Wednesday, 16 March 2011

School Assembly.

It is quite a while since I attended a school assembly, but last Thursday I woke at the crack of dawn to travel to a school in Calne, Wiltshire, an hour and a half train journey from home, to speak at a school assembly about my experience of the business enterprise programme at the Prince's Trust.

The boarding school, for girls aged 11-18, is hoping to raise lots of money for the charity over the next year, and I may be further involved with their fund raising in the months to come.
At the assembly, there were 300 girls very quietly listening to my story. It was quite difficult to throw my voice across the room, there was a microphone available but I thought that may only amplify my nerves.

The Prince's Trust have since told me that the school were incredibly enthusiastic after the assembly and the pupils can't wait to get started on their own business ideas to raise funds for the business enterprise programme. I might soon be going back to the school to help the girls with their business ideas, which will be a fantastic experience.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

International Women's Day.

Yesterday, my role as a Young Ambassador for the Prince's Trust took me to the Bristol office of Ernst & Young, to mark the 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day. I was invited to speak as an 'Inspirational Woman' who had been through the Prince's Trust Business Enterprise programme.

Ernst & Young have recently raised thousands of pounds for the Prince's Trust when they got involved with the 'Million Makers' scheme that runs across the country. They too have their own Entrepreneurial Winning Women Programme to help accelerate the growth of women-owned businesses, and each year do something special to mark the occasion.

I always feel nervous before speaking to groups, but everyone was really friendly and keen to find out more about me and my business. As they had invested a lot of their time, energy and money into supporting the Prince's Trust, they had real enthusiasm, and were keen to ask me lots of questions. It was great to be an example of success nurtured through the Business Enterprise programme, and to show that the Prince's Trust are such an important charity to raise funds for.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Print & Pattern Blogspot.

On the 14th February my work featured on the Print & Pattern Blogspot. I had no idea I was going to feature on that particular day, and I saw my website hits quadruple!

I am a massive follower of the blog and bought the first 'Bowie Style' book put together by the author. It's one of my all time favourite design books, and I am looking forward to the release of the second issue. You never know I might even appear in the book myself one day.

It's an achievement to appear on this blog as the author has a great eye for wonderful design, and if you follow the blog you will know that it is updated nearly every day with something new and exciting. To be amongst that was really great!


Saturday, 5 March 2011

New childrens card range.

When I met up again with the lovely Lisa Fellows yesterday over coffee, we both agreed that business can sometimes feel like 80% business and only 20% design. This couldn't be more true, and for a creative person this is incredibly frustrating.
I am always trying to 'make time' and just find a few hours here and there to really get into a rhythm with new design ranges.

With a new baby arriving in our family soon (not mine before you ask) I thought it would be the perfect time to create a childrens range. I really got into the swing of things very quickly and before I knew it I had designs covering ages 1-6 for girls and boys.
Illustrating a new children's range of greeting cards.

I have a very sneaky peek for you here, a design in it's very early stages. The final articles will follow soon, with lots of wonderful bright colours. Just right for children.

Boxed in.

Just recently I have been taking in deliveries of quite a few boxes of cards and envelopes ready to be packed by hand and sent out to customers. Here is an example of 3000 cards that had to be prepared for one of my customers who have come back with new orders. It's great to receive repeat business, and keeps me incredibly busy. An arrival like this can be daunting, so I have to manage my time very well.

Gradually business is growing, and at a steady rate that I can cope with. I am still learning about the industry all the time. I have just registered for barcodes so that my products can be ordered in larger volumes and are ready for export.
All packed and ready to go - 3000 hand packed cards!

Soon I will be sending lots of samples to an overseas distributor who I met at Spring Fair. This is an incredibly exciting time as I wouldn't have dreamt I'd be at this stage with my products so early on. I'm certainly getting through a few rolls of tape now.

Spring is here!

I have been a while in reporting my time at Spring Fair International, and so if you have been waiting for news I am sorry to have kept you.
My jaw dropped when we arrived at the empty greetings and stationery hall of the Birmingham NEC. I hadn't realised that the stand would be open ended and so the plan for my stand wasn't going to work. To cut a very long and rather stressful story short, we managed to acquire a cancelled stand opposite. We got some extra lighting rigged in and hey presto I had room for my new products and a whole extra stand. Every cloud.....

For those not familiar with trade shows, the halls are massive. This is just an example of how long and wide any one of the halls can be, and in fact even larger as we were situated part way down the hall. We were lucky to have a really friendly bunch of exhibitors surrounding us, and everyone was so kind and helpful. Plus, we were very close to a coffee shop, vital for those long hours of trading.

My helper again at the show was my Mum, who knows the business inside and out. She has got incredibly good at taking orders and dealing with queries, so I feel confident in leaving her on the stand should I need to dash off. We took it in turns to alternate between stands, sometimes just to stretch our legs and have a different view of the hall, but it seemed to work well.

At Spring Fair I launched a brand new range of stationery sets that I have been working on for a few months. The range 'Dilly & Eric' was inspired by some owl characters I drew previously for a greeting card and I thought they would work well for notelets. The sets went well at the show so I hope to make them available in the online shop very soon.

The show was a huge success, with orders taken at the show, and after. I have also started to work with a distributor in New Zealand (more on that soon). I made lots of new industry contacts and had a nice chat with existing customers too. Stock has been sent out to some lovely new stockists. It's been non-stop for a month!
I have already registered my interest for a stand in 2012, but my next show will be Harrogate Home & Gift in July.