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The hectic hustle and bustle of Christmas is over and we’re in that weird limbo area between New Years eve and Christmas where there presents have been opened, the food has been eaten and the idea of havinganother mulled wine is actually fairly unappealing! I thought now would be a great time get down some ponderings, express some thanks and to share a little of what IvoryMint has achieved this past year. (Please bare with me – writing is not my forte!)
This year saw the official launch of IvoryMint at the Progressive Greetings Live show. This was my first evertrade show and I had absolutely no idea what to expect, luckily the organisers of the show were very helpful and made the run up to it as painless as possible. So, in June, with shaky hands and my fabulous helper, Claire, we entered the London Business Design Centre hoping that we wouldn’t make fools of ourselves and that we could pretend to be real adults with a proper business. This was the beginning of a very steep learning curve that has yet to taper off…
The show was amazing, overwhelming, fun, stressful but more importantly it was integral to turning my tiny idea of a stationery company into what is it now; something that very closely resembles a bona fide profitable business. We met some pretty awesome people at the show; the wonderful Inspired Goodbyesladies were in the stall next to us – they kept us sane and gave us advice about the industry and help with our sales techniques. I also met Denise, a wonderful Welsh lady who has become my agent and mentor for the world of wholesale greetings cards.
Before the show I did a lot of research on the industry but there is only so much you can glean from the world wide web. I thought that having five card ranges with around nine designs in each range was far more than I needed, boy was I wrong! I contacted Denise after the show, she very conveniently lives in the same city as I do, so we met up for coffee and a chat. She didn’t need to take on a new publisher but I guess she must have seen something in me / the company that she liked and has since taken us under her wing. I want to take this opportunity to say a huge heartfelt THANK YOU to her.
Thanks to Denise we now design cards in Welsh which has led to IvoryMint cards being stocked in 12 new shops around Wales, she has also given me invaluable inside knowledge of the industry which has led to meeting more agents, getting into more shops and a bit of reassurance that we are doing the right thing!
A few months after the show, I got an email that made me jump up and down in excitement. WHSmiths had got in touch to say they were impressed with my cards and would like to meet up to discuss the possibility of supplying them. I couldn’t believe that my little stall had attracted such big names in the world of stationery (we had also met buyers from Scribbler and a few other large companies). Long story short we are now supplying Funky Pigeon B&M shops (which are owned by WHSmiths), they will be available near the beginning of next year in London. Very exciting!
Since launching in June, IvoryMint now have four sales agents that cover Wales, South East, South West and London. I love them all, especially as it means I don’t have to do what I’m worst at, sales! We are now in over 30 shops (including Australia and future shops in Dubai) and we also sell on Etsy and Notonthehighstreet.
This Christmas has been amazing! I joined 30 other makers from Cardiff and the Valleys (who sell on Etsy) and set up a pop-up shop with the help of #Etsymadelocal and the wonderful planners at the CaVEtsy team. The shop ran for a whole month and through doing it I managed to drag myself out of my home office and actually meet some lovely and talented people (I’m beginning to feel a little less like a hermit now!) we have all learned so much from each other – it was a huge success!
Something that I am very much looking forward to in the New Year is moving out of my home office into a swanky new proper office – it has air con and everything! I think this move will be really great – not only will I be able to have a proper separation between work life and social life, it also means I won’t be able to go to work in my pyjamas (although I’m sure I’ll find a way) and will hopefully see better productivity (listen to me, I sound so boring!) but really it means that the greetings cards that are swallowing up our little flat will be somewhere else and that’s pretty cool!
I want to say a really big thank you to all our wonderful customers and to my amazingly supportive friends and family especially Alex, my patient and wonderful boyfriend who pushed me to quit my full time job and believed in my abilities to make my dream a reality. Thanks to all of you I have been able to work on my business full time, have gained over 30 new stockists, four fantastic agents and a wealth of knowledge.
I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings and I hope you all have a pretty damn amazing new year!