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Blue Eyed Sun Blog

  • Top Drawer Spring 2019 - Essential Information

    Top Drawer Spring 2019

    Top Drawer Spring 2019 features many of Britain's leading design-led home, gift, craft and greeting card suppliers. 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 2019?

    Top Drawer Spring 2019 runs from Sunday 13th January until Tuesday 15th January from 09:30 - 18:00 at Olympia in London and features a stunning edited showcase of over 1,500 hand picked brands. 

    Where to Eat at Top Drawer Spring

    We've tried lots of different places to eat near Top Drawer Spring. Here are some of 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 2019 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 are launching a gorgeous new greeting card range called Fiesta at Top Drawer Spring 2019 on stand P49. You can also order any last minute Valentines, Mothers or Fathers Day cards as well as getting a sneak preview of forthcoming Christmas ranges.

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

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

    Top Drawer Spring 2019 - Show Map

  • Blue Eyed Sun launch new Fiesta greeting card range

    Blue Eyed Sun Fiesta Greeting Cards

    Blue Eyed Sun have launched a brand new range of everyday greeting cards called Fiesta.

    Fiesta are based on beautiful original artworks by Jo Corner. Each card is embossed and hand finished with jewels, the range includes 48 gorgeous Everyday captions. They are 160mm square and come cello-wrapped with a coloured envelope.

    Sold in sixes the designs are available for trade customers to order through our sales agents, by brochure, at shows or logging into Blue Eyed Sun's trade only website.

    A new Everyday Brochure for 2019 is on its way to retailers featuring all our latest designs, which are available for delivery from 25th January.

    You can see them all first in person at the events below:

    Top Drawer Spring at the Olympia in London 13-15 January 2019 -  Stand P49

    Scotland's Trade Fair Spring at the SEC in Glasgow 20-23 January 2019 - Stand K39

    Spring Fair at the NEC in Birmingham 3-7 January 2019 - Stand 4A01

    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 an overview of Blue Eyed Sun ranges click here.

  • The Rise of Customer Experience in Retail

    The Rise of Customer Experience in Retail

    Last month I had an ‘experience.’ It was fun, exciting, inspiring and adventurous. It was sexy too and stimulated my imagination. It gave me everything I wanted and more. It opened my eyes to new possibilities. Before you ask, no, it wasn’t that. It was something quite different, although we I may blush a little when I share some of my customer experience in a retail store with you.

    As modern retail adapts and evolves, one key area of focus is the 'customer experience.’ John Lewis launched its tech incubator J-Lab to find new was of improving the experience of the in-store shopper as a way of retaining customers and drawing them in to spend more. Last year they trialled an after hours ‘private shopping’ service at their Cheltenham store, where anyone spending £10,000 or more could have the entire store to themselves. 

    My experience was slightly less glamorous, but totally unforgettable. It started on a day out in Camden, which I have not visited for many years. The area attract 28 million tourists a year and the labyrinth of shops and stalls is a retail experience in itself. Wandering around Camden Market and particularly the Stables Market with its ornate wooden doors and equine effigies was an adventure and full of interesting things to buy and eat. It started when a friend coaxed me through a shop entrance flanked by two giant metal robots, with a silver sign above the door that read Cyber Dog.

    Cyber Dog

    Greeting us with a friendly smile as we entered was a girl dressed in cyber goth attire that was a cross between Blade Runner and a Japanese manga creation. In fact most of the store assistants were spectacularly dressed and made up in bright neons, facial piercings, tattoos and futuristic haircuts. 

    The heavy bass of dance music reverberated throughout the store which looked like a spaceship with life size cyborgs and silver robots in cryogenic pods high up on the walls. At the far end of the ground floor an escalator took us down into the bowels of what felt more like a night club than a shop. 

    As we descended the beat got louder and the lighting darker. Everything was bathed in ultra violet light to show off the fluorescent garments and items available to purchase for your next big club night. At the far end of the cavernous underground space, with his booth up on stage and backlit by bright neon stripes, a DJ hunched over the decks with his headphones propped over one ear.

    The basement was made up of different caves to explore. It reminded me of nights out at the End or Fabric in London back in the day. It was fun being in this shop. Things got even more interesting as I scuttled nervously through the adult section and emerged the other side only to turn an even darker shade of crimson when I spotted a woman pole dancing on a small stage in the corner. It caught me by surprise. I grabbed the nearest item to me and headed for the tills. It turned out to be fluorescent yellow thong. “For a friend,” I gabbled at the assistant.

    I later discovered that there are other platforms in the shop where clubbers dressed in store gear are hired to dance above the customers. Aside from my dubious shopping choice, the experience was unlike anything I’d seen before - and this from someone who spent a year of his life partying I mean studying on exchange in Amsterdam.

    What impressed me most was that Cyber Dog understands what it is, understands its customers and goes all in on their commitment to provide them with a retail experience unlike any other. 

    Translating the Experience

    So what can we learn from this experience that can be used in other retail stores?

