When artist and designer Sarah Hamilton read this quote by shopkeepers who’d recently closed their gallery, she decided to take action. Along with support from The Design Trust and Mollie Makes, Sarah launched the highly successful ‘Just a Card‘ campaign, to encourage people to appreciate just how invaluable each purchase is, no matter how small.
“Supporting local businesses is crucial if we want to keep our High Streets alive and buzzing with independent, exciting and creative shops. Don’t just talk about it – do something about it – shop local and make a real difference.” Patricia van den Akker, The Design Trust.
As a designer-maker, I’m absolutely thrilled when a customer decides to buy one of my cards. Every sale shows which designs are more popular, helping me decide which themes and products to develop. Also, quite simply, a sale means someone likes the products and I have an audience, so this dream of running a successful creative business can happen!
Here we talk to 6 designer makers, who describe the importance of small sales for their business:
Juliet Thornback & Delia Peel, Thornback and Peel
“It is always a joy to see people buying our cards and wondering where they will end up. The cards are printed by hand in our studio round the corner from the shop where they are sold. Much work goes into this one item – there is the design story behind the print, then there is the time to perfect the colour and placement, along with the precision it takes to create a truly beautiful print. There are two good reasons to buy a card, it inadvertently spreads the word about our business and every little purchase helps to contribute towards us producing other, more elaborate products. We love that our cards have a greater reach than we can imagine, that the care we take with every single one, here in the studio in London, can be posted to the other side of the world.”
Teri Muncey, The Lovely Drawer
“Having come from the greetings card industry, the first year I started my own business it seemed like the obvious thing, to make some sets for Christmas. I remember my first card sale all too well and it was such an amazing feeling to know I had got that independently rather than with a big commercial company. I went on to sell out of Christmas cards twice over that year and it came at a time when I was still hoping that my business could become a viable long term occupation and this gave me the sense that it really could go somewhere. I’m sure each person didn’t think much about buying a card from me but it made such a big difference.”
Louise Lockhart, The Printed Peanut
“I started The Printed Peanut whilst working in a stationery store in Canada. I was in charge of the large card department and it was here that I discovered how wonderful cards are. They are small, affordable artworks that showcase lots of artists and designers next to each other, almost like a mini art gallery. I decided to make my own cards to sell, which has now progressed into all areas of stationery and other products. I’ve learned a lot about how illustration works from creating cards. They have to be bold, colourful and instantly understandable. Doing this has been invaluable practice for me as a working illustrator as it is a great exercise in learning how to communicate ideas visually. I’ve learned a lot from designing cards and continue to do so. I really enjoy it!”
Alexandra Higlett and Georgina Hounsome, Pirrip Press
“The main thing is that cards get around. They get given to pals and put on windowsills; bought out of a kitty for someone who’s leaving work; sent abroad; sent anonymously on 14th February; photographed and put on instagram; and that’s pretty much exactly how our customer base grows. When it works, it’s like a big old buy one get one free: our customer buys a card and we get a customer free. And we get to use our loyalty card stamp which is very satisfying.”
Jessica Hayman, Rosa and Clara Designs
“I had a year out before I went to law college during which I ran a handmade card business. The thrill of selling that first card stayed with me and, ten years later when I decided that life as a lawyer was no longer for me, Rosa & Clara Designs was born!”
© Rosa and Clara Designs
Alice Potter, at Alice Potter, and Kute
“For me, every small sale means an enormous amount. Buying just a card encourages me to keep making and creating. Cards getting used to give to loved ones or as small pieces of art mean someone appreciates you as an artist and they want to take that away with them. I really appreciate these types of customer.”
Please support your favourite designers – do pin those lovely images they’ve made to your Pinterest board, or compliment the designer in person at a craft fair or on social media – everyone loves to hear this and can make someone’s day. But most importantly, buy just a card!