Gift Focus inc Attire Accessories - January/February 2023

70 When did you start up and why? We launched in 2009 at Home & Gift. We met through our husbands and became friends, after a few years of knowing each other we decided that we could create a business that fulfilled our creativity. Together we hadn’t sold a single card but we launched at the show, with over 100 digital samples on a tiny stand, armed with a catalogue, website and a tonne of enthusiasm – then came the challenge. We took lots of orders and recruited our first sales agent but we had no stock, no order processing systems, small children and jobs. We rose to the challenge, burnt the candle at both ends and were soon up and running. What prompted you to launch the business? It’s something we’d talked about doing for a while. To be honest we didn’t think it would be our main job, just something nice to do. We were so naive to the size of the industry and where we could take our business. The prompt came when Jude’s job was at risk, she worked for a children’s cancer charity and the grant that funded the research was being withdrawn. Happily, a new funding source was found for that charity but Jude had already launched Molly Mae with Stacey so they decided to juggle their two jobs for a year or two. What challenges have you overcome since the company’s launch? Running a business you have challenges to overcome all the time. In the early days finding premises suitable for a creative team but big enough for warehousing so we could retain control of all elements of our business was a huge challenge. However, our farm based studio is great, with huge windows looking over the fields, there are no shops or places to eat nearby but we do have a steady stream of chickens, birds, cats and the occasional fox wander past our windows! They’ve featured in some of our designs and range names. Some other challenges that I doubt we are alone with is that we are creatives, our skills are in ideas, drawing, and design software. It was a steep learning curve stepping into a business world. Bookkeeping, VAT, cashflow, understanding P&L and making sure our creative decisions aligned with commercial reasoning. Taking on staff, making the right marketing and sales decisions, there are so many elements to running a business that aren’t taught in Art College! Overall we aim to enjoy working together, our studio is a great place to work, we enjoy a good laugh which has helped us through tricky times such as the pandemic. Some of us are really good at making biscuits and cake! Tell us about your product offering. At the moment we are focused on greeting cards and gift wrap. What are your most popular products?