Talented teenager Ophelia Yannaghas, the creative brains behind greeting card publisher Foofster Designs, is on course to be PG Live 2018’s youngster ever exhibitor when she makes her debut at the trade show next year.
The plucky 16 year old (who will be 17 by the time of PG Live) is already attracting considerable interest from the consumer press, galleries and retailers who are astounded by her artistic prowess, irrespective of her young age.
Ophelia, who started the card company when she was only 13, (naming it after the pet name for her blue brindle whippet, Olive) has recently appeared in the Eastern Daily Press, East Anglian Times as well as having won various art prizes and scholarships.
Booking the stand for PG Live, after her mum Dominica attended The Ladder Club, takes Foofster onto the next level.
The early years
Ophelia’s creative streak showed itself as an early age, but it how she has developed this into a business while still at school is so impressive.
“Art and Design was my favourite subject at primary school. I spent a lot of my childhood doodling. Then, at the age of 11, after years of drawing nothing much in particular, I was introduced to my granny’s iPad and suddenly the Foofster Design was born. Shifty eyes are the hallmark of my Foofster Designs, which are created on the iPad Pro using the Paper 53 app with the Apple Pencil,” says Ophelia about her quirky illustrative style.
From doodles to cards
It was back in 2014 that Dominica and Ophelia converted the iPad doodles into greeting cards and shared them with the open Suffolk market. As they were so well received back then from the word go, they soon realised they had a proper business on their hands.
Recalling those early orders, Ophelia said: “I couldn’t believe it when the shopkeepers first said ‘we’ll take them!’ It was a dream come true. Since then shops and outlets across East Anglia have said ‘yes’ to my cards and the icing on the cake was when they were accepted by the Medici Gallery in London.”
Elaborating, Dominica said, “It all felt like a bit of a joke. Ophelia was still so young. It was hard to believe that her cards were being taken seriously and nudging shoulders with the likes of long established ranges like Museums & Galleries, Dry Red Press and Suffolk-based Green Pebble – and people were actually buying them!”
The PG Live decision
Retailer Debbie Brown, of First Class Greetings and Plum Green (which stocks Foofster Designs’ cards) in Hadleigh, where Ophelia lives with her mum Dominica, has been instrumental in the young publisher’s development.
“Every small business is plagued with doubts,” says Dominica. “Doing a trade show is a huge investment for us and really nerve-wracking, but having a chat with Debbie has helped us to take the plunge. We feel encouraged, especially since attending The Ladder Club seminar in September and with local orders and number of outlets stocking our cards growing. Debbie says that our cards are holding their own in Plum Green, which is a super smart shop. So we feel that’s a good enough litmus test for us.”
The legacy continues
As Dominica is a single mum, the decision to commit to a stand at PG Live is a big investment, made possible by a legacy left by her mother, who died last year.
“My mum was artistic too. I know she’d be behind this big decision of ours because it was she who introduced Ophelia to the wonderful world of iPad art in the first place,” feels Dominica, who, like Ophelia is a big fan of culture of sending greeting cards.
“We personally feel blessed to live in a country that so fully endorses the practice of sending greeting cards – because if you have an artistic talent then what better way could there be of sharing it with others – than in the manner of a card sent through the post. It was that impulse to ‘share’ Ophelia’s art with others that motivated me in the first place to turn her designs into cards and it’s that same impulse to ‘share’ which motivates me now to take our cards to PG Live.”