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Visiting the London Stationery Show 2022

London Stationery Show 2022 - inside view

This year I was able to go along to the London Stationery Show and I’m so glad I did. It’s a trade show for all things stationery and where a lot of retailers choose their stock for the coming year. I went along as a visitor to check it out in case I decide to exhibit there in the future, but I got a whole lot more out of it than that.

There were so many amazing products and brands there – it was very inspiring. However as a bit of aΒ stationery addictΒ it was sort of like torture not to be able to buy anything on the spot… I did take away a lot of pamphlets and business cards though so I can look my favourites up and buy after the fact as a consumer.

My Fave 3 Brands at the London Stationery Show

I thoroughly enjoyed looking at all the stationery tools and equipment, but it was especially inspiring to walk around and see all the fabulous paper stationery brands at the show. I was very conscious that as I wasn’t a buyer I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time. After all they’d paid a lot of money for their stands and were there to sell. But even once I’d explained why I was visiting so many of the brands were still incredibly friendly and happy to share their tips and experience for exhibiting at a trade show.

These were some of my favourite paper stationery brands. Please excuse my awful photography skills…

Dodo Pad

I was drawn to the Dodo Pad stand by the fabulous doodly illustrations on their products. Their main product is a very entertaining planner diary. It has lots of hilarious content and space for doodling as well as all the stuff you’d expect from an ordinary planner. They also do notebooks (blank, dotty, grid and ruled). All their products are made in the UK, vegan friendly, sustainable and plastic free. The lovely lady who owns the business was so friendly too and a pleasure to chat to. She even gifted me a 2022 planner which I know will brighten my days up for the rest of the year 😊

Aaruthra

Aaruthra is a pretty stationery brand that includes journals, greeting cards and more with inspiring messages. The designer and founder Aaruthra herself was manning the stall (all the way from India!) together with another fabulous lady and the two of them couldn’t have been more inspiring and positive if they’d tried – I had a huge smile on my face after chatting to them!

Okey Dokey Design

Samantha from Okey Dokey Design was in the Launchpad section, having won a stand there. Her stand was just as lovely as her stationery and she was too! Okey Dokey Design makes pretty paper stationery products including greeting cards, writing paper, wrapping paper and more. Most of the designs are floral and so gorgeous you just want all of it! Samantha is clearly very talented and I noticed Okey Dokey Design had won at least one other award at the show too.

Live Talks at the London Stationery Show

All the speakers in the Retail Matters Live Talks at the show were brilliant. I feel like my head is bursting with all the inspiration and ideas they shared!

  • Martha Keith did a talk on Building a Stationery Brand: The Good, The Bad & The Pretty. She founded Martha Brook London and it was very inspiring to hear how she started and got to where she is now!
  • Colour Hive did a very interesting talk regarding Colour, Material and Finish Forecast: Spring Summer 2023.
  • Catherine Erdly of The Resilient Retail Club (which I’m a member of and love) spoke about 360 Sales Techniques for Independent Retailers. Unfortunately I missed this as the times on the board were incorrect. I did get to have an Indie Matters session with Catherine though (see below) which was incredibly useful.
  • Rachel Emma Waring spoke about Creative Content Strategy: Finding Your Style. This one was especially useful as I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed about content creation lately.
  • Nerrisa Pratt of Untld Project did a Mini Masterclass on PR. She made PR seem a lot less scary and gave some great tips. And she was completely hilarious and had me giggling the whole way through.
  • Therese Oertenblad of Small Business Collaborative and Elizabeth Stiles did a joint talk on How to Sell on Instagram. This was full of good ideas and included loads of examples to inspire.

The best thing was that some of my favourite podcasters were amongst them and it was a real highlight to meet them in person – though I did have to try and remember that they didn’t know me as well as I felt like I knew them 😁 They were all so warm and friendly to chat to as well and I love them all even more now than I did before!

Indie Matters Business Advice Clinics

Catherine Erdly, Rachel Waring, Nerrisa Pratt, Therese Oertenblad and Elizabeth Stiles also provided one-to-one sessions. These were by appointment, to give advice on their various areas of expertise.

I met up with Catherine Erdly and Therese Oertenblad for a session each and got so much out of this time. Both gave me brilliant advice for my own greeting card business. And I left feeling inspired and motivated, with practical steps to take to move forward. They are both amazing and it was totally fabulous to meet them in person!


