Blue Eyed Sun

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BES Blog

  • Blue Eyed Sun distribute BambooCup in UK and Ireland

    BambooCup - DistributorBlue Eyed Sun have signed an exciting distribution deal with design-led German company Chic Mic to distribute the BambooCup, SlideCup and BambooFriends giftware brands in the UK and Ireland.

    BambooCup is a beautiful range of eco-friendly, reusable coffee cups which are having a phenomenal response in the UK on the back of the drive to cut single use plastic.

    “We have been working with Chic Mic for several years in Germany and Austria, where they distribute Blue Eyed Sun’s handmade greeting cards to hundreds of stores. Their BambooCup stand at Spring Fair was mobbed with retailers who were quick to recognise the fast growing product trend in 2018 for sustainable eco solutions to the problem of single use plastics. We are excited to have come on board as the exclusive UK and Ireland distributor for these fantastic products.” - Jeremy Corner, MD, Blue Eyed Sun and incoming Chairman of the Giftware Association.

    BambooCup is designed to reduce the 2.5 billion plastic lined single use cups which go to landfill each year. Made mainly from sustainable, fast growing bamboo fibre and tested to the highest standards, these cups feel lovely to hold. There are over 50 contemporary designs in the collection. BambooCup includes a patented, lockable lid made from bamboo (unlike competitor cups whose lids are made from silicon) and a thermal sleeve. Dishwasher safe, odour free and taste neutral, BambooCup is available with great looking point of sale solutions including a 96 pocket floor stand and a 36 pocket counter top stand.

    With lots of exciting new products planned for the coming year, follow @BambooCupUK on social media to keep up to date with the latest news.

    Email sales@blueeyedsun.co.uk or call 01273 823003 to request a price list and catalogue.

    See these fantastic cups in person at one of our forthcoming trade shows

     

    BambooCup - Floor Stand

  • How to deal with shame in business

    Shame in businessEverybody loves hearing stories of successful businesses and entrepreneurs. Most business owners aspire to sail their own ships with the hope of financial gain. And yet, even the best laid plans so often go awry.

    Around 300,000 businesses die every year in the UK (whilst 400,000 are born). Competition is fierce and it takes focus, determination and luck to succeed in a world that seems to change at an increasingly rapid pace each year.

    The transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau famously wrote that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Currently it appears that many retailers and suppliers are silently struggling to cope with poor sales, increased costs, lower profits and the threat of potential failure.

    Shame of Failure

    Failure in itself is not the biggest issue for business owners though, it’s the stigma of shame and the suffering that might come with it that most find hardest to bear. This sense of shame can have damaging consequences on health, confidence and well being.

    Ideally we’d all have a sense of detachment from our businesses and the objects in our lives that are the achieved through financial success. More often than not we don’t. We identify ourselves with our status and get attached to an idea of ourselves (our ego). This is not surprising when we’ve poured blood, sweat and tears into our business endeavours and associate this with who we are.

    When faced with failure people can choose to act in ways that cause even more harm, pain and suffering to themselves and those around them. They may lie to conceal the reality of the situation, they may cheat in a desperate attempt to fix things and in the most extreme cases they may even take their own lives.

    Most people in these situations don’t want sympathy. This only makes it worse. They need empathy. They need someone who can see the world from their perspective in a non-judgemental way. They need to feel heard. It’s so important to understand each other’s feelings and to let them know.

    If you know of someone in a situation where they might be experiencing a sense of shame, a card is a great way of reaching out and letting them know that you care and are there to listen to them when they need it. A phone call or coffee together is even better.

    Identifying Shame

    If you are finding yourself in a difficult situation with your business right now and you feel ashamed about it, the first thing to do is to recognise that feeling. It’s most often linked to expectations you have of yourself or that others have of you. Certain people, situations, words or self talk will trigger the feeling for you and it’s important to be aware of what these are.

    So often we feel like it’s all us, we are the only one in this situation, it’s my fault, something is wrong with me. Because of the expectations of ourselves and others, we can often place ourselves under incredible pressure, making the situation even worse. It helps to take a step back.

    Reality check

    The truth is we are almost never alone with any given situation. We are not the only ones who suffer from expectations. The world at large affects all of us. If you are caught in a storm don’t blame yourself for the weather.

