Blue Eyed Sun

Blue Eyed Sun - gorgeous greetings cards

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  • Autumn Fair 2018 - Essential Information

    Autumn Fair 2018 - Essential Info

    Everything you need to know about Autumn Fair 2018 trade show at the NEC:

    About Autumn Fair 2018

    Autumn Fair 2018 runs for four days from Sunday 3rd September to Wednesday 6th 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.

    To register for the show please click here

    Seminars not to miss

    Examining the rise in eco and socially conscious trends with Jeremy Corner

    Sunday 2nd September - 11:15 - 11:45 Master the High Street Theatre

    Where to Stay at Autumn fair 2018

    Accommodation is a lot easier to find at Autumn Fair than Spring Fair and prices tend to be cheaper too. There are now several hotels on the NEC site, including Holiday Inn ExpressThe Hilton MetropoleThe Arden, and a Premier InnClick here for more accommodation options at Autumn Fair.

    Where to Eat at Autumn Fair 2018

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

    How to get to Autumn Fair 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 Autumn Fair

    See our new line of BambooCups, baby tableware and deluxe lunch boxes made from bamboo. These products are absolutely flying off our retailers' shelves with the drive for environmental change.

    Blue Eyed Sun will be officially launching our beautiful new 2019 Spring Seasons designs along with our gorgeous new Everyday range Biscuit  and best selling card ranges.

    We'd love to see you there, so be sure to stop by and see us on Stand 4A35.

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

    Autumn Fair 2018 Hall 4 Floor Plan

    View Larger Map

  • Blue Eyed Sun launch BambooFriends Baby Tableware

    BambooFriends - Blue Eyed Sun

    BambooFriends baby tableware by chic.mic are beautifully made from sustainable bamboo fibre. They are available to buy as a gift set which includes a cup, small bowl (200mm wide) and a larger bowl (100 mm wide). The bowls include seal onto most smooth surfaces to keep the plates steady whilst eating.

    There are six cute character designs available in the collection.

    With the growing trend to fight single use plastics, more and more parents wanting to do the right thing for their kids, sustainable bamboo products are an important step away from plastics and the toxic chemicals involved in their production.

    Take advantage of this growing trend with these lovely BambooFriends products. Available to order now.

    See our BambooCups

    Discover our Deluxe Bamboo Lunchboxes

    Learn about Bamboo SlideCup

  • Birthday Milestones added to Biscuit Card Range

    Blue Eyed Sun - Birthday Ages - Biscuit

    Blue Eyed Sun have added birthday milestones to their successful new range of smaller everyday cards called Biscuit.

    Biscuit are based on beautiful original artworks by Jo Corner. Each card is handmade with acetate and hand finished with jewels, the range includes 65 gorgeous Everyday captions. They are 120mm square and come cello-wrapped with a coloured envelope.

    Biscuit cards all come cello wrapped with a coloured envelope that is 125mm x 125mm square. Sold in sixes the designs are available for trade customers to order through our sales agents, at shows or logging into Blue Eyed Sun's trade only website.

    Biscuit are also available in Christmas, Valentines Day and Mother's Day.

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

    Autumn Fair at the NEC in Birmingham 2-5 September 2018 - Stand 4A35

    Glee at the NEC in Birmingham 10-12 September 2018 - Stand 19M20

    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 Autumn Gift and Home Fair 2018 - Essential Info

    The Autumn Gift And Home Fair 2018

    Blue Eyed Sun will soon be exhibiting at the Autumn Gift and Home Fair 2018 in Dublin, Ireland on stand B6A.

    Officially debuting at this leading Irish trade show is our top selling range of market leading reusable BambooCups made from bamboo fibre. See our new bamboo giftware products too.

    Quote Voucher code AGHF18 when ordering during the show for FREE CARRIAGE.

    About the Autumn Gift and Home Fair 2018

    This annual trade show is Ireland's leading gift fair. It runs for four days from Sunday 19th August to Wednesday 22nd August from 10:00 - 18:00 at the Citywest International Events Centre.

    To register for the show please click here.

    Where to Stay at the Autumn Gift and Home Fair 2018

    The closest hotel to the show is the CityWest Hotel a short walk away with prices from €80 - €125. Remember to quote "Autumn Home & Gift Fair" when booking.

