News from Campaign HQ (and how to get hold of your shop stickers!)
By Kate Marsden and Sarah Hamilton
The last few months have been quite a whirlwind for the Just A Card campaign! Back in September we were astonished by the incredible response to Just A Card Day, but little did we know that was only the beginning, with the amazing Indie Friday in November. Then last month we had what felt like a party - the pleasure of meeting so many of you at Top Drawer!
It was such a highlight that so many people, who have been following the campaign for months or even years, sought us out to chat about how important the Just A Card campaign is to them and to collect their shop window stickers - It was all a little overwhelming! Thank you so much to everyone who dropped by.
I’m now going to hand you over to the whirlwind behind the campaign, the fabulous Sarah Hamilton. Sarah is going to tell you how you can get hold of a sticker for your shop, plus fill you in with other Just A Card news.
Thanks Kate, and thank you so much for all the incredible hard work you devote to the campaign, and for putting this fabulous blog together every week. I can’t stress enough how amazing our team of volunteers are – without their dedicated teamwork behind the scenes the campaign would not be where it is today. People are often surprised when they hear that not only is JUST A CARD run by volunteer artists/designers and creative business owners, but we also have no funding - more on that later.
As Kate said, Top Drawer really was a Just A Card party! What fun it was to finally meet so many people we’ve come to know so well via social media. It was such a pleasure to hand out hundreds of shop window stickers, to encourage people to support independent shops by reminding them that all sales, however small, are vital and valued.
Our ace team member Michael Fram, who runs The Leaping Hare Gallery and Framers in Yorkshire, has very kindly offered to post stickers to supporters unable to join us at Top Drawer. We've lots to send out but we don’t have funds for postage, so we are asking you to send a stamped addressed envelope (A4 size or minimum C5) to Michael in order to receive yours (full details are at the end of this post).
Stickers will be absolutely free as they were so kindly donated by printed.com - We can't thank them enough for their kindness and generosity. In exchange for your free sticker, all we ask is that you support others by passing the JUST A CARD message on so they can benefit too. Please do tell your customers, other shops, businesses and artists and makers, even the person sitting next to you on the bus - we dare you!
Word of mouth and social media are so incredibly important to this campaign. It’s such a testament to you - your retweets, Facebook shares and those conversations you have with friends that the campaign is making such an impact.
Patricia van den Akker from The Design Trust on JUST A CARD:
"What started as an idea in Sarah's head has grown into one of the most powerful campaigns for supporting independent creatives and shops."
This is all thanks to you - but we've so much more to do. We know our message is working.
People are seeing results, so do keep sharing the message, and encouraging others to join the fight to champion and celebrate independent creative businesses.
Allow me to share a perfect example of the importance of talking to people about the value of handmade and unique items. I recently gave a talk about my book (House of Cards) at a design event, and afterwards I stopped to chat to exhibitors. One told me that despite it being close to the end of the day, she hadn’t sold a thing. Nothing - not one thing! She was feeling extremely despondent having invested considerable time and money in the event, and put her heart and soul into her work. This made me so sad. Her work was beautiful - she’d put so much effort and passion into her stunning bags, wash bags and purses. They were great value for money too.
Whilst we were chatting a potential customer approached the stand and looked closely at her work, and then began to move on. Now anyone who knows me will realise that I couldn’t help but say something! I commented that the bags were so lovely, and how wonderful that they’d been so beautifully made by the talented designer in front of her, oh and aren’t the prices amazing? She turned to me and said she was thinking the very same thing and before we knew it she’d bought one for herself and another for a friend. She told me she was delighted I’d spoken to her - it had helped her appreciate just how special the items were, and she felt so good having bought something precious. Just a few more interactions like that and the designer would have had a successful day, and the customer would go home smiling too. Win Win. Obviously I'm not there to have these conversations with every customer - but the campaign message is, so let JUST A CARD do the work for you. Display our posters at your event and share the message. Engaging customers with the campaign ethos works!
We need to gently remind the buying public that something handmade, or sold via an independent shop/business comes with a back story of love, commitment and provenience. Many people just do not realise the extraordinary effort which goes into creating artwork or running a shop or creative business. They have little concept of the hours which go in to designing, planning, researching, sourcing and packaging etc. or the amount spent on materials and rent before a penny of profit is made. Why should they - unless they're told?! Let's all help make the JUST A CARD logo so instantly recognisable that our message will prompt the customers in your shop, at your stall or online shop to realise the value their contribution is. That's all we want to do - encourage people to think. Do you love and value this shop? If so, if you possibly can, support it by buying from it - It's that simple! As one shop owner put it “A thousand "how lovely’s' don't pay the bills.
One supporter told us that when she found out a beloved local theatre was closing it reminded her of JUST A CARD. It prompted her to think back to all of the times when "I could’ve supported it but was maybe waiting for another day. If I’d realised that even my small contribution could have stopped it from closing I would’ve made the extra effort. You get out what you put in".
