Speaking Out About Racism And Initiating Change In The Greeting Card Sector

The tragic death of George Floyd in the States and the growing support for the Black Lives Matter has shone a bright spotlight on the need to stamp out racism, open up to more meaningful dialogue and instigate change and improvements in all facets of society and business sectors – the UK greeting card industry included.

Greeting card publishers, Dayo Williams, founder of Dayo’s Cards and Georgina Fihosy, founder of AfroTouch Design (previously known as Special Touch Designs) are among those within the card trade to have spoken out since George Floyd’s death, urging everyone in the greeting card community to have much more open dialogue about eradicating racism and looking at ways that will result in better representation of black people on greeting card racks in many more stores.

Above: Dayo Williams, founder of handmade card company, Dayo’s Cards explaining to the Duchess of Cornwall earlier this year about her business.
Above: Dayo Williams, founder of handmade card company, Dayo’s Cards explaining to the Duchess of Cornwall earlier this year about her business.

As Dayo (who creates ranges of handmade cards including African fabrics, featuring people of 19 different skin tones) told PG Buzz: “The recent events in the US and across the globe have rightly brought about an urgency for greeting card publishers and retailers to be open to ways of taking meaningful actions to ensure that inequality for black people is eradicated from society. There is no place for racism and inequality within the card industry.”

Above: Dayo creates handmade cards which feature people of 19 different skin tones.
Above: Dayo creates handmade cards which feature people of 19 different skin tones.

While she points out “while some people have made small improvements in their vision to create an inclusive environment for retailers, publishers and customers, there is still room for substantial progress to be made in the support of our black and minority ethnic people. There has never been a more important time to take action and transform the culture and initiate a greater understanding of the greeting card industry. It is important that the actions speak louder than the words.”

In addition to stocking more diverse card designs, Dayo would also like to see retailers being more overt about their nil-tolerance of racist behaviour, such as by including signs on the door to that effect.

“The coverage surrounding George Floyd’s death and the momentum gained by the Black Lives Matter movement will, I hope, have prompted  retailers and publishers alike to have gained a better understanding of the experiences and perspectives of black people opening up a path for meaningful progress that is rooted in a shared commitment towards a tangible change in our sector. I sincerely hope this will be benchmark and pray that nobody else will ever suffer the way George did. The world watched as he took his last breath, I feel sure that no one in the UK card industry would want that ever to happen again.”

Greeting card publisher Georgina Fihosy, founder of AfroTouch Design grasped the opportunity to appear on a Let’s Talk Shop podcast, hosted by Therese Ørtenblad (founder of the Small Business Collaborative) to air her thoughts and make a push for change.

Above: Georgina Fihosy right with some of her cards at the beginning of her greeting card journey. She includes many great blog posts on her website https://afrotouch.design/)
Above: Georgina Fihosy right with some of her cards at the beginning of her greeting card journey. She includes many great blog posts on her website https://afrotouch.design/

“The lack of true diversity within the greeting card industry is a real problem and it continues to be the case,” believes Georgina, who set up her card business a couple of years ago out of frustration of being unable to find a suitable new baby card for a black friend. In the end she resorted to making one herself incorporating African fabric and so her card and stationery business was born.

Above: The current level of orders for her Afro Touch Design’s Father’s Day cards via her website signals the demand is there.
Above: The current level of orders for her Afro Touch Design’s Father’s Day cards via her website signals the demand is there.

In the podcast interview Georgina and Therese discuss how, with 13% of the UK population in the latest census identifying themselves as black that it should not be difficult to find cards that reference and reflect the black community.

Above: There is a paucity of cards available that are suitable for black babies.
Above: There is a paucity of cards available that are suitable for black babies.

Name checking retailers Diverse (in Brixton), Bonkers (in Edinburgh and St Andrews) and Moon Lane Books (in Catford), all of whom stock her cards, as being exceptions rather than the rule, Georgina questions why there isn’t greater representation on the card racks of mainstream shops.

The Let’s Talk Shop hour long podcast can be listened to by clicking here: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/lets-talk-shop/id1467418507?i=1000477182234

“I’d love larger retailers to have black designs integrated into their displays. I don’t feel I should have to seek out a black shop or go online to find a suitable anniversary card for my husband,” she quite rightly points out. “A lot of retailers are missing a trick.”

Above: Georgina pays tribute to Retas-finalist, Diverse, an independent card and gift shop in London, owned by Anita Thorpe for its diverse offering of beautiful products that reflects multi-culturalism.
Above: Georgina pays tribute to Retas-finalist, Diverse, an independent card and gift shop in London, owned by Anita Thorpe for its diverse offering of beautiful products that reflects multi-culturalism.

Sharing a real personal experience, Georgina said: “I remember going into a shop and asking: “Do you sell any black cards?” for the shop assistant to hand me a card that was black!”

She feels that with everything that is happening now that it is the time to continue a real dialogue in the greeting card industry, and other sectors for that matter, overcoming any uncomfortable feelings caused by a lack of understanding.

“Don’t stick your head in the sand; we need to have those uncomfortable conversations. This is not a taboo subject. If you don’t talk, you don’t change. We’ve come so far, but we’ve got a long way to go. This is not just a moment in time, we need to join together. If you make a call out, that’s when the change happens.”

The GCA is in dialogue with Dayo, Georgina and other members about ways of promoting a better understanding as part of its inclusive mission. Amanda Fergusson, ceo of the GCA has sent out a message to all members reinforcing its commitment to inclusivity and is encouraging input as to ways of better achieving this.

As Amanda told PG Buzz: “Black lives matter. The GCA is fully committed to diversity and seeks to work with members, be they publishers retailers or suppliers, to progress change and understanding.”

Top: The Black Lives Matter global movement has not surprisingly gathered momentum calling for a more urgent need for better understanding and change across all sectors, including in the greeting card industry.

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