Anniversary achievements

To mark Eco-Friendly Card's 30th Anniversary, Louise Prance speaks to Sue Morrish about the company's journey...

two owners at card stand at trade show Congratulations on your 30th anniversary! What were the reasons behind the initial launch of Eco-Friendly Cards? Glebe Cottage Studio (the original name of The Eco-friendly Card Co) was established with the help of the Princes Youth Business Trust by a young photographer, Scott Morrish, who was fresh out of art college and looking for a way to fund his new darkroom. Publishing cards with images of rural Devon, where he lived, seemed a good idea and Scott drove around the country lanes visiting selling his cards to independent retailers such as post offices and garden centres and Glebe Cottage Studio was born. A few years later after I (Sue) joined the business we started offering cards from south-west artists to increase the diversity of our offering to independent retail.

What was your business strategy when launching and how did you plan to innovate the market? There wasn't a strategy! If anything it was an accident, we tried something and found it worked, and built on it. As the business grew it became clear that we wanted to produce unique and beautiful cards for independent retailers in the most environmentally responsible way possible, whilst also being competitively priced. Trying to get suppliers to think about "green issues" in the nineties wasn't easy – often we were seen as a bit eccentric, for example by asking for recycled paper. We were the first publisher to use compostable packaging for our cards all the way back in 2006 and were also the first direct-to-retail (DTR) card publisher to hold our own FSC Chain of custody. Now we have a whole list of environmental commitments that apply to all our products that include the materials we use, how the cards are printed and carbon-balancing our paper through the World Land Trust.

owner holding certificate How has your product offering changed since company launch? Initially our cards all used Scott's photographs, now two thirds of our collection is art cards - a really diverse collection of twenty artist-named ranges which include fine art, contemporary and sentiment designs. A strong theme that remains though is that love of the nature and you'll see a lot of visual references to the natural world and wildlife in our cards. We've also added other products into our offering such as Christmas cards, calendars and our very popular notecard gift stationery.

What lessons (good and bad) have been learned in your 30-year journey? The most valuable things you have in business are relationships – relationships with your customers, staff and your suppliers – value these! We especially love the relationships we have with customers and artists who have been with us on our journey over the last 30 years – if I ever retire I'll really miss that!

What are you most proud of? We're most proud of our relationships with The Wildlife Trusts and Highgrove (The Prince's Charities). We've been publishing cards, Christmas cards and a calendar for the Wildlife Trusts for over 12 years, both providing products for the charity to sell itself and also creating unique products for retail, all of which tell the story of the beauty and fragility of nature. We are really passionate about the work of this charity so it's wonderful to have been working with them for over a decade. We've also worked with Highgrove Enterprises for over 15 years which has included publishing own-label products for sale in their shops and the official Christmas cards for HRHs Charles and Camilla when he was Prince of Wales. We've recently created a deluxe greeting card wallet with watercolours of Highgrove gardens painted by HM Charles III.

What are your plans for the future? We want to continue to find innovative ways of reducing the environmental impact of our cards – for example we're always on the look out for new home compostable materials. We always have lots of new ideas for products too but you'll need to wait and see about that!

T: +44 (0)1626 369 269 E:

blue flower in vase design
black hen in green leaves design
Share on Facebook