Blue Eyed Sun

Blue Eyed Sun - gorgeous greetings cards

BES Blog

  • 10 ways retailers can appeal to their customers

    Retail Expert Henri Davis Speaking at The GA Members Day 2012

    This blog post is adapted from an excellent talk recently given by retail expert Henri Davis at The GA's Members Day in Birmingham. Here are the highlights of what she said:

    The current situation in retail is that consumers are governed by uncertainty. It's been this way since 2007 when Northern Rock's collapse triggered the current change in economic climate and could continue for some time yet. Customers are now cash and time poor and generally spending less (but more often) as a result. These days we are all re-evaluating what's important in our lives and making more discerning choices. We want things that are functional and useful, but are also drawn to the unique and remarkable.

    Because of this the current retail market is one of extremes with discount stores like Card Factory at one end and upmarket luxury shops like Paperchase at the other. Anyone in standing in the middle ground without a defined niche is in the danger zone (as was seen with Clintons retail chain going into administration). Also, now more than ever, retailers have to be relevant to their consumers offering good value and excellent customer service as standard, no matter where they sit in the marketplace.

    So how can retailers respond to this current climate? Well to start with businesses must have personality. Chains like Scribbler, for example, have been expanding during this period because their brand has personality, they sell cards that stand out from the mainstream and they offer a customer friendly experience. The personality of your brand must stay consistent across all your customer contact points from store fronts, staff and websites through to Twitter and Facebook. You must also know what your customers want from you now. To do this you have to engage with them. Most importantly, do not underestimate the power of 'new' for your business. New shows that your business is dynamic and forward thinking. It's also a great reason to engage your customers regularly. Typically Henri suggest retailers should introduce something new at least every 6-8 weeks.

    Here are Henri's Top 10 ways retailers (and suppliers) can appeal to their customers

    1. Notice what's going on around you.

    2. Take advantage of the opportunities presented to you

    3. Stand out from the crowd.

    4. Refresh your offer often.

    5. Communicate in ways appropriate to your customers.

    6. Update your communications regularly.

    7. Take calculated risks.

    8. Be clear about your offer.

    9. Be passionate about what you do.

    10. Give customers a reason to business with you.

    Henri Davis has 28 years retail experience having worked at Habitat, Next and WH Smiths before setting up on her own 10 years ago. If you are interested in learning more about her click here to visit www.henridavis.co.uk

    To find out more about future GA Events click here or to join the Giftware Association click here.

    To find out what's new from Blue Eyed Sun click here.

    Click here to watch Henri Davis speak on Understanding Your Customer at the GA Members Day or click play on the video below.

    NB: Henri only starts speaking 2 mins 30 into the video so do scroll forward to that time (the sound improves at that point too).

    Video streaming by Ustream

  • 2012 Christmas Cards from Blue Eyed Sun

    Blue Eyed Sun - Vintage - Snowman

    Christmas falls on Sunday on Tuesday 25th December 2012, and we like our customers to be prepared well in advance of this key retail period, so here's what's new from us...

    Pictured above is our brand new Vintage Christmas cards based on our best ever selling everyday Vintage greeting card range. These delightful handmade cards are based on original embroideries by artist Jo Corner and embossed to give a realistic relief effect. Produced on FSC certified board, these cards are hand finished with jewels.

    Below is our new Snowflakes range printed on gorgeous pearlescent board. Cute, classy and very contemporary this range is also hand finished with jewels in our Brighton workshops. Sold in sixes to trade buyers only, both ranges of Christmas cards are barcoded and cello-wrapped with a matching envelope. The cards are 160mm square and blank inside.

    There is still time to order these Christmas cards for your store and we have a large selection of designs online 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.

    Blue Eyed Sun - Snowflakes - Christmas Cards

  • 2012 Father's Day Cards from Blue Eyed Sun

    Blue Eyed Sun - Jingles - Father's Day Cards

    Father's Day is on Sunday 17th June 2012 and we have some lovely new designs for you to celebrate with. Pictured above is the Jingles Father's Day Range (based on our best selling Everyday Jingles range) printed in cold foil which gives a shiny multi-coloured effect. Mixed with watercolour paintings and top selling messages this range is hand finished with jewels in our Brighton workshops.

    Below we have some gorgeous beatiful heart warming sentiments an images in our photographic Moments range. Printed on watercolour board and hand cut and individually mounted on to each card these designs are lovely and have been selling well to our shops across the UK. Sold in sixes to trade buyers only, both ranges are barcoded and cello-wrapped with a matching envelope. The cards are 160mm square and blank inside.

