International (ahem) man of mystery

Since starting Go La La! we have found ourselves getting out and about a fair bit from our base in Somerset, and during the past year we have visited London several times; as well as taken short trips to Brighton and Canterbury; spent a week in Birmingham and also a night in Southend-on Sea.

This week I found myself in Glasgow for the day, meeting a new sales agent.

I could have driven, or jumped on the train or I guess even gone by coach, but weighing up the differences flying seemed the best bet.  There wasn’t much in it between flights to Edinburgh or Glasgow airport, so I decided upon the latter.

Bristol to Glasgow on Easyjet is straightforward, and at a fraction under 50 quid it is a damn site cheaper than other options; better still the flight is only about an hour and so I was in Glasgow by 10.40am.  Getting through security into the departure lounge was the hardest part of the journey; I was frisked, put through their new scanner as I’d set the buzzer off and then had my bag x-rayed twice as they’d spotted a mystery object….obviously dildo Greeting cards are a bit of a no no through customs; or maybe I just looked so suave and sophisticated they assumed I was James Bond; I’ve never seen him use a budget airline though…maybe his disguise really is that good.

Despite the dreary and foggy day when I Bristol, by the time we were having coffee outside in the sun, in Central Glasgow, it was extremely sunny, warm and spring like; best day of the year thus far; who says Scotland is all doom and gloom?

Later we went for lunch.  I think the agent was a little surprised to find himself in a somewhat shabby and hidden away basement café/bar called the Flying Duck, especially as it only served vegan food and drink; I guess I should have mentioned earlier that I had been vegan for 30 years.  Still he seemed to like the food and that’s what matters.  What’s not to like with a wheat gluten based burger thing called Seitan Worshipper.

I didn’t get to experience much of the culture of Glasgow as I had hoped, apart from a busker playing amped up Bowie numbers, but it was nice to have a change of scenery, as I’d  not been to Glasgow for many years.

Suffice to say, the meeting went well and we now have a fab new agent in Scotland, so if you have a shop there, please let us know and I can put you in touch with him.

Go La La Photoshopping

 

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By | 2017-03-11T17:06:20+00:00 March 11th, 2017|General|

What’s in a card?

Greetings Cards are funny things aren’t they.  Folded sheets of card with pictures, words or both on them.  Sometimes foiled, or flittered or otherwise embellished they are given for all manner of reasons.

Cards are given to celebrate a special occasion: a birthday, a new baby, passing a driving test or moving home; to express a get-well wish or a message of sympathy; to thank someone for an act of kindness; or maybe just to show a person that you care or are thinking of them.   The British public buy millions of them every year as you can see from this Greeting  Card Association report.

My favourite ever card was a Christmas card, given to me by Laura.  I loved it so much that she gave me the same card the following Christmas, and again the year after.  And when she ran out of space to write her thoughtful Christmas messages she bought another card exactly the same….and I received that one for another 4 or 5 years….until they both got lost in preparation for a house move.  We were both extremely annoyed, yet it shows that something that can in many cases be seen as a throwaway item can sometimes mean so much to the recipient.

Today, out of the blue, we received an email from a customer, which really touched us both.  It said “I came across your Alf Skitten/ Mick Jagger card this week: it made me laugh and cry as he is practically a doppelgänger for my beautiful cat who was put down the day before.  I love your style of drawing so thank you for making me smile/cry every time I look at the card”.

As cat lovers ourselves it brought tears to our eyes – after all the Alf Skitten range is based on our two four legged boys – so for one of our cards to have evoked such an emotional response was touching.  We tend to design our cards to be humorous rather than sentimental, so it is great to see that they can be appreciated as so much more than just a piece of printed cardboard.

By | 2017-03-03T17:29:22+00:00 March 3rd, 2017|General, News|

It’s a Period Drama

I watched the recent episode of Dragons Den which featured a pitch from two young entrepreneurs promoting their product from company DAME. They supply a subscription service of boxed sanitary products which can be delivered to the home. The proposal for investment was unanimously rejected by the Dragons. Deborah Meaden’s ‘I’m Out’ reason was that she had never struggled to find her own supply of tampons and towels in shops everywhere, and in machines in public loos etc.

