Kirsten Wilson, owner of Hello Day, talks to Gift Focus about the company's award-winning planners so popular with mothers of school-aged children, as well as teachers and students
Why did you decide to start up Hello Day?
I've always been obsessed with planning since I was a young girl. Every year, I'd shop for my school planner, and my mum would roll her eyes at the effort I put in to finding just the right one. My entire life would go into those planners, and this continued through school, college and into my working life. As I moved abroad, finding the right planner became more or a challenge. Every year, I'd shop for days trying to find the right one, taking note of interesting designs and features from shops in Spain and Japan. This constant search and variety of planners through the years fed a desire to one day make my own. And then I found myself in the position to actually give it a go.
What challenges did you overcome as a new company?
Quite a few! Financing problems, storage problems, manufacturing problems, misprints, product copying, people not delivering services and refusing to refund, shipping delays and designer delays. Seriously, the list goes on. I think anyone starting a business will be able to relate to that, especially when you're learning as you go. I've found the best way to deal with them is to not be rash in making decisions but to sleep on it if possible and trust your instincts and those you trust. Don't be worried about asking for help, and then once you've made up your mind, try to stick to your decision if it feels right.
Has the current economic climate affected yourself as a start-up?
It's quite hard to say as I don't have any point of comparison. Each year, sales have grown, but it's difficult to know whether they could have grown more. Brexit brings uncertainty because I do get quite a few sales from the EU and worldwide, so the uncertainty around imports and exports may bring challenges going into 2020. The vast majority of sales are from within the UK, though, and next year will be telling. But until now, I've been happy with how sales have progressed.
Your hero product is your day planner. What makes yours different?
Our Original Spiral planners were our first-ever product. I think the first thing that makes the planners stand out are the designs. We put a lot of time and effort into the covers each year, and we aim to make them super-stylish and sophisticated so that they feel great to hold, really catch the eye and draw compliments from friends and colleagues. As well as style, a key differentiator of Hello Day planners compared to normal planners is the focus not just on productivity but also on positivity and overall wellbeing. The planners contain daily prompts, quotes and planning tools to encourage you to achieve your goals, as well as live a healthy, balanced life.
What other products and gift lines do you offer?
Our planner range has expanded to cater for different tastes with a variety of inner and outer designs. We also have a range of accompanying stationery products, as well as a line of leather products, including a travel wallet and pencil case.
Are you planning on expanding into other product areas?
We're always thinking of new product ideas, and we have a few in the pipeline, but nothing straying too far from our current product areas of stylish stationery and accompanying accessories.
Who is your target market?
Our main target market is women who want to plan and achieve their goals, whatever they may be, while also looking good and feeling great about the products they are using. Our planners are popular with women of all ages, and we absolutely love the positive feedback we receive from customers who have really benefited from using them. It really makes us feel great.
How do you market your business? Do you attend any trade shows?
We've tried quite a few means of marketing, and we're still learning what works. Starting out, we have mostly marketed the business on social media. Instagram has been our best marketing platform so far, as the products are so visual. We've been in a few publications and gift guides on the run-up to Christmas. We've used collaborations and giveaways, and we've also used Facebook ads. We have attended three trade shows to date as we try to increase visibility of the brand and expand more into retail. So far, we've done the London Stationery Show, Top Drawer and the British Craft Trade Fair.
What's your proudest achievement to date?
We won the Paper Awards at Top Drawer 2019 it was a very proud moment to get the recognition from the panel of judges. We've been runner-up in a few competitions, but to win first prize was very nice.