Thursday, December 27, 2007

The LOUIE Awards

Do you know the LOUIEs? Each year, during the National Stationery Show, The Greeting Card Association (GCA) honors the creative members of the industry with its LOUIE Awards program. Last year, there were winners in 57 categories!

I get asked a lot about the program. The most important thing to know today is this:
If you want to enter, do it NOW! The deadline is upon us – this coming Thursday, January 3rd, to be exact! Of course, you must be a greeting card, invitation or imprintable publisher in order to enter the competition. However, you do not need to be a GCA member to enter. All entries must have been marketed and sold in the United States during the calendar year 2007 (between January 1 and December 31). Click here for more information on the entry eligibility and the competition entry form.

If you enter, your product will be judged by industry peers, and if you win, you will receive a crystal award, as well as the excitement of having your own design chosen as best in its class!

Behind the scenes of the LOUIES goes a lot of volunteer work! Each year, a LOUIE Award chairperson is named from within the membership of the GCA. That wonderful person is charged with giving a lot of his or her time to making the entire Awards program a great one, start to finish. This includes reviewing categories for submission – and sometimes creating new ones. Newer categories of note include “Rising Star” which was added last year (this is only for companies that have been in operation for 2 years or less) and “Superbly Stated” which is in recognition of editorial copy – greeting cards with original composition.

This year’s LOUIE chair is Fern Gimbelman, of Designer Greetings. Fern (a LOUIE winner herself) came up with a great theme for the 20th Annual LOUIE Awards – “Cirque du LOUIE XX.” Check out this really cool call for entries.

It came in a gold envelope, and the LOUIE Award logo’s star was die-cut so that the color of the insert shone through!

Here it is with the insert pulled out. I love how the tumbling man turns into a star. I can’t wait to see the invitation and the program book for the Awards. I also can’t wait for the event itself (on Monday, May 19). With this theme, it’s sure to be fun!

The Judging for the LOUIEs is to take place in Washington, DC on Thursday, January 24 and Friday, January 25. Judges are all volunteers from within the industry. Of course, the company names of the entrants are withheld at the time of judging, so that all judging is fair and unbiased. The judges always say that even though there’s a lot of work involved (so much to review!), they have a lot of fun.

You should know that the LOUIEs might not get off the ground each year without the really behind the scenes work of one Mila Albertson. Mila works at the Greeting Card Association, and is sometimes an unsung hero! Mila receives every submission to the awards and is charged with keeping everything straight and creating the presentation to the judges. It’s tons of categorizing with files and boxes – yes, work! But she does it with a smile and her characteristic laugh, and you know she enjoys the whole process. Mila does even more for the actual event, too, but I’ll save those details for sometime after the Awards night!

Finally, in case you didn’t know - the LOUIE is named in honor of the recognized father of the American greeting card, Louis Prang.

I was going to write about something else this week, but when I realized that you might like to know that you could still enter the LOUIEs, I simply had to blog about it!

Happy New Year!!! See you in 2008.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Holiday Cards We've Received

Now that you know which cards we sent, it’s time to tell you which cards we have received! We hope you have enjoyed our month of holiday blogs and are anxious to hear our stories and insights as we enter 2008 and get closer to Show time! We would also love to see YOUR favorite Holiday cards. Leave us a comment or 2!

**The NSS Girls wish you and your families a wonderful holiday**------------------------------------------

I have received many elegant, stirring, beautiful, complex-designed, funny, provocative, thoughtful, celebratory, kitsch, sarcastic and warm n' fuzzy holiday greetings over the years. My favorites tend to be those that are simple, reflective, and beautiful in the hand of the paper and in the design. The message in this Encore Studios card moved me greatly; the inside says "and shine it on the world." It touched a lot of the elements that speak to me, but also treated the message of Peace -- something that is always integral to my personal greetings -- in a remarkable juxtaposition. I don't mean to sound so lofty, because I am as humble as they come. But, it accomplished both the universal message of Peace while expressing the hope that in my soul, I find a peaceful place and share it with others.



