By Kate Marsden
Heading down to Southsea this week to meet the person behind some of our recent colourful graphics! Illustrator Angela Chick is a huge supporter of our campaign – read on to find out more about her and her work…
Tell us a little about you. What do you do?
I’m Angela Chick and when I was 8 years old I told my teacher that I wanted to be an entrepreneur (or a starving artist!) when I grew up. I am a freelance illustrator and I run my own greeting card and gift company specialising in playfully illustrated bold, unique cards with fresh takes on the everyday. There are strongly recurring themes of friendship and fun in both the cards and gifts I design. I really like making people smile and I love it when I can give someone the opportunity to find “that” card or gift that is just perfect. In December, I’ll be celebrating my 5 year anniversary of leaving my “day job” as an artist in residence working with young children.
When I’m not designing new products for my collection and sending out orders, I’m working on commissions for a variety of clients. I’ve done murals and menus for restaurants, labels for food and drink products, cycling jerseys for cool bike shops, book covers, band t-shirts and much more.
What does a typical day involve?
I’m very set on routine, and 2017 has been a year I think I’ve really nailed this. I wake up really early and write a few pages in a journal to clear my head and solve any problems that I might be dealing with. I also often get inspired while writing my morning pages so I keep a separate notebook next to the journal for my product and design ideas. Once I’ve finished writing I get my breakfast and a cup of green tea and sit at my desk.
I try to keep different days for different jobs, and all these things change throughout the year as well, but my days usually start the same way. I’ll have a quick look at emails and deal with anything that is urgent. I’ll then print round one of orders and do some social media posting and interacting. There is a surprising amount of admin involved in running my business. I thought I’d be spending a lot more time drawing but I spend a lot of time on other stuff like forecasting and accounting. I find my brain is best for making decisions in the morning so if there is any decision making or planning to do I like to get this done first thing. I also try get any tasks that I’m dreading off my list first. Mid-morning I take a break to go to the gym or for a run, and then come back to get some more work done before lunch. I always try to have a really healthy lunch, which is so much easier working from home.
The afternoon is all about auto pilot tasks – inputting info into spreadsheets, emailing, etc. I’ve got a great planning system which I made at the start of the year and each thing on my to do list is always related to my goals I’m working on. It’s a great feeling knowing that what I’m doing is helping me get to where I want to be. I print any more orders that have come in since the morning and then do the post run.
At the end of the day I tidy up my desk so it’s nice for the fresh start next morning. My evenings are very much about relaxing – I cook a delicious dinner and relax. I’ve got a self imposed screen curfew and I get into bed with a book an hour before I want to sleep so I’m ready for my early morning the next day.
Where do you work? What is your studio space like? What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I work from a home office in Southsea, UK. I’m a short walk from the beach so I get out to enjoy the seafront when I can. The most important thing about my home office is that it has a door that I can close. I think I really undervalued that for a long time when I was working from home. I would work in all different rooms of the house and never felt like I left work.
My tiny little home office has been outgrown for some time. It’s a work in progress, always trying to figure out how best to store new products and make the best use of the space. This week I’m building a standing desk to create a packing station for the Christmas period.
When I’m not working I love to be outdoors, in the gym or at home with a hot chocolate and a book in the colder months. I like riding bikes, camping, walking, exploring. Downtime for me is very much about enjoyment and doing things that relax me and recharge me. It took me a while to learn how important it is to shut off from work sometimes. I love being outdoors most of all but I also enjoy the very odd weekend binge on Netflix like everyone else (of course, Stranger Things 2 was done in a weekend).
What do you consider to be the main challenges facing designer makers at the moment?
Competing with high-volume makers who have the financial resources and economies of scale to reach large numbers of customers at very low price points is a big challenge. However, I strongly believe that my value is in my personal creativity and the ethos of my suppliers, who are UK based independent businesses and have high standards of quality and environmental responsibility.
This year I’ve created some graphics for social media about taking the pledge to shop independent this Christmas. As we all know, buying even just a card from a small business isn’t buying JUST a card.
What ambitions do you have for your business over the next few years?
I’ve been working on a set of big juicy goals for this year and monitoring my growth. I want to keep growing and hire someone to help me out so I can have more time to work on the business, rather than in it. I get a lot of help from my mum and dad who help in various areas of the business. They are a crucial part of it and I really couldn’t do it without them.
I’d like to continue growing my wholesale offering through independent shops in the UK and branch out to stockists in Europe, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. I’ve only just got into wholesale so it’s all a work in progress at the moment.
I’m also really looking forward to receiving my Dream Plan Do planner to see how that can help me. I am a lover of productivity and planning and never tire of discovering new tools.
Do you have any tips for fellow designer makers / small business owners who are reading this and may be just starting out?
Being successful in business is nothing to do with luck. It is all about hard work and patience. It doesn’t happen over night. If you want something enough and you work hard for it you CAN do it. And most importantly – don’t compare your year 1 to someone else’s year 10. Make goals that matter to you, not just ones you think you “should”. Take it seriously and take care of yourself. You can TOTALLY do this!
Please share any favourite independent shops/galleries and tell us why you like them.
Linzi was one of my first wholesale stockists and she has been a great pillar of support through getting to know the wholesale world. She’s always got a smile on when I pop in to see her and it’s great having a stockist of such great cards on my doorstep. Every time I pop in I can’t help but leave with a few bits.
Neat gallery space and shop based in Edinburgh. Packed full of great gifts from independent artists and designers.
Sean is a lovely stockist of mine who runs a cool gift shop in Newcastle. Not only does his shop sell a load of really brilliant products but he is such an incredibly nice guy.
Merry + Bright
I discovered this shop because one of the owners, Clare, runs the Indie Retail Academy, which has been an integral piece of help in trying to navigate the wholesale world. When they placed their first order I felt like I had really hit something good in my wholesale offering because Clare is the queen of wholesale.
Had you realised the Just A Card campaign message suggests cards as an example of a small purchase – we’re all about encouraging all sales as they keep businesses afloat?
I did actually! And as a small business I feel the exact same. Every single time someone buys something from me I appreciate it. It is great to see the message spreading when you come to the #justacard Twitter hour (Thursday 8pm). There is an awesome variety of items that people make and sell out there in the independent world. I’m forever looking for new people to follow so I can keep them in mind for when gift buying comes around. I also love the little things I can just buy on impulse for myself– pins, patches, stationery. There are so many brilliant designers and makers out there and they’re all working so hard. Every time you buy something, ANYTHING, there is a little ray of sunshine that shines that little bit brighter for them. There is an extra bounce in their step, the colours shine a bit brighter. Over the years I’ve set myself personal goals of buying gifts for friends and family from independents only. This year, once again, I’ve pledged to support independent business wherever I can so that means I’ll hopefully be making the sun shine for a lot of small businesses like myself (not to mention all the happy dances!)
Buying just a card, or a print, or a pin, or a badge, or anything from an independent shop, does big things to help small businesses. Buying just a card is never buying JUST a card. That’s what I truly love about the Just A Card campaign!