Running a business is hard. Running a business by yourself is even harder. When I started my greeting card business, Jess A Little Creative, from my spare room in Cheltenham in 2020, I had no idea about the incredible journey that was about to begin. It has been, and still is, a complete rollercoaster, with incredible highs and lows. Alongside running the greeting card business, I also work as a freelance graphic designer, and the second half of 2022 has been very busy with that, leaving me with less time and energy for Jess A Little Creative than I would have liked. Due to this, I have spent the past few months feeling like I hadn’t achieved as much as I would have liked for Jess A Little Creative. It was frustrating, and felt deflating. But I took some time this week to look back over 2022, and I realised actually just how much I have achieved! I’ve grown so much as a business owner, designer and illustrator this year. So I decided to celebrate my top 9 moments running a greeting card business during 2022, and I thought I would share them with you, enjoy!
1. Raising £120 for the British Red Cross Ukraine Appeal with my charity sunflower card
Sunflower greeting card, by Jess A Little Creative
When the war in Ukraine broke out in February 2022, my heart broke. My eyes filled with tears watching the news every day, and I felt powerless as the awful events unfolded. I made a personal donation to one of the appeals, but it didn’t feel like enough. So when I discovered the national flower of Ukraine was a sunflower, I jumped into action and designed a charity sunflower greeting card to try and raise some more money with my greeting card business. I designed two sunflower greeting cards, one with a blue background, and one with a green background, and I sold them to raise money for the British Red Cross Ukraine Appeal. All the profits from these sunflower cards went to the British Red Cross Ukraine Appeal during March 2022, and I managed to raise £120. Although the events leading to this charity card being designed were truly heartbreaking, I am proud of the small difference that Jess A Little Creative was able to make, to help those suffering.
2. Seeing my greeting cards on the shelf of a bricks and mortar independent shop
Selling my unique illustrated greeting cards online has been a joy; putting so much love and care into each order and packaging them beautifully so each customer has something really special arrive on their doormat. But I also dreamed of seeing my cards on the shelves of independent bricks and mortar shops. And in 2022, this became a reality! I joined a collective of local makers and artists, who set up a shop in Beckford, a village not far from Cheltenham where I run my greeting card business. It was fantastic to see my greeting cards on the shelves of the shop! Since then, I have been expanding this part of my greeting card business, and am now stocked in a couple more local, independent shops. This has been a definite highlight of 2022, and something I hope to grow and develop during 2023.
3. Having two of my unique typographic illustrations on display at an exhibition in Italy
I have always suffered with imposter syndrome, not feeling good enough or like a ‘proper artist’, whatever that means. Despite my greeting cards all featuring my own original unique hand-drawn illustrations, I never refer to myself as an artist. So when the opportunity arose in the summer to have two of my illustrations featured in an art exhibition in Italy, the imposter syndrome took over, and I was a bit hesitant. But with the encouragement of loved ones, I went for it, and I am so glad I did! I had two of my illustrations, Sunflower and Dragonfly, printed onto big canvas’ and shipped to Savigliano, a beautiful town in North Italy where the exhibition was being held. Unfortunately I couldn’t be there in person to see the exhibition, but I got sent lots of photos and videos and it was amazing to see my work on display like that. Next year I am hoping to produce some of my greeting card illustrations as prints as well, and maybe appear in more exhibitions in the future!
4. Launching my own website, jessalittlecreative.com
This is probably the most important moment of 2022 for me, and one I am so proud of. And if you are reading this, you have obviously found jessalittlecreative.com, and the blog featured on it, so welcome! Before having this website, I sold my unique greeting cards on Etsy, which was great, but I wanted a corner of the internet just for Jess A Little Creative, where I could have full control over the style and content. It took hours of hard work, but I am so pleased with it. I now have a home for the Jess A Little Creative blog, my own online greeting card store, and the flexibility for the website to change and expand with the needs of the business. After it launched, one thing I wasn’t expecting was the effect it would have on my mindset as a business owner. I felt so much more confident and ‘professional’. I know lots of people who run amazing businesses purely from Etsy, but for me, launching my own website was a real turning point.
