The Secret is Out!
A post from Just a Card Founder Sarah Hamilton.
AT LAST - the secret is out – it’s been a hard one to keep that’s for sure….
Fifteen amazing posters on the London Underground, with wonderful stars helping spread our campaign message. Never in my wildest dreams, when I first had the idea for JUST A CARD over four years ago, could I have ever imagined that!
JUST A CARD is our campaign of celebration, one which encourages people to support, value and buy from artists, makers, independent shops and small businesses. We work tirelessly together to raise awareness of the joys and benefits that supporting independents bring.
Yet JUST A CARD was, in part, born of frustration.
When the owner of a much loved local bookshop explained to me why he’d been forced to close down it upset me so much that I felt compelled to do more than simply mutter how sorry I was.
He’d told me, with no hint of bitterness, of all the times people came to him for advice, said how gorgeous his shop was and how much children adored the reading and play corner. He recalled people (who never bought from his shop) asking for raffle prizes for their kids’ school, commenting that his shop was a ‘wonderful community asset’. He told of people rummaging through his stock making lists of holiday reading inspiration or Christmas gift ideas, then leaving empty handed, having told him unashamedly of the clicks they intended to make at home. These same people were so sad to see the shop close. “What a loss” they said.
I remember thinking, as I eyed the forlorn ‘everything must go’ signs, these shops are indeed beautiful, precious community spaces and so much more, but first and foremost they’re peoples’ livelihoods. How have we become so disconnected that we fail to recognise the impact of our everyday choices?
If only people had bought ‘Just a Book’.
Shortly afterwards I read a newspaper article by a gallery owner in a similar position. She said, ‘If everyone who’d complimented our beautiful gallery had bought ‘just a card’ we’d still be open’.
I had a lightbulb moment. And the JUST A CARD campaign was born.
People say they love independents, yet it’s easy to pay lip service with phrases like ‘Shop Local’.
Our campaign highlights the link between thought and action so people realise that artists, makers, independent shops and businesses need more than just compliments to stay afloat. We celebrate all the joys and wonders they bring, and certainly would never say don’t buy online (there are huge benefits, and many independents sell online too) - it’s simply a question of balance. Our campaign is not about tales of woe, guilt trips or desperate pleas. Quite the opposite, with the dedication and commitment of our team and followers, we’ve built an incredibly upbeat and impassioned community. Our message now needs to reach beyond it, to show everyone the magic in this creative world, to inspire them, to get them thinking. We’ve so excited about our partnership with Funding Circle on this project and that we’ve been joined by an incredible ALL STAR cast to help spread the word.
SO WHY JUST A BOOK?
Because a precious moment lost in a book is only possible if we continue to support those selling them. Yes, you can buy online, but you don’t get personal recommendations, a kids’ area where they can experience books first hand, a space to discover the unexpected, chat about life, the weather and everything else that keeps us going. This is what connects us. Our fifteen wonderful stars really believe this too and were just so incredibly grateful they are supporting our campaign!! We also want to show people that ‘just a card’ is simply an example of a small sale which adds up – Just a Card, Just a book, just a gift, and so it goes on…..
It has been incredibly hard for JUST A CARD to be heard, we’ve precious little resources and we run this campaign around our own businesses. When people with this status help us spread word, people will take notice. Our campaign is called ‘JUST A CARD but the idea is much bigger… we can all so easily get involved. Everyone can make a difference. PLEASE get your Pins, Window Stickers and Print – not only do they spread word they also fund our campaign.
Coordinating fifteen shoots, in fifteen different locations, has been a hugely complicated task and required some very fast learning on my part! For me this project has made for an extraordinary six months. It’s been very hard graft for sure and well out of my comfort zone, but it’s been such a joy to experience the passion and kindness of everyone involved – so many people have gone the extra mile. From those in the spotlight giving us their incredibly precious time, above and beyond what was asked, to everyone behind the scenes.
I am eternally grateful for your commitment, professionalism and patience.
First and foremost let’s give our wonderful friends at Funding Circle an Oscar winning round of applause. Quite simply Jo Casley and the team could not have been more generous and supportive, not only with resources, but also with their faith in JUST A CARD. That they’ve been there for us at every step this project, and supported it in every way possible, proves they are what they say they are – true champions of small businesses. THANK YOU!
And now to photographer Charlie Gray. To say working with Charlie was a dream doesn’t go far enough - these photographs are exceptional because Charlie is. He was uncompromising. His determination that these images would be show stoppers is a testament to hs professionalism and vision. There are few people as focussed as Charlie, and when you meet them you up your game. Huge Thanks also to Matt Wash and Alex Reader – the dream team – and loads of fun too! Finally to two very special people who put so much into this, and who’s friendship and support means the world - that’s Bee Gilbert (from Anno’s Africa - see below) and David Oakes
And now to Thank You for all the help you give us.
Our campaign goes from strength to strength because of your help, support and generosity - onwards and upwards!
To celebrate this incredible community we’ve made a wonderful print of the ‘WE ARE THE MAKERS’ poem by The Bespoke Bard. This has been beautifully illustrated by top designer Jess Hogarth. We love it and, judging by how many of you bought it within the first few hours of it going live, you love it too! We’re expecting record sales, which would be brilliant because, whilst Funding Circle have been incredibly generous and facilitated this project they do not cover our day to day campaign costs. These are pretty steep, and fundraising adds to our workload considerably. So, if you possibly can friends, please dig deep. Grab yourself one of these beautiful prints and help JUST A CARD to keep on keeping on. THANK YOU SO MUCH. We’ve big plans for the future!
Hope you love the posters and will share far and wide. Together we can make a difference in all our towns, all our communities.
If you spot a poster on the tube make sure the entire platform knows - let’s show the world we mean business - LET’S DO THIS!
Love Sarah and Team JUST A CARD
We must also thank so many friends and organisations for helping us get us to where we are. Most notably The Design Trust, The Greeting Cards Association and Top Drawer. Their continued support has made such a huge difference to our campaign and we so appreciate it!
And last but by no means least a final thanks the incredible stars who took part in this. Everyone gave their time freely and a donation was made in their name to the children’s arts educational charity ANNO’S AFRICA of which I am a Trustee.