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  • 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.


    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 ;).


    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.


    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.


    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.


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


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    #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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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
    Second Nature
    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. 


    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

    SlideCup BambooCup Deluxe

    Deluxe 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

  • Top Drawer Autumn 2018 - Essential Information

    Top Drawer Autumn 2018Top Drawer Autumn 2018 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 the show please click here.

    When is Top Drawer Autumn 2018?

    Top Drawer Autumn 2018 runs from Sunday 9th September until Tuesday 11th September from 09:30 - 18:00 at Olympia in London and features a stunning edited showcase of hundreds of suppliers.

    Where to Eat at Top Drawer Autumn 2018

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

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

    Where to Stay at Top Drawer Autumn 2018

    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 Olympia

    How to Get to Top Drawer Autumn 2018

    There's an overland train to Olympia Station to Top Drawer Autumn 2018 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?

    We have all of our top selling BambooCups, the reusable coffee cups tackling the 2.5 billion wasted single use, plastic lined coffee cups going to landfill each year. We also have our beautiful deluxe bamboo lunch boxes, SlideCup and our baby BambooFriends tableware.

    Blue Eyed Sun also have a gorgeous new everyday greeting card range called Biscuit at Top Drawer Autumn 2018 on stand J40. You can also order any last minute Christmas and see our new Spring Season designs for 2019.

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

    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.

    Top Drawer Autumn 2018 - Show Map

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

    Deluxe Bamboo Lunch Boxes - Blue Eyed Sun

    Deluxe Bamboo Lunchboxes by chic.mic are beautifully made from sustainable bamboo fibre feature a wooden bamboo lid and an airtight silicone seal to keep food fresh. They are sized 200mm x 150mm and include a removable inner divider and a small container for little lunch extras. There are eight on trend designs available in the collection.

    With the growing trend to fight single use plastics. more and more people are buying reusable lunchboxes rather than takeaway foods with single use plastic packaging.

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

    See our regular BambooCups

    Discover our Deluxe Bamboo SlideCups

    Learn about our Bamboo children's tableware

  • Glee Birmingham 2018 - Essential Information

    Glee Birmingham 2018 - Essential Info

    Everything you need to know about the Glee Birmingham 2018 trade show at the NEC:

    About Glee Birmingham 2018

    Autumn Fair 2018 runs for three days from Sunday 10th September to Tuesday 12th September from 09:00 - 18:00 at the NEC in Birmingham. It brings toether an inspirational showcase of over 1,000 British and International Exhibitors and attracts buyers from all over the world. It's a great opportunity to stock up on goods for that all important Christmas season and to see what's new for Spring seasons next year.

    Get your free ticket for the show please click here

    Where to Stay at Glee Birmingham 2018

    There are now several hotels on the NEC site, including Holiday Inn ExpressThe Hilton MetropoleThe Arden, and a Premier Inn.

    Click here for more accommodation options at the show

    Where to Eat at Glee Birmingham 2018

    Check out our 5 Great Restaurants near the NEC Birmingham blog post.

    How to get to Glee Birmingham 2018

    Travel to the show is easy with excellent rail and motorway links. The NEC post code is B40 1NT (if you use a sat nav). You can park for free in several car parks on site, all of which have 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. You can also click on the map below to plan your journey.

    See Blue Eyed Sun at Glee Birmingham 2018

    See all of our top selling BambooCups, the reusable coffee cups tackling the 2.5 billion wasted single use, plastic lined coffee cups going to landfill each year. We also have our beautiful deluxe bamboo lunch boxes, SlideCup and our baby BambooFriends tableware.

    Blue Eyed Sun also have a gorgeous new everyday greeting card range called Biscuit at Glee Birmingham 2018 on stand Stand 19M20. You can also order any last minute Christmas and see our new Spring Season designs for 2019.

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

    We're at also Top Drawer Autumn on the same weekend

    Glee Birmingham 2018 Show Map

    View Larger Map

  • Four Amazing Benefits of Thinking of You Week

    Thinking Of You WeekHow would you like to improve your mental and physical health, become more attractive and have more sex? Believe it or not these are some of the potential benefits of taking part in Thinking of You week this September.

    That’s because sending thinking of you cards is an act of altruism that is often rooted in empathy and/or compassion. Specifically, altruism is an action that benefits someone else. It’s different to empathy (our emotional experience of other’s feelings) and compassion (our emotional response to suffering and authentic desire to alleviate it). 

    If you have all three it can be good for you, good for others and even good for your business.

    It’s Good for You

    When we act generously towards others, we benefit as much as those to whom we are giving. The Dalai Lama playfully calls this “selfish altruism.” For example, a Harvard Study has shown that those who give contributions of time or money “are 42% more likely to be happy” than those who didn’t give  (Ask those who have contributed so far to my Mongolian fundraising and those that haven’t - the latter are definitely more miserable).

    For those that donate their time, psychologists have identified something called “helpers high”. Giving produces endorphins in the brain that produce a mild morphine type hit. Neuroscientists have even shown that the same part of our brain that lights up when we have sex is triggered by giving money to charity.

    It’s not just our minds that benefit, our bodies do too. Compassion can also protect us from stress, through a lower heart rate and lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone) amongst other health benefits. Spending money on others may also lower blood pressure and those that volunteer have been shown to experience fewer aches and pains, better overall health and less depression. According to one study, older volunteers even have a significantly lower chance of dying.

