including World of Moose, They can Talk) have been very popular in our art and humour ranges. Paper Salad and Caroline Gardner remain very popular across all our age and relations ranges.

What challenges have you faced over the past few months and how have you dealt with them. How are you feeling about the next few months and the longer term? Supply issues, particularly for roll wrap, bags and Jellycat toys, have been challenging over

the past few months but we’re hopeful these will resolve themselves in the first half of this year. Apart from that, like a lot of other retailers, staffing has been a challenge, with the ongoing effects of Covid and staff isolating. However, we are very lucky to have a great team at Postmark and everyone has been working really hard to ensure our customers are not affected by these issues. So far this is working and we’re hopeful that this year things will return to a more stable footing.

If you could choose the cards people sent you - which would you choose to receive for Christmas or birthday or another special occasion? I honestly don’t mind what sort of card I receive, for me it’s the joy of getting something in the post!

About Postmark

There are six Postmark shops across south and west London at: Ba lham, Blackheath, Chiswick, East Du lwich, Greenwich and Wimbledon. Postmark has been named ‘Be st Independent Greeting Card Re tailer London’ three times. It was als o voted ‘Best Greeting Card Retailer 2017’, beating off competition from other major greeting card retailers including WHSmith. Most recently, Post mark won Best Small Multiple Reta iler at the 2021 Retas Awards 49

VENT For Change

Henri Davis


Off to a Sue Morrish, The Eco Friendly Card Company

flying start

There’s plenty of optimism out there, as Henri Davis finds out when she talks to publishers who visited the year’s first batch of trade fairs The Art File

“There’s more companies making environmental claims now and retailers want to know what eco claims are based upon. ’’ Sue Morrish, The Eco Friendly Card Company


There’s a lot riding on 2022: we all need it to be a good year so that we can start to build some momentum back into our businesses. However well we have managed to do in 2020 and 2021 it has been stop-start, so now we need to be able to plan ahead and feel that there is a good chance of achieving our goals. Trade fairs have helped to give the year a kick-start for exhibitors and visitors alike. Seeing products online and virtual shows have been great but many feel meeting face to face and seeing and feeling products are vital. I caught up with three companies that have exhibited at the first shows of the year to find out how they have found it so far. Sue Morrish of The Eco Friendly Card Company told me about Exeter Living and Giving and Spring Fair: “We’ve always found Exeter to be a lovely show and 2022 more than lived up to that. It was especially nice to hear the sound of laughter and buzz of relaxed chatting. We were incredibly busy, not only meeting with existing stockists, but we also had a record number of new leads. I think there has definitely been pent-up demand for new products, and there is nothing quite the same as seeing it in person. “A few weeks later at the NEC we had

a record-breaking Spring Fair – this was helped in part by the release of our new art cards brochure, which we sent to our retailers before the show, inviting them to come and visit. We were also launching the option of having cards with an easy-peel card clasp, instead of a compostable bag, and the show gave retailers the opportunity to see the new ranges with the new label. “It was noticeable that new customers were keen to know why we call ourselves ‘The Eco-friendly Card Company’. There’s more companies making environmental claims now and retailers want to know what eco claims are based upon. We’re full steam ahead once again and 2022 looks like it will be a good one.’’ Evan Lewis of stationery company VENT for Change is equally positive: “Being back at the exhibitions again is wonderful, not only for the sense of getting back to normal with orders being placed on the stands, but getting feedback first hand on new ranges and collections. With Top Drawer delayed into February we had a slightly slower January than normal but that was off-set against a fabulous February, demonstrating that retailers really do rely on the exhibitions to kick-start their year.

“2022 got even better when our Sucseed range was confirmed as a finalist in this year’s Gift of the Year stationery category.’’ Finally, Ged Mace of Artfile gave me his view: “The Art File loves to exhibit at trade shows. On the days before Spring Fair there was mounting excitement among exhibitors and retailers alike that this show, missed by so many of us over the two-year period, was finally preparing to open. The excitement continued throughout the four-day show and visitors truly appreciated the opportunity to view products in person again. Customers were looking for new collections and had confidence to place orders with proven brands. We were busy throughout.’ You may not have been able to visit any shows yet but these three businesses clearly feel that being at these events has had a really positive impact on their start to the year. Ged commented that there is no doubt that retail remains challenging for all. However, the best independent retailers are being supported for their vision, passion and hard work by the new products available to them - many of which they can find at trade shows such as Living and Giving, Spring Fair and Top Drawer.

Henri Davis is an independent retail advisor to businesses in the cards, gifts, stationery and heritage industries with more than 35 years of retail experience. She worked for Habitat, Next, WHSmith and the National Trust and now advises retailers, visitor attractions, manufacturers and suppliers. A past chairman of the Giftware Association, during lockdown she has taken over a village stores and moved to Cornwall. For more information visit

Friday 1st July 2022

2004 - 2022

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