This fun card is from Design Design. There’s lots of reasons I show it here. I love the glitter, and the green circle behind the Christmas tree, along with the red & white peppermint candies. The card flips up, and the message inside says “Wishing you sweet greetings this holiday season.” The message, of course, is related to the candy design on the front. And, the sender, who happens to work at Design Design (Tom Vituj, he’s a creative director there) probably thinks I’m sweet, too. The best part about receiving this card is, in fact, that it is from Tom, and that I think he’s sweet too! Aren’t I a sap? Seriously, though, I can hear Tom when I read this card, and I can picture him, too. I love that a greeting card can conjure up a nice memory of a friend. I hope you send and receive lots of holiday cards this season to stay connected to friends. I also wish you a very happy, healthy holiday season! Don’t eat too much candy!
- Kelly

I receive many cards during the holiday season but my favorites to receive are photo cards of friends with their children or family. I've received two so far this year- one from the Robinson Family (Lori Robinson) and the other from my good friends for more than 20 years, Norma & Mike Vazquez. But since I couldn’t pick between those two and I misplaced another of my favorite cards - a die cut snowflake from my realtor Aggie - I chose to show you a card I received from Jessica Lane (a former GLMer- mnemonic for a GLM employee). I love how the glitter on this American Greetings card adds that Christmas feeling to the ornaments on the tree. Nothing says Christmas like the colors silver, red and green!

Wishing you a happy holiday – see you in 2008!

When I think of what Christmas means to me, the first thing that comes to mind is my family. Spending the holidays with them is the most special gift of all. We all lead very hectic lives and sometimes we do not take a moment out of our busy day to call a family member just to say "I Love You" and thanks for being such a big part of my life. Unlike friends who come in and out of our lives, family is such a constant and you can always count on them to love and support you no matter what. When I look at this special Christmas card, by Paper Magic Group, it reminds me of a family of trees. They were made to look exactly the same, yet each one is so different and unique like my brother, my sister and me. I wish for many things at Christmas, but the one thing that I am so very thankful for is my family.
- Rosanne

One thing I’m learning this season is that Christmas card receiving has a lot to do with age. A lot of people in my age group are too old to be filling out Christmas cards and handing them out, but too young to have a mailing list & special stamps. So, I have received a few photo cards (as Arque mentioned as well) and a few cards from my older relatives. The card I chose to show you I received from my parents. Paper Magic Group created this simple but warm Christmas card. To me, it represents all of the joys of the holiday season – bright colors, decorating the tree, innocence, love, friendship and of course, presents! So as I scramble to finish my shopping and the mall parking lot continues to drive me insane, it’s nice to look at this card and think about all the reasons I love Christmas.

Merry Christmas & have a great New Year's!


Friday, December 14, 2007

Nature’s Inspiration

Every year, thousands of people sing the song “White Christmas” and unfortunately (in my opinion), many never experience a true white Christmas. This year however, the NSS girls will NOT be in that group of unfortunate people! I predict a very white December in the New York area. The icy, snowy weather that clobbered the Midwest early this week picked up steam and hit us hard. Yesterday’s storm was a doozy. In anticipation, town and city services were on alert, schools were delayed or closed. Yet we had 100% attendance at the office – and many of us packed our shovels and boots just in case our front doors were snowed shut!

I don’t know about you, but extreme winter weather sparks my creativity. There is nothing like the true beauty of freshly fallen snow on the trees or the way the moon hits the snow at night. Or, how about the clear icicles hanging from the roof of a house?

So many holiday card images stem from things we see in nature every day. And, whether your winter image is a sandy beach, terracotta mountains, green pastures, flowers bursting alive across a valley or chimneys exhaling smoke from the fireplace below, I hope when you look out the window, you are equally inspired by nature’s beauty.

Leaving soon for GLM’s annual holiday celebration, so once again, enjoy the season!


Thursday, December 6, 2007

‘Tis the Season to Send Greeting Cards

As Kelly pointed out last week, greeting cards often reflect the personality of the person sending them. To demonstrate this point, the NSS Girls present to you a showcase of our personalities, through cards. We would love to hear what you’ve discovered about yourself when shopping this holiday season. Enjoy!

