Discover the Latest Opportunities for Your Card & Gift Business

Are you seeking opportunities for your business in 2020?

It’s a new year and a great time to think about new opportunities for your business.

Maybe 2020 is the year you really want to get your business noticed?

Or perhaps your keen to show off your creative talent?

Whatever you’re seeking, opportunities come in many different shapes and sizes, but they all provide a great chance to grow your business.

Card & Gift Network’s monthly Opportunity List is a round-up of chances for card & gift businesses to develop.

Let’s look what the month ahead has on offer…

General Opportunities

Shops Call for Environmentally-Friendly Products

PG Buzz has reported on how a few key retailers performed over the recent Christmas period, revealing a great opportunity for card & gift brands with an eco-friendly focus.

Commenting on the changing habits of buyers, Sally Matson, owner of Red Card of Petworth said:

“There is definitely a change in consumer buying patterns connected to environmental concerns, which I am hoping will be matched by publishers and gift suppliers with their launches this year. Our customers want giftwrap and cards that are 100% recyclable, and gifts that are practical and purposeful. People don’t want items that are plastic or wrapped in plastic anymore. This Christmas showed a definite increase in people enquiring about which wrap was recyclable, which crackers didn’t have “plastic rubbish” inside them, and which cards featured biodegradable glitter.”

Sally goes onto describe how this will affect her buying plans for Christmas 2020:

“By Christmas 2020 the environmental issues will be at the forefront of the majority of our customers’ minds when buying and so will have an impact on my buying. I think there are real gaps in the market at the moment for these environmentally-friendly products and the focus for much of my purchasing this year will be in this direction.”


This information, coupled with the info from last month’s Opportunity List, which saw Waterstone’s buyer, Hazel Walker, calling for greater sustainability in calendar ranges, suggests 2020 is going to be a year of opportunity for environmentally friendly products.

For businesses interested in developing eco-products it’s well worth a look at Trendhunter’s 2020 Eco Trends report, which provides inspiration, with its highlights of 100 top environmentally innovative products.

Awards & Competitions

24th Annual Webby Awards

Established in 1996, The Webbys is presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS), a 2000+ member judging body comprised of leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries, creative celebrities,  former Webby Winners, nominees and other Internet professionals.

Reflecting the tremendous growth of the Internet, The Webbys now honours excellence in 7 major media types: Websites, Video, Advertising, Media & PR, Social, Apps, Mobile, & Voice, Games, and Podcasts.

If your online offering deserves a little awards attention be sure to check out the Webby’s website for application details.

Deadline Extended: 7th February 2020.

FSB Search for UK’s Most Outstanding Small Businesses

The FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards recognise and celebrate the huge contribution that smaller businesses and the self-employed make to the UK.

Entering awards provides you with an opportunity to market your business in a way that attracts new business, collaborators and top-quality employees. People are influenced by awards when searching for products or services. Everybody likes an ‘award-winning’ business.

The awards are free to enter and you do not have to be an FSB member to apply.

Find out more on the FSB awards website.

Deadline: Various 10th January 2020 – 14th February 2020).

The British Quality Foundation (BQF) UK Excellence Awards 2020

BQF’s awards celebrate organisations and individuals that represent excellence, whether it be through customer experience, employee engagement or leadership. Our awards are open to all types of organisations – regardless of size, sector or industry.

For 2020 the BQF has added 4 new award categories as part of their ‘Excellence In’ series; bringing more opportunities to showcase commitment to quality.

To find out more and register your interest in applying please visit the BQF website.

Deadline: Various (7th February – 31st March 2020).


opportunity list january 2020

Business Support Opportunity

Leading to Grow Programme

leading to grow programme

Image credit: University of Leicester

Introduced by the Univesity of Leicester, the ‘Leading to Grow Programme’ will support small businesses to grow, innovate and increase productivity through adopting digital and new technologies.

The programme aims to help small business owners to explore digital and new technologies suited to their business goals, and to develop the management capabilities they need to implement the technologies.

The programme will be offered by the University as part of a consortium of 15 business schools across England that have been accredited by the Small Business Charter.

Participation is free to eligible ‘microbusinesses’ with between 1-9 employees. Places are fully funded by the Business Basics Fund from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK.

To take part your business must:

  1. Be a formally registered business (i.e. the business must have a VAT number or PAYE number or Companies House registration) which has a trading history of three or more years.
  2. Employ between 1-9 people.
  3. Not have participated on a formal programme to raise productivity delivered by a business school in the last 12 month

For more information and to apply, visit the University of Leicester website

Rising Retail Masterclass

Rising Retail is a Masterclass for independent gift shop retailers and leading experts to come together to share best practices that they can then take home to improve their businesses and enhance their high streets.

