Steve Baker And Martin Powderly Complete An MBO Of Pigment Productions

Starting the year with some good news, Steve Baker and Martin Powderly, the two popular front men of Pigment Productions now have total ownership of the Harrogate-based greeting card publishing business.

Pursuing their dream, Steve (Pigment’s sales & marketing director) and Martin,  (the publisher’s creative director) came to an agreement with Ian O’Brien, co-founder of the business, to purchase his shares.

Above: Pigment’s Steve Baker (second left) with Martin Powderly (second right) with (left-right) Giles Andreae and Heather Flynn (the co-directors of Happy Jackson) as well as PG’s Jakki Brown.
Above: Pigment’s Steve Baker (second right) with Martin Powderly (second left) with (left-right) Giles Andreae and Heather Flynn (the co-directors of Happy Jackson) as well as PG’s Jakki Brown.

While Ian was instrumental in the business’ direction for many years – going right back to its origins over 30 years ago, when it was known as Photographix Unlimited, when he and his brother John published cards from their family’s vintage photographic archive – he has not been involved in the company’s day to day running for a few years now.

As Steve and Martin stressed to PG Buzz:“Ian‘s role in the shaping of Pigment cannot be underestimated and for that we are truly grateful.”

Steve joined the Pigment team in 2002 with Martin (having been creative director of Hallmark for many years) coming on board first on a consultancy basis in 2012 before joining full time in 2014.

Working incredibly well together, drawing on their complementary skills, the last few years has seen Pigment successfully broaden its product portfolio, both with ranges (and own brand collections) developed by its in-house studio of artists as well as through licensed collaborations, such as Happy Jackson, Alice Scott, The Happy News and most recently, Edward Monkton.

Above: Pigment has reintroduced the Edward Monkton brand to the greeting card market, in a new square format.
Above: Pigment has reintroduced the Edward Monkton brand to the greeting card market, in a new square format.

“Despite the unusual challenges in 2020 we ended the year strongly and with our strengthened management team we are really looking forward to taking the business in exciting directions over the next few years,” added Steve.

Wishes and Revelations

As part of a Viewpoints article that appears in the recently published Progressive Greetings magazine’s December edition, Martin Powderly, creative director of Pigment Productions shares some of his wishes, plans and learnings…

Above: Having parted company with Hallmark after many years, Martin Powderly joined Pigment in 2012, initially on a consultancy basis.
Above: Having parted company with Hallmark after many years, Martin Powderly joined Pigment in 2012, initially on a consultancy basis.

What are your wishes for the industry for 2021? 

“The return of customer meetings.  And the return of FUN! The absence of FUN this year has reminded many of us just how much FUN we used to have!”

Above: Key themes Pigment has highlighted for 2021.
Above: Key themes Pigment has highlighted for 2021.

What are your business plans for 2021?

“We are very excited about 2021. This year we have become much more reflective about card shoppers. Before we publish a design, we challenge its relevance more than ever before. Diversity, Kindness, Joy, New Routines are among the themes we discuss and which are reflected across all our new lines.

We have lots of big January releases, such as our blank Artisan Days and our reintroduction of Edward Monkton. All of our hit humour lines have been refreshed with increased relevance in the content and we are well underway with more major releases later in year, which we’ll unveil at PG Live.”

Above: One of the designs from Pigment’s new Artisan Days collection.
Above: One of the designs from Pigment’s new Artisan Days collection.

What lessons have you learned from the pandemic?

“We’ve learnt that, as a team, we are capable of being very focused, very resilient and very creative in finding ways around previously unthinkable challenges. Our adaptability has surprised us. I’m sure many others have had similar experiences.
We have developed brand new innovative digital presentation techniques and we’ve also brought back some traditional methods, such as a full glossy catalogue, which we LOVE!”

Above: Pigment’s new catalogue features a graphic showing how the publisher feels 2020 changed us.
Above: Pigment’s new catalogue features a graphic showing how the publisher feels 2020 changed us.

Top: Pigment’s Steve Baker (sales and marketing director) and Martin Powderly (creative director) now co-own the company.

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