Our Show Manager will lead us off…

The holidays began early for me this year – tonight is the 3rd night of Chanukah and my family is in the throws of candle lighting, dreidel playing, latke making and, of course, gift giving. We love the tradition of this holiday, but what’s even more fun is sharing our traditions outside our own throughout the season – craft making, decorating Christmas trees, cooking for the less fortunate and so forth.

So, when it comes to selecting my holiday card, I focus on the message first. The message of peace is one we have embraced every year for as long as I can remember. And, this Caspari “Peace on Earth” card also depicts the world surrounded by animals -- my kids’ passion beautifully conveyed surrounding the planet earth. The message framed by the magnificent art speaks to who we are as a family and what we want to express in our holiday sentiment.

Then there is the Happy New Year greeting in silk-screened, glorious colors produced by Great Arrow Graphics. These cards have the most magnificent hand and are wildly happy! Everyone knows that I am guilty of perpetually smiling, “the happy girl,” as I’m called, so these boxes of New Year greetings fit my bill perfectly. Why a New Year’s Card? Well, I often have a list as long as an aisle of the National Stationery Show, and it is a rarity that I would complete the task of card inscribing, addressing and stamping by Christmas. Forget rarity. It won’t happen. I am a believer that sending the greeting over the span of the holidays is perfectly fine, and New Year’s greetings are universally “safe” because everyone celebrates the turn of the calendar. These classic Great Arrow square cards won’t cost additional postage, either. Why? Because Alan Friedman and the team at Great Arrow found a work-around by providing a standard envelope to house the card within. (I am confident that the postal service will catch up with the technology to automate the handling of square cards sooner rather than later).

In the next week, I am going to sit down with my girls and husband and get crackin’ on the preparation of the cards. I know we’ll have to negotiate between soccer, homework and time hanging out with friends to get the job done, but we have more than a month to do it! Cheers, best and Peace this season.

- Patti

This year, I am not sending the same card to every person on my list. I’m trying to match the card to the recipient. That means lots of shopping fun! I picked up this hilarious Anne Taintor card last weekend at a new store called Sundrees (yes, that’s how it’s spelled) on Main Street in Trumansburg, NY. Normally, I would have chosen this card for my friend Susan, but it was she who was accompanying me on this little trip. (She lives in T’burg, about 4 hours from here). She and her husband would have gotten the humor of this one. But since she’s seen it now, I will send this to Stacey, my friend since high school, and her husband Scott. I am thinking that the photo is somehow from the movie Miracle on 34th Street. At least it looks that way. It just cracks me up, because who doesn’t know the old song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus?” The words here have turned Santa into a pretty scary guy to this little boy. A little “Sopranos-ish,” don’t you think? Inside the card is funnier still – it says “Peace Love Understanding.” This is funny twice over for me, once for the obvious play on the cover with Santa saying “understand?” and second, because it is also a musical reference (Anne Taintor, did you mean to do this? Very clever!) I’m thinking of Elvis Costello and that song “(What’s so Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding” – it works! Stacey’s husband is a music industry guy, so he’ll get this part, and Stacey herself has a great sense of humor. She will love this card for the front all on its own. That’s the great thing about Anne’s cards, the front totally sells it, and the inside is like a one-two punch. Not all my cards will be humorous ones this year; in fact most of them are not. For this blog, though, I thought I’d share this one with you. However you celebrate the holiday season, I wish you peace, love and understanding!!!

- Kelly

My 2008 holiday cards are from Carole Joy Creations. When choosing holiday cards, I like cards that reflect my ethnicity and the words have to reflect what I would say if I wrote the cards myself. I chose two cards this year- one for my family and one for my friends that express these sentiments perfectly. Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!

- Arque

Hallmark created this peaceful and tranquil Christmas card which to me clearly expresses the song “There's No Place like Home for the Holidays". The scene, which reflects a winter wonderland, reminds me of the many holidays that my family and I celebrated in our beautifully decorated home, sitting by the fire, drinking eggnog, and my favorite part, opening presents. I am not particularly fond of snow, but I always dream of a "White Christmas."

