Blue Eyed Sun

Blue Eyed Sun - gorgeous greetings cards

BES Blog

  • Gobi Desert Challenge for Christina Noble Foundation

    Jeremy Corner - Gobi Desert Motorbike

    Blue Eyed Sun MD and Giftware Association Chairman, Jeremy Corner, is embarking on a challenging 1,500km off road motorbike trip across the Gobi Desert in Mongolia from 2 - 11 July. Starting in Ulaanbaatar he will be riding with a group of eight friends and a support vehicle and staying in Gers (small huts) on a route that will cover distances of 150-200 miles each day.

    Riding KTM 450 6 Day Enduro off-road motorbikes on this self funded trip, he is aiming to raise £3,000 for the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation which helps street children in Mongolia. The charity helps youngsters in desperate need on streets of Ulaanbaatar, the coldest capital city in the world where temperatures drop to -40 degrees Celsius and unemployment runs at 60%. The funds raised will provide the children with access to warm accommodation, nutrition and social support through the Blue Skies Village initiative which Jeremy plans to visit during his trip. If the target is reached it will be enough to purchase a new ger for the village.

    Jeremy is a keen supporter of children's charities having run several marathons for the likes of Barnardos, Save the Children, RockinghorseCLDF and UNICEF. He was inspired to support the Christina Noble Foundation after seeing Noble, a film about Christina's own life.

    "Having a son and knowing how vulnerable children can be makes it all the more important that we help kids in the most challenging of conditions. They are the future of our planet and it makes so much sense to show them that there is love, generosity and compassion there for them. In time and with luck they will grow into adults who share these values." - Jeremy

    The Gobi desert is the fifth largest desert in the world and Asia's second largest. It's 500,000 square miles with a mixture of terrains and temperatures ranging up to 30 degrees celsius in July. In addition to physical training, Jeremy has spent the last six months learning to ride a motorbike, passing his license and training on off-road bikes in the UK to be able to complete this trip.

    If you’d like to support Jeremy’s fundraising please donate what you can here: https://www.justgiving.com/gobidesertenduro

    Christina Noble Foundation Mongolia

    Gobi Desert Enduro

  • Jeremy Corner elected as Chairman of the Giftware Association

    Jeremy Corner Chairman The GA

    Blue Eyed Sun MD, Jeremy Corner, has been elected as the new Chairman of the Giftware Association (a.k.a. The GA). This follows two years of serving as Vice Chair to outgoing Chairman, Henri Davis, who will take over as Deputy Chair from Michael Pape from Ravensden. Gert Schyberg of Sebnini has taken over as the new Vice Chair.

    The GA is a trade organisation founded in 1947 with a rich history of contribution to the heart of the industry. Most famously it birthed Spring Fair and Autumn Fair as well as creating the ever popular Gift of the Year Awards. It boasts around 700 supplier and retailer members and is positioned at the heart of the Giftware Industry. It is a lifeline of support to it's members for its enormous range of resources, lobbying of government and offers a selection of discounts from key industry suppliers, small business services and trade shows.

    "I am honoured to have been elected as the new chairman of the GA. I'm excited to be working with Henri and Gert (pictured with Jeremy above), 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." - said Jeremy.

    "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."

    Jeremy took on the new role at the GA Member's Day, held this year at the Mockingbird Cinema in Birmingham. The day included a talk on retail by retail expert Michael Wheedon and three informative panels discussing topics ranging from GDPR and legal compliance to awards and future proofing your business.

    Jeremy is also currently the Treasurer of the Greeting Card Association and an active mentor to small businesses in the card and gift industries through initiatives like The Ladder Club. Blue Eyed Sun has been a member of the GA since 2003 and Jeremy has sat on the National Committee since 2011.

    What is the point of Trade Organisations?

    What I learned from the Dutch Greeting Card Association

    Join the GA

  • Blue Eyed Sun launch new Biscuit greeting card range

    Biscuit Greeting CardsBlue Eyed Sun have launched a brand new range of 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 54 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, by brochure, at shows or logging into Blue Eyed Sun's trade only website.

    A new Everyday Supplement 2018 is on its way to retailers featuring all our latest designs, which are available for delivery from 15th July.

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

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

    Home and Gift at the Harrogate International Centre 15-18 July 2018 -  Stand DP1-D110

    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.

