Success Stories ~ The Card Gallery
This month I’m so excited to share an interview with Lisa, the founder of The Card Gallery. Her business recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and her team is now up to 8! Lisa’s interview acts as a wonderful piece of inspiration and advice for makers at every stage of their business.
Can you take us on the journey of your creative career path so far?
My career began in the travel industry, a world away from wedding stationery but offered invaluable learning. I was fortunate and gained lots of experience working for large organisations in all different areas of business including marketing, product buying, commercial, customer services and operations. I completed a Masters of Business Administration along the way and so built up lots of transferable skills and knowledge. I’d always enjoyed crafting but had never realised that I could turn it into a business. When my husband and I were planning our wedding, I found the wedding stationery aspect to be very expensive and it wasn’t exactly what I had wanted in terms of design – the idea of a card based business was born and the rest as they say is history. I formed The Card Gallery in 2004, initially doing everything from meeting with customers, designing the wedding stationery, to making it, answering all queries and delivering it – there’s now a team of 8 of us and 2 websites, www.thecardgallery.co.uk which offers stationery for all occasions and www.treeofhearts.co.uk which specialises purely in wedding stationery.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far in your business?
In 2012 we were affected by changes Google made to its algorithm, meaning that our online search rankings dropped from high, first page positions on Google to much lower positions and overnight our business dropped drastically. Being an online based business this was a massive challenge, but over the past 2 years we’ve improved our rankings and diversified into new markets and new distribution channels.
What has been the biggest ‘fist-pump’/successful moment for you so far?
There have been lots of high moments but I have to say the biggest was this summer when we celebrated The Card Gallery’s 10th birthday – it was such a sense of achievement that we’d survived and were still going strong.
Do you ever have doubts as to your future creative direction? Are there things you yearn to achieve, but haven’t yet found the time for?
We have lots of contact with our customers via phone and email – some websites appear as though they don’t want you to contact them but we’re quite the opposite. Planning a wedding or big event is a special occasion and we want to make sure customers are offered all the advice they need. This level of contact helps keep us in touch with our target market and we use the feedback and questions to help navigate our creative direction. In terms of things we’re yearning to do…there is always a very long list! And I guess there always will be as there are always so many new designs and products that we would like to add, but at the same time too much choice for customers can sometimes be a bad thing so we have to reign in our creativity!
Are there times when your creativity and inspiration seem to disappear? How do you handle that?
There are times when our creativity wains but normally a pack of chocolate biscuits does the trick…there are always too many goodies floating around the office.
How do you balance your work with the rest of your life ~ what does a typical day in your life look like?
In the early days of The Card Gallery I would work full days, late nights and weekends – I started the business from scratch and figured that the effort I put in would hopefully result in a growing business. As time has gone on I’ve tried to balance work and the rest of life a little more evenly. I now have 2 small children so life is always busy but I’ve a great team around me and a very supportive husband, without them all I’m not sure that I would be able to keep an even balance. There are days when the juggle isn’t so smooth and ultimately this results in me working late at night or at weekends but I try to keep this to a minimum.
What has been the best marketing move you’ve ever made for your own business?
Adding our second website, www.treeofhearts.co.uk – initially we were unsure if our websites would compete too much with each other but Tree of Hearts gave us a greater freedom to try different card types, designs and products which didn’t quite fit with The Card Gallery brand.
What is one piece of advice you’d like to give fellow makers about running a successful creative business?
To act quickly. Tastes and fashions change and being a small business you have a greater ability to react to these changes than your competitors.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I hope that we are in a similar place, offering lots of lovely stationery designs to lots of happy customers. Technology will undoubtedly play a massive role in our future and our websites will have to become even slicker, but I hope that our customer service continues to be at the forefront of our business.
You can find Lisa’s work online at:
On Facebook: The Card Gallery
On Twitter: @thecardgallery1