Guest blog – growing a greeting cards businessPosted on: Apr 11, 2018
Helen and I first worked together over a year ago, turning her intricate handmade card designs into digital files that she could hand-finish rather than spend hours on each one. Since then we’ve supported each other through craft fair dramas and Paper Personalities has recently hit an incredible milestone – 300 sales on Etsy! Here’s Helen's story…
My first thought on being asked to write a guest blog? Oh my days what am I doing? I have no idea what to write and not to mention how awful my grammar is! Now I wish I’d paid more attention at school.
So here goes…
Who am I and what do I do?
I’ve worked in retail for years, mainly in card and gift shops. Being a creative person, I decided to give a shot at becoming a greetings card designer/publisher.
Wanting to mass-produce a product rather than make everything myself I approached a friend about a graphic designer and was given Michelle’s contact details; and boy am I glad she did! Michelle is amazing, bubbly, friendly and down to earth, within minutes I knew this was going to be a great friendship and work contact to have.
Michelle was able to transform my handmade card designs into a digital/printable format and they were spot on. I am now able to produce a wide variety of printed and handmade greetings cards.
How did I get to where I am now?
I had been in the same job for 9 years, that I thought I loved. I’d become frustrated with the way the business was going and there was no real support for my enthusiasm, so I left. It was the best yet one of the scariest things I’ve done.
I got another job working with enthusiastic people for a big company rather than an independent. This was another leap of faith as I thought I’d never work for a chain store again. How wrong I was! Within 6 months I’d been told I should be a supervisor or an assistant manager due to my presence and motivation.
Hearing this praise gave me the confidence and belief in myself to really push my own business, even though a lot of it is completely out of my comfort zone. I’m now applying for and being approached for various exciting opportunities.
That’s not to say I haven’t had knock backs...
Several agents said they’d like to take on my greetings cards…. then the offers disappeared. Which left me thinking - don’t they like my designs? Do they no longer have faith in my abilities?
With the first agent that took on my cards, I had several months of no orders, then I got several orders, and then it went quiet again. One thing I’ve learnt is it’s not as easy as you think! The greetings card industry is very competitive and I’m currently just a tiny little fish in a mammoth ocean.
Three agents later, I decided not to have another one. I tell myself I simply haven’t found the right agent for my products yet.
Running my own business from home
I love it! But it’s not for everyone. I come across as quite a sociable/ people person when I’m at work in a shop (my part time job) but really I’m quite antisocial and love having my own space and own company, I’ve always been like it.
As a child I used to spend hours in my room and even into teenage years I’d happily spend hours creating things in my own company.
Some people would find it difficult to not have the interaction like you’d have in another work place and I hear of this being a struggle for some people who run their own business from home.
I believe in my products and continue to tell myself that I don’t expect to make any major profit until the business has been running 3-5 years. I still work in a shop part-time, so I have a guaranteed income until my business makes enough for a full income.
I’m in my 2nd year of this journey (I’ve been making cards for 7 years but as a hobby). And the profit is starting to come.