  • Business Ambition with Peter Jones from Dragons Den

    Jeremy Corner Peter Jones

    Watch Blue Eyed Sun MD, Jeremy Corner, on a Facebook Live panel session with Dragon's Den star and tycoon, Peter Jones. The panel was led by Kevin Poulter and included Janice B Gordon, both fellow Sage Business Experts. Organised by Sage the broadcast on 13th June was part of their ongoing support for business builders.

    The discussion included topics like ambition, what makes British business great, brexit, greeting cards and BambooCups. The evening continued with a fireside chat between Peter Jones and Sage CEO, Stephen Kelly. Attended by Sage customers it was fascinating to listen to Peter's journey and to hear tips for businesses within the audience.

    Click on the link to download a free ebook on Business Ambition.

    You can watch the playback of the discussion by clicking on the image below:

    NB. There are some issues with viewing this video internationally. We are working on this.

  • Christmas BambooCups 2018 - Package deal for Retailers

    Christmas - BambooCups

    We have an exclusive limited edition package of Christmas BambooCups by chic.mic especially for our trade customers this festive season. To guarantee delivery, we need you to confirm your order this week.

    We will deliver them at the date of your choosing with payment on your usual terms.

    The Christmas package product code is BCP-LE18 which includes all six designs in fours. Please note that these designs are not being sold on an individual basis. Carriage is free if you order by 22nd June.

    You can order by email, online or by phone. You must act this week to secure your order as stocks are limited and unfortunately we cannot guarantee supply if you order after Friday.

    Blue Eyed Sun announced as UK and Ireland Distributors for BambooCup

    Business and the environment

  • How to make your business fly

    How To Make Your Business Fly

    Running a business is a bit like flying a plane. Here's why and how to make your business fly.

    We all have key numbers in our businesses (often referred to as KPI’s - Key Performance Indicators) that we need to track on a regular basis. They’re kind of like the dials you’d use to fly an airplane. To help fly your business safely you need to measure and understand your customers, your products, your financials, your employees and your suppliers. 

    The dials are essential but they are not the whole deal. If we spend all of our time looking at them and not paying attention to what’s around us we can still crash. The information they provide is there to inform the decisions that pre-empt our actions. If we are only focussed on data and aren’t taking action we will also come unstuck. 

    Alternatively, if we don’t look at the dials and the environment, and simply rely on our intuition or feelings, we can be prone to making rash decisions. Actions taken without considering relevant information can also lead to injury. Before we take off, you need to understand what gives your business lift.

    Leveraging Numbers

    The numbers within the numbers are also important. You can have an overview of total sales from your customers, but if you don’t know that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers you could waste a lot of your time targeting the wrong customers in your marketing.

    The 80/20 rule was first noted by the Italian economist Vilfedo Pareto at the University of Lausanne in 1896. Also known as the Pareto Principle, it states that roughly 80% of effects come from 20% of causes. It’s not a completely fool-proof system, but it can give useful insights into your business.

    You can use it on almost anything in your life to help you focus on taking action on the things that matter most and to minimise time spent on the things that matter the least.

    Imagine, for example, that 70% of your profits come from 30% of your customers. Although it’s not an 80/20 split it still adheres to Pareto’s Principle. Do you know if this is the case in your business? Do you know who these customers are? How do you categorise them? 

    Let’s say your customers break down into three categories: 10% are raving fans (who love you and buy regularly), 20% normal customers (who buy occasionally) and 70% prospects (that haven’t purchased yet). How do you allocate your resources to these three categories of customer? 

    Most businesses allocate 70% of their time and money to acquiring new customers (the prospects), 20% to their normal customers and 10% to their raving fans.

    When you look at your numbers you invariably realise that the bulk of your profits come from your raving fans. They are also the ones most likely to refer you to others. Acting on the Pareto numbers within the numbers can then help you to take action on staying closer to your raving fans and allocating your resources more efficiently towards them (For example: 70% to your fans, 20% to your customers and 10% to prospects). Understanding the 80/20 rule can take your business to new heights.

    Customer Numbers

    It’s important to know your customers well, how many you have, how may you lose each year and how many you gain. Which are the most profitable and who are your raving fans? What patterns do they share will help you figure out how best to please them and target others like them? How many prospects do you find each year and how many do you convert into customers? How likely is it that your customers will refer your business to others (a.k.a. Net Promoter Scores).

    All of this data falls into areas largely within your control. It’s useful to track, because it can help you take actions like invest in marketing or product development to reduce customer churn. It’ll also help you to pay close attention to those customers that are most important to your business.