    How to get to the Autumn Gift and Home Fair 2018

    Situated off junction 3a of the N7 dual carriageway the GPS settings are N 53° 17' 12.5" - W 6° 27' 01.4".

    The Luas (Tram/light rail) runs from Dublin centre to the Saggart stop which is 350m away from the fair. You can fly to Dublin 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 B6A.

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

    Autumn Gift and Home Fair 2018 FloorPlan

  • Blue Eyed Sun launch new Mothers Day Cards for 2019

    Blue Eyed Sun - Biscuit Mothers Day Cards

    With Mothering Sunday on Sunday 31st March 2019, it's time for retailers to start thinking about getting their Mothers Day cards and Valentines cards ordered before Christmas. We have two gorgeous new ranges for Mothers Day 2019...

    Pictured above is our Biscuit Mother's Day selection, based on artworks by Jo Corner. These gorgeous cards are 120mm square and hand finished with decoupage elements and jewels.

    Pictured below is our Crochet Garden range, based on original stitched artworks by Jo Corner. These delightful cards are 160mm square and hand finished with jewels.

    Sold in sixes to trade buyers only, all of our Mothers Day cards are blank inside, barcoded and cello-wrapped with a matching envelope. All Blue Eyed Sun Mothers Day cards are printed on beautiful thick boards from sustainable managed sources. Retailers can order online from our  large selection of designs in 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  www.blueeyedsun.co.uk 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 2019 Father's Day designs

    Scientists prove that cards are good for your Mother

    Crochet Garden card range by Blue Eyed Sun

  • Why facing your fears is so important for your growth

    Facing Your FearsLast month I wrote about the importance of taking on new challenges to help us to grow. Life always feels more exciting when we are doing things that scare us a little and that stretch our comfort zone. We can blossom inside and thrive externally as a result of facing our fears. 

    Now that’s all great and can be true, but what if facing your fears just feels too big? How do you even begin to start? How do you deal with negative self talk? How do you manage to take that first step? This month I want to deal with the ‘F’ word in more detail because, for some of us, it can feel more complicated than the adage that we just “feel the fear and do it anyway.”

    Emotion Rules

    We like to think that our decisions are ruled by considered judgement, but in truth our entire lives are ruled by emotions. Emotions are lower level responses in our brains that create biochemical reactions that affect our physical state. The amygdala, part of our reptilian brain, plays a key part in our emotional arousal, most famously being the centre of our fight or flight responses. Emotions are physical and can be objectively measured. They also precede our feelings.

    Feelings are the interpretations of our emotional states. They are influenced by our beliefs, experiences and memories. They are the result of your brain perceiving and assigning meaning to the emotion. Not only can feelings be triggered by emotional reactions to things around us, we can trigger them by just thinking about something threatening which in turn can trigger an emotional response.

    Triggers

    We’ve all experienced situations where the thought of something sets off an emotional reaction and affects our physiology. For instance, the thought of speaking before a group of people might make our palms sweaty and clammy. The idea of riding a motorbike might make our heart beat race with fear and anxiety. Imagining our business failing can also lead to sleepless nights.

    Understanding the difference between emotions and feelings and becoming aware of them in our lives can help us to cope with our fears. It means that we can acknowledge the physiological response and identify the root cause before adding in our own conscious thought to alter how we feel about the state we are in.

    Exciting times

    Did you know that fear and excitement have the exact same set of emotional signifiers (faster heart rate, rapid and shallow breathing, sweating)? The primary difference is the meaning we assign to the emotion. With fear we start to feel anxious, worried and dread what is about to come. With excitement we feel nervous, energised and look forward to what is going to happen.

    We all have instinctual emotional responses to things we experience or conceive of in our minds. The trick is to learn to adapt the feelings that we associate with them over time. 

    Making Change

    At first your body will still have the instinctual emotional responses. When you start to add new thoughts to replace the old ones, your feelings will start to change. 

    Before going on stage you can acknowledge your state and tell yourself you feel excited about speaking to a crowd. You can focus on the value that you are about to share with them instead of your own fears. Instead of fearing for the future of your business, you can consider the opportunities that your business might have ahead and feel the excitement of trying them out.