    I recently attended a talk by an economist on the future of the British economy. With Brexit, squeezes on living standards, increased costs, low income growth, low GDP growth and the retreat of consumers it’s continuing to be a challenging time to be a business owner. Particularly in the retail and wholesale sectors.

    Make sure that your expectations are realistic. Normalise your situation and be aware that you cannot control how others perceive you. Taking your focus away from yourself and seeing the bigger picture can be help to alleviate your sense of shame.

    Connect and Change

    Sharing our stories also helps to normalise situations and feelings connected to shame. You need to be brave to practice this one as it can feel vulnerable.

    Because I often write about positive stories and subjects in this column I am very much aware that I could come across to readers as some kind of know-it-all that has it everything sorted in my business and my life.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. I have good times and bad. I get some things right and have made spectacular mistakes which have cost me thousands of pounds. I try to help others as much as possible and I know that sometimes I have inadvertently ended up causing suffering. I have experienced hardship in both life and business and have at times felt truly ashamed of myself.

    To deal with this sense of shame it’s important to reach out and share your feelings with someone that can empathise. They don’t have to be an expert. They just have to hear you.

    Next you need to create change. Take an action that will help to change the situation you find yourself in.

    Asking for help

    Have you ever noticed that no matter how lost a man is he will rarely ask for help? It’s such a classic stereo type that I chuckle whenever I see it or catch myself doing it.

    We often don’t ask for help when we need it and there are people out there who are happy to give it to us. Sometimes we convince ourselves that we don’t need it and then get angry with our loved ones for not reading our minds and giving it to us.

    It’s so important to express how we feel and ask for what we need. Sounds easy enough, right? Sometimes we feel ashamed to ask. Asking somehow solidifies the situation we are in.

    The truth is you can’t hide from it anyway. It won’t go away. So be brave. Ask for help if you need it. You are braver for asking than not.

    Support

    If there are people in your life who trigger shame in you when you speak to them be aware of these triggers. Change the subject or avoid seeing them and then make sure you spend time with those who are great at empathising.

    Become a good empathiser yourself and you will draw more of this into your life. You can help others by being compassionate.

    Avoid blaming others as this promotes shame in the world. Shame is a cruel tool that does more harm than good. No matter what anyone says, you cannot shame people into altering their behaviour. So don’t do it.

    Shame

    I’ve described how shame can cause suffering when things are difficult in business. Though this can be extended to a whole load of other things in your life that you might have shame triggers for. Your body, a relationship that didn’t work out, your role as a parent, your career, the list is endless.

    Shame and suffering are invariably caused by our expectations and desires. Sometimes we aren’t even aware that they don’t belong to us. We’ve picked them up from somewhere or someone else. Keep your expectations realistic. Know were they come from. Are they really yours? Then try to not identify your expectations with your own sense of self. Mindful detachment will mean less suffering and pain in  the long run.

    This will pass

    I can safely say that every time that I have found business or life tougher (and felt like a failure) has led to a new phase of growth both personally and in business. If you are finding it difficult. Remember that this too will pass.

    Be grateful for all of the good things in your life. Practice self care by not being too hard on yourself and giving yourself a break. Take action to prevent things getting worse. Most importantly, remember that you are not alone. No matter how bad things may feel, someone else will have experienced it too. Take comfort in this and remember to ask for help if you need it.

    Eight ways to deal with Failure

    Lessons in Creativity

    How to cope when things go wrong

  • The Farm Shop and Deli Show 2018 - Essential Information

    Farm Shop Deli Show 2018

    The Farm Shop and Deli Show 2018 brings together a huge range of products in an inspirational showcase of over 450 outstanding British suppliers in Hall 1 at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham, United Kingdom.

    Register for FREE tickets to The Farm Shop and Deli Show by clicking here

    When is The Farm Shop and Deli Show 2018?

    Farm Shop & Deli Show runs from Monday 16th April until Wednesday 18th April from 10:00 - 17:00 each day.

    Where to Eat at The Farm Shop and Deli Show 2018

    If you've still got room after loading up on sample tasting, here are some of our favourite restaurants nearby:

    5 Great Restaurants near the NEC

    Where to Stay at The Farm Shop and Deli Show

    Consider hotels in Birmingham City Centre (which is a short train ride from the NEC).

