Leading book retailing chain Waterstones is making changes to its greeting card selection to make it more diverse, with the introduction of a number of designs from black-owned publisher, AfroTouch Design into some selected stores as the starting point.
“As an industry I really believe we all need to work together and the responsibility lies with both publishers and retailers to make changes,” believes Hazel Walker, senior buyer for cards, wrap and stationery for Waterstones.
Inspired by reading a news item on PG Buzz, about the frustration Georgina Fihosy (founder of publisher AfroTouch Design) felt about there not being proper representation in mainstream retail of card designs that reflect the black community, that prompted Hazel to make contact. (https://www.pgbuzz.net/speaking-out-about-racism-and-initiating-change-in-the-greeting-card-sector/)
Hazel has since placed an order for a selection of AfroTouch Design cards, which are soon to be trialled in 12 of its stores, including its flagship in London’s Piccadilly, plus on its online shop.
“We’re really keen to improve the diversity of our card range and plan to build on this,” underlined Hazel, seeing the order with AfroTouch as just being the start.
For Georgina being stocked by Waterstones fulfils one of her personal goals: “to see my cards available from a major respected retail outlet”. As Georgina added “I have always wanted to partner with stores that were open to providing a buying option for the black community and POC. We live in such a diverse world and representation of all communities is really important to me. I hope through this partnership with Waterstones other major retail outlets will take a look at their product offering and review whether they are truly representing the population that they serve.”
Waterstones is equally enthusiastic to be stocking AfroTouch Design cards. “We’re really excited to have Georgina’s designs in store,” Hazel told PG Buzz. “I think the simplicity of the designs, combined with the bold prints gives the range a contemporary feel that will really appeal to Waterstones’ customers.”
The book retailer revealed that is also planning to introduce designs from black-owned publisher KitsCH Noir and is also reviewing ranges from its existing publishers.
As Hazel added: “We’re always mindful of diversity when making selections, but historically have found it a challenge with not that many suitable designs being submitted – that’s why we’ve been more active in seeking out publishers like AfroTouch Design.”
Top: The front of Waterstones’ flagship store in London’s Piccadilly.