GCA speed-dating event was a high-octane adrenaline rush
“Thanks to all for yesterday’s high octane adrenaline rush!” was the positive message from Peartree Heybridge director Louise Martin, having participated in GCA’s Dragons Speed-dating event held at London’s Business Design Centre.
The event, on Thursday, 2 March, brought together over 70 greeting card publishers with 18 top retail buyers in a fast-paced few hours of pitching, learning and networking, and Louise added: “The event was incredibly positive. The variety of retailers involved was great and fingers crossed I’m looking forward to new business collaborations, and follow ups!” echoing the views of the vast array of publishers – from brand spanking new businesses to established brands – who pitched their ranges and companies to buyers in a series of fast and furious 10-minute slots.
Continuing the successful formula, publisher participants were divided into two groups, with one half going in to face the retailer Dragons in the den while the other half were treated to insights and experiences on all manner of business matters from fellow publishers, with Will Miles, partner at legal beagles Briffa, also sharing some top tips on copyright and licensing issues.
Giving the event a full thumbs-up from her perspective, Little Rabbit’s Georgi Doig said: “What’s not to like? I’ve had three great conversations with some top retailers, learned so much from the panellists – I now know what brokerage is, for example – and got to network with some lovely people!”
The benefits of the event were there in abundance even for experienced publishers. “I have got so much from today, you always learn something new,” said Rosie Tate, director of Cath Tate Cards. “Our business has been going for over 40 years but, at this event, everyone is equal and you have just as much chance as being picked by a Dragon as a brand-new company.”
Having led the organisation of this year’s event, Adriana Lovesy, GCA membership and marketing coordinator and founder of Mrs Lovesy card company, was delighted by the positive reactions from publishers and buyers alike.
Adriana said: “I know, from having participated myself, just what an invaluable event it is, being able to pitch your company, your ranges to buyers is just one element. Being able to network with other publishers, share experiences and feel connected is also so beneficial.
“This year the mix of publishers participating was even more varied than usual, from brand new start-ups through to more established players, but everyone got so much out of it. It was also great to see so many Black-owned publishers participating, reflecting the GCA’s commitment to encouraging diversity and inclusion.”
Retail buyers from multiples and small groups such as Card Factory, WHSmith, John Lewis/Waitrose, Scribbler, Between The Lines, Postmark and Utility joined a host of leading independents to be all eyes and ears to the pitching publishers, each going home with a bulging bag of samples from all participating publishers.
As Ellie Kleinlercher, buyer of Between The Lines, put it: “It’s been fabulous. There is nothing like meeting people face to face. It has been great to see so many new suppliers of such high calibre.”
Adding her views, Scribbler buyer Laura Clarke said: “What a really good, fun way of being brought up to date both with what our current suppliers are doing as well as meet some new talent.”
The next GCA Dragons Speed-dating event will take place in March 2024.
Top: The retail Dragons give the event the thumbs-up, (from left) Sarah Laker, Stationery Supplies; Kate Cowie, Utility; Mark Janson-Smith, Postmark; Dale Boreham and Sarah Jane Porter, Moonpig; Cheryl Sandbach and Katie Salt, Card Factory; Claire Taylor, John Lewis/Waitrose; Tori Heath-Smith and Laura Clarke, Scribbler; Sarah Crees, Garsons; Chrissi Worthy, WHSmith; Oliver Cooper, Jarrold; Elle Turner, Garsons, Liz Killick, Calladoodles; Rachel Roberts, Wishlist; Dharmesh Yadav, Present, and Anita Thorpe, Diverse.