    Find accommodation for the show here

    How to get to The Farm Shop and Deli Show 2018

    The sat nav post code is B40 1NT. Parking on site is free. There are 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.

    Save 25% on Virgin Rail Advance Tickets

    Seminars at The Farm Shop and Deli Show 2018

    There are some fantastic speakers at this year's show:

    Click here for a full list of seminars and events.

    What's New from Blue Eyed Sun at The Farm Shop and Deli Show

    Blue Eyed Sun is launching their new BambooCup range on Stand A69 in Hall 1. Do come and say hi.

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

    Quote coupon code: FSDS18 when ordering during the shows (online or offline) for a FREE FLOOR STAND when ordered fully stocked.

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

    Read 12 Top Tips for Trade Show Visitors

  • How to change your habits for good

    How To Change HabitsAre you choosing habits that best serve your interests, the goals of your businesses and your community at large? This post looks at why we do what we do and how you can change your habits.

    Often, choices that we might feel considered, are not. They are habits. A 2006 study found that 40% of the actions we take every day aren’t decisions, they are habitual. These routines can have significant impact on our health, wealth and happiness.

    We are the results of our routine behaviour. For example, someone with a muscled physique will regularly exercise and eat well. Someone calm and centred, like the Dalai Lama, will practice daily meditation, prayer, mindfulness.

    We all know we should change from some habits which are no good for us and yet we often persist in doing them. Why?

    How Habits Work

    Scientists believe that habits emerge because our brains are constantly looking for ways to save effort and energy. The brain will turn any routine behaviour into a habit if you let it. To do this our brains go through a three step loop to trigger ‘habit mode’ (thereby conserving effort) instead of a different mode.

    The first step is a cue that triggers our brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Second is the routine, which can be physical, mental or emotional. The third step is the reward, which helps your brain to assess if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future.

    This three step loop of cue - routine - reward becomes automatic over time. Powerful senses of anticipation and craving then become linked with the cues and rewards in particular.

    Habits are powerful because they create neurological cravings that pre-empt the actual receiving of our reward in the three step loop. For example, supermarkets use smells of freshly baked bread and roasted chicken to trigger cravings before we even arrive in the bakery or deli sections. We feel the craving prior to even seeing, purchasing or eating the food.

    The good news is that habits aren’t set in stone. They can be altered, substituted and ignored. What’s so important about the three step loop is that because your brain is working less hard when in ‘habit mode’ you have to choose to fight the habit and introduce new routines in order to change it.

    How to Create New Habits

    To successfully change our habits we first have to recognise which craving is driving our behaviour.

    For instance, if you want to send more greeting cards it’s essential that you choose a simple cue (a birthday calendar on your fridge door) and you need a clear reward (the sense of accomplishment when posting the card).

    These are not enough on their own though, because your brain has to start expecting the reward in order for it to become a habit. To do this companies create cravings. Cravings are the reason toothpaste tastes minty instead of sugary and Febreze is fragrant rather than odourless. Having these qualities makes us crave tingling teeth and fresh smelling homes.

    Does this happen with cards? Do textures and fine boards help foster cravings because we have such a tactile relationship with wood and paper? Or do elements like characters, humour and sentiment cause cravings instead?

    Before the advent of social media we might have said that the craving behind greeting cards was to feel that sense of love and connection with friends and loved ones. Now we all get these feelings on a daily basis via our mobile devices.

    The notifications on our phones cause cravings. The ping, ping, ping sounds and even the red circles with numbers on them on our social media icons all trigger surges of serotonin (the happy hormone) in our brains before we’ve even opened the apps; before we’ve engaged and received our rewards of instant connection to our loved ones.

    Once you’ve identified the craving that drives your behaviour you need to adapt a new strategy to affect a change in your routine.

    The Secret to Habit Change

    The truth is you can’t get rid of a bad habit, you can only change it. To do this you keep the old cues and rewards and substitute a new alternative routine. Almost any behaviour can be changed in this way. Over time the cravings then reset with positive habits that add more benefit to your life than the old ones.

    In other words, the brain can be programmed, as long as you are deliberate about it.

    For example, recently I noticed that I’d gotten into the habit of spending an hour on social media and reading news before getting up each morning. This habit doesn’t benefit me at all because it allows other people and events to occupy my mind which affects my cortisol levels (stress hormones) before I’m even out of bed.