    We all need to take a second to keep our minds on track when we sense our emotional responses. When I was learning to ride a dirt bike this year for my Gobi Desert Enduro there were countless moments when the bike shifted unexpectedly beneath me as the tires tried to find traction in different terrain. Often, my heart would jump and I would gasp for breath. At first this felt terrifying. I was afraid of falling and hurting myself, or worse. Over time I learned to tell myself that this was the nature of riding this vehicle and to get used to it. Just as a ship bobbing up and down in the sea is part of sailing, so it is with dirt biking on land. 

    Over time I stopped feeling fearful as I reminded myself how thrilling it was to ride a motorbike and to feel free out in the open air.

    Living from Fear

    So many of us often react to life from a place of fear. We do it in our businesses when we are scared of losing ground commercially or are afraid of what others might think. We do it in our relationships when we don’t let go and trust one another. We do it with our kids when we don’t give them the space they need to make mistakes and grow.

    Our fears hold us back from really connecting with one another, from growing our businesses to new heights and from developing personally. Perhaps it’s because we are afraid of what we might become if we confront our fears. 

    It certainly feels safer staying put, even when it’s bad. Because it’s something you know, you think your risks are lower. You think you know who you are and where you are, but in truth these are just ideas in your mind.

    Our Thoughts

    We think that our thoughts are ourselves and that we cannot control them, but this just isn’t true. We can choose which thoughts to pay attention to and we can feed our minds with thoughts that help us rather than hinder us.

    Who we are right now is as much of an idea in our heads as who we want to be. So why not overcome your fears and be who you are meant to be? You can stop holding yourself back in your business, your relationships and your own life.

    Pushing Through 

    How do you get started? First, rate yourself out of 10; 1 being very afraid and 10 being super confident. Then figure out how to move yourself up the scale.

    I was afraid of getting back on a motorbike after crashing a moped that I’d never ridden before as a teenager in Greece. As a 1 out of 10, I booked a one day Certificate of Basic Training (CBT) course and got some proper motorcycle training. This got me to a 3. Passing my motorbike license got me to a 5 and more practice got me to a 7. You get the idea.

    If you are afraid for your business buy a business book or enrol in a course. Afraid of public speaking? Then practice in front of a mirror and join a local speaking group for support.

    Eye the Prize

    When learning to turn corners on a motorbike my instructor taught me to focus on where I wanted to go rather than looking at something I was afraid of crashing into. The bike would always respond accordingly as my body naturally adjusted towards the direction I was looking.

    This is a great lesson for life in general and for overcoming your fears. Keep your eye on the prize rather than your fears. You are far more likely to reach your goals this way.

    Setbacks

    What happens if you can’t handle something you try? It was a personal goal to complete the trip injury free and I managed to dislocate my shoulder on my actual trip. It was a tough set back to swallow. 

    What do you do if you have a set back? You dust yourself off and try again. Get a new instructor, learn more, practice. Don’t let it stop you.

    On the other side of my fear I’ve found something I love to do. My heart sings with joy on a motorbike and I feel so blessed to be alive. There is no feeling quite like blasting across the Gobi desert on dirt bikes at 60mph with friends.

    Facing your fears and pushing past them is actually less frightening than staying where you are. Life is not a dress rehearsal. Facing your fears is the only way to slay your dragons and grow into everything you are capable of being. Take a breath and go for it.

    Contribute to Jeremy’s fundraising at www.justgiving.com/gobidesertenduro 

    How to deal with shame in business

    How to cope when things go wrong

    Eight ways to deal with failure

  • Blue Eyed Sun launch new Valentines Cards for 2019

    Blue Eyed Sun - Valentines Day Cards

    Blue Eyed Sun have launched two new ranges of Valentines Cards for 2019. Valentine's Day falls on Thursday 14th February 2019 and you can order from us right up until the last minute. Lines do sell out, so don't leave it too late! Here's what's new for Valentine's Day 2019:

    Pictured at the top of this post is Blue Eyed Sun's Biscuit Valentines range, based on original designs by artist, Jo Corner. These gorgeous new Valentine's Day designs are made with decoupage elements and hand finished with jewels. The cards are all 120mm square.

    Pictured below is our new Lush range of 160mm square cards hand finished with jewels.

    Sold in sixes to trade buyers only, all of our new ranges of Valentines Day cards for 2019 are barcoded, cello-wrapped with a red envelope and blank inside. Our Valentines cards are all printed on FSC board from sustainable managed forests. There is still time to order these cards for your store and we have a large selection of designs online in the trade only section of our site.

