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Blue Eyed Sun Blog

  • Vintage Too range launched by Blue Eyed Sun

    Vintage Too - Blue Eyed SunBlue Eyed Sun are proud to present their gorgeous new range of thirty six stitched Vintage Too cards.

    This fresh, contemporary revamp of their best selling Vintage range is based on original embroidered artworks by textile artist, Jo Corner. These beautiful cards are litho printed and embossed to give a realistic look and feel.

    Vintage Too cards are all blank inside and all come cello wrapped with an envelope that is 165mm x 165mm. Sold in sixes the designs are available for trade customers to order through our agents, by brochure, at shows or on our website. All board used for Vintage Too is responsibly sourced from sustained and managed forests by FSC accredited suppliers.

    You can see these wonderful Vintage Too greeting cards first in person at:

    Spring Fair 2016 at the NEC in Birmingham 7-11 February - Hall 3 - Stand 3X31

    To stock these cards in your shop click here. If you'd like to see them in your local shop please tell them and point them in the direction of www.blueeyedsun.co.uk or recommend a shop to us by clicking here. You can also visit our stockists page to find a store near you that may be selling them. To see what else is new from Blue Eyed Sun click here.

  • What consumers want from retailers

    What Consumers WantAccording to the business consultant, Joseph Pine, there has been a fundamental change going on in the fabric of our modern economy. If you work in retail it’s something to be aware of because it is at the heart of what modern consumers really want from retailers.

    Commodities

    In the beginning our economy was based primarily on things that come out of the ground. For example, before greeting cards or paper, we harvested trees for timber and sold it on the open marketplace. Commodities like minerals, animals and vegetables were the basis of the agrarian economy that lasted for millennia.

    Goods

    During the Industrial Revolution goods became the primary economic offering. Goods like paper and card were manufactured using commodities like timber as a raw material. Over time, goods have become commoditised and people don’t care who makes them. They care only about price.

    Services

    There's an antidote to commoditisation and that is customisation. Customising a good automatically turns it into a service. Henry Cole needed a more efficient way than writing individual letters to connect with friends at Christmas and so the first greeting cards were commissioned. Over time some services can be commoditised as well. If all designs on cards stayed the same and fashions didn’t exist then that is what would happen with cards too and people would only care about who sold them the cheapest.

    Experiences

    When you customise a service that is so appropriate to a particular person at that moment in time you can't help, but make them go ‘wow’. It turns it into a memorable event and becomes an experience. Think of a beautiful greeting card shop, Disneyland or boutique hotels. Experiences are what consumers most want these days and they want them to be authentic.

    Real Experiences

    Some people like to differentiate between levels of authenticity. They might say that Disneyland is less authentic than hiking through the mountains or that spot UV printed cards on ensocoat feel less authentic than letter pressed cards made with GF Smith colourplan. The truth is there is no such thing as an inauthentic experience because experiences happen inside of us. They are our reactions to the events staged before us.

    You could also argue that there is no truly natural authentic experience for, even if you go for a walk in the woods, there is a company that manufactured the shoes you walk in, your phone, the car you got there in. These are all manmade ‘artificial’ elements brought into the woods by you.

    Authenticity

    In the new experience economy, authenticity has now become the new consumer sensibility and the buying criteria by which we choose who we buy from and what we are going to buy.

    If you can look at how each of these economies developed you can see the imperative or business focus that is needed to meet the need of the consumer sensibility:

    What Consumers Want from Retailers

    What’s needed now is the ability to render an authentic experience, because you have to get consumers to perceive your offering as authentic.

    This presents a paradox because nobody can have an inauthentic experience (they happen inside of us), but no business can supply one (all business offerings are manmade objects, involve money or machinery). All those factors make things potentially inauthentic. So how do you render authenticity?

    Rendering Authenticity

    There are two dimensions to rendering authenticity:

    1. Be true to yourself, which is ‘self directed’.

    2. Being what you say you are to others, which is ‘other directed’.

    These dimensions create a two by two matrices for businesses.