    Your High Street

    Councils and city planners can definitely do more to encourage fun shopping areas like Camden that are filled with independents, have atmosphere and draw tourists in. The Shambles in York and the North Laines in Brighton both attract bring shoppers from miles around for the experience. Encourage yours to do the same.

    You can work together with other local retailers to create events like the Christmas light experience in Holt or late shopping hours on certain occasions, like House of Cards and other retailers on St Mary’s Street in Wallingford do. 

    Window Displays

    Lights and window displays are a great experience for customers. Gorgeous Hair Boutique in Hove has the tiniest shop with the most incredible window displays. I’m sure customers love seeing them and talking about them. Christmas windows at Selfridges have attracted visitors for years. The next part of their experience is entering the shop.

    In Store

    What does it feel like for customers when they walk into your store? Are they greeted by a staff member at the door? How does the store look from where they are standing? What are the sights, sounds and smells? How do the staff appear? What are they wearing? Is it in keeping with your brand? Do they smile or are they on the phone or gossiping?

    Are there any demonstrations in store? You don’t have to have your team pole dancing in a corner to generate interest, there are plenty of other ideas you can put in place. Christmas gift wrapping classes, greeting card personalisation or even calligraphy demonstrations are a few I know of.

    What is the layout like for your shop? Are the shop fittings tired and worn out or are they inviting and enticing. One of the loveliest shop fits I’ve seen is Arrowsmiths in Broadstairs, where the owner was smart enough to keep the Victorian wooden glass cabinet displays fitted by the chemist that first opened the shop. You can put anything anywhere in that store and it looks good.

    The Oyster Gallery in Mumbles zones their two upstairs rooms by colour and the rooms are laid out like dining rooms filled with products. Organising the colours like this helps customers to imagine how the products might all look and work together to create a feeling.

    The late Lynn Tait always invested heavily in a Santa’s Grotto experience at the Lynn Tait Gallery for the children of Leigh-On-Sea. The kids had a wonderful experience and the parents spent money in the shop. 

    Senses and Feelings

    What sort of music do you play in store? Is it the right experience for your brand? What about smells? Cafes in shops have a head start on others, but there are oil burners with pleasant fragrances that can have positive effects on the experience customers have of your shop.

    Even the things you say have an effect. A reminder that the customer has made a lovely choice helps to alleviate buyer’s angst. Even asking the customer if they found everything they were looking for today adds to the sense of a helpful experience and can increase sales.

    You might think you are already doing a great job, but ask yourself if there is anything extra special you would do if Tom Cruise’s rep called you to say Tom wants to visit your store. How would you make his experience incredible? Free coffee? Private shopping? A free gift wrap service? As marketing expert Geoff Ramm says, “create OMG experiences for your customers.” And as I always say, “Make them shareable.”

    Are you Shareable?

    When customers love the experience you give them, they want to share it with others, so make it easy for them too tag you and drive virtual footfall to you by setting printing your social media accounts on your till receipts, bags, etc. Don’t just put the Instagram logo, make it easy for them by using your @handle. Use calls to action that tell customers why they should follow you on Instagram.

    Change is Coming 

    There is undoubtedly a shift happening towards experience over products. Millennials are said to treasure experience over things, we are all conscious that the we are consuming more resources than our planet can handle. Our abundance of stuff is causing us stress and there is a growing trend towards minimalism. With it is an awakening of consciousness where many are discovering that our happiness and the happiness of those around us does not come down to material goods. By creating incredible retail experiences and selling useful products that people want to buy, use and keep, change is an experience that we can all look forward to.

    How to Future Proof Your Retail Business

    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Retailers

    The Importance of Brand Story for your Business

    Customer Experience - Cyber Dog

  • Ten Key Lessons Learned from the Ladder Club

    10 Lessons from The Ladder Club

    It’s been twenty years since industry friends Jakki Brown and the late Lynn Tait held the first Ladder Club seminar in Leigh on Sea to help new publishers avoid rookie errors that had previously led to the demise of so many start ups in our industry.

    Starting any business is tough and there are always risks. The pair felt that much of the heartache and loss of financial investments that goes with business failure could be avoided with a little heart felt, loving guidance from those of us that have already been there and done it.

    I’ve been privileged to have been a keynote speaker at the Ladder Club for three quarters of its existence, so I thought it would be nice to share ten key lessons I’ve learned at the event over the years.

    1. The Ladder Club supports Successes

    The Ladder Club has had some fantastic success stories with Alumni including the likes of Paper Salad, Wrendale Design, Red Back Cards and rising star Megan Claire as well as a host of exciting and innovative publishers that have brightened up the offering available to card buyers globally. Ask most up and coming talents in our industry how they’ve managed it and invariably they will share the importance of the Ladder Club or the Greeting card Association and the supportive ethos behind them.

