Blue Eyed Sun

Blue Eyed Sun - gorgeous greetings cards

Progressive Greetings Magazine

  • Progressive Greetings magazine feature Blue Eyed Sun in February Issue

    Progressive Greetings Article on Blue Eyed Sun

    Progressive Greetings magazine just featured Blue Eyed Sun in their latest issue. Read a transcript of the article below:

    Every Autumn for the last seven years, Jeremy Corner, managing director of handmade card publisher, Blue Eyed Sun has sacrificed several days to impart his business nous to a room full of would-be competitors at the Ladder Club seminars, enlightening these fledgling publishers as to how to progress up the greeting card industry 'ladder'. Now, as evidenced by the launch this month of an extensive range of licensed giftware from Widdop Bingham based on Blue Eyed Sun's card ranges, a recent top award for its Ivy Ellen wedding stationery business and a growing international distribution - all on the back of the company's best trading year ever, Jeremy is most definitely practicing what he preaches.

    The hundreds of people that have attended the Ladder Club seminars over the years (the majority of whom being artists, illustrators, designers or photographers, either in the early throes of starting a greeting card publishing business or seriously considering it) will all remember scribbling down copious notes based on the talk given by Jeremy Corner, managing director of Blue Eyed Sun. Jeremy's delivery has become more polished over the years, and new aspects are added to keep it fresh and relevant, but the core elements remain unchanged because they still make a lot of sense. And not just to new start up card businesses, to even those that have been going for 12 years, such as Blue Eyed Sun.

    In his talk Jeremy highlights the 'different hats' you need to 'wear' to manage a card company; he explains about trying to get out of the 'valley of death' as quickly as possible (the financial step backwards a business takes when they first employ a member of staff); he uses a great diagram of a boat to illustrate the importance of management (the rudder), a strong customer database (the mast), sales and marketing (the sails), solid production (the hull) and a keel (cash flow) to stay afloat and make headway in the greeting card seas. It's all good stuff. And he also then slows things down with an exercise fanfared as 'Looking back from perfect'.

    This is when Jeremy prompts attendees to imagine themselves and their business a year hence. He clarifies that this vision has to be realistic and achievable, thereby minimising the notions of sitting on a beach all year drinking champagne with £millions stacking up in the bank from the sale of greeting cards. Whilst some in the audience initially feel a little uncomfortable playing this imaginary game, Jeremy stresses its importance - "If you don't know what you want from our business and where you want to be, how do you know how to get there?" It is a question that Jeremy has asked not just of Ladder Club graduates but also of himself and his wife/business partner Jo over the last few years. And this month sees more of these answers coming home to roost on the Blue Eyed Sun mast.

    The most visible of will be given the pride of place on major gift company Widdop Bingham's stand at Spring Fair international. This will mark the official trade show debut of two gift ranges based on Blue Eyed Sun's best selling Vintage and Jingles card ranges. Through a licensing agreement between the two companies, Widdop Bingham has worked with Jeremy and Jo to develop photo albums, picture frames, jewellery boxes, gift boxes, hip flasks, cushions, pens, mugs, chocolate bars, coasters and key rings, all of which have a discernible Blue Eyed Sun imprint, even including embellishments which tie-in with the handmade appeal of the greeting card designs upon which they are based.

    Blue Eyed Sun is not the first greeting card company to have spotted the potential of licensing as far as a way of expanding its brand's reach without going too far outside of its comfort zone, but it is a significant stage in this Brighton-based company. We dipped our toe into licensing prior to this, but only in a small way. For us, it was important to make sure that we were going into business with the right company. I already knew Andrew Illingworth [Widdop Bingham's sales director] as both of us are involved with the Giftware Association and I was always aware of how Widdop Bingham is a great fourth generation family business that is still eager to evolve. I felt an immediate bond of trust, which is so important in collaborations such as these," Jeremy explained. "The development of these gift ranges makes sense for both of us, Widdop Bingham and our respective and shared customers," he added.