    What Consumers Want

    A business that is true to itself and is what it says it is to others renders the most authentic experience, it’s REAL REAL. The opposite of this is FAKE FAKE. Interestingly, there is always a desire somewhere in the economy for fake. Think of cheap knock offs of Tatty Teddy cards on market stalls.

    Businesses do exist in these other modes of authenticity. REAL FAKE is exemplified by the Universal City Walk. It looks like a real city, but it’s made of scaffolding and wood. It’s a real fake of the City of Los Angeles. Disneyland on the other hand is FAKE REAL. It’s a fake reality. Sadly, it’s not really a magic kingdom and yet it is wonderfully true to itself.

    The easiest way for businesses to fall down with all this is to not understand their heritage and not be true to that heritage. In a way it doesn’t matter where your business sits on this matrix, the key to being is to be true to yourself and know who you are as a business. What are your core values?

    Heritage

    Knowing your heritage is knowing what you have done in the past. Sometimes this can limit what you are able to do in the future. You have to understand your past. For example, twenty years ago Disney, which is best known for family values, bought the ABC network and Miramax. These two businesses, which produced adult rated content, were in direct conflict with their core values. So families couldn't really trust Disney’s heritage. It was no longer being true to itself.

    To be authentic, it’s really important to be what you say you are. The biggest mistake companies make is to advertise things that they are not. That's when you are perceived as fake - advertising things that you are not. Think of any retailer that has the word ‘quality’ in their title above their shops. Most of the time these signs look knackered and the business is anything but quality. They appear disingenuous and inauthentic.

    How To Be Authentic

    The number one thing to do when it comes to being what you say you are is to provide places for people to experience who you are - it's not advertising that does it. That's why some retailers don't need to advertise at all. They're saying if you want to know who we are you have to come and experience us.

    Think about the economic value they have provided by the greeting card retail experience. At its core greeting cards are a commodity. Paper on its own is worth very little. Add a nice design that’s relevant to an important event in peoples’ lives and it’s worth more on the supermarket shelf. Have that design created by a popular illustrator, designer or innovative brand and the card is worth more again. Present a selection from wonderful designer makers using beautiful print techniques and thoughtful or humorous messages in a pleasant retail environment like so many beautiful card shops and the card grows in value to the consumer seeking an authentic retail experience.

    For publishers it’s the same, you have to render an authentic experience of your company at trade shows, in your imagery, in your brochure, on your website that is true to your nature and reflects your core values.

    For Businesses

    So where does this leave you and your business? Firstly, you need to be aware that authenticity has become the new consumer sensibility and there are three basic rules to this:

    1. Don't say you are authentic unless you really are authentic.

    2. It's easier to be authentic if you don't say you are authentic.

    3. If you say you're authentic you had better be authentic.

    To thrive in this new economy you need to understand what your business is and make sure it is in line with what you are telling your customers it is. The extends to your communications, point of sale and how you interact with your customers. Training your team in your company’s heritage and values is also key. Pay attention to your company culture from the beginning as it’s harder to change later as you grow.

    Finally, as a leader in your business you also have to know yourself. You have to know the real reasons you work in your business and it shouldn’t just be for the money. Money and success are by products of serving customers well and making them happy by giving them an authentic experience.

    This article is based on the book and TED talk on ‘Authenticity: What Consumers Want’ by writer and business consultant, Joseph Pine. You can watch it at www.ted.com.

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  • Alchemy Greeting Cards from Blue Eyed Sun

     Alchemy cardsBlue Eyed Sun are proud to present their gorgeous new range of twenty four Alchemy greeting cards.

    Designed using original water colour artworks by fine artist, Jo Corner, these beautiful cards are litho printed and then die stamped on an old fashioned press to create the shiny embossed lettering.