    2. The Ladder Club reduces Failures

    The successes are still outweighed by those Ladder Club alumni that don’t make it. It’s easy to see how the statistics for 80% of UK businesses failing in the first five years still hold true. I myself am so grateful to be in business with Blue Eyed Sun after 18 years as it’s no easy feat to survive and thrive in a highly competitive market like ours. There are a host of reasons for companies not surviving or continuing, but without the Ladder Club this number would surely have been greater still.

    3. We all Start Small

    We all start small. Even the biggest companies in our industry came from humble beginnings. Woodmansterne started their card business with a tiny range of stained glass window images and have ballooned into a £14m business. The Art File launched on a 1mx1m stand at Spring Fair in 1998. Our first stand was a 2m x 2m at Top Drawer in May 2000.

    All retailers start small too, I remember selling to a single Scribbler store on the Kings Road back in 2000 before John and Jenny expanded their empire (originally from a market stall) to 34 shops.

    Getting started is key, what happens after that is down to focus, hard work and luck.

    4. Acorns can grow into Oaks

    Bill Gates famously said that “most people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” Timothy Melgund shared with us at the Ladder Club this year that he thought that they’d take Paperchase to 25 stores and he’s astonished that they now have 257 outlets. After the many years I’ve been at trade shows it is remarkable to see the massive transformation of so many businesses. The sky really is the limit. I myself can’t quite believe how far Blue Eyed Sun has come and that we’ve been honoured by the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

    5. We all Make Mistakes

    We’ve all made mistakes. Ged Mace from the Art File showed us an image of the collections he first launched, half of which were long rectangular designs that didn’t fit in most card displays. One of the best bits of advice people pick up at the seminars is on card sizing both in relation to both card rack space and stock envelope availability. We’ve all had typo errors. Despite checks in-house, with our production team and with our sales agents “ Happy Mohers Day” still slipped through our net one year. Watch out for poor font choices too. The most famous example of which was the ‘special aunt’ card with an incomplete ‘a’ that (at a glance) changed the meaning completely. The lesson: be prepared to make mistakes, lean from them and move on quickly.

    6. There are still Opportunities

    There is no formula for the perfect card, other than staying different and being fresh and original. Which is easier said than done. What works one year, may not work as well the next. The market is more diverse in it’s range of designs and looks than ever. More and more retailers want to be different from one another and are demanding original content from card publishers to help them achieve this. White label work is growing and sub brands are popping up left right and centre. That there is no formula is what is exciting for new publishers. At the same time, it’s also what is so challenging, with everyone (new and experienced) competing to stay relevant.

    7. The Link Effect

    The whole supply chain is important. You hear and see this time and time again at the Ladder Club. The seminar has had fantastic support from GF Smith, Enveco, Sherwood Press and the Imaging Centre over the years. All of it helpful advice rather than hard selling. Retailers acknowledge the value of great card suppliers with wonderful designs and good service. Many of the publishers who speak also recognise how vital good relationships with suppliers are to our success. We are only as strong as our weakest link.

    8. We have to take care of our Resources

    ‘Single-use’ is the word of the year for 2018. The ‘Blue Planet effect’ that I spoke about at Autumn Fair is having a massive impact on how we shop at the moment. Generally speaking our industry has been very conscientious. FSC stock is the norm, as is recycling and the fundraising each year with Christmas card charity packs. Despite the fact that most cello-bags are made with quality recyclable polypropylene, recycling facilities fo not facilitate them being recycled easily. Cello-bags are undoubtedly in the firing line and there is still confusion about what alternatives are best and the viability of compostable options. As one delegate said at the seminar this year, “you can’t be a start up and accept single-use plastics on your cards.” Sometimes we learn from our delegates and for me this is a clear signal of things to come. Expect to see less spot UV, more compostable bags and more naked cards becoming the norm in the very near future.

    9. The Internet has more to Offer

    Whilst the internet represents a significant threat and opportunity for retailers, it still appears that the majority of the card buying public prefer to shop in store for cards. Most of the main publishers and retailers have not been able to significantly grow their sales online. Moonpig has trail-blazed personalised online card buying. Companies like Thortful are in hot pursuit with a focus more on selling cards online with some personalisation on the inside. Both still make up a small percentage of the overall market with strong ambitions to change this. Most of my young team seem to buy their cards online, but the jury is still out for small and personal purchases like cards swinging fully online.

    10. Social Media is a Must

    The real triumph for publishers making the most of the internet has been on social media. Companies like Dean Morris and Ohh Deer have generated massive social media followings and opened up significant B2C web-sales with up to one third of their trade being direct to the public. Growing your brand via social and then translating this into sales further down the line is a strong strategy. Our industry has yet to fully harness the potential of influencers, but there are some great Ladder Club stories of celebrities buying cards and prints from designer-makers on internet marketplaces like Etsy and Not on the High Street and then sharing photos of them online which in turn boost sales, PR and website hits.

