Despite the rise of digital, the humble greeting card is still very much thriving. We spoke with Greeting Card Association CEO Sharon Little about why you can’t go wrong with giving a greeting card, how designers can break into the industry and what card trends she’s been keeping her eye on.
Firstly, we love the new GCA winning Tagline, ‘Send a card, deliver a smile’. Why do you think that tagline stood out against the others?
“We had a huge number of taglines submitted to us from retailers, publishers and associates, and an amazing response in voting for the winning entry at our ‘GCA Tagline Challenge Polling Station’ at PG Live the day before the general election. The winning tagline stood out because it shows how simply giving something to someone can be so powerful. It’s a lovely experience sending and receiving real cards compared to virtually – cards are tangible.”
With the rise of social media and technology, why are greeting cards still thriving?
“People treasure real, personal touches. Social media is about reaching as many people as possible, but greeting cards are all about reaching that one particular person, on an intimate level. I feel privileged to work in an industry that spreads so much happiness. We’re such a great nation of card senders in the UK – sending more cards per person than any other country. Greeting cards are the simplest of products, effectively a piece of card with print on one side and handwriting on the other, but are such a powerful way of communicating. When you choose a card, you’re not thinking of yourself, you’re thinking of the recipient and how your card will touch them. Handwriting is also treasured as it shows the personality and mood of the person writing. There’s nothing better than recognising someone’s handwriting when you receive a card.”
What advice would you give to budding card designers on getting their name and work out there?
“Firstly I’d recommend having a look at our website, as the GCA has lots of free resources in the publisher’s resource area, with a podcast for start-up businesses and a YouTube channel with really inspiring industry speakers at our seminars and AGMs, including Hannah Dale of Wrendale Designs who only started her business four years ago and is now worth over £3million.
“The Ladder Club is a helpful not for profit which runs one day seminars packed full of information on the greeting card industry and how to get started as a small greeting card publisher. And of course another recommendation would be to visit lots and lots of trade fairs. When starting out, don’t exhibit immediately but simply look round them all to find your feet. In our publisher resource we have a list of trade fairs which are free visit, you just need to register in advance.”
What benefits do GCA members get? Can you tell us about events, discounts or anything that would really appeal to card designers?
“We are the contact hub for the greeting card industry. All our members have a full page in our Members’ Directory where they can add images, links to their social media pages and websites – all of which is great for SEO. We also offer financial benefits to members such as discounts at trade fairs such as Progressive Greetings Live and Spring Fair. A large part of my role as CEO of the GCA is helping individual member publishers and I really pride myself on having a personal relationship with every one of them. All members have a hot line direct to me! The greeting card industry is such a friendly industry and we offer so much help to people wanting to come into the fold and start their business. It really is an amazing community.
“We have a number of events coming up that are beneficial to greeting card publishers, including the GCA AGM and Conference taking place on 24 October at The Birmingham Council House. This is a great coming together of industry publishers and retailers. Speakers will be announced shortly so stay tuned!
“You’ll also be first in the queue (and this does sell out fast!) for our Speed-dating with Dragons event in 2018. This year’s event saw 60 publishers pitch one-to-one with 18 retailers, including names such as Clintons, Scribbler and House of Cards. It’s a really affordable event and a huge chance to get your name in front of the multiples and independent retailers.”
What card designs have been catching your eye this season, and what trends do you see card makers embracing for A/W17?
“The market is so eclectic now! Because not much investment is needed to produce a range of cards, trends can be started right here in this industry and move into the wider world. There’s a real resurgence in humour with so many great funny cards are in the shops at the moment. Male fashion cards, hipster and Victorian chic are big, and of course animals of all descriptions are very, very popular. Unicorns have been a massive trend. Bright neons, colours and cute, heart-warming cards are always timeless.”
You can sign up to GCA membership here: www.greetingcardassociation.org.uk
Thinking of You Week, taking place 25th Sept-1st October inspires people to create a wave of love, caring and happiness by sending cards to different people during this special week. Get involved here: www.thinkingofyouweek.cards
If you're inspired, shop Greeting Cards here!