Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Christmas Is Coming.

Whether we like it or not, Christmas does have a habit of coming around quickly, and this means no rest for us greeting card designers. I am currently in the midst of designing new cards for Christmas 2011 to add to my festive collection. 

You may have already seen my 8 card range that has just become available to buy from the shop. Also, it's not too late if you are a retailer to add to your Christmas stock.

When I design I try to look for things to illustrate that are a little unusual. For example, the design above shows all the wires of the fairy lights that we usually try to hide on the tree, but they make a lovely swirly background on this card, and as the designs are all printed onto a gorgeous glistening board, the cards really do shine in the light. 

So if you are buying a card for someone who appreciates things that are a little bit different to the norm, then this range is ideal. All cards are matched with a pearlescent envelope and are left blank inside for your own message.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

If I Wore a Badge.

I don't often wear accessories, only on special occasions or when I am feeling a bit under-adorned. I find it all a bit fiddley and most days I can hardly find time to do anything other than come up with new doodles. You will often hear me mutter to myself if an idea comes to mind and then I quickly scamper about for a scrap of paper before the idea has gone. Beside my computer is a little bundle of notes with a big felting needle sticking through. Ideas all waiting to be turned into greeting cards. However, if I did find the time to add a little something, it would have to be a badge by Lazy Oaf.

Lazy Oaf, an East London based creative label, founded by Gemma Shiel in 2001, is a prime example of a great little business growing from a market stall to 150 stockists worldwide. In 2004 Lazy Oaf opened its first bricks and mortar store in Soho which holds their staple graphic tee's, greeting cards, jewellery and posters.

So, if I did have a badge, it would have to declare that I love drawing, and what could be better than a pencil with a smiley face?

Friday, 17 September 2010

Top Drawer Autumn 2010

Top Drawer has now come to a close and I can happily say that we had a really good show (Mum and I). The funny thing about trade shows is one moment you are rushed off your feet with enquiries and the next the footfall drops which is your opportunity to quickly sneak off for a spot of lunch.

We arrived on Saturday 11th to set up the stand. Already the larger companies were well on their way setting up their displays and they looked great. It is a daunting task when faced with a blank 5 metre wall and it took just over four hours to get everything ready (which is actually nothing compared to others).

This is how I mock up my idea at home. It takes over my bedroom for weeks whilst I make decisions and hand illustrate designs onto the paper.

Seperating each range properly this time made the display much clearer to the visitors who were then able to make decisions about the stock they would like. I thought that I would get into a real flap with my first order but actually I remained calm and was very pleased.

Bit by bit the stand came together and it was apparent that the collection has grown quite a bit since PG Live.

Other exhibitors are always there to lend a hand if you need it. We borrowed this little step ladder as although I am tall I could not quite reach the top.

Sunday brought lots of enquiries and distribution of my catalogue. The response was really positive and there were lots of enthusiastic buyers who were very complimentary about my designs. It is always great to get feedback at the shows, as this often leads to new ideas of where to take my next ranges. I also met my very first sales agent from Chester who had driven all the way down to London that morning to meet me and his other clients. As a greeting card publisher it is so important to have sales agents and I have been on the look out for a few months. However, my new agent had actually found me through the Top Drawer website and was really keen to carry my ranges so he got in touch before the show.

Monday was a great day as I had my first sales. It is a wonderful feeling to bring out an order form as it completes the overall experience of the show. It is great for a total stranger to love the product and want to order right away. You may think that orders take place throughout the whole day but this is simply not the case, at least when you are new anyway. Everyone's experiences of the show differ hugely. Location plays an important role and can affect your footfall and sales, it really is imperative to have a good position where the footfall is constant. I really believe that if a 'buzz' surrounds your stand, other buyers will be instantly attracted.

Here is Mum on our first evening in London. We were staying in a studio (very appropriate) with a kitchenette which is ideal for me. As a Coeliac it is sometimes a real pain to find food in restaurants so this option was marvellous. X-Factor and roast chicken dinner! You couldn't ask for more when you are completely shattered from travelling and setting up all in one day.

My brand new range, 'The Enchanted Collection' has 10 brand new designs coming soon to the website. These went down really well with the buyers and actually stopped people in their tracks which was a great response for a brand new collection.

'Handbags and Gladrags' was very popular with the independent shops which cater for female shoppers. I am so pleased that these did well as well as the 'Love Birds' collection which had a wonderful response including some squeals of delight and laughter. I was so pleased to receive a warm response to these cards as they really show my humourous style. My greeting cards seem to make people stop and look and then they cause a second wave of amusement.

I also had the opportunity to meet the key buyer I have talked about a lot lately, which was fantastic. My legs did go to jelly. It was like meeting the Queen or Elvis but even better than that!

So here is the completed Fay's Studio stand (E150a)! I think you'll agree that it is looking a lot fuller than the previous show as I am really getting into designing new ranges.

Here is a detail of my stand where I stated my Product GB and Eco-Trail status at the show. I met buyers from eco-shops keen to know more about the materials used and other buyers were impressed by the quality of the products.

I also had enquiries from florists, gift shops, clothes shops, boutiques, fine art publishers, overeseas distributors, online shops, bookshops, independents and highstreet chain stores etc.

The next few weeks and months are going to be extremely busy for the business. I am always careful not to take on too much at one time as it is true that businesses can crumble under pressure, but I have a lot of support around me offering help should I need it. I am already considering Spring Fair at the NEC in Birmingham as my next show which takes place February 6th-10th 2011. This will be a key Christmas buying time as many companies plan well in advance, much like the fashion industry. I have lots of new Christmas designs to bring out alongside those already available on the website. You can never have too much choice at Christmas so I have lots of ideas to put onto paper.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Just keep chasing paper.