    In order to change I identified that I had a craving to get things done as soon as I woke up. The trouble is I was confusing being busy with being effective. Having my phone by my bed was my cue. I switched this cue for my journal, which is now the first thing I grab every day upon waking. I write down five things I am grateful for, how my life would be without them and how I came to have them in my life (Try this, it will change your life. I picked it up from my good friend and life coach Janet Mohapi-Banks). Then I write three pages of my journal to uncage my monkey mind, before meditating for ten minutes and then going for a short run. Upon return I have the reward of having accomplished things that benefit me and prime me for my day ahead.

    To change effectively, I also rely on the help of a new group I joined.

    Group Power

    Change happens when we believe that it is feasible. You must believe that you can alter your behaviour. If you don’t, it’s difficult to make any progress.

    All change happens in an instant. Snap. You make a decision that you will not suffer another day like this, you cannot carry on, you need to focus on a new direction. The first trick with these moments is to not hesitate. Take an action within five seconds that moves you towards attaining your new goal. Enroll at that gym and schedule the training time in, empty your booze down the sink, book that hypnotherapy session to quit smoking.

    It’s key that you believe in your new direction. More often than not, that belief emerges with the help of a group. If you want to raise your standards, figure out a new, more powerful routine that will satisfy the cravings produced by your current modus operandi and then find a group of people that perform at this higher standard. Enlist their support when needed.

    I joined a personal development group online to build in my new morning habits. Joining the group has enabled me to conquer my fears, grow my confidence levels and reach my goals faster and more effectively. Groups alter our environment and our state. Over time we adjust to new ways of being through the support of the group and supporting others within the group.

    What’s most important to changing our habits is to notice them in the first place.

    Noticing Our Habits

    Most of us don’t notice the effects of our bad habits. We are acclimatised to them. For example, smoking cigarettes damages our olfactory capacities so much that smokers don’t notice that the effects of smoke on their homes, clothes and breath.

    Even if we don’t smoke, we will have habitual behaviours that might stink without us realising. How we speak to ourselves, treat our loved ones, our staff, our customers, whether we slump in front of the TV every night or snack on rubbish, are all habitual behaviours. Are they good habits or bad habits for you and others?

    I recently read an online quote that said: we are the the sum of the five people we spend the most time with. Perhaps we are also the sum of our five most common daily habits?

    You don’t have to fix all your bad habits. Often there is a keystone habit, that if unlocked and altered can have a cascading effect of positivity on our lives and businesses, helping us to grow and prosper. Once you get in the habit of altering your bad habits, you'll find it easier with practice.

    The Power of Groups

    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Retailers

    How to do things you don't want to do

  • Spring Fair 2018 - Essential Information

    Spring Fair 2018 - Essential InfoSpring Fair 2018 brings together a huge range of products including an inspirational showcase of over 300 British greetings card publishers in Hall 3 at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham, United Kingdom.

    Register for FREE tickets to Spring Fair by clicking here

    When is Spring Fair 2018?

    Spring Fair 2018 runs from Sunday 4th February until Thursday 8th February from 09:00 - 18:00 each day.

    Watch a short video of Spring Fair Greeting Card Section

    Blue Eyed Sun in Spring Fair Voucher Scheme

    New customers who order £500 or more from Blue Eyed Sun can save £100 off their order.

    Find out about the Spring Fair Voucher

    Where to Eat at Spring Fair

    We've tried lots of different restaurants at Spring Fair. Here are some of our favourites:

    5 Great Restaurants near the NEC

    Where to Stay at Spring Fair

    Consider hotels in Birmingham City Centre (which is a short train ride from the NEC).

    Find accommodation for Spring Fair here

    How to get to Spring Fair

    The sat nav post code is B40 1NT. Parking on site is free. There are 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.

    Save 25% on Virgin Rail Advance Tickets

    Seminars at Spring Fair 2018

    Improve your business at Spring Fair 2018.

    Click here for a full list of seminars.

    What's New from Blue Eyed Sun at Spring Fair

    Blue Eyed Sun is launching their new Day Dream greeting card range at Spring Fair 2018 on Stand 3X31 in Hall 3 near the cafeteria. Do come and say hi.

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

    Quote coupon code: SFB18 when ordering during the shows (online or offline) for FREE CARRIAGE until 28th February.