    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 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.

    Blue Eyed Sun - Moments - Father's Day Cards

  • How will Royal Mail's Price Increases affect the Card Industry?

    It's been a busy week in the news for greetings cards. Sharon Little, Chief Executive of the Greetings Card Association, appeared on the BBC Breakfast News to discuss the 30% price increase in Royal Mail's stamps and Clinton Cards announced poor results.

    With many retailers relying on card sales to bring core bread and butter revenue and footfall into their stores, the sharp increase in price of postage stamps is a concern. Will such a noticeable rise alter the card buying and sending habits of our card crazy country? We do love our cards in the UK and send an average of 31 greetings cards a year each. Our total annual spend on single cards in the UK is £1.39 billion which supports over 100,000 card related jobs. Christmas card sales raise over £50 million a year for charities too. Does this mean they too may lose even more, much needed, revenue in the coming years? Will e-cards and the internet take over and radically alter the card industry in the way that the internet has forever altered other sectors like book selling?

    Well, when hysteria strikes it always helps to look at the facts first. So let's do the sums on this shock 30% price increase. If we each send 31 cards a year on average and we post them all using first class stamps we are currently spending £14.26 (31 x £0.46). Increasing the price to 60p each means we will be spending £18.60 instead. This is an annual spending increase of £4.34 to show our loved ones how much we care.

    All age groups still love receiving cards for special celebrations and sending them definitely strengthens relationships. According to a recent study people aged 18-24 need to receive at least nine cards to feel valued on their birthday (that's in addition to texts, calls and messages on social networks like Facbook and Twitter). The relationships we care enough about to celebrate, by posting greetings cards, are unlikely to be changed overnight and, if anything, the higher cost of stamps is even more likely to show the recipient how much they are truly valued.

    Because we tend to give cards to those closest to us, the recipients are often literally close to us too, so the majority of our cards tend to be delivered by hand (we find this especially true in the handmade sector). If we take this into account as well, I'm not sure that this headline making price rise will have a noticeable effect on the card sending. We still love sending and receiving cards in the UK and an extra £4 a year is hardly worth worrying about. Royal Mail has struggled to make profit for several years now and if you think about what it actually takes to get a card from you to a friend in Scotland the next day, 60p doesn't seem too bad.

    **** 1 April 2012 ***** Additional note since first posting this:

    I just saw this great comment from a reader at the bottom of the BBC article on this subject:

    "Those complaining that the post is to expensive and the internet is 'free' are conveniently forgetting the £500 or so they paid for their computer, plus software, plus say £10 a month for broadband. Not so free now is it? For those on fixed incomes like pensioners this is a double blow on top of their pension freeze. Buy a computer? Only worth it if you send more than 1800 letters in 5 years."

    You can read the BBC article on the stamp price increases by clicking here

  • 15 Ways marathon training can help your business

    As a regular runner of marathons and long distance races I have found that running has benefited my approach to our businesses. Here are 15 ways I think that I think marathon training can improve your business.

    Time and space away from your business

    With all of my business and personal commitments life can feel pretty full at times and it's easy to forget to take time out for yourself. If you don't do this nobody will do it for you and you won't be at best for those that need you. Sometimes you can be too close to things to really make the best decisions and take the best actions. I find that training clears my head and gives me the space to refocus.

    Don't over do it

    Marathon training doesn't have actually have to be that fast or stressful on your body. In fact you tend to get better results and reduce injuries when you start slow and keep your long runs steady. There are thousands of people who train for marathons each year for the first time. Most of them start their journey by walking. I've found slowing down and taking the steady approach with my business by delegating more to my team and supporting them has had profound effects on our sales and productivity.

    Everything has its season

    Top athletes don't just grind out the same work week in week out all year round and either should businesses. Runners have seasons and train in different ways at different times of the year. Faster track work tends to be done in warmer months to avoid to risk of injury by overworking cold muscles during the winter. When you think about it, business has its seasons too. At the moment we are in a winter period and need to act accordingly before preparing ourselves for Spring again.

    Make it a 'Must' instead of a 'should'

    If you have a specific goal for a set date like a marathon then you know that you can't cram for it last minute like you might have done at school on certain tests. A marathon is a distance that cannot be taken lightly and requires regular training and focus. It's a lot easier to get out of bed and get on with your day when you have a goal that you are passionate about and can't back out of easily. I always race with friends at marathons and raise money for charity so that getting out of bed in the morning is a 'must' for me rather than a 'should'. You can do this with your business. For example, we create goals by booking a trade show which means that we have to create a new range to launch.