May your holidays be filled with warmth, affection, laughter, and wonderful memories that help make your home such a wonderful one.

- Rosanne

When picking out Christmas cards this year I was torn between 2 styles. The one you see here from Sunrise Greetings and a cute box of Curious George cards. In the end, my love for monkeys and cartoons took a backseat to my love for a warm message. Love is such a simple but important message that many people forget about in the busyness of the season. No matter your race, religion, gender or class, this holiday season, we can all give the gift of love to strangers, family and friends alike. This month my goal is to hold a few more doors open for those carrying bags, thank a few more people for the services they provide and give a few more hugs & kisses to the ones that I love. So I bought this card for my husband Chris. For all of the love he shows me every day.

Happy Holidays everyone ~ I hope your month is filled with laughter, love & blessings

- Jess

Don't forget to tell us YOUR holiday card stories! We love to hear from you.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cards, Cards, Cards!

Yesterday I received my first holiday card of the season in the mail at home. Exciting! And, thank you, Louise! I love this time of year, and one of the biggest reasons is because of sending and receiving holiday cards. I always hear about the “mail moment” and “happy mail” at Greeting Card Association meetings. I would say that holiday time (for me, it’s Christmas) is my biggest “mail moment” time of the year. (Also, my birthday is in December - Yay!) I love opening my mail box and getting all different colored, and shaped, envelopes. I receive about 40 holiday cards each year which also means that I send at least that many.

All of the cards I receive from friends and family (both near and far-flung) end up being favorites. I love that each card was chosen by the sender because I really do believe that the card carries the personality of the sender. So whether it is religious, funny, hopeful (with the message of “Peace”), or something in-between, I love them all!

I especially love receiving letters inside. I have had a pen pal since 4th grade (if you know how old I am, you’ll realize this is a long time!) Ellen lives in Missouri, and I’m in New York, and our lives sure have changed over the years. We don’t communicate much during the year anymore (regrettably) – just an email exchange or two in the summer– but at this time of year, I look forward to receiving her update and new pictures of the kids. I know it takes some time to write one of these updates, and I, for one, appreciate that the writer has set aside the time to do it.

I also have to admit that I am a “flipper!” Ever since that Hallmark commercial (years ago) taught us to flip the card over to see the maker, I have been flipping my cards. These days, I get to see the names of companies I know and work with, and that just adds to the excitement of opening the envelope!

Now, I have just one problem, and I need your help! For years I have been “displaying” my holiday cards by taping them to the arched entryway to my living room. Well, I painted last year, and I just don’t want to do this again. How are you displaying your cards at home? My mom uses a basket shaped like a sleigh. Nice, but you can only ever see the top card. I want to see them all! Write back with ideas. I know you are more creative than I am!

I can’t wait to see what you come up with. In the meantime, I wish you joy during this holiday season!

- Kelly

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Just Say Thanks!

It’s said that we spend more time with our business colleagues than we do our family. So why is it that we spend so much time giving thanks for our family and friends, and not the people that we see Monday-Friday, 9-5, and sometimes weekends too!

This Thanksgiving, I’m making sure to give thanks to those who get to see my smiling face on a Monday morning and my tired eyes at the end of a trade show – namely my boss and teammates. I also think it’s important for companies to thank its, employees, reps, vendors, customers, service providers…you get the picture! Take a minute from your “to do before vacation” list and make sure your colleagues know how much you appreciate them! Here are a few ways to say a quick, but meaningful, THANK YOU:

1 – Send out greeting cards (don’t tell me you didn’t see this coming!) Hearing “thank you” from your boss is great, but the words will soon fade into a distant memory. Cards can be hung in cubicles, stored in files and brought out again and again to help keep a smile on an employee’s face, day after day – not just in the spirit of the holidays. You should see my bulletin board!

2 – Give a gift basket or gift card. Many times it’s hard to buy a present for a business colleague. How much is too much? Or too little? Will they like it? Gift baskets and gift cards are the way to go! No matter how much you spend, it’s always a nice and appreciated gift.