    The Future

    The Ladder Club has had a wonderful influence on our industry over the years and continues to grow from strength to strength. We have had some incredible speakers give up their time and energy to put back into the industry that has treated them so well. Next year the seminar will evolve yet again and I am excited to see what new designers the future has to offer us. One thing is for sure, there is no shortage of new talent looking to grow our greeting card business.

    Ten Great LC Success Stories

    Ten LC Publishers on their Way Up

  • Festive Friday 2018 at Blue Eyed Sun

    Festive Friday 2018 - Blue Eyed Sun

    It's Festive Friday 2018 this week, the day that kick starts UK Christmas card sending and we take time to think of all those we care about and get busy writing and sending them Christmas cards.

    The UK Greeting Card Association launched the Festive Friday campaign five years ago to encourage card publishers and retailers to send their Christmas cards early to help remind everyone to remember to send theirs. There are around 100,000 people working directly and indirectly with the UK card industry. If each of us sends ten Christmas cards to arrive in the first week of December it will have a fantastic ripple effect from those first million gestures. Last year had a fantastic effect on our industry and we hope that this fun initiative will continue for many years to come.

    At Blue Eyed Sun we've been getting into the Christmas spirit early and held a 'christmas card writing hour' for our team to write and send cards to their loved ones to support the Festive Friday 2018 campaign. We sponsored the cards, their time and the postage to support the GCA campaign. All our team had to do was to write as many cards as they wanted to in the hour. We managed over 200 Christmas cards between us, which will be making their way via Royal Mail over the weekend to their lucky recipients.

    Our team had a lot of fun on Festive Friday 2018 with Christmas jumpers and Santa and Elf hats to get us in the spirit. It's a wonderful feeling when we think about all of the love going out into the world from this short amount of time dedicated to card sending and we recommend it to anyone involved in the card industry.

    Even if you are not in the card industry, it is a special time of year to connect with your customers, friends and loved ones. Send them a nice Christmas card with a warm message in it expressing your gratitude and wishing them all the best for the New Year. We hope you enjoy spreading festive cheer around the world.

    Download a Free Toolkit for Festive Friday from the GCA website

    Cards can have valuable emotional impact in your loved ones' lives.

    Find out more about Blue Eyed Sun's Christmas cards for 2018 here. Available at all good card retailers.

    Festive Friday 2018

  • How to use a SWOT Analysis to improve your Business

    SWOT Analysis

    What is a SWOT Analysis?

    A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning technique to help you achieve your business and personal goals. By considering your internal Strengths and Weaknesses and external Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) it forces you to be specific about your objectives and to identify the key factors that will hinder or support your success.

    I think it’s a great tool for thinking things through, making decisions and most importantly taking action. There are no guarantees with any road we close to walk down, but using the SWOT analysis can help us to tread more carefully and keep our eyes wide open as we go.

    Let’s take a look at each of the elements and how retailers and publishers might use them. I’ll also talk about how we used the tool to decide whether or not to take on distributing BambooCup.

    Your Objective

    It’s important to get clear on what your goal is so that you use the SWOT analysis to examine the way forward with that objective. You might alter your objective at the end and redo the analysis, but it needs a focus to work. Most businesses, whether retailers or publishers, will probably be looking at how they can grow their sales. To decide on distributing BambooCup or not, we started by looking at our strengths.

    Strengths

    What do you currently do well in relation to the objective that you have in mind?

    A retailer might list their prime location as a strength or even the fact that they own their own premises. The power of their customer relationships and the knowledge that they have of their customers are also strengths as is their business experience and a well trained team.

    For a Publisher their strengths might an innovative design team or that they are financially stable and profitable. They could have a recognisable brand or a strong and active database.

    With BambooCup I knew that we were strong on marketing, PR and Social Media. Blue Eyed Sun is a familiar name with many retailers. We have a great operational team and our own warehouse space to accommodate the project. Personally I also have a passion for taking care of the environment - It’s one of the main reasons I don’t eat meat for example (not a weakness btw ;).

    Weaknesses

    Where do you need to improve in order to reach your goal and is this possible?

    A retailer may list ‘buying power’ as a weakness. It simply might not be possible to compete with supermarkets on price for example. Poor window displays on the other hand is a weakness that they can do something about. Other weaknesses might be include inadequate staff training, poor up-selling and bad stock control of best sellers.

    A publisher might need to improve their business structure and be more demanding of suppliers and retailers. Their designs might not be strong enough or they might simply not have enough customers.

    With BambooCup, we were not familiar with selling gifts. We didn’t know what we didn’t know about the category. The profit margins are smaller than cards and the business model is slightly different. The new products could put a strain on our cash flow. We weren’t known for gift products.

    Opportunities

    Where could this take us and how could it improve things?

    A retailer might consider the internet and social media as new opportunities for growing sales. Collaborating with other retailers on their streets to create events could be another.

    A publisher may identify they can grow their sales through new sectors and new export markets.

    With taking on the UK and Ireland distribution of BambooCup, Blue Eyed Sun could expand into new retailers we didn’t already stock. We could increase order values with our current retailers. It would also allow us to diversify. We could even expand into B2C using our social media skills if we chose to.

