Monday, 24 January 2011

The mad dash to Paperchase!

As many of you may already know, Paperchase have started stocking a selection of my Valentine's Day cards in their Tottenham Court Road, London and St. Mary's Gate, Manchester stores. As London is a little closer to home I decided to go and visit the store with my Mum, Dad and boyfriend on Saturday.

We took a coach to Victoria for a comfortable and stress-free journey, and since we had all got out of bed very early that morning, most of us had a little nap on the way there. The tubes were a nightmare on the Saturday so we taxied through London, and it was really nice to go past Buckingham Palace, Marble Arch and Leicester Square, a very small bit of sight seeing before the exciting event.

We had a very chatty driver who claimed to have had the likes of David Cameron, Ann Widdecombe, Stephen Fry and Richard Branson in the back of his cab, and he was very amused by our Gloucestershire accents.

Our trip was also a chance for me to meet and catch up with one of my closest friends, so it was an all round lovely day.
A first glimpse at the store to find my greeting cards.

I was really pleased to find my cards under the designated section for Valentine's Day and a whole line of a shelf with my cards on. It was a slightly strange feeling to know that these have come all the way from my tiny Studio in Cam into this huge store!

Here I am with a big smile, having found my cards on the 4th shelf.

To think that two years ago this was all just a pipe dream. I have come a long way since then. Some of this has been down to just being in the right place at the right time, but I have to also say that it's been a lot of hard work, paper cuts, sweat and tears. But so worth it when you get results like this!

So, if you're near the store anythime soon, please pop in and have a look and maybe do a little shopping too.

'I Walked and I Walked' for Stella Bombella and thanks also go to Becky for her photos too.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Photos from Celebrate Success.

Yesterday I was sent some more photos of the Celebrate Success Awards in November, I thought I would share them with you.

The Bristol Old Vic - We are sitting in the front row on the right.
Phillipa Forrester presenting the ceremony.

Some of the fantastic entertainment for the evening was 'Boxed' a vocal orchestra, who were truly amazing. My boyfriend and I went to watch them again the weekend after, seeing as they were so impressive. They perform hits from different decades using only their voice as an instrument. Here is a link to their website. They are highly recommended, very talented and funny. 
Collecting my certificate alongside category winner Leanne Townsend, and other finalist Robbie Winstone.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Paperchase store snaps.

Today the lovely Becki Button took a store snap of my greeting cards for Valentine's Day. Thank you Becki!

These are now stocked in Paperchase, on Tottenham Court Road, London and St. Mary's Gate, Manchester.

I knew that my greeting cards would be in store this week, so I am thrilled to see them here. For the full photo click here.

I am off to London next Saturday to have a look myself. I'm hoping there will still be some remaining for me, my boyfriend and Mum and Dad to see, as we are all really excited about it!

More photos to follow soon!

Friday, 7 January 2011

Spring Fair Preparations.

As my last post was a bit text heavy, I thought I would let you see my progress on display designs for Spring Fair. I am more nervous about this show than any of the others I have done, as it is just so much bigger and visitor numbers are a lot higher. 

Hand drawing and painting onto the display.
Adding gems for a little sparkle. 
Deciding on the layout of my new greeting cards for men.
12 new glistening Christmas designs added to the range.

Fingers crossed that the new designs will be well-loved at the show. Come and visit Fay's Studio stand 3R56 to see all of the collections available, including some exciting new stationery!

Gloucestershire Gazette Feature.

Already this year I have been fortunate enough to be featured in our local Gazette. Out of the blue, the Prince's Trust contacted me to ask if I would like to feature in the paper and supply my 'case study' to the reporter. It was a fantastic opportunity to get more local interest in the business and to also publicise the work of the charity and how they have helped me.

I am never that keen to talk about spells of illness I have had, but without the background story it doesn't really highlight what is possible with a bit of hard work, and how difficult the past few years have been. Friends who weren't aware of the article were surpirsed to see me in the paper, and were the first to say well done.

'Greetings Today Magazine' are also going to run a feature on me and my products which should be out in February. They spotted me in the Gazette and were on the phone before I even knew the story had been printed.

Best of all I didn't have to go for a photo shoot, which I would have hated. Instead, I sent in a photo of me at my first trade show, much more fitting.

