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Ladder Clubbies

Left: Delegates at last year's Ladder Club seminar. Below left: New to the Coulson Macleod stable, one of the design addition to its Vintage range. Below right: The 'Evening Sun' design from Lorraine Stylianou's new Owls Galore range.

Growing Pains And Gains

The Ladder Club’s second day seminar provided a rich seam of advice for card publishers looking to climb further up the greeting card ‘rungs’. PG caught up with some of the delegates who reveal

their twinges as well as their business boosts as their respective companies have grown and what they gleaned from The Ladder Club seminar.

Hannah Macleod, co-director

for Coulson Macleod: Twinges And Tweaks: “Our main growing pains have been order fulfillment and cash flow. We launched our first range of cards at Spring Fair 2014 and up to now we’ve packed and dispatched everything ourselves. The ridiculousness of this situation was highlighted when we returned from Top Drawer with a huge stack of orders that took us over a month to dispatch. Thankfully, this problem is now being rectified as we’ve taken on a fulfillment house for trade orders. Cash flow is a constant problem though. We now have nearly 200 card designs and litho printing is out of the question. This means we digitally print in small batches, so we have to keep a very close eye on sales to keep topping up the faster selling cards. It’s a juggling act and we don’t see it getting any easier as we grow.” Business Boost: “There are so many positives. We only launched our

cards last Spring Fair with a small selection to see if our existing art print stockists liked the idea of a Coulson Macleod card. What has happened in less than a year has taken us by surprise. A lovely surprise! And it does give us a good morale boost, which is essential when you’re consumed by the day-to- day running of a business; it’s like getting a great big pat on the back.” The Next Rung: “The Ladder Club didn’t help with our specific growing

pains, but what it did do was to highlight that we aren’t the only ones with these problems. Quite often businesses gloss over how they got to where they are; making it all sound rather simple and very smooth. We all know this is nonsense and that along the rollercoaster journey there are tears and sleepless nights. We know we’re not alone thanks to The Ladder Club.”

Lorraine Stylianou, founder and

designer for Lorraine Stylianou: Twinges And Tweaks: “Working without a regular Bacs credit appearing in my bank account on the 27th of each month wasn’t easy initially. Psychologically, keeping ‘the faith’, and continuing to improve my designs, while keeping my‘monkey brain syndrome’ under control is a challenge. When ‘monkey’ pops up, it tells you that the greeting card industry has had its day and it’s time to get a proper job. In more practical ways, dealing with ‘overwhelm’ is

another hurdle – keeping all the plates spinning when, as a Mumpreneur, your working day is already one third shorter than that of Mr Average due to school runs, food preparation and overseeing homework. You’ve got to focus, believe, outsource, and systemise.” Business Boost: “It’s a massive morale boost to gain a

new stockist, win a repeat order and see your designs in press articles. I feel so blessed to sit in my little office starting each day with a passion, and delegating tasks to my assistants. Occasionally I have a flash back to my old life of being squashed on the Underground every day and getting home at 10pm to find the kids already in bed.” The Next Rung: “I couldn’t estimate how many years’ collective experience there is between the members of The Ladder Club, but the pool of knowledge and experience is second to none. It feels like a very supportive business family where practically no query posted on the group’s Facebook forum goes unanswered. Concerns

about barcoding, finding agents, preparing for tradeshows, can all be shared within The Ladder Club Facebook forum. Being a member has definitely helped me to overcome some of the challenges new card publishers encounter.”


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