So Just A Card is about sharing and talking, but also doing and actually making that extra effort. It often surprised me, before I started this campaign, that people who bought 'just a card' from me (when I also sell far more expensive artwork) apologised as they felt this could appear mean. This couldn't be further from the truth - I personally wanted to hug them - the small sales add up, and are equally valued as the larger ones! Feedback from many customers who have learnt of the campaign has been that they are so pleased to hear the message that the little sales count – it means that rather than feeling shy or embarrassed, they feel valued and appreciated for supporting you, knowing it means so much.
Of course one of the hardest parts of this campaign continues to be spreading the word, and it takes up so much of our time - but it's so important because in order for people to take action they first need to know about the campaign. I am going to be very honest here now, and say that it has been so much hard work in recent months that I very seriously thought about calling it a day. I, and other members of the team, have taken so many hours away from our paid work and time doing what we love most - being artists and makers, that it's obviously has had an impact on our businesses. However, the extraordinary response to the shop window stickers and the incredible feedback we had at Top Drawer have made us come back stronger and wanting to fight more. So if you'll help us spread the word, we will continue to work as enthusiastically as ever! The point is similar to our campaign message - that every little helps. We also have no funding, mainly because we don't want to feel compromised in our message. We'd far rather accept your incredibly generous support in kind, as we believe passionately that if we all work together we can make big difference.
The campaign is not about us and you - it's about each and every person who values creativity.
I'll also address a few issues about the campaign which have popped up recently:
I will start with a reminder – we only use cards as an example of a small purchase – it applies to all small items so - Just A Book, Just A Badge, Just A Tea Towel – whatever you make or sell, the story is the same…
1. We don’t have a stand alone Facebook page for Just A Card as this is one (huge) job too many for a team of volunteers. My business page was already well supported and it made sense to use this ready made audience rather than having to start from scratch. Please follow this page and share any Just A Card related posts. I've just posted a new post about this blog and the stickers - if you do nothing else to help the campaign then please hop over now and share the post and encourage your followers/friends to share & support the campaign.
2. We are planning Indie Friday and a Just A Card Day again in 2018 – look out for confirmation of the exact dates, however Indie Friday will coincide with Black Friday and Just A Card Day will be in September again.
3. We are always looking for help and support to promote the campaign – if you are a blogger or journalist please write about it and share our message to help spread the word.
6. We’re working very hard to build our Instagram following at the moment too. If you very kindly make any images for the campaign, encouraging people to support it, please add your name and Instagram handle to the artwork, and then send it to us via DM on Instagram so we can share. Do bear in mind that we may not share your work immediately – we’re trying to build up a library of artwork which we can share across social media, and we’re really grateful for anything you can send us. Please also post our logo on Instagram to encourage people to support us. I know some people curate their grids carefully so they relate to their brands, but surely the bigger picture is worth it. Isn't half the fun of being creative shaking things up a bit - posting the unexpected? Also - don't forget you can post it and encourage people to support the campaign and then in a few days, once your followers know about the campaign - you can always press delete - Back on brand and lots of good done!
4. Please remember that one of the most important and helpful things you can do is to retweet our tweets. In honesty it can be frustrating, having put so may hours of work into spreading a message, to see a tweet receive masses of likes and only a handful of retweets. This may be because people don’t realise the value of a retweet and how this extends our reach. But please please support us in this way as very few people will be shown the post if you’ve only liked it. Remember the Just A Card golden rule (just like rolos) – one for me and one for you!
5. On the subject of Twitter, please remember that we regularly put up a new pinned tweet – so if you don’t have time to scroll through to find something to share, you can always pop over to our profile and retweet that one.
6. Apologies if you send us a message on social media and we don't get back to you. Chances are, given the huge amount of notifications we get, we may not have seen it, or we're frantically distracted by our own lives. Also please keep in mind that whilst it's a great pleasure to share your work when you tag and tweet us, ultimately we're about encouraging others to support everyone rather than focussing on individuals. We do hope you'll appreciate the bigger picture and appreciate that time/resources are spread pretty thin. We can only do our best.
7. And finally, please sign up to our newsletter! We’re not bombarding our mailing list with emails, but it is a really useful way of sharing the most important news from the campaign with you all.
That’s it for now! All that’s left is for me to thank you all again from the bottom of my heart for your support for Just A Card and the wider creative community. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Top Drawer, The Greetings Card Association and Printed.com again for helping us to take the campaign to a whole new level.
Let’s keep fighting the fight together – independent shops, creative businesses, artists, designers and makers need a voice. Everyone works so very hard and it’s a joy to be a part of such an incredible community of friendship and mutual support.
Thank you so much Sarah! If you didn’t get to meet Sarah at Top Drawer and would like to have a face to face chat about the campaign (and to see her beautiful work!), her annual open house will be taking place as part of Dulwich Festival in May. Pop over and follow her on Instagram or Twitter to be kept up to date on this (as an added incentive she had great cake when I visited!).
And, if you’d like to claim your free shop sticker please send a SAE – preferably to fit A4 size (210mm x 297mm) minimum size C5 envelope (162mm x 229mm) to:
Just A Card c/o Michael Fram
Leaping Hare Gallery & Framers
23 Chapel Street