Thursday, 24 June 2010

Looking for agents.

Each of my designs starts out as a line drawing in black ink. I have used fine Edding pens for at least ten years as they give me the best results.

I always used to be heavily criticised for using biro to draw but I really enjoy working with any black ink and knowing that I am under pressure to not make mistakes.

Many of my designs work well in black in white and sometimes I am a little reluctant to add colour. Yet in order to stand out on the crowded shelves in a competitive industry, I think it is wise to add a bit of colour or at least a little sparkle.

Here are some of my hand illustrations, showing how I work. Each drawing can take up to a day to complete because of the detail that goes into it, and then adding colour on the computer by hand can take another two or three days.

It is hard work to come up with a whole range working at this rate and it often leaves me with little time to do other things like selling.

I first started out finding new stockists by hiking around large cities like Bath and Bristol by foot with just my little trolley in tow. It was a great way to meet retailers and represent my business (and to lose weight) however it would be lovely to be able to concentrate on designing, because that is what I do after all.

I am currently looking for a team of sales agents as this would really help me to produce many more designs, develop new products and of course reach out to retailers far far away.

If you have any contacts with agents in the greetings industry and would be happy to help me it would be great to hear from you!

I like to draw...a lot!

Sometimes I just doodle for the fun of it. I always have new ideas for card designs, most of which get printed, but some I decide to keep and develop at a later date. I have to ask myself if the design is commercial, will it work as a greeting card. It doesn't hurt to be a bit ruthless with your own work at times. That is not to say that they won't appear as prints in the future because I always try to create work that can be framed and appreciated as art, especially as some of my designs are a bit unusual.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Developing the business.

Since exhibiting at Progressive Greetings Live in May a lot has been happening at Fay's Studio. Firstly I have been very busy working on a freelance illustration project with a great lifestyle photographer, more of which you will find out about soon. I have also been developing my greeting cards in order to move forward with the business. 

PG Live gave me the opportunity to meet a new paper and board supplier and a different printing company that will be able to offer me better service for what is a small home based business. It is the type of support I need as a small publisher and it is a very exciting time for the product. I cannot wait to see them on the shop shelves, all shiny and new. 

Firstly the print quality has improved, I am still having my designs printed digitally but there is a noticable difference, to me anyway. A few weeks ago I was like a child in a sweet shop when a rep from a paper company came to visit me and brought with her lots of samples for me to look through. The choice of board was endless and I was glad to have expert guidance for my new products. I have chosen some wonderful finishes for my greeting cards, some matt, some silkweave embossed and the Christmas range is going to sparkle and shine!

To the left: Miniature samples that arrived last week.

I have also had the enjoyable task of selecting different envelopes to match my cards, so I now have a wonderful choice of colours, pearlescents and embossed white envelopes. Nobody buys a card for the envelope it is paired with, but it really makes a difference in framing the card on the shelf and I think adds an extra little bit of luxury to the product. I have also been working on the layout of the back of the card making it easy for customers to read about the product and the materials used to make it.

I am continuing to source FSC accredited papers and boards, envelopes included, but I have also most importantly moved on from cellophane bags and all greeting cards will now be wrapped in 100% biodegradable cornstarch bags, meaning that the products are even more environmentally friendly. I am proud to develop products using only British suppliers. That's good news for everyone!

I should have the new products packed and ready for my lovely stockists and waiting customers in the next few weeks, in the meantime I won't be taking much of a breather but working on new designs I have in mind and sorting out the admin I have waiting for me. I am also planning my next trade show appearance, so keep an eye out for the announcement!

Don't worry if you find my Folksy shop 'Funny Side Up' closed in the next few weeks as I will updating it with new products very soon.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Progressive Greetings Live 2010

On May 25-26th Fay's Studio was in Islington, London taking part in its very first trade show. It was a difficult decision taking the plunge into such a large and fairly expensive adventure for my business but I would recommend it to anyone.

          Fay's Studio stand showing the current greeting card ranges and new designs yet to be printed.

If you came to visit the show you may have met my wonderful Mum who helped with every last ribbon and sticky foam tab and she was great with the customers! Needless to say we were exhausted just after the set up as we had travelled by train with all of our equipment. It was a hard task but that isn't to say we wouldn't do it again because it was so easy to take down at the end of the show.

                                        This is me looking slightly tired at the end of the first day.

It took around 6 hours to set up the stand and by 8pm on the Monday we were dehydrated and very hungry, but very pleased with the stand which had made the transition from my bedroom wall to The Business Design Centre. I have to say I was quite proud of myself, but still feeling incredibly nervous about the next day.

Tuesday was a very mixed day, chatting with the standholders nearby and getting to know them and their products. I met distributors from America, Japan and The Netherlands which was a good start to the show and Wednesday brought many more opportunities and contacts in the UK. I met so many people from a variety of businesses who really loved my designs, it was really encouraging that my designs struck a chord with many different retailers.

I have come away from the show exhausted but extremely pleased to have taken part, and optimistic for the future of the business. I am already looking into different paper and board suppliers and a whole new printing company for my products just to meet the demands of my customers. I hope to get even more green too, which will really benefit the environment and also please many customers who enquired about packaging.
I can't give away too much at the moment but I will no doubt have more to say in the near future about the next steps for me and my designs.

I am already raring to go with new designs sketched out this week, and getting excited about meeting a rep from a paper company to decide on the best surfaces and finishes for my products. So keep a look out for the new products. It's a really exciting time!