Why Go To The Ladder Club? – Part 2

 

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Photo credit: Jim Bullough

It has been more than a week since I attended the Ladder Club for new greeting card publishers. I posted earlier what was all about but if you have not had the chance to read the previous post, you can read it here. The list of the speakers also gives you a good insight of what was covered on Day 2.

The networking dinner was wonderful and I had a chance to meet people I already knew as well as new ones. At dinner I sat next to Lorraine from Rush Design and Henri Davies, former National Trust and WHSmith Buyer and currently a retail consultant. I had interesting conversations with both of them but had a proper giggle with Lorraine. We’ve discovered that we are both self-taught artists and somehow entered the world of greetings with the similar idea of ‘how hard can it be to design a card’ (more on that on another blog post). I was also looking forward meeting Lynn Tait of the Lynn Tait Gallery. She is the heart and soul of the Ladder Club and true inspiration, both personally and professionally. The food was lovely and all in all, a fantastic evening before a full day of talks that were to follow.

I thoroughly enjoyed the seminar day, which was packed with valuable information, although drawing from my previous experience in fashion retail and buying, there were not many surprises to what I have heard. But I still found it good to compare similarities and differences. My thoughts are, if you have never been in business and all your life have designed or created lovely designs and products, the seminars will be eye-openers.  I wholeheartedly recommend attending the first and the second day. As a bonus, you can also join the Ladder Club Facebook Group Page. There are some wonderful discussions going on and you can ask even more questions or what was not clear on the day even after the seminars.

So, best of luck with your future venture in greeting card publishing. Hope to see you soon at some of the trade shows and if you go to the Ladder Club, do not forget to pop a little badge on your website and tell everybody that you have attended one of the very special clubs in the world.

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Best wishes,

SSK Signature

 

What is the Ladder Club For Greeting Card Publishers? – Part 1

Ladder Club Logo

Every year, new greeting card publishers head for pilgrimage down to Westcliffe on Sea. You may think that is a strange time of the year to be enjoying the seaside, but the salty air and pretty coastal views are just a bonus. We, including me, all go for one reason, to attend the annual Ladder Club seminar. If you are after greeting card publishing and do not know where to start, this is the event to attend, preferably before you start the ball rolling.

The seminar is a crush course that runs over two days and is organised by Lynn Tait of the Lynn Tait Gallery. The first day, Getting on the Ladder, is for those who consider such business venture. This year is on 4th November 2014. There is a networking dinner the night before and is valuable as the attendees will get to meet each other and the speakers before the seminars.

The second day, Climbing the Ladder, is for those who have already embarked on some kind of business venture: have attended the first day of the seminar (usually advisable the year before), exhibited at least at one trade show, have turned at least £3000 etc. This year the second day on Wednesday 5th November 2014 with networking dinner the night beofe.

The schedule for the second day is super tight and there will be speakers as follows: Sharon Little – Chief Executive of the Greeting Card Association, Jakki Brown – Editorial Director and Co-Owner of Max Publishing, Progressive Greetings magazine, Claire Williams and Karen Wilson – Co-Founders of Paper Salad, Miles Robinson – Co-Owner of House of Cards, litho printing Simon King of The Sherwood Press, digital printing Bob Short of The Imaging Centre, envelopes Julie Brightley from Enveco, paper board Mark Jessett of GF Smith, Jeremy Corner – Managing Director of Blue Eyed Sun, Chris Houfe – Sales Director of GBCC and Waterwells, Henri Davies – Buyer of the National Trust and consultant.

The cost for each seminar is only £48, including lunch and refreshments. The seminar dates are usually announced in Progressive Greetings magazine, word of mouth, once you join the Greeting Card Association or you can register your interest by contacting Trudi or Pauline on 01702 480180 or email waiteandtaitbakery@hotmail.com. Places are booked quickly; I have missed the Ladder Club for 2 years, so it is strongly advisable to book as soon as you are certain it would be of interest to you. I hear not everybody continues with their originally chosen path and I think it is a great idea to get answered tons of business questions, learn publishing specifics or obtain invaluable industry knowledge for a very small cost price.

So, this is part one of the Ladder Club post and I shall update wih my views on how the seminar has actually been. It may be November and a bit chilly outside but I have packed my sunglasses and I am heading down south to the sea. I can hear the waves now…

SSK Signature

Should I Blog Or Not?

Hand drawn computer

Welcome to my new Blog. My name is Sabina and I, together with my husband Ivo, run SABIVO Design. We publish beautiful handmade greeting cards and trust us, it’s not just us saying it.

I did have a blog before and I was guilty of the common crime ‘blog to promote your own work’. I was exploring my creative side and thought to document it via a blog, but I got bored of myself pretty quickly. I blogged without purpose and I blogged because everybody was saying I should blog. However, I don’t follow orders very well, so I intentionally stopped blogging for some time. Surprisingly to me, people were following my posts and none of them were my friends, so forget the sympathy vote here. Apparently, I had something to say and it was interesting for people…I remembered that but I also had to see what the point of it was as my primary cause for blogging was not to make a blog that would generate revenue. It was mainly to raise my voice or share my own opinion and hopefully find likeminded people to have a good discussion and banter.

