Cards by Lauren Goodland
In a competitive industry such as greeting cards, insights from fellow designers can be super helpful in getting your business started, or even ahead. We spoke with three of our own customers who’ve been busy creating cards, and here are their words of wisdom…
What was the biggest challenge for you in starting your greeting card business?
Natalie Worsem, Pencil Pusher: “I’m pretty new to the greeting card business having only left my full-time job during December 2016. Being at the initial stages of working as a freelancer alongside designing my own range of paper goods can mean it's tough balancing production costs on a start-up budget as I never want to compromise on quality so sourcing great printers to work with has been really important. It was also a little tricky to navigate my deadlines in terms of designing, production and working to a wholesale buyers calendar but once I had put a yearly design schedule for myself in place I felt more confident and organised!”
Lauren Goodland, Dork Features: “The biggest challenge is definitely time. I work full-time as a graphic designer so any card business stuff happens at night. Some weeks I’ll do very little and some weeks I’ll be on a roll, it all depends how tired I am and if there are any new shows on Netflix that can distract me! Branding yourself is also a nightmare! I don't think I’ll ever be certain of what I want from my brand, how to achieve it or where I'm heading in the future!
Matt Dickinson: “Being a newcomer to the world of greeting card design, after branching out from wedding photography, I think my self-confidence was my biggest hurdle. I felt like a bit of an imposter to be honest. Will my designs be any good? Will people want to buy them? Once you have your first happy customer though that feeling subsides, allowing you to concentrate on the task at hand.”
Cards by Natalie Worsem
And what does your business look like right now?
Natalie: “Over the past nine months I've spent some time designing three stationery ranges which include notebooks, greetings cards, gift wrap, art prints and temporary tattoo designs. It’s been an exciting time seeing my designs progress from concept through to production and although it’s still just me producing the illustrations I couldn’t have got to where I am now if it wasn’t for the art direction and support of my partner who also happens to be graphic designer. Reaching out to my first few stockists has been really encouraging, and I’ve also really enjoyed trading at markets. My first experience of trading during Christmas time at the Made in Bristol Gift Fare will be a nice way to round off the year!”
Lauren: “It's just me on my lonesome - doing my inky thing. My cards are my 'bit on the side' as I like to call them, so I'm fine with that! It's good to have my publisher Whale and Bird on board and thanks to their hard work I've been lucky enough to get my cards in two of my favourite shops - Scribbler and Paperchase. Paperchase especially has always been a dream of mine even before I knew I could design cards, so it's all a bit surreal! I have a spare room that I’ve kind of taken over as mine - my boyfriend doesn't really get a say! That's my little office space but as we live in a rented house and my work is inky I'm always terrified I'll spill my pot of ink!”
Matt: “My entry into the world of card design began around 12 months ago, and I create cards, invitations and other print work alongside my photography business which allows me to use my photography work in my designs. All my designs are custom designed for each client which has allowed me to create a broad range of work which all looks different aesthetically. It’s just myself that produces the card designs and I produce work as one off print runs for my clients. I hope to produce work in the future that can be sold in a commercial environment in larger quantities.”
By Matt Dickinson
What one piece of advice would you give to those looking at designing greeting cards professionally?
Natalie: “Taking the time to research and having a clear understanding of who you want to appeal to is really important in the early stages. Some useful advice I’ve been given is to make sure your overall range works well when presented as a whole, especially if you are exhibiting at trade shows. A cohesive collection will really make an impression and attract the right kind of stockists for you. Planning ahead and working to a buyer’s calendar is also vital, not only to give yourself enough time for design and production but also in terms of marketing your designs. Most importantly, carry forward the ideas that inspire you as opposed to following trends. The market is very saturated so if you want customers to connect with your product then you have to love what you are putting out there yourself."
Lauren: “Do one thing and do it well. Sometimes it can be tempting to create something a bit different (I've fallen into this trap!). This is good if you want to make lots of money and have a load of variety, but I think brand-wise it's good for your products to work together and have a specific style - for me this can vary from the bright colours used on my cards to inky lettering, but most importantly just the random stuff that comes from my head!”
Matt: “My advice would be, let your ideas be the driving force behind what you do. Just aim to make great work and focus on that. The Twitter followers and Facebook likes will naturally soon follow, not to mention your client base. Also don’t be scared to be different. If your work is unique it gives you a USP that will make your work stand out in what can be a crowded marketplace. Be bold and uncompromising in your designs, success will be sure follow.”
What do you think of our customers and their advice? Leave some of your own pearls of wisdom on designing greeting cards and the industry by commenting below!