But now I understand that sadly, we didn’t get to see some of the alternative proposals for this product, notably that it could be used to supply homeless women. What riled me while watching, were the irresponsible and at times, childish reactions from some of the male Dragons, notably Peter Jones, who essentially squirmed his way through the pitch, summarising with ‘I found that quite uncomfortable actually’.

Now, I’m pretty certain that as PJ has numerous children, he must be familiar with gynaecology. And I would presume that he may have witnessed a birth or three so has understanding that a woman’s reproductive organs perform various different functions. So what I would have liked Peter Jones to be that day, was someone who could have talked unflinchingly about the subject of periods, discussing maturely and objectively the issues of menstruation and the associated sanitary products. You know, things that affect his wife and daughters.

It’s pretty tiresome for most of us women, who are still made to feel that periods are a taboo subject. Get over it! We do, on a monthly basis. It’s not a big deal. But there is a more serious side to the whole concept of breaking the ‘taboo’. Women’s health charities advocate the normalisation of ‘period talk’ in order to give confidence that discussion about the menstrual cycle and gynaecology is vital to the detection and treatment of cancers which affect the uterus. As women are still made to feel uncomfortable about talking ‘periods’, those conversations are not as easy as they should be and can often mean that unusual changes to a healthy cycle might go undisclosed to a GP, because of embarrassment and unease at discussing the subject. Crazy, that in 2017, women are still ashamed to talk about a completely natural body function.

When I launched my greeting card business, I wanted to create a range of designs around the subject of periods. John and I use our humour mainly to inspire designs but we’re also keen to work on social issues from time to time. It’s what we’re all about I guess. I created the range ‘Period Drama’ to bring the subject matter to the shelves, in a way that could poke a bit of fun at periods, and highlight menstrual issues which are familiar and try just to normalise the subject a bit. I guess it called be called a feminist move.

Whatever it is, it’s interesting to see the responses the cards get. They’re brash, bold and rude. Crude, as well, some of them. But that has nothing to do with the subject matter rather than  it’s merely our style of design and way of translating our humour.  We have some independents that stock them and they sell. But wouldn’t it be great to get them into the mainstream?! Could it be that WHSmiths or Cardzone or Clintons would be bold enough to take them on? Partner up with a women’s health charity and start to advocate the normalisation of period talk and breaking the period taboo? Wouldn’t they just sit nicely on the high street shelves where fathers, brothers, sons, nephews and uncles might be compelled to pick one up and have a laugh? Time will tell….

For further reading check out Laura Coryton’s blog on Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/laura-coryton/dragons-den-dame_b_14911866.html?

March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. More information of women’s health charities:

http://www.targetovariancancer.org.uk

https://www.jostrust.org.uk/

http://wombcancersupportuk.weebly.com/

https://eveappeal.org.uk/

 

By | 2017-03-02T00:59:34+00:00 February 24th, 2017|General|

Go La La! at Spring Fair 2017

Spring Fair at the NEC in Birmingham is one heck of a massive event, and this year it took place from 5th to 9th February.

Billed as the UK’s No. 1 home and gift show for the retail industry it is spread across 20 Halls and showcases everything there is to offer to the Gift trade, and  this year Go La La!  was exhibiting for the first time; a somewhat daunting prospect for us as relative newbies, and with only one other show under our belts, but unphased by the prospect, we spent several months planning; refining our ranges, designing our stand, and promoting ourselves, before cramming our cards, our shelves, paint, tools, clothes, an ottoman, food, laptops, 2 stools, a stepladder and finally ourselves into the Mini.  It is surprising what will fit into a car of that size, yet the faithful old girl managed to take the lot….and us 120 miles to Birmingham, without complaint, and we arrived at lunchtime on Friday.