So I had an absolutely terrific time all round at the London Stationery Show! It was fabulous seeing new stationery products, meeting other paper stationery and greeting card business owners and getting great advice and wisdom from the experts at the clinics and talks. I was so excited I managed to survive the whole day on two coffees and a brownie, which isn’t like me at all! And who knows, maybe I’ll exhibit there myself in the future πŸ˜ƒ

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Finding Creative Inspiration

Finding Creative Inspiration

I have to admit that I’ve really been struggling with finding creative inspiration the last few months. I’ve had a few hard knocks this year and they really sapped my energy physically, mentally and emotionally. I just couldn’t seem to get excited about drawing, or anything much at all. And if you follow me on social media you might have wondered if I’d given up altogether. Social media is hard work for me even when things are going well so I pretty much disappeared for weeks on end πŸ˜†

I won’t bore you with the details of everything that’s gone wrong so far in 2022. I’m sure you’ve got enough of your own problems and hassles to deal with! But here’s what I’ve been doing to try and get my mojo back creatively…

Taking a break

I have a part time day job which covers the majority of my bills so am lucky that I can take it easier in my greeting card business occasionally without getting in a financial panic. The guilt makes it hard to do though! There were some days when all I was accomplishing was processing orders and I felt really ashamed of myself. Here I was in the very fortunate position of being able to do something I love and I was completely neglecting it…

I did step back regardless though. Between doing my day job and dealing with everything that was going wrong, I honestly didn’t have the energy not to. And at least feeling guilty and ashamed could be done on the sofa without any effort on my part!

I went for plenty of walks, cried a lot, whinged a lot and generally felt sorry for myself for ages. I still do sometimes! Hopefully it’s better than being in denial and then having a breakdown later on when everyone else has forgotten about it all…

I heard something on a Daily Pep podcast the other day about how when life gives you lemons you really don’t need to feel bad if you don’t want to making f**cking lemonade 🀣 – and I’ve totally taken this to heart!

Taking the time to grieve and opt out of life for a bit has helped. I can now see what I hope is the light at the end of the tunnel. And not the headlamps of another metaphorical lorry about to smack into me… 😁 I’m starting to look forward to stuff again so hopefully taking a break was the right thing to do.

Finding creative inspiration by experimenting

Another thing I’ve been doing to help me with finding creative inspiration again is experimenting. Even before all this happened I’d gotten in a bit of a rut in terms of my drawing style and card designs. I decided to try a few things that were completely different, with no pressure to fit in with the rest of my brand.

Here are a couple of the drawings I did…

It really helped. I found myself losing track of time while drawing again, which used to always be the case but hadn’t happened for a while. I’m going to keep doing this – making time for drawing whatever I feel like however I feel like!

Remembering the good stuff

Last week my favourite squeeze and I went camping together and it was fantastic. Getting back to the simple stuff like barbecuing our food, trying to stay warm in front of an open fire and going on long walks in beautiful surroundings reminded me of the things that make me happy and that there is still loads of stuff I enjoy and look forward to. I got back exhausted but feeling more inspired than I have in ages. I’ve decided my next collection is going to centre around the great outdoors, camping, and similar. And I’ve already started sketching some new drawings for it. More about that next time πŸ˜ƒ

I’ve realised that to stay inspired I need to keep focusing on the stuff I love. Drawing what I think I should be drawing just leads to boredom or burnout. Drawing things I enjoy drawing and experimenting with new styles and techniques is how I can go about finding creative inspiration – and stay motivated.

If you enjoyed this blog, would you like to stay in touch? I’d love us to get to know each other better 😊 so please sign up for my newsletter. I’ll let you know when I post new blogs and when I release new collections, as well as giving you a peek behind the scenes. You’ll also get a discount voucher and become a VIP who gets special offers on a regular basis. And you can reply to any of my emails with questions or comments – I always reply!

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18th Birthday Card Cartoon Portrait

18th birthday card with cartoon portrait

Case Study

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen that I posted a while back about a happy customer I’d designed an 18th birthday card with a cartoon portrait for. I thought I’d share a bit more detail about it on here.

The customer had previously found me on Etsy and ordered a custom 21st birthday card for one of her sons. Apparently he loved it so much he decided to frame it. So when her other son was going to turn 18 she came back to me to design an 18th birthday card for him too 😊

She was a lovely customer to work for, as she sent plenty of photos and knew what outfit she’d like. A lot of people don’t give instructions until after I’ve already drawn the portrait then decide they want something different, so it was a joy to work with someone who knew exactly what she wanted.

She asked for him to be wearing a specific top from one of the photos and grey jogging bottoms, and to keep his ‘Movember’ moustache 😁

Here’s the cartoon portrait I came up with…

And if you’d like to see the replay of how I drew it then here you go…

And here’s the final card design. (Although he and his Mum said it was fine to share, I’ve blanked his name out just to be on the safe side…)

His Mum was really pleased with it and said when she gave him his card he loved it as well. She even sent me a photo of him opening his card and both of them were happy for me to share that too, so here it is!

