Independent Thinking… from Postmark

There’s always a buzz about going to a trade show and last month’s Stationery Show didn’t disappoint. It was a great start to a run of trade shows for us and I found inspiration to change the way I organise myself in the most unlikely of places.

Plenty to see at the Stationery Show
Plenty to see at the Stationery Show

I’m not a fan of ‘to do’ lists, possibly because I never get to the end of them, possibly because I totally forget about it once I write it down and start doing ten other things. Either way they’ve never been for me. However I’ve been totally gripped by the ‘Bullet Journal’ which I was introduced to by Tracy Schotness from Leuchtturm which has its own special Bullet Journal edition.

The bullet what you might ask? The trendy answer is an ‘analogue notebook for a digital age’ (yeah, I didn’t get it either). My answer is a very clever ‘to do’ list that combines tasks, events and ideas. I know; it all sounds a bit much, but for me it’s been a revelation, helping me to gather my many thoughts in one place. Once you start you can see the beauty of it but explaining it (as I’ve just tried) is bit difficult.

On a professional level it’s also an exciting new stationery trend, helping to explain an uplift in sales of our Leuchtturm notebooks as popularity grows.  If you’re interested in knowing more I’d recommend for simple explanation of how it works and why it’s proved so popular.

We were also delighted to have our Retas-nominated monthly campaign ‘Feel Good Friday’ fall during National Stationery Week. This is where we invite customers to send a card for free to anywhere in the UK, just because. We’ve had such a fantastic response to the campaign from our customers and across social media and this month was no different. It just goes to show the power of a handwritten note to make a connection not possible by email or text, something that’s been rightly celebrated throughout National Stationery Week.

Postmark has been nominated for a Retas award for its Feel Good Friday campaign
Postmark has been nominated for a Retas award for its Feel Good Friday campaign

In between revolutionising my ‘to do’ lists and promoting Feel Good Friday we also managed to squeeze in a few days away in sunny Brighton to celebrate our wedding anniversary and my lovely wife Leona’s birthday. Getting away is never easy when you own a business but we’re very lucky to have some great people working for us who can take over the reins when we want to step back for a bit.

Good staff like this are priceless and the bedrock of what we do. Without them we simply couldn’t grow or maintain the quality of our business as it is today.  When I first started Postmark back in 2004 it was just me and the till but as we’ve grown we’ve definitely had to become more professional in our approach to HR.

I’ll be honest and admit that I simply didn’t see the value in a lot of it and felt that a more hands off approach (ie I don’t need to put it on that ‘to do’ list I keep ignoring) was best. Leona, quite rightly, disagreed with me and when she came to work at Postmark full-time, just over two years ago, she set about on her own quiet revolution, taking all HR away from me telling me diplomatically that it wasn’t one of my ‘strengths’.

We’re still learning but one thing we both agree on is that attracting and retaining talented, enthusiastic staff is the key to achieving our plans.

Thankfully our staff turnover is quite low but as we open more shops the recruitment and training process never quite seems to stop and getting the right people through the door can be tricky and expensive it you’re not careful.

Some of the fabulous Postmark team!
Some of the fabulous Postmark team!

For part-time staff we generally tend to stick to the tried and tested formula of a notice in our shop window but recently we’ve also started advertising some positions across our social media, prompting more replies.

For full-time and more senior positions we advertise on our website and through Gumtree, although Leona does have to wade through some pretty shocking CVs and horrendous grammar to get to the few diamonds in the rough, with one person memorably forgetting a strategic ‘f’ when describing their role as a ‘Shift Leader’!

This year we’ve also been giving a go. Its pay per click service is very reasonably priced, but again it can be quite hit and miss.

Regardless of how we find them, when you we do find a good one it’s almost with paternal pride that I watch them find their feet and their place in the crazy dysfunctional family that is the Postmark Team. We’re proud of every single one of our team, let’s hope they feel the same way about being part of the Postmark gang!

Postmark is an award-winning independent card retailer based in London.  Run by Mark and Leona Janson-Smith they currently have four Postmark shops in south and west London as well as an online shop at

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