With many businesses across the UK facing tough challenges at the moment, we reached out to seasoned creative Joanne McGaffin. Jo spoke to us openly about having to adapt her business priorities, and also shared how she is harnessing her social community with creative initiatives to support the NHS. Read on to find out more!
Jo – hi! Can you tell us a bit more about your business and how you got set up?
Jolie Carte started towards the end of 2017 as a one woman band with a passion for stationery! From a young age, I had always handmade my own Birthday Cards, Mother’s Day cards and Christmas cards for friends and family. It wasn’t until I was asked to create some baptism invitations and 30th birthday invitations for friends that I considered taking my hobby that step further.
Before long I was designing wedding suites and occasion invitations, as well as evolving my style and crafting my own brand. I created my own logo and quickly taught myself to develop and maintain my website and e-commerce platform, whilst introducing my work to the world of Instagram and Facebook.
I now design bespoke and custom wedding stationery suites, Save the Date and announcement cards, Greeting Cards and invitations for all occasions. Also, I design business branding packages, Business Stationery, personalised prints and work on a number of bespoke projects.
How do you go about selecting your product range?
Having come from a professional background of fine art combined with graphic design, I spend a lot of time researching trends and styles, as well as culturally relevant topics. I like my designs to reflect this but to also have a handmade feel. Whether this be hand painted, hand drawn or hand lettered.
How is your business coping during this turbulent time?
Like for many businesses at the moment, it is definitely a worrying and uncertain time. I have had a handful of clients sadly have to postpone their weddings until the dust settles, which of course leaves things a little up in the air for suppliers, like myself, securing work. Things are a little slow, but here’s hoping we all bounce back soon!
I have, however, used this time to focus my energy on other things, and tried to turn the extra time at home into something positive. It has been a great time to give new designs and product ranges some attention, as well as tackling admin and various other things that ordinarily, I may not have had the time for. It’s a great time to start something new!
You’re currently organising an Instagram NHS raffle, can you tell us a bit more about this creative initiative?
A fellow creative and friend of mine, Jodie (of Jodie Fern Jewellery) suggested that in this worrying time we do something to support the amazing NHS. Jodie and myself, like so many small businesses, have found that the current situation has forced us to pause on the usual day-to-day runnings of our businesses and thus, created the perfect time to focus on giving back instead.
We wanted to do something for those who are working tirelessly on the front line at this critical time and made the decision to raise money in aid of the South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, but more specifically, the Covid Staff and Wellbeing Appeal. The appeal launched to sustain NHS staff and raise morale within the community as well as the hospitals. Furthermore it provides the staff with hot drinks, toiletries, food and much more.
Jodie and myself pitched the idea of the fundraiser to local makers and businesses in the area, in the aim of gathering prizes that could be up for grabs as part of a raffle. We were absolutely blown away with the generosity! It is an uncertain time for many businesses, but people did not hold back in wanting to support the cause and we received some amazing prizes: from make-up and personal training sessions to sweet treats and gorgeous jewellery, gin distillery tours, workshop vouchers, Art Prints and meals at some great local spots to name just a few! I have also designed notebooks – kindly printed by Printed.com as another generous donation!
We have a Just Giving fundraising page where people can make a donation, and in return enter the raffle which will be drawn on Easter Sunday. In just over a week we have already raised over £3,000!
What advice would you give to other small businesses hoping to do their own creative initiatives and fundraisers for the NHS?
Make the most of your skills! As a graphic designer, I was able to create a post to advertise the raffle as well as design one of the prizes up for grabs. Talk and connect with others; whether this is in the same industry or a different one – everyone has something unique to bring to the table and a handful of people from different backgrounds could really do something amazing!
Research and seek out local talent that may be able to help fundraise, support, advise or advertise, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everyone needs supporting, and at this particularly difficult time it is important to remind ourselves and one another that any gesture, however small, can go a long way.
Instagram and Facebook have been great platforms for us and have allowed us to reach corners of the community that we might not have reached without them. Tag who you can and when you can in stories, posts and photos – a story share can go a long way!
Where do you get your design inspiration?
Instagram is a great platform for design inspiration! There are so many talented makers, creatives and business owners with original content and beautiful feeds. I am a sucker for an Instagram grid with a well-coordinated colour palette, and have spent time studying colour theory and branding in the past. Getting out and about locally or overseas can do wonders for a creative slump too!
Involving myself in other crafts and learning new skills has also been a positive way to develop my own skill set and inspire me in my own work. Last year I took a modern calligraphy workshop and learnt new ways of lettering that I now incorporate into my Christmas card ranges. Last month I took a spring bouquet flower arranging class with my mum in a lovely Cotswolds location that was a great new outlet for my creativity. I also plan to use this time to try some other crafts to incorporate into my new Greeting Card designs.
What does a typical day in the studio look like for you?
There hasn’t been two Jolie Carte days the same as of yet! Some days I focus on researching and creating mood boards for couples looking for wedding stationery inspiration or creating bespoke wedding suites with all the trimmings. Other days could be spent hand painting a Pet Portrait, illustrating a christening venue, tweaking my website or even simply packaging orders and dashing to the Post Office!
What’s been your greatest success so far as a stationer?
I don’t think I could pin point this to one thing! There are several things over the past 2-3 years that have been highlights on this stationery journey! I have had stands at both the National Wedding Show and Progressive Greetings Live since starting out, which have been exciting platforms to get my designs out into the world. I have an increased online presence which has allowed my work to be seen and shared, as well as having had my greetings cards stocked on shelves of independent shops around the UK.
A highlight for me was recently speaking at an all women event in my local area. Cloud Femme was created to bring local women of Warwickshire together to share stories of inspiration as part of an inclusive community that celebrates girl power. Having never been much of a public speaker, talking about myself and the Jolie Carte journey was a huge thing to overcome, but I was delighted by the support of these amazing women and the power of social media! It was a great opportunity to share my story and hopefully inspire others.
How did you discover Printed.com?
A former colleague actually recommended Printed.com to me a few years back and I haven’t printed anywhere else since! I now print a whole range of products; Greeting cards, Wedding Stationery, Envelope Liners and Posters, as well as Stickers, Business Cards and Belly Bands as part of my branded stationery.
How can people shop from you and find out more?
The Jolie Carte website is the main port of call for sales and enquiries. I spend a lot of time on Instagram sharing content and feeling inspired, and am also active on Etsy and Facebook for updates on my business, current news and information on offers and sales.
Are you working on any creative initiatives or fundraisers to support your local community or NHS? Get in touch and tell us!