    Alchemy greeting cards are blank inside and all come cello wrapped with an envelope that is 130mm x 179mm. Sold in sixes the designs are available for trade customers to order through our agents, by brochure, at shows or on our website. All board used for Alchemy is responsibly sourced from sustained and managed forests by FSC accredited suppliers.

    You can see these wonderful Alchemy greeting cards first in person at:

    Spring Fair 2016 at the NEC in Birmingham 7-11 February - Hall 3 - Stand 3X31

    To stock these cards in your shop click here. If you'd like to see them in your local shop please tell them and point them in the direction of www.blueeyedsun.co.uk or recommend a shop to us by clicking here. You can also visit our stockists page to find a store near you that may be selling them. To see what else is new from Blue Eyed Sun click here.

  • Spring Fair 2016 - The Essential Information

    Spring Fair 2016 - The Essential Info

    Spring Fair 2016 brings together a huge range of products including an inspirational showcase of over 350 British greetings card publishers in Hall 3 at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham.

    Register for FREE tickets to Spring Fair by clicking here

    When is Spring Fair 2016?

    Spring Fair International runs from Sunday 7th February until Thursday 11th February from 09:00 - 18:00 each day.

    Watch a short video of Spring Fair Greeting Card Section

    Where to Eat at Spring Fair

    We've tried lots of different restaurants at Spring Fair. Here are some of our favourites:

    5 Great Restaurants near the NEC

    Where to Stay at Spring Fair

    Consider hotels in Birmingham City Centre (which is a short train ride from the NEC).

    Find accommodation for Spring Fair here

    How to get to Spring Fair

    The sat nav post code is B40 1NT. Parking on site is free. There are free shuttle buses to take you around the complex.

    Birmingham International Rail Station is a 5 minute walk from the show as is Birmingham International Airport. It is an 80 minute train ride from London Euston Rail Station.

    Save 25% on Virgin Rail Advance Tickets

    Seminars at Spring Fair 2016

    Improve your business at Spring Fair 2016. Click here for a full list of seminars. Blue Eyed Sun's digital marketing expert, Jeremy Corner, is running one on one social media clinics:

    Social Media Health Check for Retailers Monday 8th February from 13:00 in the Ecommerce Theatre.

    What's New from Blue Eyed Sun at Spring Fair

    Blue Eyed Sun is launching five gorgeous new greeting card ranges at Spring Fair 2016 on our new stand in Hall 3 near the cafeteria. Do come and say hi to us on Stand 3X31.

    Click here to see what's new from Blue Eyed Sun

    Quote coupon code: SFB16 when ordering during the shows (online or offline) for FREE CARRIAGE until 28th February.

    Can't make the show? Click here to request access all of our designs online.

    Read 12 Top Tips for Trade Show Visitors

    See if you can find Blue Eyed Sun's stand 3X31 in Hall 3 on the show map below:

    Spring Fair 2016 Floorpan NEC

    View Larger Map

  • Crochet Critters Greeting Cards from Blue Eyed Sun

    Crochet Critters CardsBlue Eyed Sun are proud to present their gorgeous new range of twenty cute Crochet Critters greeting cards.

    Based on original hand crocheted artworks by designer, Jo Corner, these beautiful cards are all litho printed with the characters picked out in shiny spot UV finishing. The new Crochet Critters range is part of the ongoing make, do, mend trend and includes twenty different named characters. 

    Crochet Critters greeting cards are blank inside and all come cello wrapped with a coloured envelope that is 125mm x 125mm. Sold in sixes the designs are available for trade customers to order through our agents, by brochure, at shows or on our website. All board used for Crochet Critters is responsibly sourced from sustained and managed forests by FSC accredited suppliers.

    You can see these wonderful Crochet Critters greeting cards first in person at:

    Spring Fair 2016 at the NEC in Birmingham 7-11 February - Hall 3 - Stand 3X31

    To stock these cards in your shop click here. If you'd like to see them in your local shop please tell them and point them in the direction of www.blueeyedsun.co.uk or recommend a shop to us by clicking here. You can also visit our stockists page to find a store near you that may be selling them. To see what else is new from Blue Eyed Sun click here.

