Monday, 31 October 2011

365 days of Strange Fruit

Today is the last day of my first year running Strange Fruit! And what a year it has been, this time last October to say I knew nothing about the greeting card industry would be an understatement!  But what I did know was I had a lot to learn so I approached year one as my learning year and as much as I have learnt I am no way done.

When I first started approaching stockists Christmas was a few weeks away so of course retailers were thinking about displaying their festive stock not taking on new ranges!  Lesson one.

I also learnt that buyers for large retail outlets don't answer emails - ever - when you approach them.  Regardless of how many hours you spent tracking them down they only engage with you when they meet you at a trade show.  Lesson two.
Lesson three.  "We like your cards but we don't think they are right for our customers" is code for  people who don't have the confidence to say they, in their opinion, their customers wouldn't buy greeting cards reflecting people of colour.  I always want to say "how do you know who your customers are friends with, who is in their family and do you not serve black people in your shop?" but of course I don't!  For every stockist that is 'nervous' about selling cards with black people on them there is another who gives them a try and finds out very quickly that people of all ethnic backgrounds buy our cards simply because they like them.  Sometimes they even sell out in a week!

So 365 days, twelve designer maker markets, two trade shows and one business awards nomination later our number of stockists is growing, I am talking to contacts in the US about licensing my images for the American market and am setting up a trial for a chain store in early 2012.  Which if I say so myself is not to shabby for someone who knew more about the life cycle of a ladybird than she did about the greeting card industry.

It has been emotional, stressful, rewarding and fun and I am sooo looking forward to putting into action the lessons I have learnt and taking Strange Fruit Greeting Cards into its second year - look out for us as we could be coming to a shop near you sooner than you think.  And yes I will still be learning all the way.

Denise xx

Friday, 21 October 2011

Strange Fruit is coming to South London.....

We will be at the Papered Parlour Open Studios this Saturday!


7 Prescott Place, London SW4 6BS
020 7627 8703

Saturday 22 October 2011 - 11am-5pm


I haven't taken the cards to an event in South London before so am really looking forward to working with the Papered Parlour girls again and in their own gorgeous creative space!  I hear the cake is to die to for so you know where I'll be!

At the event you can -

Meet the Artists - an take a look behind the creative doors and explore a studio packed with milliners, textile designers, photographers, animators and illustrators. 
Shop at the Designer/Maker Market - meet and buy from local artists at the indoor designer/maker market.
Eat & Drink at the Pop Up Cafe - yep sample the parlour's famous homebaked cakes courtesy of Clapham's very own CakeSisters washed down with lashings of tea served in vintage china teacups.
Enjoy Live Music - listen to acoustic sets during the afternoon from the brilliant Sarah Johns Music Party, Milly Blue and Sebastian Fox.  I just know I am going to be so envious of the great space and all the creative people who use it - but I can't think of a nicer way to spend a Saturday!
Hope to see you there,


Friday, 14 October 2011

Will flickr change my life?

The days are getting shorter and my to do list just grows longer - it never seems to get any shorter, not ever! But today I have managed a big tick and set up a flickr photo stream.  Not a huge thing but I really needed a quick way of people being able to access high resolution images. 

There are two key reason's why this has been nagging me for ages:-

1)  When I am at the day job I can't access my home computer nor the images on it and making people wait for photographs when they have expressed an interest is just wrong and unprofessional.  Just because Strange Fruit is a start up business is no reason to expect people to wait on me!

2)  Sending big files is a pain, for me to send and for the recipient to receive - how many times has a PR sent me images that I can't open - yep too many.  So I was really conscious of not doing the same thing I don't like PR companies doing to me at the day job. 

So some of the the photo's I took this week with my new pop up light box (which is fab) have been posted and the link put in the press release I have just sent out.  We will see if flickr makes my print ready photo sharing easier.  Of course my to do list is longer as I now have lots of images to re shoot, photoshop and post, but I have made a start and that's what counts.

Will flickr will change my life? I'm don't think so, but I do do hope it will make it much easier!