Just a Card

Are you aware of the ‘Just a card’ campaign? If you are and you’re a supporter then that’s brilliant! Please read on if you want to know my thoughts on it. If you’re not aware of the campaign, which was founded by Sarah Hamilton in 2015 then please visit their website to find out all about it. Read on to know my thoughts on it and why I support the ethos of the campaign so wholeheartedly.

I’ve long been a fan of arts and crafts, anything that is handmade with skill, or individually designed and created will grab my attention. The craft tent at the County show or the little shops and galleries that sell locally or UK-made wares were and always will be my ‘must visit’ when I’m out and about. If I could I would fill my home with handmade homewares instead of the mass-produced items that are more affordable. I’ve often been in awe of those who have spent years honing their skills and who choose to use their creativity to earn themselves a living by making and selling their beautiful hand-crafted wares. Instinctively I knew that if I bought something from them, even if it was the cheapest item in their stall or ‘just a card’ I was supporting their dream and helping them stay in business.

During my career in retail, I learned about the business side of the products we buy. I understand cost prices and retail markup, the costs involved in running a shop and the profit margins needed in order to keep a business afloat, so I have empathy for the independent shop owners who don’t have a regular salary paid into their bank accounts but instead rely on their everyday sales for their income.

For the last few years as part of my job, I sourced and bought items from local makers to sell in the shop I managed and that made me very aware of how difficult it was for many of them to make enough profit from their work for their business to be sustainable. Did you realise that the majority of craftspeople drastically undercharge and pay themselves less than the minimum wage?

Personally, I want to see these handmade businesses thrive, I want our high streets to be full of independent traders who bring personality and passion to our shops. I want to continue to come across beautifully curated art and craft galleries full of inspiring and interesting works. I want to visit a craft tent to see beautifully made items and chat with the people who make unique creations, to talk about their work, their processes and inspirations and I really want to be the person who buys something from them to help them continue on their chosen path. Every single sale, even if it is ‘just a card’ will help.

Two years ago I chose to become one of these people, I made the crazy decision to give up the security of a regular salary and am now a self-employed jeweller; designer, maker, marketer, photographer, salesperson, admin and finance person, etc.  When you’re a one-man band you have to do it all to make your business work. And I have to tell you that although I am extremely fortunate that my business has grown in the way I intended it to in order to make a living it has been and still is incredibly hard work and very much a financial rollercoaster, particularly in the quieter months or when I’m trying to plan ahead and I hear all the financial doom and gloom on the radio. So I know just what my fellow craftspeople go through to make their businesses work.

I came across the Just a Card campaign on Instagram and immediately the meaning of it resonated with me. It’s the way I’ve shopped for a long time now. It didn’t really occur to me straight away that it also applied to my business though as I don’t sell cards or many small pick-up items. But this image on their website prompted me to realise that affordability is relative to one’s income and spending priorities so there are those who can choose to buy from me and other makers rather than from the giant high street chain. 

Just a Card are very active on Instagram and work tirelessly to promote small businesses. Please take a look at their profile and visit https://www.justacard.org to know more. 

Posted by Gill Melly on November 17th 2022

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