Pun-loving glamour model moves into greetings for new online business venture
When a Page 3 girl grows up, she needs to think of a new line of work – so Rhian Sugden has turned to her artistic skills and punny sense of humour to create an online greeting card business.
Within a week of launching What She Said, Rhian’s already sold out of a lot of her stock, including her own smutty designs, and told PG Buzz: “I actually cried when I hit 100 sales in 12 hours!”
Rhian started out as a glamour model and Page 3 girl before becoming an actress and appearing in Celebrity Big Brother – her 2023 Calendar Club offering has sold out – but is now hoping to start a family with husband Oliver Mellor so looking to return to her first love of art and tech where she earned an A* in school.
“I’ve always loved drawing,” she explained, “and I absolutely love a pun! I’ll make a pun out of anything, and I have done since I was quite young. I’m told that, along with a very dry sense of humour, bodes well making cards.
“I’m so chuffed that people have taken me seriously and have bought my designs. It’s very difficult to be taken seriously in the modelling world. When girls in the modelling industry have tried to do other things they’ve just been overlooked or snubbed.
“It’s hard to make a transition into something when you’ve been a Page 3 girl, so I’m feeling very humble that I’m able to do oodles of doodles and people are enjoying them.”
Amazingly it’s only taken Rhian a month to get from business idea to selling cards online through the business named from a catchphrase in her favourite TV show The Office US.
She drew some designs and got them printed, found stock from publishers she likes, set up the B2C website – including the quip “I also love drawing birds. Particularly tits” in the about section – and started selling cards on 26 January with 350 sales in the first week, running out of a lot of stock as she’d only ordered six of each to test the water.
Rhian explained that she got back into drawing and painting to relax more after six failed rounds of IVF treatment in four years meant she “needed to spend more time doing things that make me happy” and sits sketching while on holiday.
She added: “I got an iPad and Apple pencil for Christmas and then started drawing digitally for the first time – it’s taken over my life! If I’m not drawing, I’m watching YouTube videos trying to learn new techniques.
“Then, randomly, we saw an advert come on for the new Happy Valley TV series and Oliver said ‘you should draw a card’. Happy Valleytine’s Day was the result, and the rest is history. I did the card, printed it at home and my friends said how brilliant it was.
“One thing led to another and, before you know it, I’ve made a website and my house has become somewhat of a card factory. It escalated very quickly, in the space of a month.”
Rhian has so far come up with 50 designs, although not all are uploaded yet, including a Prince Harry one taking the mickey out of his frostbitten penis tale from his Spare autobiography – and it’s garnered her coverage across the national press, including The Sun, Daily Mirror, and Daily Express.
Along with her own work, What She Said is offering cards from Whale & Bird, Laura Lonsdale Designs and Quite Good Cards so far, as well as Go La La! where co-owner Laura Kavanagh helped with advice on print companies and the greetings industry following Rhian making contact after Christmas to stock their cards and Filthy Gorgeous soap range on the website.
The model added: “A few brands have also approached me asking if I’d be interested in stocking them – it doesn’t feel real to be honest. A lot seems to have happened in such a small amount of time. I’m having a garden office built right now as my house is just one big explosion of cards, envelopes and unorganised chaos!
“I’ve some designs that are for Mother’s Day and are due to go online soon, but I have a list as long as my arm of others I want to draw – I wake up in the middle of the night with ideas, my notes are full.
“While thinking of Mother’s Day cards as my mum’s quite traditional and wouldn’t appreciate a ‘happy fell out of your fanny day’, I’ve made some PG ones and all my friends have bought them already so I’ve restocked before they’ve even gone live, so I think non-naughty cards is definitely something I need to explore.
“My next step is to do wholesale, I just need to do a bit of research into how I go about it, as I’m completely new to this card-making biz. So many other creators like Laura at Go La La! have been so lovely and helpful – it’s so refreshing to be around people who support one another and who aren’t crazy competitive.”
Top: Glamour girl Rhian Sudgen loves a naughty pun