This month PGBuzz rides along with Maria McKenna, sales agent for the South East as she goes about her business.
I’ve been a sales agent since 1999 and consider myself incredibly lucky to work in an industry that I love and am passionate about, and in a job that, even after 18 years, I still thoroughly enjoy. I have been visiting a lot of my customers for a long time and feel like I know some better than my personal friends. In fact, in a lot of cases it really is like visiting friends rather than customers. What a job!
I love the fact that in my world is different every day. I’m selling a wonderful range of products and styles and still get over-excited when one of my publishers brings out a gorgeous new range.
Generally my work follows similar patterns throughout the year, but April was a bit weird for me this year with a number of major events all coinciding. Firstly I lost one of my biggest card agencies that I had been carrying for 12 years, due to Cardmix merging with Woodmansterne. This came as a big shock and has taken time to sink in and get my head around. Then, Angela Thomas from Zest in Crowborough, who I have known for years, retired and held a wonderful retirement party, which was enjoyed by several agents alongside her friends and all the girls from the shop. Thankfully her business partner Jane Hunnam has kept the shop going as it is a wonderful shop and we are all very grateful for that. I also had one lovely, long standing customer close down in Eastbourne (The Banana Tree) and then contact me to say she has launched a small greeting card publishing company! So I have had a meeting with her to give a bit of feedback and I am now carrying her lovely new little card range called Crumble & Core.
Sadly alongside all this, I attended the funeral of a wonderful customer who sadly passed away recently. Kevin Nolan from Maddy Moos was a larger than life character and it just doesn’t seem possible that he will no longer be in the shop cracking jokes with the customers and teasing the reps and agents. My heart goes out to his wife Karen and all his family and friends. His funeral was a real celebration of his life and attended by many in our industry that clearly loved him as much as I did.
So what a roller coaster of a month it has been.
Then Easter came and went and the feedback I am getting is that generally Easter cards sales were very successful and most customers seem to have sold more than last year, which is always good to hear.
…..now roll on Christmas!!!
Maria’s hot picks
Jaz & Baz from Portfolio: This is a range from the very talented Sara Miller with beautiful contemporary illustrations and subtle gold flitter. It is outselling all my other ranges at the moment.
Gin & Frolics from Rosie Made a Thing: This fabulous humour range is going from strength to strength following Rosie’s success at The Henries last year. It’s very quirky with mad illustrations and very funny, current captions.
Flutter On The Breeze from Molly Mae: This is a foiled and embossed range with pretty pastel colours now covering birthdays as well as an occasion and relation range.
I cover the South East, which incorporates Surrey, Hampshire, East and West Sussex and Kent. My current agencies include Deva Designs, Portfolio, Blue Eyed Sun, Molly Mae, Rosanna Rossi, Rosie Made a Thing, Holy Mackerel, Dandelion Stationery, Peel & Sardine and Little Dog.
My husband, Dave (or ‘Dave The Fax Man’ as he is affectionately called by the girls at Holy Mackerel!) works with me and does a lot of my paperwork, order processing and accounts, which is a huge help and frees me up for more time out on the road. When I do get a bit of time to myself, I absolutely love to sing and am a member of a community choir, and sing for charity as backing for an Elvis tribute act.
Contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org/07980 617558