I think the general consensus as we reach the end of the year is that 2023 has been a tough one. As the owner of a small greeting card business, Jess A Little Creative, I always like to finish the year with a round-up and celebration of what has gone well. After having a very tough year myself, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find much worth celebrating. But actually when I stopped to look back, my greeting card business had some amazing highlights during 2023 that I am very proud of. And I want to share them with you today.
So this is how I’m combating a very tough year: focusing on the good bits, doing what I can to support myself and others during the bad bits, and carrying as much gratitude in my heart as possible for those small glimmers.
I really hope you can look back on 2023 and find your own small glimmers, to carry you forward into 2024 with a sense of hope and love. It has helped me a lot to find some happy moments, rather than just writing off 2023 as a bad year. It has been tough, but there has been some joy amongst it. And I really hope that is the same for you.
So here are my 8 proudest moments of 2023 as a small greeting card business owner. I wasn’t sure there would be anything to celebrate, but it turns out, there is actually a lot! Enjoy…
1. Launching a range of non-binary wedding cards
I released a range of wedding cards back in 2022, and had a design for Mr & Mrs, Mr & Mr, and Mrs & Mrs. But it suddenly struck me earlier in 2023 that anyone who identified as non-binary was completely excluded from these cards. I want to ensure my greeting card business is as inclusive as possible, so I got to work right away improving my wedding card collection. I went on to create a further 3 wedding card designs using Mx, a gender neutral title. I am super proud of these designs, and am very pleased that they have been selling well! I am always very open to feedback, so please get in touch if you think there are other ways my wedding cards can be even more inclusive.
2. Seeing my greeting cards on shelf at The Bullring Shopping Centre
Earlier this year, I got the chance to sell my cards in the Design 44 pop-up shop in The Bullring Shopping Centre in Birmingham for 3 months. I had always dreamed of one day having my cards somewhere like that. It was so surreal going to visit, and seeing my cards on the shelf in such a large shopping centre, next to some huge household names. It was an amazing opportunity and one I will always be incredibly grateful for.
3. Launching Charity Card Of The Month and raising over £110
In 2022, I designed and sold a Sunflower greeting card to raise money for The British Red Cross Ukraine Appeal, and it was more successful than I could ever have imagined. I was named one of Work For Good’s 2022 Charity Champions, which was such a huge honour as helping others and supporting charities has always been a passion of mine.
I wanted fundraising to become a much larger part of my greeting card business, and so during 2023, I launched ‘Charity Card Of The Month’, where every month I launched a new greeting card raising money for a different charity. It was a brilliant way to get me to set aside time to work on some charity card designs, and this morning I sat down to work out exactly how much had been raised over the course of the year, and I was thrilled to discover it was over £110. Thank you so much to everyone who has bought some charity cards from me this year.
Charity Card Of The Month won’t actually be continuing in the same way during 2024, as trying to release a new charity card every single month whilst juggling other releases and campaigns was proving too much of a challenge (there is only one of me!) But I will still be designing and releasing lots more charity cards in 2024, and I hope I can raise even more money for such worthwhile causes. If there are any specific charities you would like to see supported, please let me know.
4. Reaching over 950 sales and over 300 5-star reviews on my Etsy store
So this is a bit of a cheat, as I had actually set myself the goal of reaching 1000 Etsy sales in 2023. But rather than feeling disappointed that I missed my goal, I decided to celebrate what I did achieve, as I got so close to it! Over 950 sales is still absolutely something to celebrate. I also have over 300 5-star reviews on my Etsy store, and I am so proud of how many people have loved their cards and come back to purchase multiple times.
5. Connecting with other lovely small business owners at networking events
Since starting my greeting card business in 2020, I have attended some awful networking events. When I was just starting out, I didn’t really know what networking was, so I just signed up to some random things, and it was not enjoyable or useful. But now, nearly 4 years into business, I know myself better, I know my business better, and my goodness I have attended some of the NICEST events this year!
Various networking lunches and coffee mornings with Cheltenham Noticeboard, and a brunch with Cotswold Collective to name just two of many. They have all felt super casual and relaxed, and the people I have met have been amazing. I really feel like I have grown my network, but in the most friendly, authentic, and fabulous way. I will definitely be continuing to attend events like this next year!
6. Designing 26 brand new greeting card designs
When I counted up how many new greeting cards I had designed this year, I was a bit deflated when I saw 26, as I actually felt like I’d had quite a creative year and 26 didn’t feel like a lot. But my greeting card designs are incredibly intricate, and can often take several days to perfect, so actually I’m really happy with that. I am so proud of the cards I have released this year, I think they are some of the best designs I have ever done, and the majority are selling well, so that’s good news all round. I literally have pages and pages of scrawls and scribbles for new ideas for greeting cards in my studio, so hopefully 2024 will be another creative year and I can bring a lot of those ideas to life. Watch this space!
7. Designing my first ever wholesale catalogue and getting my first stockists
For me, this probably feels like my biggest achievement for 2023. I did a course with The Small Business Collaborative back in 2022, and it was so helpful. I had already taught myself quite a lot about wholesale, but I was totally lacking the confidence to put it into action. But the course gave me everything I needed to hit the ground running. It was still a huge task, and so of course took longer than I anticipated, but I did it. I designed a wholesale catalogue, I sent it out to lovely independent retailers, and I got some new stockists from it! Which is just wonderful. I am currently designing my SS24 catalogue and it will be sent out early in 2024. If you love my greeting card designs and would like to see them in your store, please don’t be shy and request a wholesale catalogue.
8. Continuing to grow my business during a really tough year
Miraculously, 2023 has been my best year in business. Which I can’t quite believe. I have had to take a fair bit of time out this year, and so to have still had my best year for sales is brilliant. I am proud of myself for growing the business, I am proud of myself for taking care of myself, and I am so grateful to everyone who has shopped with me this year. Thank you thank you thank you.
So there you go, those are my 8 proudest moments of 2023 as a small greeting card business owner. It has been a tricky and turbulent year, but I am so proud of what I have achieved, and I am excited for what is to come in 2024.
If you are interested to see what is next for Jess A Little Creative, please sign up to The Little Creative Gang, my mailing list, where I send fortnightly(ish) emails with updates, news and new card designs.
And with that, I leave you for 2023! I am wishing you the most peaceful, restful and joyous Christmas and New Year, and sending all the love and hope for a good 2024.
Lots of love, Jess x