    Chocolate Surprise

    Tell us what your favourite chocolate is and we'll have a surprise gift for you at the show.

    Click here to tell us

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

    Read 12 Top Tips for Trade Show Visitors

    See if you can find Blue Eyed Sun's stand 3X31 in Hall 3 on the show map below:

    Spring Fair 2016 Floorpan NEC

  • A Sweet and Simple Marketing Idea

    A Sweet and Simple Marketing Idea

    Last year I had the good fortune to see the entertaining speaker and author, Geoff Ramm, share some innovative and simple marketing ideas with a packed audience at the Giftware Association’s Member’s Day.

    I’ve always loved marketing and enjoy seeing different ways of tackling the age old problem of standing out from crowded marketplaces. Geoff is an awesome speaker and I love his ideas for ways you make your business outstanding for customers.

    Having a sweet tooth, on this occasion, one simple marketing idea resonated with me in particular:

    The Wedding Tog

    Simon Jones of Bonjour Photography had the list of couples due to attend a wedding show he was exhibiting at. He took the trouble to contact everyone on the list and ask them what their favourite chocolate was. That’s it. No sales pitch, nothing to say how awesome he was as a photographer or how competitive his prices were. Just what chocolate they loved most. He then asked them to visit his stand at the show to collect a gift from him.

    He purchased the various chocolates and put them together as a gift pack along with an album of his photographs for each couple. The results were remarkable. 90% of the customers he cold contacted shared their favourite chocolates. He successfully tracked them down, even an obscure chocolate from the US and ultimately took £14,000 of bookings for an outlay of £400.

    I was bowled over by the hit rate on such a simple idea. I’ve thought a lot about this idea since. Why did it work so well? It’s not like chocolates are particularly expensive or, for that matter, very special (despite being occasionally delicious). He wasn’t offering discounts, or mega deals either.

    Why it Works

    The first thing that’s most noticeable about this idea is that the call is not a sales call. In fact, even the most hardened anti-sales call person answering can’t help but be intrigued by such a simple request as “what’s your favourite chocolate?” It doesn’t cost them anything to share this information. It’s also quite fun.

    Those called don’t have to go to see the photographer at the show if they don’t want to. Even if they do, they already know it’s a bit of fun. They can just pick up their gift and leave. It doesn’t feel like they are being sold to at any point. They feel in control of the process.

    When they did visit Simon, they not only got their favourite chocolate, but they received it as a gift, wrapped up in a ribbon with a nicely bound copy of his work. The book shows his quality of work, the standard of his albums and contained a price list within. The gift aspect is a considerate personal touch.

    Not only is the chocolate a personalised gift to suit their taste, it’s actually incredibly personal in other ways too. Our relationship with our favourite chocolate taps into our physical senses of taste, touch and smell, as well as past experiences of pleasure and it evokes memories that undoubtedly make us smile.

    None of us like to be sold to and yet most of us like to buy. The majority of engaged couples attending the show needed a photographer for their wedding. Simon was showing them a lot about himself before they even looked at his work. He demonstrated consideration, empathy, a sense of fun, attention to detail and the personal touch.

    All of these are vital qualities the couple probably didn’t even realise they were looking for when choosing a photographer. Technical ability and price are actually secondary to their subconscious need for their wedding pro to deliver the images of one of the most important, personal and intimate experiences of their lives.

    Not only was his order book filled, but visitors spoke about him at the show and Geoff included his story in his marketing book and I’m sharing it with you now. All from one sweet and simple marketing idea.

    Taking Action

    Now I’ve been to a lot of talks over the years and felt inspired during many of them. I can’t always say I’ve done anything more after that. You have to take action to really benefit.  As I watched Geoff share Simon’s story with over 100 delegates, I looked around the room and wondered how many would try this idea. I didn’t want to be one of a load of suppliers using this idea in our industry. If a lot of us do it, it loses its edge. Also, we were already doing little things like sending Brighton Rock sweets and handwritten notes in our orders. I almost talked myself out of doing it.

    As I sat there it occurred to me that the chances of nobody in the room talking this lesson board was actually quite high. I came to the conclusion that it was highly likely that I would be the only company in the room to try it out. So I did at the next show a month or two later. Here’s what happened…

    Chocolate Heaven

    We approached 72 customers who had visited us at the Autumn Shows in the past three years and successfully discovered their favourite chocolates. Of these, 33 shops came and collected their chocolates (with a gift sample pack) and ordered at the show or shortly afterwards with a total sales value of £11k (plus higher than average order values). Not bad for acting on advice given to us for the small charge of attending the seminar.

