Tuesday’s (26 February) GCA’s Speed-dating with Dragons 3 event, held at London’s Business Design Centre, most certainly did not disappoint, for all parties involved.
“It’s great to see lots of new product and companies coming through. As a buyer you also get something out of being able to help others, and of being part of something with others who share a passion for this industry,” summed up Andrea Pinder, owner of Unit 7 who was one of the ‘Dragons’.
Some 72 greeting card publishers made the most of the opportunities of pitching their companies’ ranges to 18 of the UK’s top greeting card retailers in a series of one-to-one 10 minute ‘dates’ with buyers from multiples, small groups and indies. The event also involved a knowledge-filled panel session during which industry stalwarts, Ged Mace of The Art File, Paul Woodmansterne of Woodmansterne Publications and Brett Smith of Danilo (soon to join Emotional Rescue), covered a whole gamut of pertinent business issues – from making the most of agents to how brokerage works, from buyers’ needs to the trade’s collective environmental responsibility.
“It has been a wonderful afternoon, that I know from feedback already that it is going make a real difference to many people and their businesses, either through the orders they receive as well as the advice shared by the Dragons or from our experienced panelists of Ged, Paul and Brett,” said Amanda Fergusson, ceo of the GCA. “This year we are celebrating the GCA’s 100th anniversary; events like this help to perpetuate our industry’s future through a closer understanding between publishers and retailers.”
Lindsey Kleinlercher, co-owner of Between the Lines, having been persuaded to participate by her daughter Ellie, was ecstatic about the event. “I have loved it – and will be ordering from everyone I have seen!”
Paul Taylor, managing director of Cardzone was also impressed with the publishers he met: “I ordered from one talented publisher, then and there as I so loved one Mother’s Day design I was shown in particular. Our Mother’s Day selection is all done, but I couldn’t resist so we are squeezing it in.”
John Lewis & Partners’ buyer Lisa Rutherford highlighted that it was something of a treat to be able to “immerse myself in cards and to meet emerging publishers as well as reconnect with those who are reinventing themselves.”
Having participated previously Carly Pearson, card buyer of Sainsbury’s said one of the merits of the event is that “it provides a great opportunity to be able to chat to publishers who would be unlikely to approach us. As a result of last year’s event, we ended up working with several publishers and I hope the same from this year’s.”
For Scribbler’s Andrew Webb and Sarah Bertram the timing could not have been better. “We are looking at updating our art selection, so this has been great and we have seen some publishers that we are certain to work with.”
Echoing the views of the dragons, Miles Robinson, partner of House of Cards summed up how: “It feels good to be able to put something back into the industry. Plus, we all love the opportunity of being able to spot the next little gems of publishers who have the potential to grow into something special.”
At the end of a full-on fun afternoon publishers left the BDC with their brains brimming with information and the potential of orders from a host of the UK’s leading card retailers while 18 top buyers departed, laden down with a bulging goody bag, full of card samples from all of the 72 publishers.
“It has been a whirlwind of talking and listening like I never experienced,” summed up Mark Williams, co-owner of Brainbox Candy, and he is a man who can talk!
Top: One of the 12 pitching sessions in action.