    Numbers outside of your control can also help. 

    For example, how large is the total card market (currently £1.75 Billion at retail) and what is the size of your market share share? If there’s room to grow and the market’s growing then you might also decide to act by investing your resources accordingly.

    Products and Service

    You need to know which products are most profitable and which are most popular in your business.  It’s surprising how many business owners don’t know their best sellers. They even allow top products to run out of stock because they are enticed by the next shiny new thing. That’s like letting your plane run out of fuel when you are flying high. 

    How well do you service your customers? How fast do you turn around your orders? Do you track this each week? How successfully do you fulfil orders (are there shortages?) How many quality issues do you have each month? How many complaints? How many compliments? If you don’t track these numbers you will suffer over time as your disgruntled customers leave or complain about your business instead of referring it to others.

    With products, remember to cut your poor performers too. Stay well stocked on best sellers and clear slow moving stock quickly. Know your numbers and own those mistakes as soon as you can. 

    Financials

    It’s obviously important to know your cost of sales, profit margins, overheads and turnover. It’s worth tracking sales orders received each month and sales invoiced (orders shipped) to see what’s ahead. 

    What’s most important though is tracking cash flow. Loss of profit will slowly cause your plane to descend over time. Not having enough cash in your business is like turning the engines off mid air. 

    You need a cash flow forecast that acts as your map and then it needs to be checked against what actually happens each month. The map is not the territory. Knowing your monthly overheads and seasonal variables will help with managing these numbers.

    Knowing financial data that is outside of your control is also useful. For example, high levels of inflation means that even as consumers spend more, they can afford fewer goods. When inflation is low we might see volumes of sales go up and the volumes may fall when inflation is high. Tracking the climate around you helps you stay grounded when times are tough.

    Employee Numbers

    How likely are your employees to recommend your business as a good place to work? How many days do you lose to absence? What’s productivity like within your company? How much do you spend on training and personal development with your team members? Who are the weakest links on your team? Are you helping them to improve or terminating their services so that you can replace them with a stronger member of your team? A team of inflight crew are only as strong as their weakest link. They all need to be aware of what the customers want (a safe and comfortable flight) and all work together to provide it.

    Suppliers

    What about your suppliers? Who performs well and who doesn’t? Can you track their reliability and sales performance? Do you have good communication with them to highlight issues and praise them on good performance?

    If you use sales agents, tracking sales orders received and sales orders shipped is vital to avoid missing important customer orders and to make sure the market reality (sales) meets your expectations (targets).

    Numbers are only useful if you use them to inform your decision making and take action based on those decisions. If sales aren’t going well, you know the numbers and you don’t do something about it you will suffer even more later.

    Remember that you can’t cover every detail when making a decision. If you think about it you can never take enough data into consideration. So it’s important to decide on the key metrics that you need. What are the vital dials are on your dashboard? What information will cause you to crash if you don’t keep an eye on it and take appropriate action? Remember that you can only act on things that are within your control. We can steer the ship and adjust the sails, but we can’t control the weather.

    This is important to remember so that you can avoid anxiety about the numbers. A good pilot doesn’t stress about the dials and numbers before her. She stays calm and uses them to take action no matter the circumstances.

    How to Future Proof your Retail business

    The importance of Story for your Retail Brand

  • PG Live 2018 - Essential Info

    PG Live 2018 - Essential InfoBlue Eyed Sun will soon be exhibiting at the PG Live 2018 trade show . Officially launching at PG Live 2018 are our beautiful new Christmas cards 2018. See our best selling BambooCup range and pre-order our latest everyday cards. Be sure to stop by and see us.

    Quote Voucher code PGL18 when ordering during the show (online or offline) for FREE CARRIAGE.

    About PG Live 2018

    The International Greeting Card Show is a highlight on card buyers' calendars as the UK's only trade exhibition dedicated to the greeting card industry. It runs for two days from Tuesday 5th June to Wednesday 6th June from 09:30 - 18:00 at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London.

    To register for PG Live please click here.

    Where to Stay at PG Live 2018

    The closest hotels to the show are the HiltonPremier Inn and Double Tree by Hilton a short walk away with prices from £75-£150. However as the show opens next week they seem to be fully booked now. You can search AirBnB for apartments and rooms nearby.

