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Up & coming - Dippy Egg

Lucy Daniels took the leap and launched Dippy Egg, following her dream of being an artist and owning her own business

Lucy Daniels launched Dippy Egg in August 2008, after working full time as a graphic designer in a Cardiff-based design consultancy. "I'd been making and selling greetings cards in my spare time for a while and decided it was time to take the leap and be my own boss. It meant I sort of hit the ground running because I already had work coming in as well as card orders etc. It turned out to be a great decision as I now really can't imagine working for someone else!" explains Lucy. "It's all I've ever wanted to do. From as soon as I could hold a pencil I've wanted to draw. As a really young child I always said I wanted my own business.

"I spent hours and hours as a child drawing with my Dad who was an architect. His talent was my biggest inspiration and I dreamed of being as good as him - something that I'll never be! I remember watching how effortless it was for him to just make something up and draw it; it was magical. All through school, all other subjects seemed to get in the way of desperately waiting for the art class!"

After her A-levels, Lucy did a BTEC Diploma in Art & Design and then went on to do a graphic design degree in Bath, specialising in illustration in her second and third years. After working as a graphic designer for years, the urge to launch her own business took over.

"I hope that my work is a little different from other greeting cards out there. I really don't like verses in cards. I tried to make the messages in my square cards range a little more relaxed and chatty in style, with sayings that people would actually use.

I have four card ranges and they're all quite different from one another. I love to work in different styles. I still have loads of ideas for plenty more!" Lucy is also very environmentally aware, so all of the card and paper she uses is recycled and/or from sustainable forests in the Lake District. Everything is produced within the UK.

Her first range of greeting cards is hand-made. "I started this range while I was at university, making hand-drawn cards for friends and family. I then started getting requests for cards and soon had a fairly constant flow of orders. I created a collection of designs and started producing in bigger numbers. Images are applied to the front of colourful cards, and then I hand write the greeting on the front. It means people can choose whatever greeting they'd like to go with the ever expanding range of image options (about 200 designs now)."

Lucy then went onto create a second range of square printed cards with silver foil details. They feature illustrated typography with informal, friendly messages and there are now 35 designs in the collection. These have been so popular that Lucy is planning on adding more designs soon. They come with a silver envelope to match the silver foil details.

"I also have three sets of six blank cards that can be framed. One set of six illustrated fish, one set of six illustrated budgies, and one set of six illustrated insects. Each set is presented in a grey-board keepsake box, tied with colourful raffia and a swing tag showing thumbnail illustrations of each design.

"My detailed pencil and watercolour illustrations are printed onto thick, cream art board. They can also be framed as a set or as individual artworks.

"Most recently, a brand new range has been added to the collection. It consists of fashion illustration style watercolour and charcoal drawings of girls faces and girls in bright, colourful dresses, printed on to a heavy recycled grey board. Theses come with a bright pink envelope. I really enjoyed creating the illustrations for this range."

All sorts of things inspire Lucy, and she doesn't like to follow trends with her work. "I like to just create things that I enjoy and then hopefully other people will like it too."

Out of her hand-made range, the best-selling designs are always the girly ones - images of long legged ladies carrying oversized shoes or cakes. In the square range, the Mum card is the best-seller. In the boxed sets, people either really love or absolutely hate the insects - "they're a bit marmite I think!" laughs Lucy. "I've been pleased to see a pretty consistent response to my girls cards and they all seem popular so far."

Dippy Egg is stocked in a wide range of independent gift shops and galleries all over the UK. Lucy also sells in a few chains of shops such as Vinegar Hill and the Blue Diamond Garden Centre group. She has a UK-based distributor as well as a distributor in Hong Kong.

Look out for Lucy at Top Drawer in September. "I've found trade shows so helpful for taking my business to the next level; it puts you in front of such a huge variety of buyers. I also find it useful talking to other people doing the same sort of thing as you. It's reassuring to hear you're not alone with the struggles and the challenges you face as a business owner."

There are so many areas Lucy would like to expand into, in fact the list is endless. "One of the reasons I chose the name Dippy Egg was because it's so non-specific. I wanted a name which didn't actually say design, illustration or greeting cards. This was so that I could move the business in any creative direction in the future without having to re-brand. I also wanted a name that was memorable and a bit nostalgic. People always smile at the name Dippy Egg and it seems to stick in people's minds, which works well.

"I'm working on some really nice projects at the moment - branding projects, illustration commissions, photo shoots, etc. I'll also be busy planning for Top Drawer. The list of future project ideas is endless and I'm adding to it all the time!"

For more information about Dippy Egg, T: +44 (0)7870 705 532 or visit www.dippyegg.net.