During the time I was not blogging I started my own publishing business (together with my better half, of course) and was building my own brand…dare I say so…Having arrived at the self-employed point through professional cross-roads of science, fashion retail management and fashion buying (we can get into details of this eclectic mix at another blog post) there where so many practical things I knew about business and also so many I did not know. Typically to all start-ups, I joined several organizations, attended business courses, gazillions of networking events and generally embraced the learning curve that all new businesses go through. The sole purpose was to ‘get out there’ and also having never been self-employed, to learn ‘best practice’ advice from the wise people in the big business world. As the time went by, most of the advice did not make basic business sense, not because it was wrong, but because most of the business advisors I was seeing have never run their own business or if they did it has closed down and they were not happy about it (had it closed down and they were happy about it is a different matter). The advice was passed to me with the best intentions but it was backed by scholastic graphs, theoretical assumptions or based on old-school sales techniques. It was not based on current business/economical climate, therefore it’s implications were not viable. Most importantly, it was outdated, it has not moved with time. I may not have degree in business but I do have bags of ‘real-life’ experience in retail and buying. I have spent considerable time on the shop floor and in the Head Office for both luxury and value retailer. I have also worked in academia and science and my professional path spans 17 years that I have worked for private, public and government organisations and in three countries. This puts me in a comfortable position with product development, costing, negotiation, merchandising, logistics, marketing, selling, promotions, customer service etc. I have also written research projects, scientific papers, spoken to international audiences, tutored students and won several educational and research awards. Having said that, I urge you to not take my words in this blog for granted, I am not an expert. Question me, doubt me and if you disagree with something, just let me know. But I do think I have commercial head and general business sense. The latter being the only message I was not getting well when I started – common business sense.

It is time to point out that among all business people I have met there were/are people who were/are like gold mines. They are knowledgeable, professional and happy to share their experiences in order to help. I have either stumbled upon them by chance or have actively searched for them and reached out. My advice to you (and I generally refrain from giving advice) if you happen to come across a ‘gold mine’, keep it and treasure it. Like all gold mines, it is rare, so make sure you recognise it once you face it, keep it and cherish the gift of knowledge that it passes on.

I have also ventured into mentoring activities through various organizations, so I do help with business advice. I do help even total strangers who get in touch with me through LinkedIn (when they see that I am a Mentor) and fire up their questions. People often ask me whether I have a blog to share my ideas, some step by step tutorials etc., which puts me back into the ‘should I blog or not?’ dilemma.

As the years went by it did make sense that I start my own blog especially as all blog and SEO gurus were singing the same song – how a blog can help a website visibility. However, the reason I found most exciting is actually the fact that I can share some ideas and potentially ‘talk’ to audience that I generally don’t have despite the whole social media hype (you can find SABIVO Design in most social media handles as ‘sabivodesign’, I am usually behind it). The reason is because our business operates as a trade supplier rather than retail outlet, although we have a small selection of greeting cards for our retail customers on www.sabivo.co.uk. We supply quality shops, department stores and boutiques throughout the UK and in mainland Europe. Often communication is just business related and I feel that I sometimes lose the human touch. I feel that a blog will be a fantastic way to reach to people with common interests and start discussions that you as a reader will be excited about, would love to read and/or participate.

This blog is aimed mainly at artists, not just because I am part of a creative industry. Along the way I have found that artists are actually the breed of people that generally lack business sense and even when offered business help their hearts just start beating in despair (sorry guys, no offence, but you know what I mean). This blog will hopefully de-mystify some aspects of staring and running a creative business. It can also be used by retailers as I have a soft spot for retail and love taking photos of visual merchandising and display. So, there will be hints and tips that owners of small independent shops without prior retail experience can use. I will blog a mix of common business sense, real-life examples from our first years in trading, interesting/useful knowledge, experience, some general stories or ideas I would like to share. I hope that you can use them to excite you, inspire you, help to accomplish things otherwise you couldn’t with your regular career or typical start-up. If this changes your life even in a smallest way, then I will be pleased immensely and my job will be done.

With very best wishes,

Sabina

About Us

Behind SABIVO Design’s Blog

Sabina at SABIVO Design

SABIVO Design’s blog combines random ramblings about business, new design releases and general excitement about the world. The content is delivered monthly and is derived from Sabina’s own experience.

On a serious note, Sabina holds truly eclectic professional background with collective 17 years in fashion buying, fashion retail management, academia, science and now in publishing. Sabina is neither formally design nor business trained, therefore her success in running a creative business is a result of thorough research, preparation, self-training and sheer determination to succeed. Sabina is a business Mentor through the Prince’s Trust (Leicester), Bright Ideas Trust (London) and Start Up Republic (London) and regularly honours invitations for editorials in the trade, local and national press.

Behind SABIVO Design

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SABIVO Design publishes truly beautiful handmade greeting cards, designed, printed and hand-finished in England.  Their cards are design-led, combine contemporary feel with romantic elements and are very competitively priced to give them their commercial edge. Their exquisite craftsmanship and superior quality delight customers like Fenwick, Williams & Griffin, Hoopers, Bentalls and many quality shops across the UK and abroad.

SABIVO Design is a family unit and behind the scenes, Sabina designs, markets the product and runs the company operations. Her husband, Ivo, dedicates his time to the website and company administrative operations besides his day job.

SABIVO Design’s greeting cards regularly appear in local and trade press and prominent blogs. The publisher was runner up in the Guardian Small Business Network Awards, Starting Up section. They also have Bronze Website Award from Mumpreneurs UK.

To find out more about SABIVO Design’s handmade greeting cards, wedding stationery and their personalisation service please visit their website www.sabivo.co.uk.