Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Just A Card

I came across a campaign recently called 'Just A Card' started by the immensely talented Sarah Hamilton. She had read a quote from some business owners who had sadly, closed up shop.

'If everyone who'd complimented our beautiful gallery had bought just a card we'd still be open'

You can find details of Sarah's campaign and more information by clicking here. Please take a look and help where you can.

I sell predominantly prints and mugs, but I have a small range of seasonal cards for Graduation, Mother & Father's Day and Valentine's Day. I have been overwhelmed by the response for these cards and the sales of which help me to reinvest in my business and make sure I still have enough money to set aside for rent and bills. Funnily enough, when you quit your full time job with your steady wage, your steady bills don't quit along with that.

Help a small business stay afloat & grow for the price of a coffee or a magazine.  

My old job was Relief Dispenser for a big Pharmacy. I'd fill in for branches when they had staff on holiday or off sick. I knew where all the nearest Costa, Starbucks and Nero's where to each branch and every morning that would be the first place I'd role up to before work. I'd hate to think how much I actually spent over the years!
Little did I know that if I'd have sacrificed just one of my morning coffee's from time to time (or even afternoon for that matter) I could have helped someone out and been part of the difference in them growing or failing.. If we all did this, can you imagine how great that would be? Yes, it's easy (and cheap) just to nip to the supermarket and get a 30p card, hey, we all do it, myself included. But when you purchase from a creative small business, you're not just buying the card, you're buying into so much more.

Behind the curtain of a small business.

A little about my set up. I still work a day job, well, it's an evening job really. I clean the offices just a few minutes up the road. I just do a few hours a night to ensure I have a guaranteed amount coming in each month to keep a roof over my head.
Everything else is pretty much paid for by you, my customer and I am eternally grateful for that.

Now, I'm not sat playing Xbox or watching zombie movies all day (I swear this is what my boyfriend thinks whenever he gets home and the washing up is still there). I get up between 5-6am and wake myself up with a nice coffee, usually outside listening to the birds sing their merry song. Then I work on Prints Of Heart & my new baby, Plans Of Heart up until about 15:30 ish; this is anything and everything from new designs and products, queries, Post Office runs, research, social media, design & business courses and plenty of other bits and bobs. I give myself about half an hour or so of chill time before my evening work to 'change heads', a bit like Worzel Gummidge and to be honest, the hair is quite similar.
When I get back home I'll pack up the orders that need sending the following day, resolve any queries and put in a print order for the day. After that it's quality time with the cats & my boy ♥

I work far, far more hours now than I ever did in my full time job but I absolutely adore it. I know that I'm the person at the helm, if I work hard and smart then I can keep growing my little acorn and eventually go 100% full time. At the same time I am also aware of just how tiny I am in the giant haystack that is the online marketplace. It has taken me around 18 months to learn internet, and I like to think of it as learning another language. Every online business has to learn and work through this, when I first started I had the 'If you build it they will come' mindset. Which is sort of half true, but not really. I could have probably done it quicker, but I'm the kind of gal that needs to learn from her own mistakes.

How you have helped me to grow

  • I was able to purchase a new laptop when mine died unexpectedly and peacefully in its sleep.
  • I purchased a new printer when my old one decided it could no longer cope without its dear friend so decided to just stop working.
  • I sourced an outside professional printer for my cards and ordered in bulk which cut down massively on costs, saved me hours and hours a week and reduced my stress levels immensely which meant I had the time and energy to work on my 'big plans'.
  • I can now easily budget for my cat Geoff's specialist food each month.
  • I invested in a hardcore grade (yeah, that's a thing) badge maker which will play a big part in an upcoming project.

That's the thing, when you do purchase 'just a card' from an independent or small business, it's really not the card you're paying for. It's the utility bill, the new printer, the Adobe subscription, the rent, the insurance, the fees, that specialist cat food (a big thanks from Geoff) or even just some breathing space for new ideas to flourish.