3 – Have a pre-Thanksgiving lunch with your boss/employees. There is nothing like a lunch with co-workers that is done in the spirit of thanks to make your point.

I’m sure you can come up with many ways to say thank you. The most important part is that you say it in your own way. Thanksgiving is about appreciation and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to feel appreciated.

So on that note, the National Stationery Show Team (NSS Girls!) would like to thank its exhibitors, attendees, industry friends and faithful blog readers. We wouldn’t be here if not for you!

- Patti, Kelly, Arque, Rosanne & Jess

We would love to hear the ways that you showed your appreciation this week. Please leave us comments filled with your stories!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I’m in Gear for a Big Card Sending Year!

I feel it in my bones – and I know it in my heart. This is going to be a big year for holiday card sending. Why? Because human beings crave connection more than ever today, and the greeting card industry is THE industry that enables people to stay in touch in the most personal way. You know how you approach your mailbox, thumbing through to find the envelopes that are hand addressed? This is the “happy” mail, the mail that delivers the warm, personal messaging that, well, make us happy! At holiday time, happy mail is a daily treat!

Another reason I feel this way is because while greetings cards are low tech, they are high touch. They help us convey our appreciation, our feelings toward the people who have made a difference in our business and personal lives Holiday time is the perfect opportunity to express these sentiments. As a business message, the season provides a wonderful way to thank and acknowledge our customers, vendors, employees and others without whom we couldn’t do quite the same job. And, in our personal relationships, the holidays provide a natural opportunity to reach far and wide, so dig out the threadbare phone/address books and reconnect with old pals, former coworkers and others from your past – and of course embrace your family and new friends. I find that I really long for a reason to call those long lost buddies or write throughout the year, but I don’t always get to it. Holiday time is when I draw the line.

So, here’s my 10-step plan

1. Make your personal list, and be sure to involve the kids and the spouse to
be sure you’ve included everyone!

2. Assign someone in your business to pull together your business holiday card
list. Be sure that person checks with all of your key people so the list is

3. Input the list into the computer. You can do this in a simple word
document. Then convert it into a label program.

4. Shop for your cards at your favorite store (or pick from your designs, of
course, if you are in the greeting card business). There is still time to
personalize if you do this within the next week – 10 days.

5. Shop for stamps. You can do this on line through You can
still order custom stamps, and you can also do this through the postal

6. Get photos processed, if you’re including them.

7. Get your letter written, if you’re one who likes to include a family update.

8. Have your kids label/handwrite and stamp the envelopes.

9. Have your staff person label and stamp the envelopes for your business

10. Write your cards and get’ em in the mail!

If you’re one who needs to have your cards delivered during the month of December, then they should mail by the second week of December. I like sending New Year’s cards. Most of us are still in holiday mode, and later in December my cards stand out! Bottom line, it is never too late to share your cheer with the ones in your life that matter most.

‘Tis the season,


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Trend Talk with Kelly and Jess

It’s that time of year – the time of year we can’t wait for – placing new exhibitors into the Show. All summer long, the applications come in over the web, by fax and in the mail. This week we excitedly began unraveling the future of the National Stationery Show – our newest exhibitors! Now, the real excitement begins as our team starts finding booth space for all of these companies.

Here’s Jess with the more than 300 companies wanting to come into the Show!

We live and work around these applications – representing real people, with great product – throughout the summer and right up until the beginning of November, when we can begin placing these companies onto the floorplan.

Every application goes in a folder, and is organized by date of application and requested booth size.

Here’s Kelly checking off a booth for someone.

It’s a fun time of year, because as we work with each application, one right after the other, we start to see trends. And, we are seeing a few notable trends right now. First off, remember last year’s HUGE polka dot trend? We have to tell you, we did not really see polka dots. Seriously, almost none. This is interesting, as polka dots have been so strong for a number of years.

So what have we been seeing?