    Getting Going

    I get up at 06:30 most mornings to fit the training into my busy schedule and interestingly the running is never the hardest part of doing this (even when it's raining). The most difficult stage is getting from my bed to the outside of my front door. It's actually not that far and what's needed is momentum. You have to push against the part that is offering you the most resistance. To get most things moving, one requires a larger amount of focussed energy at the start. The easiest way to deal with this is to get to it without hesitating. Once you are out the door the running is easy.

    You are more than just your head

    Our bodies are more than just vehicles for their heads to move around on. We spend a lot of time in our heads. I find this especially true with our business. There's a lot to think about and I spend a lot of my time at desks and sitting down. We are meant to move. If we don't our muscles tighten and our backs ache with inactivity. When I started running I found I connected with a more complete version of myself, a physical and mental self. My relationship with nature and space completely changed. For example, when I run a beautiful cliff top run along the south coast of England I feel at one with the space in a way that I don't when I drive to the same spot and sit and look at it in my car. This sense of oneness with the world and the confidence I have with my fitter body brings a different sense of purpose and balance to my company. It's active, it's energetic and inspiring.

    Keep your base strong and healthy

    It's no good taking your business to a million turnover in sales if you are in too poor health to enjoy it. Once you start making changes to your diet and feel the combined benefits of training and good eating you never want to go back. I have more energy, my mind is sharper, I need less sleep than before and my business is able to reap the rewards. We all have a responsibility to look after our staff and our loved ones by keeping well ourselves. If you're strong and healthy physically it's easy to see how your company will benefit. Often staff will be inspired to take care of themselves in the same way and motivation increases as sick days reduce.

    The power of planning

    You cannot wing it with a marathon and a written plan created by someone who has been there and done it is an invaluable tool. There will still be plenty for you to do and completing the race will still be your own victory, but having a training schedule really helps you get the most out of your experience. Since I started running I have been drafting better schedules and plans for my business and the results are really starting to show. The schedules all relate to specific sales goals (the marathon time I'd like to achieve) and I pay close attention to different sessions that will help me meet my goal.

    Remembering to mix it up

    When training for a marathon you will mix different sessions to help with different aspects of your running. Long runs for instance will help you build endurance. Tempo runs will help raise your lactate threshold and determine how fast you can race. Interval sessions will help improve your VO2 max which affects how quickly your body can distribute large volumes of oxygenated blood around your body to keep your muscles going. These different sessions will be important for different distances and at different times in your training. You can quickly see how a variety of sessions can affect so many aspects of your marathon training. It's the same with your business when you mix a variety of 'sessions' into your working week. For instance, I created a schedule for myself at work and train on specific areas like marketing, finance, staff, sales, etc for specific chunks during the week rather than getting caught up overdoing the same thing.

    Rest is part of the training

    You cannot develop as an athlete without resting your body after training. This means getting a good night's sleep and not burning the candle at both ends. It means minimising stress and looking after yourself. It's easy to work all the hours god sends, but resting and taking breaks away are absolutely vital to business success.

    Measuring your progress

    When you have a marathon schedule it's very satisfying ticking off your sessons as you go along. When I started training I bought a GPS watch and heart rate monitor so that I could watch my progress. It's profoundly motivating seeing yourself cover longer distances in the same time as shorter ones or seeing your heart rate running lower on runs that really tested your stamina previously. If you don't record them, they memory of them will often pass and you won't reap the free added benefits of all your hard work. As I have become more interested in my running data this has flowed into my business and the numbers have really opened my eyes to so much more opportunity that we had been leaving on the table because we weren't following our progress.

    Focus

    The focus on the specific goal, with a plan that is monitored and assessed going forward sounds so obvious when you say this is how a business should be run, but the reality for most of us business owners is that we are so busy working in our businesses that these simple practices can often be missed. Running has reminded me to get back to these simple basics. Because I can see what kind of improvements I can make as I plan for a marathon each year, it has inspired me to reach for specific business goals each year plan strategies for achieving them by a specific date (usually my year end).

    You don't grow as fast on your own

    When I first started training I worked with a fantastic personal trainer called Richard Husseiny. These days I work out with Brighton & Hove Athletics and often take part in my local 5K Parkrun on Saturdays. I have several friends who have taken up running and we swap books, tips and often race together. This makes the whole experience more fun and I've definitely improved as a result. You really feel part of something special when you line up with thousands of runners at the start of a marathon knowing you are in a group who have focussed and trained for months, often in the cold and dark of winter. It's inspiring to be around, just as I find it inspiring to be around other business people. Knowing this has helped me to make an effort to network, share and learn with other entrepreneurs.