    Threats

    What are the potential obstacles and dangers ahead?

    A retailer might identify external threats that include business rates, poor parking on their high street or even competitors across the street from them.

    A publisher could see the decline of the high street, SOR (Sale or Return), increased bad debts, improved competition and a lack of younger generations entering the industry as threats.

    With BambooCup more experienced competitors, currency fluctuations, stock availability and supply chain issues were some examples of the threats we considered.

    It’s important to be specific about the threats as it helps to figure out what can be done about them. Some things, like the weather, for example, cannot be controlled but they can be kept an eye on and can affect what strategies are best to use.

    Strategies

    Once you’ve completed your SWOT Analysis you can start to consider different ways to achieve your goal.

    Strength-Opportunity

    Which strengths can be used to maximise the opportunities you have identified?

    A retailer could use their well trained team to improve customer experience in store to increase repeat business and average order values. Our publisher might use their innovative design team to expand into the white label market or export territories with the languages. We recognised that we could use our PR and marketing strengths to expand quickly into a fast growing product category with BambooCup.

    Strengths-Threats

    How can you use your strengths to minimise the threats identified?

    Retailers with a well trained team will have a better chance of resisting the threat of competitors. Financially stable publishers will weather bad debts. With BambooCup we used our marketing and trade PR strengths to position ourselves against our more experienced competitors.

    Weakness-Threats

    How can you minimise your weaknesses to avoid the threats you’ve listed?

    A retailer with weak window displays and sales staff can invest in training to boost sales to take on external threats. A publisher with weaker product might need to expand their design team. With BambooCup we trained ourselves up in product and category knowledge to fully understand and compete with our competitors.

    Weaknesses-Opportunities

    What can you do to minimise your weaknesses using the opportunities presented?

    A retailer training their team to offer better customer experience might use this as an opportunity to integrate the improvements with their social media. Taking the improved customer engagement online increases their reach and can boost sales.

    A publisher improving their weak business structure will allow them to successfully pursue new business opportunities abroad by taking on new team members who can facilitate this, for example.

    Despite not having sold giftware to retailers before, as Chairman and long standing member of the Giftware Association we have the network and resources to figure out things as we go. We also have a lot of retailer friends that we can call for advice and feedback.

    A Useful Tool

    The SWOT Analysis is a really useful tool that can help you decide whether an objective is achievable or not. If not, it can offer up new goals worth considering. You can use it for your business life and for your personal goals. You can even use it to analyse your competition.

    As a retailer it could help you to focus on where you want to take your business rather than the difficulties you might be facing. As a publisher it might help you to reassess the direction you are taking and open up new possibilities.

    After much deliberation it helped us to make the decision on distributing BambooCup and strengthen our weaknesses, explore new opportunities and plan for external threats.

    If it’s new to you, give it a go and let me know how you get on with it.

    How to Make Better Decisions

    How to Do Things When you Don't Feel Like It

    Learn more about the Ladder Club

  • The Henries Awards Winners 2018

    Henries Awards Winners 2018

    The Henries Awards Winners 2018 for the best greeting cards and card publishers in the UK have been announced!

    Here is a complete list of the 2018 Henries Award Winners and Finalists:

    A special congratulations to Ged Mace, MD of The Art File, who won the Honorary Achievement Award

    Emma Pearce, senior designer for Hotchpotch won The Lynn Tait Most Promising Young Designer or Artist Award

    Finalists
    Emma Grant, in-house designer for Cardmix, The Proper Mail Company and Woodmansterne
    Charlotte Mason, in-house designer for Woodmansterne and The Proper Mail Company
    Matt Nguyen, founder of Jolly Awesome
    Ian Owen, illustrator and founder of Folio
    Lizzie Parker, founder of Penguin Ink

    Zoo Lane from Paper Salad won Best Cute Range

    Finalists
    Fizzle & Pop from Twizler
    Fruit & Friends from Stripey Cat
    Krafty Glitter from Tache Crafts
    Scrabbley Pom Pets from Bexy Boo
    Tiny Squee Mousies from Santoro

    Father's Day Collection from Sooshichacha won Best Spring Seasons Range

    Finalists
    Charming Valentine's from Blue Eyed Sun
    Gin + Frolics Mother's Day from Rosie Made a Thing
    Easter Collection from Roger la Borde
    Father's Day Collection from Ohh Deer
    Quicksilver Easter from Wendy Jones-Blackett

    Brush Strokes from Stop The Clock Design won Best Contemporary Trend Range

    Finalists
    Cosmic from Meraki
    Cut Outs from Jolly Awesome
    Everyday Word Play from Poet and Painter
    Miami Vibes from Hotchpotch
    Pinata from Redback Cards

    Holy Flaps from Redback Cards won Best Humorous Range

    Finalists
    Classics from Deadpan
    Cloud Nine from Redback Cards
    Everyday Humour from Mean Mail
    Hurrah for Gin from Cath Tate Cards
    World of Moose from Woodmansterne