  • Blue Eyed Sun move to new premises in Burgess Hill

    Blue Eyed Sun -Victoria Road

    After ten years of working away in our old premises in Hove, which served us remarkably well for the amount of space, Blue Eyed Sun have expanded into new premises at 56 Victoria Road, Burgess Hill, West Sussex, RH15 9LR.

    Whilst we would love to have stayed in Brighton, warehouse premises there are in short supply that is reducing further as a result of changes in legislation that allow commercial property to redeveloped into residential accommodation.

    The move gives us more space and nicer premises from which to work. Many of the team now have their own offices. It's lovely and bright too as we've upgraded the lighting to LED which is also more environmentally friendly.

    This amazing new space will allow us to grow our product offering and to improve our stock control both of should help to keep our customers happy and hopefully mean continued growth.

    It's been a big project prepping the building to suit our needs and to manage the move during our busiest time of year. We've managed it though and look forward to continued success from this fantastic property for years to come.

    if you are a customer or supplier please remember to update our details on your accounts and CRM systems.

    Read more about our new beginnings for 2016

    See our latest new ranges here

    All the essential info you need for Spring Fair 2016

    Blue Eyed Sun Burgess Hill
  • Top Drawer Spring 2016 - Essential Info

    Top Drawer Spring 2016 - Essential Info

    Top Drawer Spring 2016 features many of Britain's leading design-led greeting card publishers. Here are the essentials you need for this top trade show for retailers:

    For free tickets to Top Drawer Spring please click here.

    When is Top Drawer Spring 2016?

    Top Drawer Spring 2016 runs from Sunday 17th January until Tuesday 19th January from 09:30 - 18:00 at Olympia in London and features a stunning edited showcase of over 800 suppliers.

     Click here to watch a video of the card section at Top Drawer Spring.

    Where to Eat at Top Drawer Spring

    We've tried lots of different places to eat near Top Drawer Spring. Here are our favourites:

    5 Great Restaurants near Olympia and 5 great restaurants in Earls Court.

    Where to Stay at Top Drawer Spring

    Olympia is well serviced for hotels and there are good transport links to local London areas.

    Click here for an interactive map of hotels near Top Drawer Spring.

    How to Get to Top Drawer Spring

    There's an overland train to Olympia Station to Top Drawer Spring 2016 from Shepherd's Bush (central line) or West Brompton (District Line)Click here for the TFL website.

    The Sat Nav post code for Olympia is W14 8UX for drivers. You can park next to the venue. Do book in advance as it is more expensive on the day. Click here to book parking at Olympia.

    What's new from Blue Eyed Sun?

    Blue Eyed Sun have 5 gorgeous new greeting card ranges at Top Drawer Spring 2016 on a new stand T42. You can also order any last minute Valentines, Mothers or Fathers Day cards.

    Click here to see what's new from Blue Eyed Sun

    New Greeting Card Talent

    Find new publishers at Top Drawer that have come through the Ladder Club.

    Look out for these Ladder Club publishers at Top Drawer

    Read our 12 Top Tips for Trade Show Visitors by clicking here

    To order Blue Eyed Sun's new designs for your shop or request a brochure click here.

  • Tahiti greeting cards by Blue Eyed Sun

    Tahiti greeting cards by Blue Eyed SunBlue Eyed Sun are proud to present their gorgeous new range of eighteen Tahiti greeting cards.

    Based on original artworks by designer, Jo Corner, these beautiful cards are all lovingly hand finished with jewels in the UK. The new Tahiti range is hot on the new tropical trend and currently includes 3 open birthday captions and 15 relations and occasions cards. 