Most surprisingly, the combination of blue and orange – we don’t remember seeing this color combo last year! The blue is a lighter shade (sometimes turquoise-y) and the orange is usually straightforward, or leaning toward orange-red. We can’t show you any pictures (we have to protect our new companies and their brand new ideas) but we can tell you that these colors have been seen on many different types of products ranging from greeting cards to office products to personalized plates.

Another trend that is continuing is florals and flourishes. The flowers are big and bold, and we’ve seen them as photography, watercolors, and graphic design – and always with very strong, vibrant colors. The flourishes are often just that – swirly designs, but also still lots of damask patterns.

Ribbon embellishments are still big - solids and patterns both; letterpress is going strong, and (as if you couldn’t tell by entering ANY clothing or home furnishings store) brown is still hot.

We’re so excited by the creativity in this industry! We can’t wait to meet all of these new exhibitors at the Show. (May seems so far away right now).

If you are someone who’s been thinking of applying to exhibit in the Show, you should apply now, as space is definitely limited, now that we are placing all of these great companies on the floorplan. And on that note – if you have already applied to the Show – you will be hearing from us within the next few weeks regarding your space.

If you are a retailer, make your plans to attend now! You can register today, and make your hotel and travel (link) arrangements for the May Show. Take our advice, plan now; your favorite hotel will book up fast! You will want to spend 2-3 days at the Show in order to explore the entire Show floor, have great conversations with the new exhibitors, and place your orders for your stores.

Perhaps May isn’t so far away after all!

Well, it’s time to get back to the floor plan! Until next time…

Kelly and Jess

Thursday, November 1, 2007

My experience at the Greeting Card Association Convention

Each fall, I attend the GCA’s annual convention. This year, was the 66th Annual Convention (yes, it is pretty well-established) and the theme was “Mapping Our Future,” using a Highway 66 sign as the logo for the event. Carlos Llanso of Legacy Publishing was the chairman of the Convention this year, and he did a great job.

I love going to the Convention every year, because it is a great chance for me to spend quality time with NSS exhibitors and suppliers in the industry. I also don’t mind that the Convention is always held at a nice hotel or resort. This year, the Convention was held in Naples, FL at the Naples Grande Resort and Club the second week of October, at a time when it was just getting chilly here in the NYC area.

But, as I said, the true highlight of the event is spending time with some of the great people in this industry. A welcome reception kicks off the event, with lots of hors d’oeuvres and an open bar. It also is a time when people are scrambling to meet each other and get their signatures! A few years back, a GCA member came up with this great idea of facilitating attendees chatting with each other. We all get a signature sheet (really 3 pages, front and back) that includes the names of all speakers and attendees. As there were more than 100 attendees, this was quite a challenge! Everyone gets pretty “into it” as there is fake money to be won here – this year, Frenchies- named for outgoing GCA president, Don French, of Paper Magic.

As you can see, Don has a good sense of humor!

The money is used on the last night to bid for great prizes in the live & silent auctions – fun!! The real point, though, is to talk to folks, and this little signature thing really works! The reception is lively, people get to meet each other on the first night, and they have a reason to introduce themselves to each other! I love it!

Here’s Rick Ruffner and Chip Owen from Avanti, on the second night, after getting back from a dinner cruise in the gulf:

And here’s David Hutchison of BrightMARKS with his wife Connie (love her!) in the hotel bar’s lounge area after the cruise:

Of course, the program also features a good number of presentations and committee meetings. This year’s line-up was stellar, and the highlights for me were Ed Tate, a professional speaker who inspired the group reminding us to say “yes” to our potential; and Mary B. Lucas, who talked about succeeding in the people business. Mary wrote a book of lessons she learned from her dad, things that helped her in her business. Her dad owned a butcher shop, and so the book is aptly called “Lunchmeat and Life Lessons.” My favorite lesson is “look for the like”; that is, look for something that you like in every person (in Mary’s case it was a tough client). Not that I have any tough clients, of course!! Hallmark sponsored Mary’s presentation, and even bought each and every attendee Mary’s book. Thank you! I’ve shared it with Patti, and will pass it around to the rest of the team members when she is done. Two other speakers I enjoyed were Sue Buchta from American Greetings, and Margaret Walch from the Color Association of the United States.

