Pals thank G.F Smith’s greeting card consultant for all the help, fun times and laughter
Fun and laughter are the main things G.F Smith’s Janet Stevens is both taking away and leaving behind as she retires from “the best job ever”.
For 15 years as a greeting card consultant at the Hull-based paper company, Janet has been known, loved and respected for helping publishers and printers pick the perfect paper and board for their products from the company’s vast selection, and she’s been particularly good at nurturing newbies as they step into the industry.
“Although I’ve always worked in the paper industry,” Janet told PG Buzz before her last day on 14 April, “it’s been the best job I’ve ever had, working for such a wonderful company with amazing colleagues.
“I also feel very grateful and extremely privileged to have been part of the greetings industry, where I’ve met some incredibly talented and really nice people – some whom have become great friends who I will definitely keep in touch with.”
Adding her personal endorsement of Janet’s personality and contribution, G.F Smith’s director of sales Abbie Ross said: “What an absolute pleasure it has been to work with the legend that is Janet Stevens. Her real and honest approach to work along with a kick-ass sense of humour has made it a total pleasure and lots of fun. So many memories of great events, drinks, dinners and, of course, epic Henries awards ceremonies.
“Janet’s relationships with clients are truly abundant, built up over her years of conscientiousness, wisdom and unique friendly approach. If only we could bottle what Janet’s got! We will miss her greatly but expect to see her pop up for gin and tonics throughout the greetings calendar of events even after she leaves.”
And the tales of professionalism mixed with daft antics abound from many in the greeting card community with Rosie Made A Thing owner Rosie Harrison commenting: “Janet has been a joy to work with. She just gets sh*t done. We had a touching farewell phone call which brought a tear to my eye…‘Paper prices are going up 15%. Bye!’
“We’ve had many a fabulous night out with Janet. I imagine she has fond memories of our night at The Henries where she spent 45 minutes searching for my trophy and my shoes at 4am.”
“Goodness, we’re going to miss Janet in the card industry,” Wendy Jones-Blackett founder and co-owner Wendy Jones-Blackett said. “I’ve worked with her for over 16 years, she’s just one of the most genuine people you could meet – fun, reliable, professional and a fount of paper knowledge.
“She’s always been at the trade fairs and bringing up the newbies, as she did with us. She invited us as guests to our first Henries in 2008 and really invested time and effort into our company, she’s without doubt one of the main reasons we’ve grown.
“We had a publisher meet-up in Manchester one year which was meant to finish at 7pm, I had a call at 10pm reminding me the last train was about to depart! Time flies when you’re having fun! We’ve shared many good times with her, a trip to the paper mill in the Lake District and various lunches and she makes work hugely enjoyable. There’s nobody like her!”
The 2021 GCA AGM held at The Ivy in Manchester was particularly memorable with Rosie, Bexy Boo owner Bex Hassett, Dandelion Stationery founder Jo Wilson and G.F Smith’s Emma Oliver all joining Janet in finding themselves very funny in the plush ladies’ loos.
“Janet is one of the loveliest ladies I’ve met. I’ve known her since the beginning of Bexy Boo, supporting me and offering the best advice when I had no idea. She’s become a wonderful and fun friend and I will miss her massively. The gap will be felt for sure. Our last trip was to the Ivy, and was so much fun – lots of toilet pics too!” admitted Bex.
Jo told PG Buzz: “Janet is without a doubt one of my most favourite people in the whole world. While I met her through work, I now consider her one of my dearest and most treasured friends – we’ve shared so many fun times.
“Once during PG Live there was a night out where she stumbled (tipsy) from a restaurant and (for some unknown reason) decided to mount an (expensive-looking) bicycle which was parked outside. Having managed to sit on the bike, in slow motion she lost her balance and both her and the bike toppled over. Janet, and her bag, were strewn across the pavement.
“A very angry man appeared, shouting ‘what the f**k are you doing to my bike!’ Her response was ‘I’ve dropped my lipstick! Can you help me find it?’
“Another time there was an event involving golf and a golf buggy, where she had us whizzing around the course, in a buggy, drinking gin and tonics. There was a tight corner which was done on two wheels, bumps where the buggy left the ground and a near miss with more than one golfer!”
Publisher and designer Abigail Warner has worked with Janet and G.F Smith on the PaperFest and RetailFest events as part of the Top Drawer trade show in London.
“I was lucky enough to meet Janet at Harrogate Home & Gift in 2007,” Abigail explained, “when we were both at the beginning of our paper and print journey – and what a ride we’ve had together!
“Janet has been an endless source of support and expertise, as well as a great friend to me and I will miss her greatly in the industry, but we already have dates in the diary to keep in touch. I know I speak on behalf of many PaperFest and RetailFest alumni when I say thank you from the bottom of my heart for your time and friendship.”
Karen Wilson admits she and Paper Salad co-founder Claire Williams have lost many an hour enjoying themselves in Janet’s company with daytime meetings stretching well into the night, although work does get discussed a bit too: “On one occasion we ate in a lovely swanky restaurant in Manchester along with Wendy Jones-Blackett. The bill for the food was huge, so we said we’d pay for the drinks – we were in the restaurant for eight hours so you can only imagine what the bar bill was like!
“She was the first person we called to meet for lunch after lockdown. Janet nipped to the loo and was gone ages, we found her giving an interview on BBC Radio5 Live.
“We’re going to really miss her, she’s become a very good friend as well as one of our suppliers, we have the same sense of humour and always have a good laugh. She may be leaving the industry but we hope to be meeting up for lunch many years to come.
And the final word goes to the lovely lady herself, with Janet adding: “I’m leaving with so many great memories from nights at The Henries to trade show laughs, but now I’m looking ahead to retirement and a bit of me time over the summer, hopefully it will be a glorious one, before I decide what I plan to do with myself in the autumn.”
Top: Happy Henries – Janet with industry pals at the awards