    Perhaps they might have ordered anyway. Who knows. Regardless, every customer enjoyed the experience and we loved doing it too. Will, in our office, enjoyed making the calls because he didn’t feel like he was selling. I loved shopping for the chocolates and we had a great time handing them out at the show. We also had fun taking photos and sharing the experience on social media and in this column.

    By the time you read this, Blue Eyed Sun will have used this marketing idea at four different shows. The idea has been done in our industry now, so you’ll have to think of something else. The lesson isn’t really about chocolate though. It’s about paying attention to your customers and going that bit further. What can you do to make your business stand out? What can you do that will exceed your customer’s expectations and blow them away?

    When you start thinking this way, your business changes and you begin to see opportunities everywhere to do better and take more time to consider your customers more personally. These are some further things we did as a result.

    Chocolate Highs

    A few weeks later the major buyer of a large retail customer of ours mentioned their favourite chocolate in an interview. We spotted it straight away as an opportunity to connect and sent a box of them along with a personalised thank you note saying how grateful we are for their business. Our customer loved it.

    Gift Packs

    I’ve started sharing gift packs of Blue Eyed Sun cards with customers and friends that I know that love to send them. They often tweet and share images of the cards online. More importantly, I know they are taking pleasure in using our cards and spreading the love.

    Personalisation 

    We always hand write the messages in our Christmas cards to our customers, this year we took it one step further by personalising the front of the cards too. The response of good feeling from customers was lovely. Many of the cards were shared on social media too.

    Willies Cacao

    I recently met Willie Harcourt-Cooze who appeared on Channel 4’s Willies Chocolate Revolution. Last month we partnered with Willies Cacao to cross market to each other’s customers with special offers and fun initiatives like including a gift of chocolates in Blue Eyed Sun’s Valentine deliveries to our retailers.

    What about you?

    What are your innovative ideas for marketing? How do you create OMG experiences for your customers? What do you do to stand out from the crowd and personalise the experience for them? I’d love to hear your stories. Tweet them to us @Blue_Eyed_Sun

    Tell us your favourite chocolate and we'll have a special gift for you at Spring Fair

    Willie's Cacao Special Offer for Blue Eyed Sun customers

    Marketing: Then vs Now

  • Top Drawer Spring 2018 - Essential Information

    Top Drawer Spring 2018Top Drawer Spring 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 Top Drawer Spring please click here.

    When is Top Drawer Spring 2018?

    Top Drawer Spring 2018 runs from Sunday 14th January until Tuesday 16th January from 09:30 - 18:00 at Olympia in London and features a stunning edited showcase of over 1,500 hand picked brands. 

     Click here to watch a video of the card section at Top Drawer Spring.

    Where to Eat at Top Drawer Spring

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

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

    Where to Stay at Top Drawer Spring

    Olympia is well serviced for hotels and there are good transport links to local London areas.

    Click here for an interactive map of hotels near Top Drawer Spring

    How to Get to Top Drawer Spring

    There's an overland train to Olympia Station to Top Drawer Spring 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 launching a gorgeous new greeting card range called Daydream at Top Drawer Spring 2018 on stand T42. You can also order any last minute Valentines, Mothers or Fathers Day cards as well as getting a sneak preview of forthcoming Christmas ranges.

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

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

    Top Drawer Spring 2018 - Floor Plan

  • Special Willie's Cacao Offer for Blue Eyed Sun Customers

    Willies Cacao

    At Blue Eyed Sun we love chocolate and our customers so much that, as a special treat, we have included a gift of Willie's Cacao truffles with every Valentine's greeting card order shipping in January. Click here to login and order.

    We've also persuaded our friends at Willie's Cacao to create two special intro offers for you:

    1. A Free case of Praline Truffles worth £26.52 for gift orders over £170.
    2. A free wooden display stand with 8 cases of 50g bars

    Discover the wonderfully tactile, artist sculpted golden cacao pod tins and astonishingly delicious praline truffles. For details contact Anna on mail@williescacao.com or call 01884 840 650. No minimum order. Free delivery over £170 + VAT.