    Where to Eat at PG Live 2018

    Islington has many wonderful restaurants and cafes. We've sampled lots of them over the years and have short listed some of our favourites for you to try below:

    5 Great Restaurants near the Business Design Centre

    How to get to PG Live 2018

    The Business Design Centre is easily accessible from Angel Tube station on the Northern Line and is close to Kings Cross and Euston rail stations. The Business Design Centre's post code is N1 0QH. It's outside the Congestion Charge Zone  and there are 250 car spaces on site with a daily cost of £3.10 per hour.

    You can plan your journey with the TFL journey planner or you might like to download the mobile app CityMapper which we love using for journey planning in London.

    For more information on travel for the show click here.

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

  • New Christmas Cards for 2018 from Blue Eyed Sun

    A Touch of Sparkle Greeting CardsChristmas falls on Tuesday 25th December 2018, and we like our retailers to be prepared well in advance of this key retail period, so here's what Christmas cards are new from us this year...

    A TOUCH OF SPARKLE (above) are based on original stitched artworks by Jo Corner. Foiled and hand glittered this lovely new range includes 30 best selling captions. These wonderful 160mm x 170mm (8x6 inch) Christmas cards are blank inside and come individually cello-wrapped with a red envelope.

    BISCUIT (below) are based on beautiful original artworks by Jo Corner. Each card is handmade with acetate and hand finished with jewels, the range includes 39 gorgeous Christmas captions. They are 120mm square and come cello-wrapped with a red envelope.

    We have a large selection of Christmas cards online in the trade only section of our site, including many that are on special offer. 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.

    You can see these wonderful new Christmas cards first in person at:

    PG Live 2017 at the Business Design Centre in London 5-7 June 2018 - Stand 524

    Home and Gift at the Harrogate International Centre 15-18 July 2018 -  Stand DP1-D110

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

    Biscuit Greeting Cards

  • Pulse 2018 - Essential Information

    Pulse 2018Pulse 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 Pulse please click here.

    When is Pulse 2018?

    Pulse 2018 runs from Sunday 13th May until Tuesday 15th May 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 Pulse

    We've tried lots of different places to eat near Pulse. Here are some of our favourites:

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

    Where to Stay at Pulse

    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 Pulse

    How to Get to Pulse

    There's an overland train to Olympia Station to Pulse 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?

    Blue Eyed Sun are showing their new BambooCup range of gorgeous reusable coffee cups made from bamboo. With the drive to reduce single use plastic lined coffee cups, reusable coffee cups are a hot product category for retailers right now. Don't miss them on Stand L53.

    They are previewing their gorgeous new card range called Biscuit at Pulse 2018. You can also preorder from their Gorgeous Christmas selection and their other best selling 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.

  • Business and the Environment

    Business and the Environment

    Someone cynically once said to me that people can only be environmentally conscious when they can afford to be financially. It sounded like a reasonable argument at the time, although these days I’m less sure. That’s because there now appears to be real momentum for environmental change, despite that fact that we are not currently experiencing a boom in the economy. 

    Britain recently successfully implemented the 5p plastic bag levy, which has contributed to a 90% reduction in their use. We’ve literally slashed consumption of single use plastic shopping bags by billions and there’s even talk of introducing the levy in retailers with fewer than 250 employees.

    Single use plastic straws are now in the firing line with bars, restaurants and cafe’s around the world no longer offering them as standard in order to discourage unnecessary plastic waste. Single use plastic lined coffee cups may also soon be targeted with a latte levy. Waitrose are committed to removing all single use coffee cups from stores this year. Pret a Manger and Starbucks already offer discounts to customers using their own cups (more on cups later).

    Changing Habits

    What’s significant about these changes is that people are actively engaging with habit change. If you can carry reusable shopping bags in your car, rucksack or handbag then why not carry a spare reusable cup? Changing habits aren’t just limited to reducing plastic consumption they’re also affecting what we consume everything from goods to food to power.

    This is exciting for the world as we move to embrace environmentally friendly renewable energy sources like wind and solar. There’s also been a rise in the number of vegans and vegetarians. Netflix hits like Cowspiracy and What the Health have emphasised the importance of eating less meat in order to save the planet’s resources and reduce CO2 emissions. Viral internet hits like the Story of Stuff are affecting the way consumers purchase, with a shift from goods to foods and experiences.

    The most important thing to be aware of with these changes is that they are increasing as people get more comfortable with making these small adjustments in their lives.