    To stock these gorgeous cards in your shop click here. If you'd like to see them in your local shop please tell them and point them towards www.blueeyedsun.co.uk or you can recommend a shop to us by clicking here. You can also visit our stockists page to find a stockist near you.

    See our cards in person at Autumn Fair - Stand 4A35

    Click here to see our Mother's Day 2019 designs

    See our Father's Day 2019 designs

    Lush card range by Blue Eyed Sun

  • Home and Gift 2018 - Essential Information

    Home And Gift 2018Blue Eyed Sun will soon be exhibiting at the Home and Gift 2018 trade show on a new stand in Design Point One (DP1). Officially launching at this well loved show is an fresh new range range of handmade cards called Biscuit. We also have sneak previews of our wonderful Spring 2019 selection and an exciting new range. As well as our top selling range of market leading reusable BambooCups made from bamboo fibre so be sure to stop by and see us.

    Quote Voucher code HG18 when ordering during the show (online or offline) for FREE CARRIAGE.

    About Home and Gift 2018

    This annual trade show is a highlight on buyers' calendars for it's relaxed Summery atmosphere and great range of products on offer in the run up to Christmas. It runs for four days from Sunday 15th July to Wednesday 18th July from 09:00 - 18:00 at the Harrogate International Centre. It really is a pleasure doing business at this show, so don't miss it!

    To register for Home and Gift please click here.

    Where to Stay at Home and Gift 2018

    The closest hotels to the show are the Holiday InnTravel LodgePremier Inn and The Old Swan a short walk away with prices from £65-£150. You can search a List of Hotels in Harrogate by clicking here. A good tip if you can't find a room is to stay in York, a short train ride away.

    Where to Eat at Home and Gift 2018

    Harrogate has many wonderful restaurants and cafes including the world famous Betty's Tea Rooms. We've sampled lots of them over the years and have short listed some of our favourites for you to try below:

    4 Great Restaurants near the Harrogate International Centre

    How to get to Home and Gift 2018

    The roads into Harrogate can get very congested so allow plenty of time if you are coming by car. The Harrogate International Centre post code is HG1 5LA and there are 400 car spaces on site with a daily cost of £13. These spaces get pretty full so you may like to use the park and ride scheme running from the Great Yorkshire Showground on the A61 (Post code HG2 8NZ).  All parking will be available on a concrete surface, which will be safe for use for any visitors.

    Trains run every half hour from Leeds and every hour from York. There is a free shuttle bus from Harrogate train station to the show. You can fly to Leeds Bradford airport (20 minute drive from the show). Buses go every 90 minutes and take half an hour.

    For more information on travel for the show click here.

    How to find DP 1 at Home and Gift

    When you get to Harrogate do remember to come and see us in DP 1 on stand D110.

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

    Home and Gift Show map 2018

  • The Retas Awards 2018 - Winners and Finalists

    The Retas Awards 2018 WinnersCongratulations to all of the finalists and winners of the Retas Awards 2018 celebrating Greeting Card Retailing in the UK. We would especially like to thank all of you who stock our cards! We consider ourselves very privileged to be serving such a fine host of retailers.

    The Retas Awards 2018 Winners and Finalists are

    Jan Dowell, manager of three Card Factory stores, Merry Hill shopping centre, Birmingham won Greeting Card Retail Employee of the Year

    Emma Guy, sales assistant of Jarrolds, Norwich
    Kelly Medgett, store manager of Card Factory, Bluewater shopping centre, Kent
    Norma Tomkinson, The Card Room supervisor for Gee Tee's, Westhoughton
    Samantha Williams, retail store manager of Blaby Post Office, Blaby
    Tracy Wynne, manager of Hallmark, Widnes

    Paperchase won Greeting Card Retailer of the Year

    Northwood Cards & Gifts won Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer - London (inside the M25)

    Finalists 2018
    Caxton - Temple Fortune
    Medici Gallery - South Kensington
    Mooch - Ealing
    Moments - Wanstead
    My Favourite Things - Raynes Park

    Cardies - Stevenage won Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer - Home Counties

    Finalists 2018
    Card Shack - Broadstairs
    Creased Cards - Brighton
    Moda - Folkestone
    Nest at No 9 - Olney
    White Mint -Berkhamsted and St Albans