Here is the article:-

Young card designer turns life around with help of Prince's Trust
11:25am Wednesday 5th January 2011

A CARD designer has spoken of how the Prince’s Trust helped her out of a low point in her life through access to support and work. 

Fay Martin, from Cam, runs a successful greeting card business selling her own designs online and in top UK retailers. 

But just two years ago Fay, 27, was unemployed and was uncertain and anxious about her future.
Having studied illustration at university and finding work as a visual merchandiser in her early 20s she developed symptoms of a chronic illness, similar to Crohn's disease, which made it difficult for her to hold down a full time job. 

She had to leave her job when her symptoms, such as extreme tiredness and stomach pain, got particularly bad. 

However Fay did not want to be out of work so started applying for new jobs, but did not receive a single offer which started to knock her confidence. 

"I got so many rejections and after a while I started to feel worthless. It was depressing that, despite having a good degree, I couldn’t even get a simple day job," said Fay. 

As time went on, Fay started to feel increasingly anxious, and her self-esteem hit rock bottom.
She said: "When you’re at home all day, you have no reason to go out and meet people. You get bored and depressed and it really affects you mentally." 

Fay sought help from her local Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB), who put her in touch with Business Link, which in turn suggested she enroll on The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme.
The leading youth charity offers mentoring and financial support to young people who want to set up their own businesses. 

Fay dreamt of using her illustration skills to set up her own greetings cards business, and received practical support from a Prince’s Trust mentor, as well as funding to cover start-up costs.
Running her own business has meant that Fay can work at her own pace, and she is better able to manage her illness. 

Today, her company, Fay’s Studio, is proving a huge success, and her designs are stocked in one of the UK’s top card retailers. 

Fay said: "The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme gave me the practical advice and self-confidence I needed to set up my own business. I am so glad that I can now fulfil my career aspirations and I’m really excited about the future." 

Last year, The Prince’s Trust supported more than 44,000 disadvantaged young people, building their skills, confidence and motivation. More than three in four moved into work, education or training. For more information call 0800 842 842 or visit

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Happy New Year!

It's a brand new year and what would be better than to sum up 2010 in this post. Needless to say it has been very eventful, embarking on my first ever trade show and following it up with a second, an award nomination, brand new customers and a start to a team of sales agents covering the UK.

Progressive Greetings Live was a two day show which gave me an insight into trade shows. Although for me it was a quiet show I met lots of new contacts within the industry that were all happy to help me source new materials and suppliers. It was a steep learning curve that was money well spent.

I turned 27 in August. It was good to look back over the past 15 months to see how far the business had come and to enjoy some cake in celebration.

I also had a lovely break in Mevagissey, time away from the heavy demands of the business before embarking on the second trade show of the year, Top Drawer Autumn.

My products changed considerably last year as I realised that there was a market for environmentally friendly products. Being part of the eco-trail at Top Drawer drew in more customers looking for responsibly sourced products.

I worked hard on launching lots of new designs which now stand at nearly 100 greeting card designs and at the end of 2010 I started working on new stationery ideas to release this year.

I now have three sales agents who work in the North East, North West and West Midlands. I am really happy to have them on board as they are vital for expanding the business.

Last year also saw me heavily involved with the Prince's Trust who have supported me over the past two years. In recent posts I have talked about my first event as a Young Ambassador and also my nomination for the South West Prince's Trust Business Enterprise Award.

Pictured below - my parents and I at the award ceremony held in Bristol in November.

Although 2010 was a busy year, 2011 promisies to be even more hectic. I will be exhibiting at Spring Fair International in February and Harrogate Home & Gift in July. I am even hoping to begin exporting my products, so there is lots in the pipeline. It has been a tough year and also financially a huge commitment, no one should embark on this route if they think it is going to be easy. I have had a lot of backing and support from many sources, but hopefully this year will see increased popularity of my products and new adventures along the way.

The most exciting news of 2010 has to be my first order from Paperchase. When their enquiry appeared in my inbox I thought it was spam or a joke, but in reality a selection of my cards are going to be on sale for Valentine's Day in the Tottenham Court Road, London and St. Mary's Gate, Manchester stores in the next couple of weeks.

 I wish everyone a really happy 2011, and lots of luck with your creative business.

x Fay