    Taking part in thinking of you week might also improve your love life. One survey of 10,000 people across 37 cultures found that kindness is the single universal requirement and the most important criterion for choosing a mate. Altruists are considered more attractive than non-altruists and they also have more sex.

    Taking the time to focus on others rather than ourselves is undoubtedly good for us. What’s more important is that generous acts like sending a card are good for others too. 

    Good for Others

    None of us ever really know what’s going on inside other people’s minds. So often, those who appear to have everything we might might want in life, decide to end it all. These deaths are a tragic and important reminder for us to take care of one another and let each other know that we are loved. Even those who don’t go to suicidal extremes may still be suffering in silence behind masks of happiness, success, etc. If you love someone, care about them or think they’re great in any way then let them know. A few kind words in card can really brighten someone’s day.

    Royal Mail’s scientific study several years ago showed that mothers have a more positive emotional response towards greeting cards compared to electronic messages on social networks, via sms or email. They also felt twice the amount of happiness receiving a card or handwritten note to digital alternatives. Furthermore, a nationwide survey showed that a handwritten note is the main thing mothers want on Mothering Sunday.

    We all know how special it is to receive a handwritten card from someone who has taken the time to buy, write and post it to us. The 54 videos I made last year on the Greeting Card Project provides further anecdotal evidence of this. Card sending and acts of altruism in general have positive effects on the neuro-chemicals in our brains.

    Leaders that are generous, by giving time and energy for example, can alter the biochemistry of their team. Generous behaviour releases a chemical called oxytocin which creates intense feelings of comfort and security. What’s interesting is that oxytocin is released in the recipient, the giver and anyone who witnesses the sacrifice the leader makes.

    By this rational, the sender of a card the recipient and those that see cards on their loved ones mantlepieces might also all receive the same hit of oxytocin themselves. A great example of this is Stephen Kelly, the CEO of Sage Plc, who regularly sends cards to his team to thank them for projects they’ve worked on or contributions they’ve made. Many of them keep the cards on their desks for months afterwards. The knock on effects can be greater than first perceived.

    Sending cards is a powerful way to spread good feelings around the world and within businesses.

    Good for Business

    More and more consumers now want businesses to spread the love too. They want them to treat their employees and suppliers fairly, to be socially responsible in how they source their goods, sustainable with their impact on the environment, ethical in their behaviour and to contribute charitably to communities and causes they value. Essentially, companies that are kind are the more attractive and can generate more sales when this kindness is built into their brand dna.

    A study  published in the Journal of Business Ethics showed that charity might make corporations more valuable. What’s important in both business and personal altruism is that the gestures are not perceived as self serving. In other words, the altruism has to be authentic.

    Companies are using stories more and more to connect with their customers through their brands. People want these stories to reflect their values and the needs they relate to most. It’s important for businesses to recognise this shift and to embody values like contribution, community and the environment at the heart of their organisations. These are vales that resonate with all of us right now as we see more and more footage online and in the media on the effects of climate change, single use plastics and over consumption of resources. 

    Thinking of you week is a great opportunity for businesses to get involved and send cards to their employees, suppliers and customers to let them know they are special and appreciated. It’s a nice alternative to Christmas as it’s secular and not tied to a religious holiday. It’s simply a time to be grateful and kind to others.

    It’s Contagious

    Many studies have shown that altruism inspires more altruism. Even when the cascading ripple effects diminish over time the total result can be three times greater than the initial act of generosity. 

    In fact, I saw this first hand in my fundraising for the Christina Noble Foundation recently. One of my first donations was for £1,000. Soon after I had a second £1,000 donated by someone who was inspired by the first donation. This inspired others to donate higher amounts than I usually receive on fundraising endeavours. In line with one study on giving, the total raised was over three times greater than the initial large donation.

    Conversely, selfish behaviour can spread just as easily. When we behave selfishly this can have a negative effect on the behaviour of others that ripples outwards.

    So, we have a choice to make about how we live our lives and the impacts our actions have on others. 

    We can choose to be kind, generous and loving on a regular basis and have a positive ripple effect on those around us. We can do nothing. Or we can spread negativity.

    So, why not choose to spread a little love, send some cards during thinking of you week and create a ripple effect of love and kindness in the world. Who knows what might happen!

    5 Great Card Sending Initiatives

    Why Thinking of You Week Matters

    Free Downloads on the GCA Site


  • Blue Eyed Sun launch new Fathers Day Cards for 2019

    SuperNova Fathers Day cardsNext Father's Day falls on the Sunday 16th June 2019 and Blue Eyed Sun have some gorgeous new Fathers Day cards available to choose from, so it's time for retailers to start thinking about putting their Spring orders together including Mothers Day cards, and Valentines cards.

    Here's what's new for Father's Day 2019...

    Pictured above is our new SuperNova range. Hand finished with decoupage elements, these beautiful Fathers Day cards are 160mm x 160mm.

    Sold in sixes to trade buyers only, all of our Fathers Day cards are blank inside, barcoded and cello-wrapped with an envelope. All are printed on lovely thick board from sustainable sources. Retailers can order online from the trade only section of our site.

    To stock these ranges 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 or you can 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.

    Click here to see our 2019 Valentine designs

    See our Mothers Day 2019 designs

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