If you are a follower of my tweets you will have seen me lately expressing my joy about a recent order placed by Paperchase. I thought I would tell you how it got to that stage and how I could have missed the opportunity without pushing myself.

Every year the greeting card industry holds awards to celebrate the best card ranges, gift wrap, calendars, licensed products, honourary achievements, and promising designers. In July I was very busy as it wasn't too long after my first trade show, so I was following up contacts and I really didn't think I would find the time to enter any awards. However, I really pushed myself to enter a couple of my ranges to the awards and who should be on the judging panel at these awards, but the head buyer and assistant buyer of Paperchase!

It wasn't too long before I was opening an email, which I thought was just a joke from a very unkind friend just winding me up, asking for my catalogue. After rubbing my eyes thoroughly several times and a few pinches I put together my samples and literally ran to the post office. The following news was very very exciting and in the past few weeks I have been preparing my very first order for this awesome company.

I still can't quite believe that at the start of next year a selection of my greeting cards will be sitting on the shelves of the two Paperchase flagship stores, Tottenham Court Road, London and St. Mary's Gate, Manchester.
Their website is having an exciting relaunch next week, here is the link if you would like to take a look. www.paperchase.co.uk

It just goes to show that luck really does come when preparation meets opportunity.
I will probably take a trip to London/Manchester myself just to believe it has really happened.

Product GB and the Eco-Trail

As you may know, I do everything I can to make my greeting cards out of FSC certified board and paper and all packaging is 100% biodegradable. I wouldn't want to create products that harm the environment and that's why I have sourced these materials in the knowledge that although I am now part of a paper filled industry, I am not doing any damage by ensuring I use responsibly sourced materials and using only UK based printers and packaging companies. That said, Fay's Studio has been accepted onto the Product GB and Eco-Trail at Top Drawer and I was delighted to have my 'You Are My Cup of Tea' greeting card featured in The Essential Guide to Top Drawer.

I was really pleased to be selected out of many the many designers exhibiting at the show and I hope this helps to further demonstrate my work ethic.

'You Are My Cup of Tea' is in the bottom right hand corner of the guide below.

'You Are My Cup of Tea' - Product Code: FS12
Available at www.faysstudio.com

'A Prince-ly Celebration'.

This month I had a small feature in the Progressive Greetings Worldwide Magazine. I wrote to the editor to tell them of The Prince's Trust Business Enterprise Award I have been shortlisted for and they were more than happy to feature it in the magazine. It is always nice to have something written about my achievements as it is further reward for the hard work that goes on behind the scenes of running a business and it also draws more attention to the Trust which they so deserve. It is just as rewarding for them when businesses they support are achieving what they sought out to do.

My new Christmas range is shown in the accompanying photograph which I hope will go down a snow storm at Top Drawer in just a few days time. They will be available on my website almost as soon as I arrive home from Top Drawer, as it surprising how quickly Christmas comes round especially if you have family and friends abroad that you need to send to.

I already have orders coming in for my Christmas range which is really great! I am always really happy to see my cards being enjoyed by the sender and receiver. It would be great to have a place where a receiver could post a photo of themselves with their Fay's Studio card, and to see how far they reach. Perhaps I could set up this function on my twitter account, it would be quite fun!

If you have bought or received a Fay's Studio card, maybe you could start the trend by sending a photo of yourself and card and a little about the special occasion and your location to me at mail@faysstudio.com. Then I will feature you here or twitter.

A break from the norm.

I just have a little time to share with you the break I took with my boyfriend a few weeks ago in Mevagissey, Cornwall. When we took our first holiday together I discovered a lovely little place, very unspoilt, called Polperro. It rained for most of the week, however it just added to the fun of dashing between showers into the local restaurants and shops. On this break, from what has been an incredibly busy time for the business, again I wanted to find somewhere to go that was equally as unique that we would remember for many years. I used google earth to zoom in on the streets so I felt like I already knew the place before we arrived. 

Mevagissey, allbeit very small, has many great little gift shops, lots of independents that thrive on the popularity of the town. It was heaving with people when we arrived, the narrow streets nearly impassable in a car, but the harbour town was simply beautiful. I really warmed to this booming working harbour, and we enjoyed the catches of the day at the harbourside fish restaurant which was very quirky. I have never eaten so many mussels and also fudge of many flavour from the centre of town. Our stay was properly Cornish, as on the news the next evening we heard about a record breaking Cornish pasty being made over in Fowey. It weighed a tonne and was 1.4m wide.

On our final day we visited my favourite Cornish town, Fowey. This is another thriving place made even busier during our visit because of the regatta taking place that weekend. A heavy sea mist had set in over night and so many of the bright colours you associate with all the boats, life jackets and buoys was dampened, but this did not take away from the lovely time we had. We found another restaurant serving mussels so I had a bowlful and sat back and people watched until it was souvenir shopping time. I went away with a gorgeous china cup, hand painted in egg shell blue with seagulls and the name of the town. An ideal keepsake. We then had a five hour journey back home due to the holiday traffic and a caravan with a burst tyre causing tail backs. It should have only taken a few hours, but still, it made the holiday last longer!


I am wondering if we might take our next British holiday in Rye, I have already been round on street maps and it looks lovely, especially the sandy beach!

But I am always torn when it comes to deciding, as my heart belongs in Kernow, like this little fellow.