    Celebrating your goals

    How often do you finish your list or reach a goal and turn to see what's next without stopping to celebrate? I do this all the time myself. Since I've taken up marathon running I've really learnt to savour my achievements and celebrate them. In fact, these days I pat myself on the back just for reaching the start line of a big race. At the end of a marathon you have a medal, a tee shirt and often a photo to remind you of what you have achieved. I usually try and spend time with the charity I run for, family and friends after a race to celebrate together. Nowadays I try to do the same with my business. Often I will treat my family or friends to a meal to celebrate a milestone reached with our company. When we completed one of our projects two years ago I bought myself a nice watch to remind me of the great job we did. It's really important to stop, acknowledge and celebrate in your business.

    Have fun

    I took up running about five years ago because I wanted to do something I really enjoyed as a child. Being so absorbed in my business and other aspects of my life I felt like I'd lost touch with who I really was. I alway loved the feeling of my body running as a boy. Feeling the strength of my muscles, the wind in my hair and especially the rush of running really fast. When I was young I just ran for the sheer joy of it. So as I began training I had absolutely no intention of ever running a marathon, I just wanted to do something that got me active and that I enjoyed. Something I could have for myself. I found a trainer to make sure I kept my motivation going and worked my way from one exhausting 1 mile lap of my local park up to the marathon distance 26.2 miles over a three year period. This journey has led to me training in all sorts of weather and, at times, pushing my body to it's limits and beyond. My guiding light through all of this has been to enjoy myself. That doesn't mean it's not hard work at times, but I always make sure that that youngster inside of me is still having fun. This insight in my marathon training has led me to bring this into my work life too. I used to be really caught up in the detail of work and get angry about all sorts of things not working right within my business. Through running I have learnt to relax and enjoy the ride. It has made for a better working environment for our team and I now find it easier to take everything in my stride at work. Nothing seems as much trouble as it used to feel to me.

    I hope that you've enjoyed this blog post and found it insightful for your business. I'd be hugely grateful if you'd take the time to click on the banner or link below to help me raise money for UNICEF who help thousands of children worldwide each year.

    To support Jeremy's Berlin Marathon fundraising please this year click here

    Read Looking back from Perfect - How to achieve your Goals

    Read How to get things done when you don't feel like it

     

     

  • Scribbler Cards Opens Brighton Branch

    Scribbler Cards opens in Brighton

    John Proctor was one of Blue Eyed Sun's very first customers and stocked our beautiful handmade Glass Enamel greeting cards in his Kings Road branch of Scribbler over ten years ago. Since then both of our companies have taken different paths in terms of design and product, but I have continued to admire John's work and his success as a niche retailer in the competitive card market.

    It's surprising Scribbler have taken so long to open a branch in Brighton, as our local demographic would have flocked to his unique offering in a heartbeat. They are here now though and customers clearly love it.

    Sadly, it was the closing down of another long standing customer of ours, Graffiti (who had not upgraded the shop for a long time), that has opened the door for Scribbler into Brighton. Well situated on Cranbourne Street, a busy thoroughfare between Churchill Square Shopping Centre and the Laines, I really like how they have brightened up the unit and made the most of the space. As you can see, the shop was already very busy when I passed by a week or two after it opened. I'm sure it will be one of their best.

    Scribbler Cards Open on Cranbourne Street In Brighton

  • The Trend for Embroidered and Stitched Cards

    Progressive Greetings Article on Stitched Cards

    We were pleased to be included in a lovely article on stitched cards celebrating British Crafts in last month's Progressive Greetings.

    If you didn't get the chance to read it, here's what we said about the popularity of the embroidered look and our new Vintage range of stitched cards:

    "I think there is a subconscious desire to counter the digital annihilation of all material things. Books, CD’s, photos and other items we used to actually be able to touch and feel are predominantly purchased digitally and I think we have a real need to feel handmade objects in our lives. They have so much more soul than computers and gadgets.

    The recession has meant that many of us are spending more time in our homes and we have focused on saving money by recycling, mending and making our own things. Because of this interest in crafts like knitting, stitching and card making, sales of handmade products are booming.