    Tahiti greeting cards are blank inside and all come cello wrapped with a coloured envelope that is 165mm x 165mm. Sold in sixes the designs are available for trade customers to order through our agents, by brochure, at shows or on our website. All board used for Tahiti is responsibly sourced from sustained and managed forests by FSC accredited suppliers.

    You can see these wonderful Tahiti greeting cards first in person at the events below:

    Top Drawer Spring 17- 19 January 2016 - Stand T42

    Spring Fair at the NEC in Birmingham 7-10 February 2016 - Hall 3 - Stand 3X31

    To stock these cards in your shop click here. If you'd like to see them in your local shop please tell them and point them in the direction of www.blueeyedsun.co.uk or recommend a shop to us by clicking here. You can also visit our stockists page to find a store near you that may be selling them. To see what else is new from Blue Eyed Sun click here.

  • New beginnings for Blue Eyed Sun in 2016

    New Beginnings 2016The New Year is always a good time for new beginnings. Even though technically a new year starts every day there’s something about the 1st January and the new year date that seems to energise in a different way to most other days. Perhaps the celebrations the night before focus us on turning over a new leaf or it might simply be the fact that we are heading out of the darkest days of Winter into Spring and it literally is a new period of growth.

    New Place

    At Blue Eyed Sun, we’ve marked the change with a move into newly acquired premises which makes it extra special. After nearly ten years of toiling away in our old industrial units in Brighton we have a lovely new factory up the road in Burgess Hill. It’s a great space that we’ve refurbished and I’m sure our team will be very happy there. They’ve been involved in planning the design and look of the interiors. There’s more light and better facilities for them going forward. The units also give us more room to grow, which is exciting. We ran out of space two years ago and although it’s kept us efficient I do think it’s held us back a little.

    Out with the Old

    In preparation for the move, we have been doing a lot of clearing, sorting and so on. It’s my least favourite job in the whole world. I get side tracked with the detail of it and then despondent that I can’t get through it all fast enough. I kept discovering interesting old bits of paperwork. Like our very first order, our original brochure and a load of rejection letters from top retailers that now stock us. The letters were a good reminder that persistence is one of the things that has really kept us growing all these years.

    Despite the distractions I got most of it done and I’ve photographed or scanned the paperwork I want to keep and recycled the rest. My goal for 2016 is to get digital on most of our paperwork and do the full shift over to the cloud. Paperwork takes up space and most of it I only ever look at it when I’m try to clear out the office!

    In with the New

    Essentially the cloud is online storage for your data files. With tools like dropbox, it’s been around a while now and you can expect to see more big growth of it in the coming year or two. We have a cheap and simple NAS (Network Attached Storage) device that acts like a server which we then back up to Amazon’s servers. Yes. Amazon own that space too! It’s like having a Big Yellow storage facility on the internet for your digital stuff.

    The advantages are that you can access receipts and paperwork from anywhere in the world by logging into your cloud storage to find it. A lot of software has been moving into the cloud too, so you can do things like look up your accounts on a range of different devices. This blog post for instance was in the cloud whilst I wrote it on my iMac at home, edited on my phone in bed and uploaded it from my iPad to the blog in the morning. Being able to work from anywhere has really freed up my time.

    New Ranges

    The most exciting part about having more space is that we can launch lots of lovely new designs because we now have room for the stock. Blue Eyed Sun has had a remarkable run over the last few years. Our market leading stitched ranges like Vintage, Gorgeous and Picnic Time have been massive hits for us. We feel like we have so much more we can do. We love coming up with new ideas and techniques and are really looking forward to showing our customers what’s new at Top Drawer Spring and Spring Fair this year. Even though we’ve been really busy, with getting the new building ready and the big move, Jo has managed to produce over 150 new designs across 5 new ranges.

    “What’s new?“ has to be the most common question retailers ask publishers at trade shows. The trick is to have new of best sellers and to try some radically new ideas too (ideally ones that are on trend). Trends have been getting harder to predict of late and now move quickly because of the internet. As all designers are watching the same trend forecasts, staying fresh, original and on trend is a constant challenge for any design-led publisher.