Go La La stall before work begins

The Go La La! stand before work began

The first person we saw on arrival was Warren Lomax of Progressive Greetings.  PG had their stall dead opposite, and Warren was a great help and very supportive throughout the show, as were his colleagues Sue and Tracey, and of course the endless supply of sweets, as well as the free drinks at the end of the day were a welcome relief.

I’d never been to the NEC before, although Laura went along last year to check it out, and it really is massive; besides the exhibition halls there are sprawling car parks, hotels, restaurants, shops and concert venues: Donny Osmond had a show on Thursday, and local band Black Sabbath was playing its final concert on Saturday, and the contrast in fans was amusing; although there was a predominantly older crowd for each everyone was in pink and glitter one night, and black leather and denim the other…I’ll leave you to decide which was which.

Away from this, we were in Hall 3 in the New Debut Card section, part of a special scheme to help GCA member publishers try out Spring Fair for the first time, and it was an ideal place to be situated.

All the Debut stands were a 3m x 1m traditional shell scheme with white wooden walls.  We spent Friday afternoon painting ours with Farrow and Ball paint (only the best will do) and on Saturday attached our shelves of the same colour, before dressing the stand and putting up our cards etc. It looked very sophisticated and stylish and the shelves were pretty straight.  They didn’t fall down either, which was an added bonus!

Our next-door neighbour was the lovely Katie Phythian and her partner Mike, of Katie Phythian Design, with their delightful hand finished cards; and we couldn’t have hoped for better neighbours; funny, friendly, supportive and easy to get on with.

It wasn’t long before we’d hooked up with old friends from PG Live 2016 and the Ladder Club (namely the girls from Jelly Armchair and Chocogreetings) and during the show made friends with many other members of the GCA on the stands around us (Meany Bo Beany; Lucy Truman, Papa Grazi, Elaara, and Obody Designs deserve special mention).  It really is a friendly industry.

Katie Phythian at Spring Fair

Katie Phythian Design

Jelly Armchair at Spring Fair 2017

Cat and Jelly Armchair

Chocogreetings at Spring Fair 2017

Regina and Indra of Chocogreetings

Spring Fair 2017

Nick and Meany Bo Beany

The Show started on Sunday morning; as were staying in Digbeth (near the Bullring), we caught the train in…although didn’t realise that the first one to the NEC on a Sunday was at 8.30, and the show started at 9.00; nevertheless it was an efficient 10 minute service followed by a short walk from the station to Hall 3, and we made it to our stand with minutes to spare.

The Show was very good to us.  We had set ourselves what we considered to be realistic goals, but of course being our first show we didn’t meet all of them, yet we far surpassed others, in particular we have some very positive, exciting and encouraging leads to follow up in the next few days/weeks.   We also made sales to some lovely small shops across the country, including our first shops in Wales and Scotland, which was one of our aims.

Go la La at Spring Fair

Look at those fantastic Go La La Cards

I don’t think the Show was as busy as I expected overall, and this was the general view of those that we spoke to afterwards; some Halls seemed exceedingly quiet on the Wednesday and Thursday.  On Wednesday some of the bigger buyers were around, but the final day was painfully slow, although we did make sales and it wasn’t without its merits.

By the end of the week our feet ached and our backs ached but there was a great feeling of achievement and we were invigorated by the extremely positive comments from many of the big Card Buyers – even those like John Lewis and Wilko who we knew we wouldn’t be right for popped by and said hello.  So many loved our product and their feedback was valuable.  Our humour cards did cause a bit of a stir, but there is nothing better than seeing people belly laugh at them, or watch their shoulders shake with amusement, and that is fantastic to observe.

The Go La La buzz

We were dreading dismantling and taking down the stand, then loading the car; but this was much easier and less time consuming than we expected; Laura fetched the car and got it to the back door promptly, while I cleared up.  Loading was straight forward and we were off site in just over an hour.

We’d love to return next year…we’ll be evaluating the return on all our leads over the next 6 weeks or so, but overall it was a very worthwhile and enjoyable event!

 

By | 2017-02-14T08:15:06+00:00 February 13th, 2017|General, News, Trade Fairs|

The Festive Season…..when will it start?

