Artificial Intelligence driven Marketing Communications
Hello I’m Zoe. Hopefully you’ve watched my snazzy video (made that myself, clearly!), and are ready to get your #notawkward game on!
A tiny bit about me… For the past four years I’ve run a calligraphy and stationery studio (alongside being a mum) called The Golden Letter. I’m very lucky that I get to work doing something I love and talk about it all day too.
I make stuff like this:
So, I’m a stationer. I make cards, invitations and pretty paper all day long. Yet I never, ever, have the right card. Or to be totally honest, no card at all. Cue the emergency run to the supermarket for whatever random card I can find in a five minute dash.
More often than not I’ll have my son make a card out of printer paper three minutes before we need it, have him sign my name and try to carry it off as if that was the plan all along. Fancy.
Every year, I promise I’m going to be better. I’m going to buy a bunch of cards in advance and be organised. Sometimes I even get around to buying the cards! Can I find them when I need them…… no, I cannot. Literally no idea where I squirrel those away.
I have also been known to buy a selection box of cards. ‘A year of cards!’ they proclaim. Except they’re only a year of cards for people you don’t like very much. I proceed to use the one or two nice cards out the box and then let the remaining ‘filler’ cards fester in a cupboard for the rest of eternity because I’m too embarrassed to give them to anyone.
I realised that there must be a better way. Why is there not a box full of lush cards, that are all lovely, can be sent to anyone, and work for all occasions?? So, I’ve made it! And given it the very catchy name of Pretty Post.
Pretty Post is an idea I’ve been working on in the back of my head for almost 10 years (yes yes, it’s an unhealthy stationery addiction). It’s simple enough in its idea, but it turns out a little more complicated in it’s logistics….
It’s a box. An attractive and reusable box, handmade in the UK by a small company. The box is lovely and minimal in design so that you’ll happily keep it on a shelf (not hide away in a cupboard where it gets forgotten about), and it’s filled with cards.
Not just any cards, twenty different ’all occasion cards’. That means they cover birthdays, thank you’s, celebrations of all kinds and lots of multi-use cards that work for all the other times you need a card but don’t have one.
The cards are about as fancy as you get, luxury stock, thick, tactile cards. On 300GSM card for the paper geeks out there. The kind of card you don’t get much change from a fiver for in a shop. Each of them is hot foiled – that’s when they’re metallic, and shiny, and feel especially nice – embossed into the paper. They’re also made in the UK by a lovely printing studio.
They’ve been designed to work for every occasion and person. Sticking with a black and white and gold neutral palette means that they appeal to everyone – male, female, adult or child. They’re minamalist, with a mix of calligraphy and typography.
Twenty cards, all of which could happily be used for everyone. Send them to your best mate, your granny, your dad, even your one friend who you know is 100% judging you on the card you send them.
Not only will you have the perfect card at your fingertips – you’ll be so organised that you can stick a second class stamp on it!
Talking of saving money – Pretty Post will retail at £38. That’s less than £2 per card. For reference that’s the cost of a semi-decent supermarket card – and quite a lot cheaper than the very nice card you’re buying in that fancy stationery shop.
Even better is that you can get a very limited earlybird price of £30, or a kickstarter special price of £35.
For those of you who are extra good at sending cards – we’ve got you covered – Occasion Packs are 5 extra cards, themed for birthdays, thank yous, celebrations or ‘multi-use’ – which means they can be used for just about anything!
Can’t actually remember anyone’s birthday? You’re in good company. As part of the Kickstarter launch we’ll also be producing a perpetual calendar. This will fit perfectly in your box, have a double page spread, dated for each month, with space for you to write all the special occasions you need to remember.
1. Everything is made in the UK. By small companies owned by real humans. Shopping small in a big way. I’m a real human- and my suppliers are all real humans. I speak to them on the phone and use inappropriate kisses at the end of emails and everything.
2. The box and cards are all literally made by hand. I am using this word in the actual literal correct context. Literally.
3. There is no plastic packaging. Anywhere. None inside, none used while posting. That’s 20 less cellophane wrappers you’ll be throwing in the bin. I aim to be as zero waste as possible for a company that uses paper as its main event. I talk about it a lot. It gets a bit boring- but it’s my millennial showing.
4. Everything is recyclable. The suppliers I use all have great environmental policies, as do I. While I’m not advising your mates chuck your cards away (!!) all our foiled cards can be put in the recycling bin. For more information about materials and their environmental policies see here for paper, and here for foil.
Print and production of the physical box is expected to take three weeks from the date of order. Box assembly is expected to take another three weeks – we will be assembling and shipping these in stages, but all boxes are expected to be sent out in January – just in time to turn over a new leaf.