And here’s the lovely review she wrote for me on Etsy…

It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside πŸ₯°

I do custom cartoon portrait cards for other birthday milestones as well. Here’s how it works:

When you place your order you can upload a photo and send some instructions at the same time. It helps if you can be specific about what type of clothing you’d like them to wear, whether or not to include their glasses or facial hair or anything else that is relevant. If you’d like to send extra photos then just let me know in the instructions too and I’ll get in touch to help you do that.

I’ll then draw the cartoon portrait, add it to the card design and send you a proof to check. If you have any changes I’ll make those and, once finalised, will print out and post the card to you. It’s an A5 size card and comes with a kraft envelope too.

Here’s where to order your custom cartoon portrait milestone birthday card.

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What is Galentines Day?

What is Galentines Day?

If you’re wondering to yourself “What IS Galentines Day?” then you’re about to find out about something fabulous! Because, despite selling greeting cards (and Valentine’s Day being my busiest time of year) I think Galentine’s Day is even better 😍

Valentine’s Day can be a difficult time for some, whether you’ve struggled to find someone special, just broken up with your other half or even decided that you’d rather be single. It’s all a bit ‘coupley’ and implies that if you’re not involved in a romantic relationship you’re missing out. And that’s where Galentine’s Day comes in…

So what is Galentines Day?

I’m sure you’ve already guessed that it’s a blend of Valentine’s Day and Gal – and it’s a chance to celebrate friendships with your gal pals. Specifically those pals that have stuck with you as romantic relationships have come and gone…

It all started with an episode of Parks and Recreation. Leslie, the Deputy Director of the Parks and Recreation Department in the series, explained:

What’s Galentine’s Day? Oh it’s only the best day of the year. Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas.

“Galentine’s Day”, Parks and Recreation, 2010.
Parks And Recreation Happy Galentines Day GIF by NBC - Find & Share on GIPHY
Galentine’s Day from Giphy

It’s such a great idea that it didn’t take long for it to advance beyond its fictional roots and hit the real world. It’s not an official holiday but who cares! You can even buy Galentine’s cards now, but it’s more about spending time with your besties.

One of the reasons it’s become popular (aside from the fact that celebrating friendship is always a good idea) is that it’s a much more inclusive celebration. Valentine’s Day can feel a bit grating if you’re not in a relationship with someone. Although you can send a Valentine to anyone you fancy, it has kind of become the domain of smug couples. Galentine’s Day on the other hand is for anyone. You don’t even have to be single!

Although Galentine’s Day did start out as a celebration of ladies celebrating each other, it has started to be accepted as an occasion that honours any type of friendship, so is becoming even more inclusive as a result.

Are you going to celebrate Galentine’s Day with your besties? Come on over to Instagram and let me know how…

Credit: Main photo by Uby Yanes on Unsplash

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How to choose a Valentine card

How to choose a valentine card

Are you wondering how to choose a Valentine card for someone new? Whether you’ve just started seeing each other or you want to make your intentions clear to someone you fancy, it can be nerve-racking picking the right card.

Sending a Valentine when you’re not together yet

OK so you really fancy this person and you think they might like you that way too, so you’ve decided to send them a Valentine. But what if you scare them off by giving the wrong impression or you’ve misread the situation altogether?

If you’re at the point where you want to make your intentions clear, then I say go for it. If it turns out that it’s not going to happen then at least you know and you won’t waste any more time pining for them… But here are some tips to hopefully reduce the angst a little πŸ˜†

Choosing a funny card that you know will make them laugh is a great way to keep things light and avoid that “I’m desperate, please love me” vibe. And who isn’t attracted to a sense of humour?!

Alternatively a card that highlights a shared interest you have or reminds them of an in joke between you can be a great option. The right card might just make them realise how perfect you are for each other 😁

Choosing a valentine card when you’re a new couple

This can be tricky as you’ve only just started going out and you might not be quite sure yet how serious it is. After all if you go in with fully soppy mode and they don’t even get you a card (or vice versa!) it could feel a little awkward.

Again, humour is always a great way to avoid any awkwardness. How about a card that jokes about how lucky they are to have you?

Another reasonably safe bet is choosing a sexy / naughty card. (I’m assuming that you’re still having pretty great sex in these early days!) It’s hard to go wrong with this unless you’re a very repressed couple or have taken a vow of celibacy…

If you’ve known each other a long time but have only just started getting romantically involved, then you can always choose a card that highlights this. You can probably afford to get a bit more mushy in this situation too, though you’ll know best whether that feels appropriate or not!

I hope this helps you with how to choose a Valentine card for someone new! I’d love hear your thoughts on this post, so come on over to Instagram or Facebook to have a chat. And why not check out my range of Valentine cards right now to see if you can find the perfect card for your new squeeze? They cover a range of interests and there’s usually a bad pun or two thrown in for good measure 😁