I am so appreciative for each and every person who have purchased not only my cards, but my prints, mugs, pillows and posters too. Each and every sale, review, like, comment, share and email message really does mean the world to me (including that Valentine's run-up when I was tearing out my hair).

So thank you, not only from me, but all the other small biz ladies and gents too. I'm sure they feel the same way.

 If you fancy a butchers, you can find my little range here and below are a few of my other favourite designers so go and check out their products too next time you need that card!

                                   Katie Abey                                    Atiliay                                  Becka Griffin

Monday, 22 June 2015

A gift idea for the hard to buy for...

We all have that person who is hard to buy for. I include myself in that, when it comes to Christmas or Birthday's I usually get a few messages asking what I want. And if you ask me what I want, I'm going to tell you what I need.
My most recent gifts have included a new kettle, a clothes horse, a set of new towels, a mouse (computer, not real life) and a memory card. I LOVE getting all the nice smellies as gifts but I adore getting stuff I NEED too.
So it was my Dad's 80th Birthday recently and he is another 'hard to buy for' but, unlike me, he doesn't really need or want anything so the standard 'oh, don't bother' or 'oh, I'm easy' is heard when you ask him what he would like.
A couple of months before the big day my sister was asking what I thought we could get him, long story short, she ended up finding a photograph that somebody had made online of a family holding up letters that spelled out happy birthday. We were both sold and naturally I jumped at the chance of making it.
Now, I'm not going to go into the ins and outs of making this badboy, how it it crashed my computer multiple times, how I lost the file twice, how I cried when it came back from the printer with a big smudge, the arguments I had while trying to take mine and my boyfriend's picture etc. if you REALLY want I can maybe do a post about it one day.
What I will say is the reaction from my Dad when he opened his gift was priceless, I was honestly expecting a 'that's nice' but I think the joint effort of everyone really got him. My 2 year old nephew carried it around the room showing it to each and every person showing them where they were on the picture and where he was. Even my Mum was impressed and yes, I cried a bit as it was a tad overwhelming to see a room full of people falling in love with this picture!!

So if you have a person you're always struggling to buy for and you have a little time to prepare then I would 100% recommend trying your hand at creating one of these. It will last forever and who knows, it may just end up being a family heirloom.

I'd love to know what ideas you've come up with for the 'HTBF' in your life so why not let us know in the comments.

PS. Happy Birthday Dad ♥

Sunday, 21 June 2015


That's my old man there. I asked if I could take a photo for a Father's Day thing I was doing online and he obliged, no questions asked but a glimmer of excitement in his eyes. 
That's the thing about my Dad, he's always happy to help, he's always interested, excited & engaged, he loves learning and trying new things and is constantly on the look out for a new project. I remember as a child and growing up he would sometimes take me to work with him, he taught me how to use the 'big wood cutting machines' and just trusted me to do my thang, even if that was just chopping up planks or swimming in wood shavings (I adore the smell of wood, takes me right back to those happy days). I could explore the warehouse and even tinker around on the fancy calculator that shot out paper!  He didn't care if I got dirty or if I accidentally broke something, fun and learning were (I can see now) his main concerns.

I owe a lot of my 'I can do that' attitude to my Dad, he's a great teacher and has the patience of a Saint. He turns 80 this year and yet is still working on major renovation projects at home, he looks after my Mum full time (cue patience of a Saint) and he is always happy and cheerful. I just hope that I can be the kind of parent that he is one day.   
My Dad is the best Dad because he showed me SO much, he taught me things without me even noticing at the time and just let me be. I realised not so long ago that winter is my favourite season because those moments when a loved one comes in from the cold, and they give you a hug. Well, the smell of the cool air always takes me back to the nights my Dad would come in from work, I'd hide under the table but he would always find me (how did he KNOW) and I'd give the biggest 'I miss you' squeeze I could. Then I'd sit on his back and hold on for dear life as he pretended to be a crazed tiger running round the living room!!
So thank you Dad, I know you probably won't read this as you don't go online that much but you are truly amazing. 

What's the best thing about your Dad? Let us all know in the comments below.