You can see the projected timeline below:
You can see the breakdown of how your pledges will be used below – shipping and Kickstarter fees are included in the total (and take up a total of just under 30% of the amount raised).
Print costs are the big chunk of costs – this covers the cards, the boxes and the packaging. We’ve set aside 10% of costs for production costs. This includes the time needed to liaise with all suppliers, to employ staff to assemble the boxes and a small buffer for any additional equipment needed to post the boxes as quickly as possible.
The remaining amount goes towards reinvestment. If we hit target, then this would be just shy of £2,500. This will be put towards building a website so that we can then sell occasion packs and take pre-orders ourselves for the following years production, along with advertising, PR and production of 2021 boxes.
Print is a funny old beast. It works in economies of scale. If I wanted to make 1 of these boxes it would cost me only a tiny bit less than if I made 200. Not an exaggeration.
Plates have to be made for foil for each design, each job has to be set up and printed separately, it’s a long old process. Short runs in the print world are very expensive. The only way that I am able to affordably get Pretty Post into production is by producing them in bulk.
The minimum I can produce to allow these to be affordable is 200. Once you add setting up an e-commerce store, advertising, PR, shipping materials, cost to assemble, admin… this isn’t something I can fund alone.
Crowdfunding via kickstarter allows me to get Pretty Post out there and take pre-sales. This is brilliant for a couple of reasons:
1. We only go into production if we hit target. The target is set at the minimum number of boxes to make printing affordable. The magic 200 number. If we don’t get 200 pledges for boxes, we don’t produce them. In a way, it’s a very terrifying, anxiety inducing market research! (Quick tangent: I’ve done quite a bit of market research, I won’t bore you with the details, but safe to say it was comforting to know i’m not alone in my need for a box of awesome cards!).
2. We only produce the number we order. Using Kickstarter as a way to pre-order, I know exactly how many boxes need to be produced. No guesswork of over or under producing. This is cost effective, reduces waste, and also solves the slightly interesting task of trying to find somewhere to store 500+ boxes in my two bed London flat!
So, it’s either crowdfund to get these produced, or take out a loan. Which leads us on to a small tangent number two (stick with me here!)…
Last year I spent a few months, plus quite a lot of blood, sweat and tears writing a 25+ page business plan, a 10 tab spreadsheet with a financial forecast, and used my very best business skills to apply for a start up loan for Pretty Post.
This was via EU funding and a rigorous process. After a bit of back and forth making sure they had all the details the needed from me, I was told I’d have a decision in two weeks. Cue spending two months of chasing for a response and decision and being told ‘we’ll get back to you’.
To cut a very long story short, they eventually refused on the basis that they didn’t believe it came under their definition of a start up, but I could apply for a growth loan which they would happily give me. So I reapplied.
This time I was asked a lot of questions. And without boring you senseless, I can categorically tell you that they ask none of these questions to a man…. but I answered. Yet again, two months later: no reply.
It ended with me having to write a formal complaint that was cc’d to a lot of people in an attempt to eventually get any sort of feedback on my application. There was clearly a bit of an internal scuffle, and they came back with their tails between their legs offering me the full amount.
I refused. (Plot twist!!). And I still stand by this being the right decision.
This is my passion project. I love this idea. It’s like my stationery baby. I didn’t want to start it with what felt like guilt money. I wanted them to believe in my business plan, to be as enthusiastic about it as I am. So I put it on ice for a while.
Crowdfunding allows me to make these my way. My specialist subject is paper and print. While a business plan is great for understanding how and where Pretty Post fits in to the world of stationery, it can’t make a card that people want to keep forever.
While I hope I’ve covered all the bases when it comes to print, there are a few humps that may crop up.
Timing: these will be going to print in December. All print production generally closes for a good week over Christmas and New Year, as will box production (part of being made by real people).
I don’t envisage this adding any time to the timeline, but if it did it would only be by a couple of weeks.
The big one: Brexit. Sadly I don’t have any control over this one (imagine if I did!). Whatever does happen, this shouldn’t have too much of an affect on the project as a whole. (As of writing this is yet to be decided but of course may all change during the course of the campaign). Most importantly this is something that I am very aware of and will update if and when things may change.
Quality control: as with all print and things of a handmade nature, occasionally things may need reprinting. If this does occur it would only ever be for a small amount and wouldn’t have a knock on effect to the delivery date.
‘What if you go viral and sell 10,000 boxes’ (the dream!!) – If this happens kickstart actually has a lot of support built in for this and ways to outsource assembly etc. If it looks like this is happening – I would introduce a staggered approach. I know how many boxes I can produce for Janaury delivery. If I exceed this number (which is quite high!), I will introduce rewards with later delivery dates.