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze, from Channel 4's Willies Chocolate Revolution, makes some of the best chocolate in the world. His aim is to introduce everyone to real chocolate with the pure, beautiful flavours of the world's great single estate cacaos.

    Willie's dream of making the world's best chocolate was born in Hacienda El Tesoro, his cacao farm high in the cloud first in Venezuela. With beans bought direct from farmers, he makes them into chocolate in small batches in his factory in England, using neither vanilla nor soya lecithin, so preserving the highly individual flavours of the beans. One batch may take up to 18 days, which is a hundred times longer then industrial chocolate.

    Don't miss out on this wonderful offer. We hope you enjoy the chocolates!

    Click here to find out more about Willies Cacao 

    See Blue Eyed Sun at Top Drawer - Stand T42

    See Willie's Cacao at Top Drawer on Stand FE443

  • The Power of Groups

    Group PowerIt’s easy to think that we are alone in this world; trapped inside a bag of skin and doing our best to survive. The truth is far more beautiful than that, for we are all profoundly connected with each other and with our environment.

    Self Made Myth

    We love the idea of the self made man or woman. The idea of the leader or visionary that saw the future and led us all to it. Such people are lauded as heroes in magazines, films and books despite it not being the whole truth.

    In his commencement speech at the University of Houston, Arnold Schwarzenegger believes that the idea of the self made man is a myth. None of us can get anywhere on our own. Every person who put him up on their sofa in the early days when he had nothing, everyone who helped him with his training or English or who gave him a break at a different points all contributed to his finding success later in life.

    There’s a wonderful image from the movie The Straight Story by David Lynch which really sums this up. The central character, Alvin, recounts how, as a game, he used to give his kids a stick and tell them to break it, which they did easily. He’d then ask them to tie a bundle of sticks together and try and break them. They couldn’t. “That bundle… that’s family” he’d say. To illustrate my point, that’s the power of the group.

    As soon as you understand that you got where you are with a lot of help from your groups, you realise that it’s time to help others. Time to work together to build something greater than all of us.

    Family Power

    Group Power

    I got this a long time ago, which is why I agreed to help the late Lynn Tait with The Ladder Club seminars back in 2004 and have been speaking there for free every year since.

    I’ve also been an active member of both the Greeting Card Association (GCA) where I am currently Treasurer and the Giftware Association (The GA) where I will become Chairman this year (I give away 10% of my time each year to helping various groups).

    We need groups like these to help our industries thrive, to help those who need to grow and to help those who are less fortunate (through benevolent funds and the like). More importantly, these groups need us. Yet, so often, many of us are pushed for time or strapped for cash and we hold back on getting involved, because we are looking out for our own interests.

    Speaking from experience, what’s most interesting is that the more you give, the more you receive. It’s like love, the more you love the more love appears around you in the world. Like the brightest star, loving beings light up the darkness around them. Groups which are full of generosity and giving are like the brightest of galaxies, like a milky way lighting up the sky at night.

    It’s the same with teaching: the more we teach, the more we learn (The Roman philosopher, Seneca, observed this almost 2,400 years ago). Every year, after returning from the Ladder Club seminars I say to my team, “OK. These are the words of advice I’ve given others, are we still practising this ourselves? If not, why not?” Every year we improve a little from doing this.

    The Protége Effect

    Researchers have found that students that tutor others work harder to understand the material, recall it more accurately and apply it more effectively. Scientists have called this the protége effect. Student teachers score higher in tests than those studying for their own sake.

    Similar studies have concluded that first-born children are brighter than their later born siblings due to time spent showing them the ropes. Cascading mentoring programs, where students teach others all the way down the education system, can help everyone in groups get smarter as they progress.

    These days we are always learning, but are we always teaching too? What are our contributions? Where do we sew what we have reaped?

    Online Groups

    Social media can feel like busy marketplaces full of noise and shouting, without much listening. For me, one of the most exciting areas of social media has been the groups that I’ve been involved with online: primarily with Facebook and WhatsApp (although I have also tested group tools on LinkedIn, Telegram, Slack and Allo).

    Good online groups can be very supportive environments for niche subject areas in order to learn and grow. One of the reasons Ladder Club publishers have been so successful in recent years is the Facebook group that alumni can join for year round support and encouragement. I’ve answered hundreds of questions in this group and it’s so lovely to see how other members (who were previously students) are now answering a lot of questions for others themselves. The group as a whole has grown in strength as a result.

