Discover the Latest Opportunities for Your Card & Gift Business

Do you ever feel like you miss out on opportunities?

You hear about an Awards scheme or a key piece of industry news a little too late?

Well, that’s where The Opportunity List comes in.

As we find ourselves in a new month, I thought I would try out a new style of post. With this list I’m going to give you a round-up of some key news stories and info on opportunities that you can take advantage of to help your business grow.

There’s so much going on in the industry that it’s not always easy to keep up to date with all the trade magazines, awards and news sites, so I’m going to endeavour to bring the opportunities to you.

Let’s get started…

the opportunity list august 2019 edition


1 Month to Go in License This! Competition

There is only one month to go until the License This! competition deadline.

If you’ve ever thought your illustrations, animations or character brands would work well on consumer products License This! is for you.

The competition gives the opportunity to pitch your creation to a panel of leading licensing professionals at this year’s Brand Licensing Europe event.

The competition aims to help start-ups and unlicensed brands “get their foot in the door” of a thriving licensing industry.

The overall winners will also win a free stand at the 2020 show and a Licensing International membership.

Find out more about the competition at the Brand Licensing Europe website.

Deadline: 29th August 2019.

Gift of the Year Awards Launch

gift of the year awards

Image credit: Giftware Assoction

The Giftware Association has launched the Gift of the Year 2020 competition.

Now in its 42nd year, the competition celebrates innovation in the home and gift industry.

With 20 categories, including Cards & Wrap, Stationery, Ethical Gift and Design & Craft, the awards are a great way to get your products and business noticed.

Christopher Workman of the Giftware Association commented that the 2020 competition is “set to be the biggest yet.”


“There is no limit to the number of products or categories you can enter, or how many categories you can put the same product into. Our panel of retailers, trade press and industry experts will judge each entry on its own commercial merits (and of course, the mysterious X-factor).”

Entries start at £55 for members of the GA, JDA, BTAA, NAJ and DesignGAP.

A 20% discount applies to all entrants until the end of September 2019.

For more information on the Awards please visit the Gift of the Year website.


Round-Up of Business Awards with Imminent Deadlines!

Awards are a great way to get extra promotion for your business. These 4 award programmes have deadlines in the next 2-6 weeks.

eBay for Business Awards – deadline 14th August 2019. Find out more.

The British Business Awards – deadline 28th August 2019. Find out more.

Queen’s Awards for Enterprise – deadline midday 10th September 2019. Find out more.

Amazon Growing Business Awards – deadline 12th September 2019. Find out more.

The Search is on for the UK’s Most Outstanding Small Businesses & Self-Employed People

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has begun its search for the best of the small businesses in the UK as entries open for the FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards 2020.

You can enter your business and help celebrate the achievements of small businesses throughout the UK.

12 award categories will recognise and celebrate the smaller firms that are demonstrating initiatives and practices that prioritise wellbeing and health in the workplace to help drive the UK’s productivity.

Area award ceremonies will be taking place between January and April 2020 across the UK, with the UK national final taking place on 21 May 2020 at Battersea Evolution, London.
The UK final of the FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards 2020, will be held in London, on 21 May 2020.

The 12 FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards 2020 categories are:

  • Wellbeing in Small Business Award
  • Environmental Business of the Year
  • Digital/E-commerce Business of the Year
  • Sole Trader of the Year
  • High Growth Business of the Year
  • Micro-business of the Year
  • Start-up Business of the Year
  • Young Entrepreneur (aged 30 and under)
  • Business and Product Innovation Award
  • Family Business of the Year
  • International Business of the Year
  • Community Business of the Year

The deadlines vary between categories so be sure to take a look at the FSB website for more information on any category you’re interested in. Visit the website here.

Best Small Shops 2019 Open for Entries

Independent retailers from all retail sectors across the UK are invited to enter the Best Small Shops competition 2019.

25 of the most impressive applications will be shortlisted and invited to attend the Best Small Shops reception in November 2019.

The first round of voting in the competition will be completed by consumers. Over a 10 week period, shoppers will vote for their favourite shops via the Indie Retail website. Entrants will need to make it clear to voters just what makes their shop special to stand out from the crowd.