    Snape Maltings - Aldeburgh won Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer - East Anglia

    Finalists 2018
    Cards R Us - South Woodham Ferrers
    The Card Shop - Norwich
    Celebrations Hallmark - Aylsham
    The House Of Cards - Lincoln
    The Olive Branch - Billericay and Brentwood

    Southbourne Cards - Bournemouth won Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer - South West

    Finalists 2018
    Just Cards - Honiton
    Lorelei - Truro
    Occasional Cards - Kingsbridge
    Paper Moon - Sidmouth
    Romantica - three stores in Bristol

    The Little Card & Gift Company - Newport won Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer - Wales and the Midlands

    Finalists 2018
    Austin & Co - Malvern
    Celebrations - Stourbridge
    Nest - Leicester
    Paperweight - Cardiff
    You - Stamford

    Hallmark Widnes - Widnes won Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer - North and Northern Ireland

    Finalists 2018
    Just For You - Belfast
    RBUK - Rochdale
    Reflections - Nantwich
    Sincerely Yours - Warrington
    Thinking Of You - Denby Dale

    Kairds - Kirkwall won Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer - Scotland

    Finalists 2018
    Everyone's Designs - Edinburgh
    Gibsons of Haddington - Haddington
    JP Pozzi and Bijou - Buckie and Elgin
    Paper Tiger - two stores in Edinburgh
    Top Drawer - St Andrews

    Bromley & Co - Ipswich won Best Greeting Card Retailer Newcomer Or New Branch - South

    Finalists 2018
    Cat's Whiskers - Bishops Cleeve
    Mustard - Oadby
    Objectables - Folkestone
    Paper Turtle - Lewes
    Wave - Bungay

    Baileys Cards & Gifts (Hallmark) - Ainsdale won Best Greeting Card Retailer Newcomer or New Branch North

    Finalists 2018
    Best Wishes - Garstang
    Cards & Gifts - Sheffield
    West Kirby Cards - Wirral
    Holly Blue - Saltburn By The Sea
    Pencil Me In - Elgin

    Gerrards Cross & Chorleywood Bookshops won Best Independent Bookstore Retailer of Greeting Cards

    Finalists 2018
    Carnforth Bookshop - Carnforth
    Daunt Books - eight stores
    Diss Publishing Bookshop - Diss
    The Guisborough Bookshop - Guisborough
    Wimbledon Books - Wimbledon

    Blaby Post Office - Blaby won Best Non-Specialist Independent Retailer of Greeting Cards - North

    Finalists 2018
    The Apple Tree Gift Shop & Teahouse - Ockbrook
    Church Gallery - Kirkby Stephen
    Gift + Home - Altrincham and Hale
    Oklahoma - Manchester
    QLM House & Home - Leeds

    Cadeaux & Co - Chipping Sodbury and Wells won Best Non-Specialist Independent Retailer of Greeting Cards - South

    Finalists 2018
    Darts Farm Shop - Topsham
    Fourteen Lifestyle - Stroud
    Ginger Fig - Taunton
    In Heaven At Home - Market Harborough
    Newport Pagnell Post Office - Newport Pagnell

    House of Cards won Best Greeting Card Small Multiple (4-20 stores)

    Finalists 2018
    3 Wishes - Broadstone, Ferndown, Lymington, Ringwood and Verwood
    Between The Lines - 14 stores in the South
    Mayther - seven stores in the South
    Postmark - five stores in London
    Zo & Co - four stores in Greater Manchester and Cheshire

    Morley Group won Best Department Store Retailer of Greeting Cards

    Finalists 2018
    Atkinsons - Sheffield
    Barkers - Northallerton
    Bentalls - Kingston
    Fenwicks of Newcastle - Newcastle
    John Lewis - 50 stores

    Sainsbury's won Best Supermarket Retailer of Greeting Cards

    Finalists 2018
    Asda
    Co-Op
    Morrisons
    Tesco
    Waitrose

    Gee Tee's won Best Non-Specialist Multiple Retailer of Greeting Cards (4+ stores)

    Finalists 2018
    Marks & Spencer -1000+ stores nationwide
    National Trust - 200+ stores nationwide
    Oliver Bonas - 70 stores nationwide
    Waterstones - 250+ stores nationwide
    WHSmith - 611 stores nationwide