There are other get-togethers throughout the event, and some down-time, which I enjoyed with Dorene VanHouten, publisher of Greetings etc.

Here’s Dorene with Susan January of Leanin’ Tree:

Some of the people I got to know better during the Convention included Nicky Burton, from Calypso Cards (who’s exhibited in the NSS since 2000, but this was my first chance to really get to know her – she’s great – and has led an interesting life!); Sheila O’Hara from Avanti (so involved in her community); and I always make sure to talk with Richard Evans from Birchcraft and his wife Catherine, as well as Tom and Cyndee Otto from Exclusive Bordering/Harry Otto Printing. These are all fun and accomplished people – it’s work, but it doesn’t’ feel like it!

Here’s Catherine, Cyndee and Tom:

The final night features a dinner dance, but only after the auction, led so very well by Mark Vando of National Envelope and his lovely wife, Yolanda. Here’s Mark with Jack Withiam, executive vice president and general counsel here at GLM and also a GCA Board member:

Mike Oleskow of Max & Lucy has been attending the GCA Convention since 1999 (he’s a great dance partner, btw) and here he is with Jodee Stevens, of Cardthartic, who attended the Convention for her first time this year.

Okay, I know this one is really scary, but here is April Durrett, of B. Shackman wearing her auction prize, a fantastic mask from the Paper Magic Group.

Pretty great, right? I wonder if she scared any Trick–or-Treaters at her house last night. I would probably turn around and run! But April is much better looking than this! Here she is with her mother-in-law, Johanna:

See, much better!

If you are a greeting card publisher, or a supplier to the industry, and you haven’t attended the GCA Convention, you might consider it for next year. The event is a lot of learning, sharing and fun. And, because this is the greeting card industry, after all, you will find every attendee more than welcoming, happy to see you, and interested in what you do! For more information, visit the GCA’s website.

Hey, and this is not supposed to be a plug! But truthfully, as a person working in the greeting card industry (even if it is from the show end) I really believe in the Association and in the value of attending this Convention, and I thought I’d share some of my highlights with you!

- Kelly

Friday, October 26, 2007

Running on Empty and Loving It!

I had the best 30 hours in London! Sounds crazy, I know, but I went to attend the Henries, an event named after Sir Henry Cole, a 17th century civil servant who founded the English Christmas Card (he’s also the pioneer of the Penny Post and the director of the renown V&A museum). The Henries, presented by Progressive Greetings magazine, is the greeting card industry’s awards program that honors outstanding card ranges, recognizes excellence in service and pays tribute to key leaders.

The event was FANTASTIC. And, whomever thinks the English are not up to the task of partying and celebration, I’m here to tell you this was a night – and late early morning - to remember! The James Bond theme threaded throughout all aspects of the program. From the Mylar-sealed invitation, marked “Top Secret”, to the martini glass motif, to the phenomenal score, décor, favors and eveningwear, we shook and stirred the night away! We ate “Prawn Connery”, “Moon’Racker’er of Lamb” and if you were a vegetarian, “Pierce’D Pepper”. The “Halle Berry Brulee”, actually, was to die for!

Jaqui & Warren in their Bonded best!

The wonderful Red-tailed Master of Ceremonies

The brother and sister duo who run the large chain of Clinton’s and Birthdays shops accepting their Achievement award

Jaqui Brown and Warren Lomax, editor-in-chief and publisher respectively, were the hosts of the 1000-person dinner. Glamour, sizzle and laughter carried the evening through with the awards presented by a wonderfully talented comedian whose name escapes me – and I did know it! A dignified, elegant and very funny emcee kept things moving. This nearly SRO event begin at 6:45 pm and continued well until 3 am! Of course, no one worked that next day!

England is the second largest card-consuming country in the world, next to the United States. The English send cards for every occasion and largely “just because”. Personal communication is a core value in their culture regardless of the pace of life. The industry is healthy and the future looks very strong, this according to Jaqui and Warren and to the General Manager of the Greeting Card Association in the UK, Sharon Little.