    Ideal World

    I guess in an ideal world we’d completely reduce or offset our carbon footprints. Perhaps we’d stop consuming altogether and live more simple lives. We might reduce our number of fashion items like those taking part in Project 333 or we could even move into a tiny house or a van conversion to minimise our impact on the planet. We may even decide not to have kids (one fewer child per family is said to save 58 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions per year). 

    These extreme alternatives are also growing in popularity, especially amongst millennials. It’s important that we start to become aware of these shifts so that we can accommodate them in our business models and avoid losing valuable customers.

    What can we do?

    As someone who loves to buy and send cards, I personally don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water. I don’t find Facebook messages and SMS’s nearly as intimate as sending a card (besides, even websites contribute to CO2 consumption). I find writing cards with my fountain pen a soulful and profound way of connecting with my fiends and loved ones. 

    I’m not just saying that because I publish cards. I genuinely love them and always have done. If you watch The Greeting Card Project videos I made on YouTube last year you can see the effect sending more cards has on us. For those that love to send and receive cards they have real meaning and importance.

    Having said all of that, the environment is important to us too. How can we reconcile these two seemingly polarised values? How can we reduce the impact we have on the environment and still enjoy doing something we love?

    Sources

    The first thing to figure out is what we are buying and where does it come from? For example, are the boards and papers ethically sourced from responsibly managed sources? At Blue Eyed Sun we have been using FSC boards since we first started although we don’t actively promote this on the backs of our cards (partly because we are design snobs and find the logo unsightly on the card backs and partly because administratively burdensome chain of custody requirements). FSC stands for the Forest Stewardship Council and is one of several organisations that promote responsible management of the world’s forests. It verifies that cetified cards are not made from rainforests.

    We are currently carrying out a company wide audit of all of our material components. Once this is completed we will be able to pinpoint areas for improvement. We’ll also be in a better position to communicate the environmental provenance of our cards to our fans and advise them on how best to recycle them when ready. 

    Communicating

    It’s all very well doing the right thing, it’s also important to spread the word and let your customers know the facts about your products so that they can make informed decisions. This includes being transparent on your website about where your products are sourced and how best to recycle them.

    Having environmental and social responsibility policies that you can share on your website helps with this sort of thing. Once we have all the facts about our sources this will be easier to communicate.

    Integrity

    Of course, being environmentally friendly doesn’t just stop with our products. How we run our businesses on a daily basis also affects our environmental impact on the world. Are your lightbulbs still tungsten based for example or have you switched to lower wattage alternatives? Our new production and distribution facility is fully equipped with LED lighting, which saves on electricity consumption. 

    We also recycle the majority of our waste at Blue Eyed Sun, which I thought was pretty good until I met Bruce Podmore from Windles at a recent GCA National Council meeting. His factory recycles over three tonnes of nails from his pallets each year and uses the wood from them to fuel his heating (reducing their bill by a phenomenal 85%). 

    Not only is Windles actively working to minimise their environmental footprint for the good of the planet, these actions are making good financial sense too. Their frequency controlled fluorescent lighting has reduced power consumption by 85% and saving money in the process. Their staff are more engaged with solutions and improvements. They’ve even won awards for their hard work in this area.

    What inspired me most about Windles is how they’ve  systematically identified areas for improvement throughout their business and are continually working towards reducing their environmental impact. This is the key I think. To start taking some steps. One at a time. Lots of small ones as many big ones as you can manage.

    For us, solar panels is the next big investment goal we are working towards to reduce our consumption from the grid. It’ll take time, but long term we will feel proud of making a difference using it.

    Working Together

    At the GCA we are working hard to try and improve communication of factual information surrounding the use of foils, glitter, recycling and so forth. There’s still so much to be understood and it’s important to share resources, learning and best practice. 

    It’s tempting for any business in the industry to use such knowledge to gain competitive advantage over others. To do this is to miss the bigger picture. We all need to work and act together to show how we can minimise our environmental impact on the world. We only have one planet after all.

    New Products

    As we continue to work hard to improve the environmental credentials of our greeting cards and the way we work as a business at Blue Eyed Sun, I’m also very excited about a recent exclusive distribution deal we’ve signed for a range of Bamboo Products. 

    BambooCup is an environmentally friendly alternative to single use plastic lined coffee cups, 2.5 billion of which go into landfill in the UK each year. Reusable cups are a booming category in retail and we are thrilled to be involved in a fast growing niche that’s making a difference to our planet.

    We still love publishing cards. Now we want to offer our customers even more.

    Find out more about BambooCup

    CelloBags and Recycling

    How to Change Your Habits for Good

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