    Paperchase won Best Specialist Multiple Retailer of Greeting Cards (20+ stores)

    Finalists 2018
    Cards Direct - 20+ stores
    Card Factory - 900+ stores
    Cards Galore - 50 stores
    Cardzone Group -100+ stores
    Scribbler -34 stores

    Garsons - Esher and Titchfield won Best Garden Centre Retailer of Greeting Cards

    Finalists 2018
    British Garden Centres - 10 branches nationwide
    Hawley Garden Centre - Dartford
    Klondyke & Strikes - 22 garden centres
    Longacres - Bagshot, Bybrook Barn, Chobham and Shepperton
    Thurrock Garden Centre - Ockenden

    Blue Rose Gifts & Balloons, Heywood - for its 1940s celebration and Armed Forces Day initiative won Best Greeting Card Retailer Initiative

    Finalists 2018
    Calliope Gifts, Alton, Dorking and Haywards Heath - for its Thinking of You Week initiative
    Dragonfly Cards & Gifts, Knaresborough - for its Thank You Teacher initiative
    Ohh Deer, Ipswich - for its Creative Corner
    Scribbler - for its Valentine's Speed Dating Event
    Wishes of Cudworth - for its Cudworth Bunny Trail

    Jacksons - Sheffield won Best Greeting Card Service Based Wholesaler

    Finalists 2018
    Archway Cards - Norwich
    Budget Greeting Cards - eight branches UK and Eire
    Crosswear Trading - Enfield
    Greetings House - Walsall
    Paul White Group - Gateshead, Leeds, Nottingham

    Now in their fourteenth year, The Retas Awards are established in recognition of the tremendous contribution that retailers - both large and small - make to the success of the greeting card industry. Launched by Progressive Greetings magazine in 2005, The Retas Awards recognise and celebrate not only the top independent and multiple greeting card retailers regionally and nationally, but also the new generation of retailers as well as employees of outstanding excellence.

    This year the Retas Awards, the ‘Oscars’ of greeting card retailing, was held at at an oceanic "into the blue" themed luncheon at at The Dorchester Hotel on Wednesday 11th July, where the Retas Awards 2018 winners were announced by comedian Tania Edwards. Congratulations to all of the winners and finalists!

    Click here to see previous winners of The Retas Awards

    Click here to request more information on Blue Eyed Sun

  • The Importance of Taking on New Challenges

    Taking On New ChallengesIt easy to stay safe in life and to avoid taking on new challenges. We can often become complacent, especially when we are scared of failing, getting hurt or losing what we already have. The truth is: change is inevitable. Even if we do nothing, we can still fail, get hurt and lose everything.

    To be successful in business and make the most of life you have to get comfortable with taking on new challenges. You have to get used to the difficulties, the unknowns and the pain. You almost need to look forward to them so that it becomes habitual and forces you to grow. 

    I currently have four new challenges that are testing my comfort zone:

    The Giftware Association

    I am honoured to have been elected as the new chairman of the GA. It's a trade organisation founded in 1947 with a rich history of contribution to the heart of our industry. Most famously it birthed Spring Fair and Autumn Fair as well as creating the ever popular Gift of the Year Awards. I'm excited to be working with our new deputy chairman, Henri Davis, and our new vice-chairman, Gert Schyberg, our experienced team of dedicated volunteers on the National Committee, our knowledgable BATF board, our talented Chief Executive, Sarah Ward, and our hard working in-house GA Team.

    Our challenge is to continue to drive active member engagement and grow membership numbers. Improving our website, our blog, enhancing our social media activity and updating our CRM system will all help. As will increasing the number of members paying by direct debit or standing order to reduce wasted time chasing outstanding payments. If you are a member, you can assist us by automating your payments to enable the team to spend more time helping you and other members. You can also help by keeping us informed of the issues that matter most to you and what you need in your business right now. We are here for you, please do engage with us.

    To take on this challenge I will be drawing on the strengths of the GA team, the board, our members and National Committee members to help drive forward the changes needed. This will stretch my comfort zone as I will also be doubling the number of work days I currently have committed to the GA. The fact that we have such an excellent group of people involved is inspiring. 

    The Gobi Desert

    I have spent the past six months learning how to ride a motorbike, gaining my license, training on an off road KTM bike and improving my physical fitness in order to take part in a 1,500 km enduro motorbike ride across the Gobi Desert. The trip with friends is self funded and supported.