The most successful applications selected over 10 weeks of consumer voting will then go forward to an industry panel and formal review, which will handpick the shortlist for the reception event.

For more information & to see how you can enter the competition for free, visit the Indie Retail website

Deadline: 9th September 2019.

Retail Opportunities

Meet the Buyer: Associated Independent Stores

Due to popular demand, The Giftware Association (GA) has created a ‘Meet the Buyer’ style event for the fashion accessories industry.

The GA will be hosting an exclusive meeting with the Fashion Accessories buyer from Associated Independent Stores.

The event will take place in Birmingham on the 10th of October 2019. Suppliers will get a guaranteed appointment with the buyer present.

As demand is sure to be high, the event will be specially curated. Amanda Adams is therefore looking for the following products –

  • Handbags
  • Luggage
  • Small leathers
  • Jewellery
  • Hats
  • Gloves
  • Scarves
  • Slippers
  • Socks

Those taking part will get 20 minutes of quality time with a buyer from AIS and will receive feedback on your products and ranges.

If you are interested please book quickly as this event has very limited spaces available. The cost to attend this event is £65 +VAT and will also allow plenty of networking opportunities with fashion accessory peers.

For more information please visit the GA blog.

Natural Trust Retail Opportunity

The National Trust has partnered with the Crafts Council to sponsor the 2019 National Trust Artisan & Craft Retail Open Call.

This unique opportunity gives artists, designers and makers that chance to develop a range exclusively for the National Trust. 

The winner of the open call will also receive a profile on the Crafts Council Directory for the best UK makers, the opportunity to develop their professional practice at a Crafts Council professional development workshop and a one year subscription to Crafts magazine.

For more information on how to take part please apply via the Crafts Council Dashboard (you will need to create a free account for access). 

Deadline: 16th September 2019.

Opportunities for Artists & Designers

The London Group Open 2019 Seek Artists

london group open

Image credit: London Group Open

The London Group Open 2019 offers a wonderful opportunity for emerging and established artists to raise their profile, win cash prizes, and exhibit their work alongside the Group’s esteemed members.

In recognition of today’s increasingly diversified art scene, The London Group Open is looking for innovative, challenging works in any medium: this includes painting, sculpture, drawing, print, photography, digital, audio, mixed media, installation, video and performance.

Successful entrants to this year’s Open will see their work in one of two exhibitions staged during November and December 2019 at The Cello Factory. (No commission will be charged on any works sold during the 2019 exhibitions).

There will also be a selection of prizes, which collectively total over £9,000 in value.

For more information and to enter visit the competition website.

Deadline: 30th August 2019.

York Open Studios 2020

York Open Studios is York’s largest arts festival which takes place on the 18th-19th and the 24th-25th April 2020.

The organisers are inviting applications for next year’s 2020 event.

York Open Studios takes place in artists spaces all across York, which means that applicants must live or have a permanent studio within a 10-mile radius of York City centre to be eligible.

The panel welcome applications from artists at all stages in their career (with reduced fees available to recent graduates).

The event has 2 applications; one for 2D and 3D artists for people working in traditional media such as painting, jewellery, ceramics, printmaking etc. The second is for installation, performance, multi-media and digital artists who can apply for our £500 bursary to help them realise a body of work to be shown during our two weekends.

For more information on the York Open Studios Event please visit CuratorSpace.

Deadline: 30th August 2019.

Product Development Opportunity

Tesco Join the Crackdown on Glitter

The Guardian has reported that Tesco are the latest retailer joining the crackdown on glitter by switching to a plastic-free version for its Christmas range of trees, plants and flowers this year.

Most glitter is made from a form of micro-plastic, which can pose a danger to people and animals, as well as being a threat to the environment. By switcihng to an eco-friendly, biodegradable glitter Tesco are giving a sign that they are giving more thought to the eco-credentials of their product range.

While there has not yet been any sign of whether this move will eventually roll out to plastics used in card & gift ranges they stock it’s worth taking note of this news.

The demand for Eco-friendly products is growing. As well as Tesco, Waitrose, Aldi, Marks and Spencer and Hobbycraft have all made similar statements concerning glitter.