5. Working with Ecologi and planting one tree for every greeting card order
Being as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible is one of my biggest priorities for Jess A Little Creative, my greeting card business. I print my greeting cards onto FSC certified, recycled card, they are supplied with recycled envelopes, and then packaged in plastic-free biodegradable sleeves made from vegetable starch. As a way to increase sustainability even further for the business, I partnered with Ecologi during 2022. Individuals and businesses can work with Ecologi in lots of different ways to bring about positive climate action, but I chose to plant one tree for every order placed on the website, jessalittlecreative.com. This comes at no extra cost to my customers, but instead comes out of my profit margin, a sacrifice I am more than happy to take to protect our beautiful planet for future generations. From my Ecologi account, I can see where these trees are being planted, and so far they have popped up in Madagascar, Mozambique, Kenya and Uganda!
6. Doing my first ever talking stories on Instagram
Photo by Magda O Photography
For those who don’t have Instagram, or don’t know what this feature is, talking stories are short videos you upload of yourself talking to camera, that appear on your Instagram Stories for 24 hours. For businesses, they are a great way to communicate messages with customers and show the human behind the business, vital for a one-woman greeting card business like mine! But I was always so scared to do it. I thought I sounded weird, or didn’t look right, or that no-one would be interested in what I had to say. But one day I decided to just get over it and do it, because what was the worst that could happen?! And I’m so glad I did. I’ve now got over the fear, and regularly pop onto Instagram Stories to talk through what I’m working on, and it has helped me connect with so many more people online. If you don’t already follow me on Instagram, come and say hello!
7. Achieving 600 sales on my Etsy store
Botanical Dad card, by Jess A Little Creative
I try not to get too fixated on numbers like these, because I find they can actually distract me from my main goals for the business. But of course, it’s impossible not to see when you have hit a milestone, and achieving 600 sales on my Etsy store in 2022 was lovely. I am so grateful for every order, and review. It is the nicest feeling to see someone else enjoying the greeting cards I have designed and put so much love into!
8. Releasing lots of new greeting card designs that I am truly proud of
Dragonfly greeting card, by Jess A Little Creative
Due to my other job as a freelance graphic designer, I haven’t had as much time for drawing new greeting card designs as I would have liked, but I have still managed to release lots of new greeting cards this year that I am really proud of. I have expanded my range of birthday cards and Christmas cards, and both proved popular during 2022 which was so lovely to see. I am really hoping I can carve out more time for lots more drawing in 2023, so keep an eye out for new greeting card designs coming soon!
9. Developing my branding to align more with my values
As a graphic designer, branding is kind of my thing. I get it, and I am good at it. But generally, when I take on a branding project, that is the only thing I have to focus on, so I can give it 100% and create a really beautiful identity for a business. But unfortunately, when it is my own branding, as a one-woman greeting card business, I have rather a lot of other things that also require my time and attention! So my branding was never quite where I wanted it to be. But during 2022, I have managed to develop my branding and bring it more in line with my vision, though there is still more work to be done. I designed some new thank-you notes and 2023 bookmarks to go in with customer’s orders (each order on the website gets a free 2023 bookmark!), as well as developing the look and feel of my social media graphics. All these elements now sit together nicely and form more of a solid brand. I am looking forward to developing this more during 2023, and really bringing the Jess A Little Creative brand to life!
Phew, what a year! I think I have possibly been a bit busier than I thought I had! 2022 has been a great year for Jess A Little Creative, my greeting card business, and it has been so great to share my top 9 moments running a greeting card business during 2022 with you - I hope you enjoyed reading all about this year’s adventures. Don’t get me wrong, this year has not been plain sailing, and it’s certainly not been all sunshine and rainbows, running a business is hard and there have been some very tough moments. But when reflecting back on a year, I find it way more beneficial to focus on the good bits, and remind myself of everything I have achieved, so I can go into the new year with lots of good energy and positivity!
If you have enjoyed reading about my journey as a business owner, please sign up to The Little Creative Gang, my free online community for greeting card and stationery enthusiasts. I drop into your inbox 2-4 times a month with business updates, new greeting card designs, and exclusive offers! Hope to see you there.
Thanks so much for reading and sharing this year’s adventures with me. Sending you all my love for a happy and joyful 2023,