    I am raising funds for the Christina Noble Foundation, which helps street children in Mongolia. Ulaanbaatar is the coldest capital city in the world with temperatures dropping to-30°C in the winter and destitute children living in appalling conditions in sewers and air conditioning ducts just to try and keep warm. All of my own challenges pale in significance to what these kids have to endure. I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do to help them with the funds we raise. If you’d like to be involved see the link below.

    My journey to Mongolia has not been without its challenges. First I had to overcome my fear motorbikes. My grandfather was left disabled my motorbike accident in his late teens. As a teenager myself, the first and only time I got on a motorbike I crashed it within 10 minutes of hiring it and then crashed twice on the way to the hospital to get myself stitched back together. I was terrified the day I took my CBT (certificate of basic training) in January. With practice I have  learned to love riding a motorbike, and I really love off-road dirt biking. 

    Everything about this challenge has stretched my comfort zone, physically and mentally. Recently, I suffered a further set back by fracturing my wrist during training. Making this trip be about something more than me drives me to complete my journey there. I also cannot wait to see the stars in the desert at night. Having a purpose and goal that excites me has kept me going, even through the difficult times.

    Help street children in Mongolia by clicking here

    BambooCups

    For years I have advised new publishers I mentor to avoid tying up their cash in giftware products and to focus on higher margin greeting cards. This year I have ignored my advice by signing an exclusive distribution deal for chic.mic’s BambooCup in the UK and Ireland. We relaunched the products in April and that they have been selling extremely well. We’ve also had a huge amount of interest from multiples across the UK and Ireland.

    I'm passionate about environmental and socially conscious products and am thrilled to be selling what I believe to be the finest reusable bamboo cup on the UK market containing the highest concentration of bamboo fibre, the best selection of designs and topped with a patented bamboo lid. 

    With lower profit margins and an alternative distribution model to greeting cards I am faced with a new set of challenges. Aside from the obvious financial and cash flow implications, I'm having to learn a lot about eco-friendly products and the giftware market. It's also forcing me to take a long hard look at our current sales model to figure out the most effective solutions for reaching our customers.

    In the long run, making difficult decisions and learning new things will have a positive effect on my own personal development and our business as a whole. It stretches our team, opens new doors and it helps us to grow beyond what we would've achieved just selling cards. It's also exciting to be part of a fast-growing product category in retail right now.

    Greeting Cards

    Speaking to my more experienced colleagues in the card industry at PG Live, this year sounds like one of the most challenging ever in the greeting card market. Despite many companies creating exceptional work, competition is fierce and plenty of publishers and retailers are struggling.

    One of our biggest challenges as publishers is the delicate balance between creating work that we love and producing cards that sell. In an ideal world there would be beautiful synergy between the two. Unfortunately, and I find disappointingly, it is not always the case that cards we love to create necessarily sell that well.

    In a difficult environment it's essential to create the best greeting cards on the market. This is no easy task and there are no guarantees. What worked before may not do so any more. And yet one cannot do nothing. The market requires constant innovation and new product. This still presents opportunities. I'm excited about our fresh new Biscuit range of cards lunching in DP 1 at Home & Gift and I'm currently working on an exciting new socially conscious card project for 2019.

    I am starting to work with more designers in order to increase our chances of success with new ranges that are different and still commercial (the holy grail of card publishing). We have excellent distribution and make a great partner. I am also looking at import opportunities, licensing deals and other partnerships to grow our card sales.

    Again this is stretching my comfort zone as I have to learn to develop bestselling cards with other designers after so many years of working with one in-house designer. As well as new opportunities, new partnerships will present new challenges and new unknowns. I'm excited about these new ventures and what unknowns they will bring.

    Mindset 

    If you want to overcome adversity and triumph over new obstacles and challenges you have to alter your mindset. You need to find ways of seeing past the difficulties rather than spending all your time looking at them. It's useless to you and those around you to complain about how difficult things are. At its simplest level just focus on the first step forward. Take a deep breath and take the step. With each following step you will grow stronger.

    Read more on the Giftware Association here

    Learn more about Jeremy's Gobi Desert Enduro

    Stock BambooCup in your store 

    Meet our fresh new card range called Biscuit

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