    David Doran from U Studio Design won Best Art Range

    Finalists
    Charcoal + Sparkle from Sarah Boddy
    David Shrigley x Brainbox Candy from Brainbox Candy
    Escapes from 1790 Cards
    Landmarks from I Drew This
    Wildlife Botanical from Lola Design

    Jamboree from Paper Salad won Best Male Range

    Finalists
    Brooklyn from Folio
    Fit For A King from GBCC
    Luxe from Hotchpotch
    Paloma Blue from Belly Button Designs
    Ralph from Stop the Clock Design

    Paper Kisses from Janie Wilson won Best Handmade or Hand-finished Range

    Finalists
    The Adventure Collection from Stephanie Davies Design
    Love Is A Four Legged Word from English Graphics
    Pure Fabrication from Counting Stars
    Strawberry Fizz from Ling Design
    Embroidery - style 416 from The Proper Mail Company

    More Glitter!!! from Counting Stars won Best Contemporary Words or Sentiments Range

    Finalists
    #Justsayin from Lucy Maggie Designs
    Classics from Deadpan
    Cloud Nine from Redback Cards
    Glitter Typography Collection from Oh Squirrel
    Graph from Paper Plane

    Symbols of Love from UK Greetings won Best Traditional Words or Sentiments Range

    Finalists
    Eternal from IC&G
    Love + Laughter from Paperlink
    Love Unlimited from Pigment
    Treasured Moments from Words 'n' Wishes
    Velvet from Jonny Javelin

    Party Popper from Cinnamon Aitch won Best Children's Range

    Finalists
    BK's from Noi Publishing
    Hoot Parade from U Studio Design
    Marzipan from Paper Rose
    Paper Gallery Juvenile Ages from GBCC
    Zoo Lane from Paper Salad

    Cherished Moments from Regal Publishing won Best Wholesale Range

    Finalists
    Candy Club from Xpress Yourself
    Everyday Collection from Out of the Blue Studios
    Female Collection from Simon Elvin
    In Loving Memory from Regal Publishing
    Special Days from Simon Elvin

    Gin + Frolics from Rosie Made a Thing won Best Occasions or Relations Range

    Finalists
    Copperleaf from Janie Wilson
    Happy Jackson from Pigment
    Occasions Collection from Naughty Little Cards
    Paloma from Belly Button Designs
    Straight Talkin' from Abacus Cards

    Christmas Houses from The Art File won Best Christmas Box or Pack

    Finalists
    Iced Silver from Five Dollar Shake
    Pizazz Limited Edition from Nigel Quiney
    Poles Apart RSPCA Charity Collection from UK Greetings
    Sally Swannell Snowy Street from Wrendale Designs
    Snowy Farm Scene Premium Box from Noel Tatt

    Festive Friends from The Handcrafted Card Company won Best Christmas Counter Cards Range

    Finalists
    Christmas Collection from Naughty Little Cards
    Flair from Hotchpotch
    Gin + Frolics from Rosie Made a Thing
    Paloma Christmas from Belly Button Designs
    Sketched from Janie Wilson

    Say It from CardMix won Best Photographic Range

    Finalists
    1000 Words from U Studio Design
    No Kidding from Woodmansterne
    Nostalgic Memories from Honovi Design
    Travel/Ocean from The Art Group
    Unleashed from Portfolio

    Ladybird Books for Grown-ups from Danilo won Best Licensed Card Range

    Finalists
    Disney/Marvel Magazine Covers from Hallmark
    I Like Birds from The Art File
    Peter Rabbit from UK Greetings
    Quentin Blake from Woodmansterne
    Sara Miller London from The Art File

    Stephanie Dyment Everyday from Glick won Best Giftwrappings Collection

    Finalists
    Confetti Balloon from Belly Button Bubble
    NW's from Noi Publishing
    Paper Salad from Glick
    Sara Miller SS18 from Penny Kennedy
    Starry Starry Night from Five Dollar Shake

    The Bright Side from Really Good won The Henry Cole Classic Award

    Finalists
    Die Stamped from Caroline Gardner
    Harold's Planet from Clare Maddicott Publications
    Matt from Woodmansterne
    Photocaptions from Cath Tate Cards
    Swing Cards from Santoro

    Best Service To The Independent Retailer

    IC&G won Gold
    UK Greetings won Silver
    Noel Tattwon Bronze

    Finalists also included:
    Cherry Orchard Publishing
    Grass Roots
    Jonny Javelin
    Nigel Quiney
    Paperlink
    Pigment
    Second Nature
    Woodmansterne
    Words 'n' Wishes

    Blue Eyed Sun were honoured to appear in the Top Thirty List of Best Customer Service for retailers and to be finalists in the Best Spring Seasons Category.

    The Henries Awards winners 2018 were revealed at a glamorous Eighties themed Henries Ball presented by Pat Sharp on Thursday 4th October at the Lancaster London Hotel, overlooking HydePark.