 

 

 

Here at Go La La! HQ we’d really love to be winding down for the Festive break, but things are still very hectic here.  Even today we are sending out Christmas orders to customers who are leaving their card shopping to the very last minute, but it has been heartening to see that one of our more niche Christmas card ranges has gone down superbly with them.  As a result, we have revamped the range and added another 4 designs for Christmas 2017.

Meanwhile our printer has just returned proofs for two more ranges which we will be launching at Spring Fair, and they are both looking great.  One is somewhat risqué, and will appeal to a younger market while the other is suitable for all the family.

In media news this week we had a four question feature in the lovely local Somerset Cool blog and a few days later one of our saucy new ranges appeared in a feature in the industry’s Greetings Today Magazine, and we have been receiving some great feedback off the back of that.

This forthcoming week we will be completing design work on new cards for 3 of our most successful ranges as well as totally redesigning one range which we like, but is a little wordy.  There’s also our Spring/Summer catalogue to work on.  We are still finalising our planning for the aforementioned Spring Fair, and we will need to look into that quite carefully before Christmas is over.  Bear in mind that if you are attending Spring Fair, we can be found on Stand 3K43, so please feel free pop over and say hello.

With Go La La!, this is the first time Laura and I have worked together full time, although we did work part time together for a few years, and our works Christmas Party will just involve the two of us, so snogging the other staff under the Christmas tree, and photocopying our genitals is probably going to be right at the top our of priorities…but I just hope we don’t end up talking about work all night.

We will be taking a short break over the year, when we will be heading to a small piece of granite with no TV, no wi-fi and no mobile phone signal, and hopefully there we can relax and forget about the business for a few days, before returning fully charged and raring to go in early January.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to one and all.

John and Laura

 

By | 2016-12-19T13:23:34+00:00 December 19th, 2016|General, News|

When Advertising Hits the Spot……by Laura

I went to the cinema last week with John to watch Inferno starring Tom Hanks. We settled into our back row seats with our smuggled sweets and drinks just as the lights dropped for the first fifteen minutes  of trailers and advertising.

Normally, I don’t take much notice of the ads. I’m too busy wondering how I’m going to make a bag of fruit pastilles last for an hour and a half when I’m eating them at a rate of 2 per minute. But anyway, on this occasion, I was somewhat distracted. My attention was gripped by the opening bars of a haunting and beautiful melody, which happens to be from one of my all-time favourite songs.

‘Round…….like a circle in a spiral…..like a wheel within a wheel……….’

Transfixed, I gazed at the giant screen as a masterpiece of advertising unfolded before me. Now the track, ‘Windmills Of Your Mind’ sung by Dusty Springfield is always going to be a winner for me. But coupled  with a beautifully filmed sequence of a wheel-spinning Autumnal orange Audi, and not only did I find myself with shivers down my spine, but with an unexpected pair of nipple erections as well. The only other thing I can recall having the power to do that to me (apart from a bit of tweaking, and Winter) is the theme from that 70’s TV show, Black Beauty.

I do love Audi cars, I have to say. I would love an Audi. I’ve not contemplated owning an orange car before, but that advert made me want one without question (if black wasn’t available. Or grey, silver, white or dark blue). This ad is for the Audi Sport R8 Spin. Oh and it’s lovely…

I may have dribbled a bit of fruit pastille as this masterful and commanding ad unfolded. A beautifully filmed, moody, dramatic minute or so with a colour palette of monochrome and orange. I was utterly transfixed.

‘Bloody hell’ I whispered to John, ‘that was incredible’. I was half hoping for an ad break in the middle of the film just so I could watch again. I came home and found it on You Tube. It was definitely spectacular on a big screen with the volume that only a cinema brings but whack the volume up, and take a look (below).

And as for whoever created that ad concept for Audi – very well done, you deserve a hefty pay rise or some kind of award. Tell me who to write to.

 

By | 2016-11-18T08:17:17+00:00 November 18th, 2016|General|
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