    For Blue Eyed Sun the licensing relationship with Widdop Bingham further enhances the profile of the Jingles and Vintage card ranges, as well as feeding investment back into the business through the royalty payments which follow on the back of the sales. For Widdop Bingham, the Blue Eyed Sun brand and tried and tested designs on which the gift products are based add extra 'personality' to its gifts offering. And for the retailers stocking the ranges it provides the opportunity to offer complementary card and gift selections. (And as the range was short listed for the Gift of the Year awards, it has got off to a good start.)

    But while Blue Eyed Sun will indeed be extending its rays into Hall 5, the main gift hall at Spring Fair, activity on the company's greeting card front has been hotting up too, on the new products, distribution and marketing fronts. "We want to remain doing what we love - producing 'gorgeous handmade cards for design-led shops,' says Jeremy, as if reminding himself of the company signoff. "We are unlikely to double the number of card designs we offer," says Jeremy, referring to the 300 strong annual portfolio of new designs that divides roughly into 140 everyday cards, 100 Spring Seasons and 60 for Christmas (the vast majority of which are still designed by Jo Corner, who founded the business). But operating at the fashion-influenced end of the card trade, Blue Eyed Sun has a need to continually refresh its product portfolio with new ranges, of which Gorgeous is the latest.

    So it stands to reason that a way to grow the business was to extend distribution of its ranges and increase sales with existing customers. Jeremy cites the website and the company's involvement in social networking as having helped on all counts. "We relaunched our Blue Eyed Sun trade website at the start of last year and now 10% of our trade orders come through this route, while Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook have resulted in some interesting business conversations that may never have come about had it not been for our involvement in social media," admits Jeremy. On the domestic front, the company has doubled the number of spinners in UK stores, while the last year has seen it grow sales overseas through distributors in Germany, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand.

    So, in his 'looking back from perfect' real life exercise, Jeremy must currently be enjoying the view. "It is not a case of looking out of the window and seeing now weeds in the garden - far from it. Trade is tough, but there are always ways that you can improve your company, for the business' sake, your customers and yourself." Jeremy can always take up business lecturing if he gets bored of cards!

    Jeremy is a keynote speaker at this year's Giftware Association members' day on Thursday 23rd May in Birmingham where he will be discussing the looking back from perfect exercise.

    Jeremy is also speaking on Social Media with the Greeting Card Association on Tuesday 16th April at the Birbeck College in London.

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    To find out more about Widdop Bingham's new Blue Eyed Sun licensed gifts please click here.

    To stock Blue Eyed Sun card ranges in your shop click here. If you'd like to see them in your local shop please tell them and point them in the direction of or you can recommend a shop to us by clicking here. You can also visit our stockists page to find a store near you that may be selling them.

  • Vintage range is on fire in Progressive Greetings What's Hot

    Blue Eyed Sun feature in Progressive Greetings What's Hot Section October 2012

    Blue Eyed Sun's handmade Vintage greeting card range was recommended three out of four retailers in this month's Progressive Greetings; equalling a record for the specialist trade publication.

    Thanks so much to all of our lovely customers for their kind words. Here's what they had to say:

    "The Vintage designs are bang-on trend for the 'Shabby Chic' trend and the craftsmanship and quality make the card feel very special" - Jane Revell of Scribes, Sturminster Newton, Devon.

    "Vintage are very touchy feely designs. Customers can't believe the card images aren't actually sewn on the board" - Deborah Sturton of Card-Ology, Bedford.

    "We have trouble keeping Vintage in stock" - Jackie Miller, Dragonfly, Cheam, London.

    Vintage are the best selling embroidered range from Blue Eyed Sun that has been nominated for three Henries Awards to date. The range is available in Everyday, Valentines Day and Mother's Day. In January Widdop Bingham is launching a small selection of Vintage gifts inspired by the range including photo albums and frames.

    Progressive Greetings is the global market leader in bringing you the news from the greeting card industry. It has had it's finger on the pulse of the greeting card market for over 20 years and is the official journal of the UK Greeting Card Association.

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

    Click here to subscribe to Progressive Greetings Magazine.

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