    Over 15,000 cards were entered into this year’s Henries and these were judged by an impressive Judging Panel, made up of top retailers (including buyers from John Lewis, WHSmith, Tesco, Paperchase, Scribbler, National Trust, House of Cards, Waterstones, Funky Pigeon as well as many leading independents). Congratulations to all of the Henries Awards winners and everyone who made it through to the finals.

    See previous Henries Awards winners and finalists by clicking here

    Read some award winning advice for the Henries and other awards here

  • The war on single-use plastic and how we can all help

    The War On Single-Use Plastic

    Dubbed “The Blue Planet Effect” shocking images of vast swathes of rubbish in our oceans in David Attenborough’s documentary aired on the BBC appear to have galvanised millions of viewers to take action in the war on single-use plastic.

    The Queen has announced a ban on single use plastics on the Royal Estate, both the BBC and Sky have pledged to eliminate them by 2020 and communities up and down the UK are planning to go plastic free.

    I spoke about this trend to retailers at Autumn Fair. The environment and socially conscious living are at the forefront of the minds of the biggest wave of consumers to walk the planet: Millennials. 

    Millennials

    With £4.4 trillion in earnings, millennials have more spending power than any previous generation. When it comes to traditional media like TV, radio or newspapers consumption is down by half, with most choosing to learn about the world via their mobile devices.

    They research products carefully and spend more freely when they choose to do so. They value authenticity in brands and retailers and will shun those they find disingenuous. They are obsessed with health, wellness and travel. Most importantly they have a passion for the environment.

    Part of the reason Blue Planet has resonated so deeply is how shareable clips of it have been online. Waking us all up to the effect our mindless waste is having on our world. Particularly plastic and why it is so problematic.

    Plastic Population

    Plastic bottles can take 450 years to break down, plastic bags are even worse. Packaging and cups made from styrofoam may be around forever (Americans currently use 25 billion of them a year). Single use coffee cups made from paper have plastic linings and 2.5 billion of them go into landfill each year in the UK (100 billion globally). There’s half a trillion single use plastic bottles produced in the world annually. We send 6 billion of them per annum to UK landfill sites.

    Plastic is everywhere 72% of European tap water is contaminated by microplastics. It’s pretty much impossible not to find them in the food we prepare in our homes and in the fish and meat we buy at the supermarket. Even the clothes we wear affect our environment. A typical polyester fleece, for example, sheds 250,000 micro plastics in it’s lifetime. Much of which is washed out to sea. So much so that there is now more plastic in the ocean than fish. 

    Plastic Problems

    Plastic are polymers derived from hydrocarbons which are mostly derived from oil. Oil is effectively made from the hundred million year old corpses of living things that came before us. Microplastics attract organic pollutants and then contaminate our food chain causing both animals and humans a host of health problems.

    BPA and Estrogenic chemicals in plastics have been linked to health issues like heart disease, hormone imbalance, increased caner risks, infertility, ADHD and even genital deformaties.

    What can we do?

    It’s not just Millennials that were affected by the images from Blue Planet, most of us want to do our bit too. There are four simple steps that we can all take to reduce the plastic we use in our lives.

    1. Refuse

    You can refuse unnecessary plastic packaging.The biggest one in our daily lives is food packaging. Plastic food packaging increased by 25% between 2004-14 using 800,000 tonnes pa only a third of which is recycled. Feedback to your supermarket that you don’t want it and choose fruit and veg that isn’t wrapped in plastic. 

    Share excessive packaging photos on social media to get companies to take action and make change. If you are company that people are doing this to then engage with them and take action. Talk through what is needed and how you can change.

    Some independent shops are now refusing to stock plastic bags. Even changing a single word at checkout can help customers to change. A retailer told me recently that they stopped saying “do you want a plastic bag” and asked instead “do you need a plastic bag.” The result was a huge drop off in single use plastic bags taken by customers.

    If you can’t eliminate plastic in your life then the next step is to reduce it.

    1. Reduce

    Laminate or cello glaze is not recyclable so try to reduce your use of them. The biggest source of this in most of our lives are Tetra Pak cartons which are laminated in polyethylene and contain a layer of aluminium which makes them difficult and costly to recycle. Most councils don’t take them at the moment. You can reduce your consumption of liquids using Tetra Paks or find alternative sources. 

    Glass milk bottles are on the rise again because of this trend. Similarly, SodaStream is seeing an uplift in sales as people reduce buying carbonated water in plastic bottles and make their own at home.

    The card industry is making real progress on reducing plastic packaging with trials in supermarkets selling ‘naked cards.’ Asda is removing cello wrapping from the vast majority of its cards and will save over 50 million cello bags annually equivalent to 100 tonnes of plastic. Unless the card requires a bag to protect delicate handcrafted elements it makes sense to reduce the reliance on cellos or shift to greener alternatives.