    I’ve also been involved in several networking groups on WhatsApp and have developed and grown friendships that have opened all sorts of interesting opportunities, lessons and personal growth over time.

    Network Thinking

    I’ve written before on the importance of fully understanding Network thinking (which is open, random and supportive) over Institutional Thinking (which is closed, selective and controlling). You cannot be the latter and ignore the former online, especially not in groups. People can sniff out self interest a mile away. Most importantly, it erodes trust. They say of trust that it is won in inches and lost in miles. So take care when building it online.

    Building trust through being open, random and supportive takes time. You have to be open to all comers, it’s random so you cannot simply pick and choose who you respond to based on how it will benefit you personally and you have to be supportive of others instead of just looking out for yourself.

    It sounds easy when I say it like this, but it takes time to adjust. My friend, Thomas Power, who first articulated this distinction and who spoke on the subject at the GA Members’ Day  a couple of years ago reckons it can take up to ten years to make the change from CSC institutional thinking to ORS network thinking.

    Practicing Network Thinking

    When I first watched Thomas speak on the subject I understood what he meant as I have instinctively operated in a similar way for many years. Last year, I decided to test myself on this to see if I really had the stomach for fully adjusting to it.

    Buying and sending other publishers’ cards on The Greeting Card Project felt like madness at times (from the CSC perspective) and yet it was totally essential to encouraging more greeting card sending overall. It would not have worked had I promoted Blue Eyed Sun in the videos.

    The experience has completely changed me and how I see greeting cards. It’s opened my eyes to the life of retailers, publishers and card buying consumers.

    I want to invite you to join the next stage of this project’s journey so that you can experience all of this too.

    Join the Group

    The fact is that I can’t continue to do it alone. I’m like the twig on it’s own in the earlier analogy. I’m at breaking point with it and I need your help to grow this project. It was only meant to be for a year, but I feel at over 20,000 views on social media, that this project has some momentum and could help our industry as a whole if more people get involved this year.

    It’s too much to ask any one person to continue to make videos every week on card buying and to share them online. Collectively however we could do more as a group. Perhaps not just with videos, but with images and hashtags as well.

    So, if you have been at all inspired by The Greeting Card Project last year and want to get involved in sending more cards this year to make it even bigger and better, please join the group at www.Facebook.com/groups/TheGreetingCardProject

    Watch The Greeting Card Project Videos

  • The Greeting Card Project - December Review

    #TGCP December Review

    This is the final month of The Greeting Card Project where I visit a different shop every week this year and buy and send more greeting cards to see how it improves my relationships and enhances my sense of well being.

    Here are the final episodes for you to catch up on:

    This week I buy thank you cards for guys from from Saffrons of York.

    Sixty second bonus episode illustrating the difference between sending digital messages and cards.

    This week I bought Christmas Relations cards from John Lewis on Oxford Street in London.

    Buying beautiful cards from You in Stamford, Lincolnshire.

    Buying Christmas Packs from Fortnum & Mason in London.

    The twelfth month of the channel had 581 views with viewers watching over 16 hours of The Greeting Card Project for an average of 1:43 per video. The channel gained 1 more subscribers,  14 shares and accumulated 40 likes and 0 dislikes. The total lifetime channel views is now 10,589 with over 352 hours watched and an average view time of 1:59.

    December's Facebook video views were 1,859 totalling with 12 hours view time. Lifetime Facebook views are 10,190 with 75 hours viewed since I started posting natively in Facebook mid-June.

    If you do watch and enjoy the videos please pop over to YouTube and subscribe. I'd also love it if you followed the project on the new Facebook Page. Keep up to date on other platforms via my personal Twitter account @JeremyCorner and my personal Instagram @JeremyCorner.

    Where possible there are hyperlinks to all of the featured companies beneath each YouTube video.

    November Review of #TGCP

    October Review of #TGCP

    September Review of #TGCP

    August Review of #TGCP

    July Review of #TGCP

    June Review of #TGCP

    May Review of #TGCP

    April Review of #TGCP

    March Review of #TGCP

    February Review of #TGCP

    January review of #TGCP

    Learn why I started #TGCP

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