Patti and Sharon getting punchy after 5 hours of touring and 2 hours of sleep

The second best part of my 30 hours was spending the day with Sharon doing a retail tour. Selfridges, Clinton’s, Cards Galour, The Paper Chase, Harrods (actually did Harrods on my own). I wanted to see different interpretations to merchandising cards, as well as trends, store content, visual merchandising and commitment to the category. The two department stores reinforced the extensive love of the category, with some 5,000 square feet devoted to the broad range of social stationery products – from cards and custom invitations, to extensive writing instruments collections, to ribbons, giftwrap, boxes and so much more.

Images of Harrods and Selfridges merchandising concepts – look how much space is devoted to the stationery department!

A glimpse of the 1st floor of Paper Chase.
Not shown here are the extensive hip school supplies, ipod/cellphone accessories and the café.

Paper Chase, a dynamite chain of specialty stores, housing 3 floors of fabulous. The theme colors were fuscia and silver, starting early for the holidays. And, the card shops were jammed packed with such a wide selection of greeting card choices – elegant, modern, embellished, rectangle, square, no fold, single fold, large format, metallic, foils…the kids’ cards are just great and humor appears to be the category that receives the most square footage. The choices range from hilarious to edgy, to political to r a u n c h y!!! It’s all in fun.

A tiny sample of some of what’s selling big in the UK

All told, it was a super stimulating, educational, exhausting and fun trip. Can’t wait til next year!


Friday, October 19, 2007

And the winner is…(Arque’s Getting Personal Update)

As you might imagine, I know a lot of companies in this business, I love the industry and love what I do. So, I was very excited about embarking on the search for the perfect moving announcement! I enjoyed researching and finally deciding on the design direction, but boy was I surprised at how hard it was to settle firmly on one concept. There were so many that felt like “me.”

I looked at many websites - Colors By Design, Cid Pear Stationery, Dabney Lee Stationery, CardsCreative, Cat Seto, Bell’Invito Couture Stationery, Anna Griffin Incorporated, Birchcraft Studios, InScribe, and Cielo Blu Studios. All of these companies presented unbelievably great choices! In the end, though, I went for something from This was after Olivier posted a reply to my blog. And when I checked out his site, I zeroed in on one in particular that not just felt like me, but was me!

Here’s the winning design; it’s by Rainboworld:…

(Sorry I didn’t scan this exactly straight!)

I spoke with Olivier, and he put me in touch with Jessica (not our Jess from NSS girls) to help me navigate the site. Once there, I quickly narrowed my choices down to 7 designs that best reflected my personality and the style of my new abode. This design was presented with different wording, but I got to “mix & match” . I always like to get second and third opinions on big decisions, so I polled a select few GLMers (mnemonic for employees of GLM) and my sister to get their opinions. The design that received the most votes would be the winner! Below are a few of the runner-ups (all from Invitation Consultants):

Thank you to all who participated: The NSS girls- you know who we are from our blog, Lori (former NSS Show Manager), Candace, Melissa, Annie, and my sister and BFF, (best friend forever), Kenda. Kenda also gets a special thanks for catching the typos in my home phone and cell numbers! Rule of thumb here, never proof read your own work. I was the lone proof reader and missed both! I must have been so excited by the navy blue typography that I forgot I actually needed to check what was written on the announcement.

I have received a lot of compliments on my announcement, and sending it helped me feel a great sense of accomplishment and ownership – did I mention that this is my first-ever real estate purchase? Now I expect to receive all my holiday cards from friends and family at the new, correct address. I‘m sure they have actually stashed the announcement in their address book, or hung it on their fridge! (Isn’t it just too cute to toss?)

And to those of you who emailed me curious about how I got my name, here it is, short and sweet. I was named after a good friend of my maternal grandfather. Her name was Arque Owens, and Mrs. Owens’ mother got the name from a nurse in the Chicago hospital where she was born So I owe my unique name to my grandfather, who just loved the name Arque and whose name was also unusual -- Alta Lee McCarthy, Sr. I come from a family of people with unique names.

Uh oh, I think I feel another blog coming...

Until next time,