    In addition to new product we’ve also been looking to improve our displays.

    New Stands

    For years we’ve prepped expensive Foamex boards to display our greeting cards at shows, only to find their corners bashed after they fell of the wall overnight after the velcro used to attach them failed. It’s rare for customers to mention the damaged boards and I’ve always consoled myself by saying it’s the card designs that really matter. We all like to do our best though don’t we? I imagine it’s the same for retailers. If your display and point of sale looks good it gives off a different feeling and experience for the shopper who is looking at the lovely cards they stock. It enhances it. Our stands have never looked terrible, but I’ve never been thrilled with them either. I’m looking forward to showing off our new cards on our new, custom made trade show displays for the new year.

    New Friends

    2015 was an incredible year for me personally as I was invited to attend some amazing events at 10 Downing Street, New Orleans and the Rugby World Cup. I’ve made some wonderful new friendships with all sorts of interesting people from around the world. Social Media has been a big part of all of this for me and it has led me to me changing how I operate online in 2016.

    I’ve decided to make a commitment to more connections on social media. Instead of just interacting with friends that I already know on Facebook, for instance, I’m opening up to more friendships from the card industry and beyond in an effort to engage more widely with others. I have been experimenting with all sorts of new digital tools including Slack, Blab and Periscope. WhatsApp (and instant messaging in general) has been the most powerful of the lot for me so far in terms of new meaningful connections and I’m excited to see where they take me this year.

    New Commitments

    Contribution is really important to me and I’m proud to have been asked to be Vice-Chairman of the Giftware Association and take up my post in 2016. I’ve been working with the GA at committee level for five years. With new CEO, Sarah Ward, already doing a great job it’s going to be an exciting year for the GA. I’m particularly looking forward to working with incoming Chairman Henri Davis who has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in retail.

    I’ve been a member of the GA and the GCA for many years now and, having worked closely with both at committee level, they do invaluable work. Our industry wouldn’t be the same without them. Even if you can’t find the time to serve on their committees do join and support them as a member. Whether you are a supplier or retailer, they are fantastic resources that we don’t want to be without. Remember it’s not just about what’s in it for you (although there are loads of benefits for members at each organisation), it’s about the wider community that you are a part of.

    What’s New for You?

    If you aren’t sure where to start with your goals for the new year. Try a slight shift towards something that you’d like to improve. Take small steps initially so that you can get momentum and progress. They say the one who moves mountains always starts by carrying away small stones first.

    I hope that 2016 brings you lots of wonderful new adventures and personal development. Good luck with all of your new endeavours and goals.

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  • Fleur Greeting Cards from Blue Eyed Sun

    Fleur Greeting Cards - Blue Eyed SunBlue Eyed Sun are proud to present their gorgeous new range of thirty Fleur greeting cards.

    Based on original artworks by designer, Jo Corner, these beautiful embossed cards are all lovingly hand finished with jewels in the UK. The new Fleur range currently includes 17 open birthday captions and 13 occasions cards. 

    Fleur greeting cards are blank inside and come cello wrapped with a silver envelope that is 130mm x 130mm. Sold in sixes the designs are available for trade customers to order through our agents, by brochure, at shows or on our website. All board used for Fleur is responsibly sourced from sustained and managed forests by FSC accredited suppliers.

    You can see these wonderful Fleur greeting cards first in person at the events below:

    Top Drawer Spring 17- 19 January 2016 - Stand T42

    Spring Fair at the NEC in Birmingham 7-10 February 2016 - Hall 3 - Stand 3X31

    To stock these cards in your shop click here. If you'd like to see them in your local shop please tell them and point them in the direction of www.blueeyedsun.co.uk or recommend a shop to us by clicking here. You can also visit our stockists page to find a store near you that may be selling them. To see what else is new from Blue Eyed Sun click here.

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