This gives card & gift publishers who embrace Eco-friendly materials a great opportunity to set themselves apart and become more desirable to retailers looking for non-plastic alternatives.

Industry Figures Give Insights into the New Prime Minister

In their recent opinion feature, PG Buzz asked figures from the greeting card industry some key questions about our new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

Taking part were Dean Morris, founder of Dean Morris Cards, Chris Bryan, joint general manager of Second Nature and Jeremy Bacon, CEO of The Sherwood Group.

The trio were asked, their initial reaction on hearing the news of the new PM, the likely impact on the card industry and what’s on their wishlist for Boris.

You can read the full article here, but I wanted to highlight a few key points that were demonstrated in the article.

Consider adding topical products to your range. As Dean Morris comments:

“On the day Boris Johnson was announced as PM I launched some ‘F*** Boris’ badges online and they immediately sold well.  With the publisher’s Donald Trump card selling fantastically well I am now debating whether to do a Boris card too.”

Start planning creative ways you can counteract any negatives that may arise from Brexit, as Chris Bryan highlights:

“A temporary cut in VAT may help retail but with verbal commitments to fund the NHS, the Police Force and other tax cuts, I don’t see how he can balance the books, even the fabled ‘£350 million a week saved by Brexit’ that he once stood by won’t cover the increased spending. I don’t think I’m completely alone in thinking that the whole Brexit issue needs to be sorted one way or the other and very quickly so that everyone can deal with whatever mess we’re left with in a positive way with some form of closure. Ultimately, discounting is a short term fix which creates problems further down the line and I don’t see any real tangible government help coming towards retailers and publishers in our sector so it’s left to us to be positive and creative, the business is still out there we just have to go out and get it!”

Think about stockpiling the raw mateirals you will need, as Jeremy Bacon suggests:

“As an industry we should plan for the worse. The probability of a no-deal is significantly higher than it was in March. We should also be more open with our contingency planning through the whole supply chain. Our customers did significantly stockpile finished goods and raw materials before the March deadline, we would encourage them to do the same before October. On an optimistic note, the timing of an October deadline is better for us an industry. Christmas product will be in store and Spring Seasons will be manufactured and landed in the UK.”


Further reading: The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) is challenging the Government to resolve some of the ongoing issues that are burdening independent businesses, in order to ensure the future of our high streets. Read the article here

Goodwill Opportunity

Ryman Launch Vouchers For Classrooms Initiative

ryman launch classroom initiative

Image credit: Ryman

Until September 21, for every £5 a customer spends they will be given a 50p voucher, which can then be handed in to schools to be redeemed at any of Ryman’s 204 UK stores.

Ryman predict they will be handing out more than £500,000 worth of vouchers; providing valuable support for local schools and teachers.

The Teachers’ union (NASUWT) recently highlighted the funding pressures in schools. A
Study showed more than 64% of teachers said they had bought paper or stationery for the classroom using their own money.

For those of you looking for an opportunity to give back consider making your stationery purchases at Ryman’s while the scheme is in operation so you can help out a school in need.

Industry Event

Thinking of You Week in the USA

thinking of you week

Image credit: Elizabeth Silver/American Greeting Card Association

Thinking of You Week returns September 23rd – 29th, 2019 in the United States.

Sponsored by the non-profit American Greeting Card Association, Thinking of You Week is an international event that encourages people to send a greeting card or letter to friends & family every day for a week.

It was held for the first time in the U.S. in 2018 and was such a success that it’s back for its 2nd year. The American Greeting Card Association are encouraging everyone to participate so American publishers and everyone who ships greeting cards to the USA should get thinking of how they can take part.

The promotional materials for this year’s stateside event were created by 2019 Thinking of You Week design contest winner Elizabeth Silver, a Freelance Artist and Surface Pattern Designer from Apex, North Carolina. A former print stylist for GAP, Inc., Elizabeth is a freelance designer of stationery, home textiles, apparel prints, plus graphics and licensed artwork for gifts and greeting cards.

For more information on America’s Thinking of You Week please visit this website.

Like Opportunities for Your Business?

Well, that’s it for the August 2019 Opportunities List. 

I hope you’ve found some ideas or inspiration in this month’s updates.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!