    Selecting the fabrics she wants to work with to create the designs for the Vintage card range Jo, my wife and business partner, hand cuts a variety of shapes and motifs which she then selects from to start building the artwork. They are all laid out on a linen base and then machine stitched on. Parts of the captions are free stitched by machine, which really adds to the handmade feel. After this the designs are scanned and laid up for printing and embossing. When they come back from the printers they are hand finished with jewels to complete the look.

    With such a strong reputation for handmade cards we want to keep producing ranges that have that handmade feel and offer great value to our customers. I think scanning original stitched artworks is a natural progression for us. The designs are nostalgic and fun, but with the contemporary colourful look we bring to much of our work."

    Sewing artwork for cards is a fast growing trend and the Progressive Greetings Magazine article features over a dozen greetings card publishers using the technique including Black Olive, Soul, Pootle, Inkdrops, Belly Button Designs, Lou Mills, Cinnamon Aitch, Stop the Clock Designs, Tanya Palmer, Open Box Designs, Carlton Cards, Design Hog and a new range called Freddie and Freya by CardMIX. The article excluded some of our favourite forerunners, of this current wave of stitched cards, who are also worth a mention: like Vicky King's sewn card ranges for Paper Rose, and seamtresses like Katy KirkhamClaire Sowden and Abigail Mill.

    Click here to order Blue Eyed Sun's Vintage designs for your shop.

    Click here to read more about greeting card trends

    Click here to subscribe to Progressive Greetings Magazine.

  • Blue Eyed Sun Cards in Jam's Rhubarb Festival Window Display

    Blue Eyed Sun's Cards look Sweet in Jam's Window Display

    The Wakefield Rhubarb Festival runs this weekend from Friday the 24th February until Sunday 26th February 2012. To join in the celebrations, Blue Eyed Sun stockist, Jam, is running a 'love handmade' event which features our handmade cards in a stunning window display. The overall theme is about celebrating British made products and we are very proud to have our Brighton made greetings cards included in this promotion. If you are in the area this weekend, get yourself down there it looks like it's going to be a lot of fun.

    Here's what our customers Sarah and Julian, owners of Jam Gift Shop, had to say about Blue Eyed Sun:

    "We just wanted to take the opportunity to say thank you. Keep up the great design work and thanks for keeping us supplied with your lovely products.

    Click here to find out more about the Wakefield Festival of Rhubarb

    Click here to visit Jam's lovely website

    Note to our Stockists

    If you would like your shop featured on our blog, and promoted on our Twitter and Facebook feeds, please email us some nice images of how Blue Eyed Sun's cards are displayed in your shop and a nice shot of your store front. We'd love to hear about any of your promotion or window display success stories too.

    Click here for Blue Eyed Sun's contact details.

    Click here to visit Blue Eyed Sun's Facebook page

    Click here to follow Blue Eyed Sun on Twitter.

  • Spring Fair 2012 Greetings Card Video Snapshot

    Spring Fair 2012 - Greetings Card Section from Blue Eyed Sun.

    We had a fantastic show at Spring Fair in Birmingham's NEC last week. I even managed to grab my camera on the last day and take some video of Hall 4 to show everyone who couldn't make it. It features many of the UK's favourite greeting card publishers and their stands. Just click on the triangular play button above to watch our 46 second snapshot of the show.

    We celebrated our tenth year of exhibiting at Spring Fair this year and I'm pleased to report that this was our best ever show! The interest in our new Vintage range continues to  grow and we are struggling to keep up with demand at the moment. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to see us. If you didn't make it, we are next exhibiting in May at PG Live in London.

    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.

    Blue Eyed Sun's Spring Fair 2012 Stand 4J66

  • Key Greetings Card Trends for 2012

    Our predictions on key trends for greetings cards in 2012 were featured in this month's Gift Focus Magazine. Last week Editor, Sarah Reeve, also used some Blue Eyed Sun designs to illustrate her insightful seminar at Spring Fair International on forthcoming gift trends for Christmas 2012. Transcribed below from the magazine, our predictions are...

    "There is going to be a real trend for stitching, crafting, nostalgia, vintage and Britishness. With the Olympics and the Queen's Jubilee we are going to see one of Britain's great strengths this year: Creativity. There's also going to be a real sense of nostalgia so  think we will see a lot of craft based work from artists and designers. Because of the recession a lot of people have been making and repairing their own bits and pieces using traditional skills like knitting and sewing. Because of this we will also see these homemade crafts becoming more popular. This year will be very big for handmade."

    Click here to request more information on all of our stitched Vintage designs.

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