    1. Reuse

    It helps to reuse materials repeatedly, rather than discard them after a single use like we do so often after one use. That’s why it’s nice to enjoy your birthday cards or Christmas cards up around the house and even hold on to ones that have special meaning for you. 

    It’s the reusability that has a significant impact on single use items we get through everyday like plastic bottles, coffee cups and plastic shopping bags. Actively reusing reusable water bottles, reusable coffee cups and reusable shopping bags are small changes in habits that have a big effect when we all get involved and do our bit. There are fantastic commercial opportunities for retailers stocking these reusable products at the moment.

    You can also get involved at work by reusing items whenever possible. For example, we reuse pallets and cardboard boxes when shipping from Blue Eyed Sun. This little shifts all help to reduce waste. Share this with your customers and shout about it on social media.

    1. Recycle

    When it’s not recycled the plastic we use is either going into landfill and breaking down over hundreds of years or gets into the environment and winds up in the sea. It is estimated that we are effectively dumping a lorry load of plastic into the ocean every single minute.

    We need to recycle all of our plastic both at home and in the office. Councils don’t currently recycle polypropylene film so compostable bags could be a better solution, especially if we can get all councils to make industrial composting more accessible for consumers. Greeting cards themselves are an easy material to recycle as the majority are made from paper which is recyclable.

    Make sure you use your recycling bins at home and at work and encourage others to do so. If you are passionate about the environment recycling is a really important way to improve things. Small changes have a huge effect over time.

    What to do Next?

    Build environmental awareness and sustainability into your business. Take action, join the conversation and get involved. There are beach clean ups across the country you can join. Take little steps towards improving every month.

    One way to do this right now is to book your place at the GCA AGM on 17th October at Knebworth House. Sue Morrish from Glebe Cottage (aka the Eco-friendly Card Co) and Ceri Stirland from UKG will be discussing the card industry’s environmental issues and options open to publishers and retailers. You’ll have a chance to get involved and learn what’s best for your business as well as benefitting from all the other talks and seminars on the day. I look forward to seeing you there.

    Global waste produced whilst you read this blog post:

    3,350 plastic straws, 19 million plastic bags, 10 million plastic bottles, 41 tonnes of nappies, 10 lorry loads of plastic dumped in the sea - all of which take hundreds of years to break down.

    Read more about Business and the Environment

    Find out more about our Bamboo Products

    How to change your habits for good

    Click on the image below to see the slides from my talk at Autumn Fair:

  • Scotland's Trade Fair Autumn 2018 - Essential Information

    Scotlands Trade Fair Autumn 2018 - Essential Info

    Blue Eyed Sun will soon be exhibiting at the Scotland's Trade Fair Autumn 2018 in Glasgow on stand C18.

    Officially debuting at this leading Irish trade show is our top selling range of market leading reusable BambooCups made from bamboo fibre and a collection of exciting bamboo giftware.

    Quote Voucher code STFA18 when ordering during the show for FREE CARRIAGE.

    About Scotland's Trade Fair Autumn 2018

    This annual trade show is Scotland's leading gift fair. It runs for two days from Sunday 16th September to Monday 17th September from 09:30 - 17:00 at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow.

    To register for the show please click here.

    Where to Stay at Scotland's Trade Fair Autumn 2018

    The Crowne Plaza,  the Hilton Garden Inn, the Radisson Red and the Village Inn are within 5 minutes and close to the show.

    For help booking accommodation for the show click here

    How to get to Scotland's Trade Fair Autumn 2018

    There are 2000 car parking spaces available in the multi-storey car park located on the East end of the SEC (Postcode is G3 8YW).

    SEC has its own railway station 'Exhibition Centre' which is two stops on the low level from Glasgow Central Station.

    You can fly to Glasgow International Airport airport (a 20 minute drive from the show).

    For more information on travel for the show click here.

    When you get to the show do remember to come and see us in C18.

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

    Scotland's Trade Fair Autumn 2018 - Show Map

  • Blue Eyed Sun launch Deluxe Bamboo SlideCup by chic.mic

    Bamboo Deluxe SlideCupDeluxe Bamboo SlideCup by chic.mic are beautifully made from sustainable bamboo fibre on the outside and stainless steel on the inside. They feature a sexy sliding lid designed by Karen Rashid which prevents the liquid inside from spilling out. They are sized 200mm x 50mm and hold up to 400ml or 13.5 oz of liquids. There are six on-trend designs available in the collection.

    With the growing trend to fight single use plastics, more and more people are buying reusable coffee cups to stop the mindless waste of 2.5 billion single use, plastic lined coffee cups going to landfill in the UK and Ireland each year.

    Our Deluxe Bamboo SlideCup and BambooCup products are THE alternative to single use waste.

    Take advantage of this growing trend with these lovely deluxe bamboo cups. Available to order now.

    See our regular BambooCups

    Discover our Deluxe Bamboo Lunchboxes

    Learn about our Bamboo children's tableware

    SlideCup BambooCup Deluxe

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