Record turnout at The Ladder Club, Scribbler’s John Procter, Wendy Jones-Blackett among the speakers

The attendees and speakers from Tuesday’s Ladder Club seminar in Westcliff-on-sea.
The attendees and speakers from Tuesday’s Ladder Club seminar in Westcliff-on-sea.

“Wow wow wow… what an absolutely amazing day,” said Jo Clarke of Toasted Crumpet summing up The Ladder Club seminars, which took place yesterday and the day before. “It was everything I expected and so much more. Lots of giggles, lots of amazing insight and lots of meeting fabulous people. A fantastic line-up of speakers and I was scribbling down notes throughout the whole day. As an industry we’re incredibly lucky to have such a rich support network.”

The two day sell out event, saw over 150 newbie and growing card publishers attend the seminars, lapping up the advice and insight that were so generously shared by fellow publishers, retailers and suppliers.

Ged Mace, md of The Art File (and president of the GCA) shared his 12 Point Business Strategy plan.
Ged Mace, md of The Art File (and president of the GCA) shared his 12 Point Business Strategy plan.

Taking place in The Ladder Club’s ‘spiritual home’ of Westcliff-on-Sea, these 18th anniversary seminars were especially poignant, being the first one since the death of Ladder Club main founder, Lynn Tait. But there was definitely a bit of her sparkle, warmth and mischief in the room.

On Day One, having been taken right through the production process from ‘imagination to actuality’ by supporting suppliers (Enveco, The Imaging Centre, GF Smith and The Sherwood Group), Jeremy Corner, md of Blue Eyed Sun shared an invaluable formula as to how to cost your cards, agent Ian Bradley explained how agents work, while Jess Hoggarth and Megan Purdie (from Megan Claire) shared their warts and all stoires of their greeting card journey.

Sweet’s Sally Anson with Ladder Club speakers (right-left) Wendy Jones-Blackett, GCA’s Sharon Little and Jenny Cummins of Sydney-based McMillan Cards.
Sweet’s Sally Anson (far right) with Ladder Club speakers (left-right) Wendy Jones-Blackett, GCA’s Sharon Little and Jenny Cummins of Sydney-based McMillan Cards.

And ending the day on both a punchy and emotional note, Unit 7’s Andrea Pinder’s personal story of tenacity of how she had ‘taken on the challenge’ time and time again to grow her retail business was undeniably infectious, with Jenny Cummins, md of McMillan Cards (Australian card distributor) continuing this positive vein with a heart-felt delivery about a vital element of being a card publisher – passion!

The Day Two agenda, aimed at publishers looking to grow their business, was strong on paper but it delivered so much more. Ged Mace, md of The Art File shared his 12 Point Strategy Plan, Wendy Jones-Blackett shared the ups and downs of this leading publisher’s development, Jenny Cummins went into detail about making the most of export opportunities and Jeremy Corner took publishers through an MOT of their business.

Agent Ian Bradley holds the ladder aloft! (left-right) Bob Short (The Imaging Centre), PG’s Jakki Brown, The Sherwood Press’ Nicky Marshall, Blue Eyed Sun’s Jeremy Corner, McMillan Cards’ Jenny Cummins, GCA’s Sharon Little, GF Smith’s Mark Jessett, Megan Claire’s Megan Purdie and Jess Hogarth of Jessica Hogarth Designs.
Agent Ian Bradley holds the ladder aloft! (left-right) Bob Short (The Imaging Centre), PG’s Jakki Brown, The Sherwood Press’ Nicky Marshall, Blue Eyed Sun’s Jeremy Corner, McMillan Cards’ Jenny Cummins, GCA’s Sharon Little, GF Smith’s Mark Jessett, Megan Claire’s Megan Purdie and Jess Hogarth of Jessica Hogarth Designs.

Leaving everyone in a headspin was the talk by John Procter, co-founder of Scribbler, which now comprises 35+ stores.

John’s engaging, self-effacing delivery spun an enlightening tale that spans 40 years, starting in the laid back hippy era, progressing to more sobering thoughts of how being a card retailer today in city locations is calling for smarter solutions.

While certainly still a champion of independent greeting card publishers, he explained that in order to justify the “ridiculous rents” of the high footfall sites that Scribbler relies on, will see the retailer increase the percentage of ‘own produced’ cards and gifts, but invited publishers to join in the journey of vertical integration by considering licensing their designs to Scribbler.

Scribbler’s John Procter in full flow.
Scribbler’s John Procter in full flow.

Currently only 10% of its everyday cards are own brand, but John sees this as doubling to 20%. “That still leaves 80% and we sell a lot of cards! The magic of Scribbler is you guys, but we have to find a way to improve our margin to cope with the escalating costs,” he said. “We are keen to look at other ways of working with you, collaborating on licensing your designs, for example.”

With loads of ideas of how Scribbler can continue to innovate, especially once its new website is up and running, through using print-on-demand technology, John had to rein himself in.

Scribbler’s co-founder John and Jennie Procter in front centre spot surrounded by attendees and speakers of the second day Ladder Club seminar this week.
Scribbler’s co-founder John and Jennie Procter in front centre spot surrounded by attendees and speakers of the second day Ladder Club seminar this week.

“Both Jennie and I are trying to retire, but are struggling as we would miss this industry and everyone in it far too much”. And, going by the enthralled faces in that full room in Westcliff-on-Sea, the industry would miss the Procters too!

Lynn Tait’s motto was ‘Carpe Diem’, The Ladder Club seminars certainly did ‘seize the day’.

Click below to see some videos from Ladder Club attendees as to their fave parts of the seminar.

 

 

 

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