The packed programme will cover:

  • Trends – What’s coming and how to take advantage
  • Visual merchandising – How to create exciting shopping experiences
  • Lessons from the top – Tips from majors that indies can benefit from
  • Staff – Recruiting, motivating, and retaining great retail teams
  • Making Mistakes  – Classic mistakes Indie Retailers can learn from
  • Going Green – How retailers can reduce their environmental impact
  • Instagram – Retailer tips for growing sales through social media
  • Social Selling – How using online groups can boost sales
  • Google My Business – How to boost footfall to your store
  • How to build an engaged community for £50
  • Negotiating – how to cut costs and save money as an independent

The Rising Retail event has been rescheduled for Monday 1st June 2020.

More information will be shared about the new date as it arrives.


Industry Events

Launchpad Competition Open for Entries – Deadline 27th January 2020

LaunchPad, the competition to find and support new stationery suppliers looking to break into the stationery industry, returns to London Stationery Show 2020 and is now open for entries.

London Stationery Show is the UK’s only trade show dedicated to writing and paper products. The annual trade show attracts the UK’s biggest retailers, brands and influential buyers in the stationery sector. The show is an important moment in the industry’s calendar, where key suppliers and retailers come together, making it the perfect platform for this initiative.

LaunchPad gives winners the chance to showcase their products at the London Stationery Show, alongside the top brands in the industry. Entrants need to put their idea and a product sample forward to be in with a chance of winning a free exhibition stand at the 2020 show, which takes place 21st – 22nd April 2020.

The competition will be judged by leading names and retailers from the stationery sector, who will be looking for products they think will grab the interest of the industry and stationery-loving consumers.

LaunchPad is open to any company which, or individual who:

  • Has not previously appeared at Stationery Shows in London or Manchester.
  • Has the rights to sell the featured product.
  • Does not currently sell the featured product through any UK national retail accounts or distributors in the stationery retail sector

2020 marks London Stationery Show’s 10th birthday, and LaunchPad winners will receive a free display space at the milestone show, a listing on the show’s website and in the Show Guide. All winners receive fantastic exposure to the UK’s leading retailers and suppliers visiting the show, as well as free PR and marketing support from the show team.

Opportunities for Artists & Designers

Designers/Makers Wanted for Creative Europe Project

open call for designers and makers

Image credit: Crafts Council

Crafts Council is looking for two UK-based designers/makers with experience in fashion or textiles to participate in an international partnership project, funded by Creative Europe, called FUSION.

FUSION will offer participants training in digital fabrication skills and co-designing methodologies towards the development of bespoke products, across fashion, textiles and wearables for active ageing citizens. This will be a paid opportunity.

For full details and application info please visit the Crafts Council website

Deadline: 22nd January 2020.

Artists Wanted for Little Forest Open Competition

artist opportunity

Image credit: Little Forest Land Art

For the third year running Little Forest Land Art, are looking for an artwork to be displayed on what they are fondly calling the “Boarhunt 4th Plinth”.

The artwork could be a new item made specifically for the site or an existing art piece that would look great in this situation.

The winner will have their work on show during Art in the Garden 2020. They will also receive a ‘production fund’ made up of money from the entry fees. So, the more people that enter the more the winner receives. The minimum amount will be £100 up to a maximum of £500.

The competition is an open call to any artist or maker working in any medium, living in Hampshire or the adjoining counties. Entrants must be 18 years of age or over, including students.

For full details on how to apply, visit the Little Forest Land Art website.  

Deadline: 20th January 2020.

Craft Scotland Summer Show

craft scotland summer show

Image credit: Craft Scotland

Designers and Makers now have the opportunity to be part of Craft Scotland’s annual selling exhibition during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The Summer Show is Craft Scotland’s annual selling exhibition showcasing the work of over 30 designer/makers from across Scotland.

Running for three weeks as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, it gives locals and visitors to the capital the opportunity to see and buy high-quality, original, contemporary craft.

Held on the 2nd floor of White Stuff on George Street, Edinburgh, the Summer Show attracts over 4,000 visitors. Now in its 8th year, the Summer Show also hosts an exciting programme of hands-on, maker-led workshops. The Summer Show is open to the public from Friday 7th to Sunday 30th August 2020, with an invitation-only Private View held on Thursday 6th August 2020.

To apply, download the Application Pack on the Craft Scotland website

Deadline: 22nd January 2020.

International Kogei Award in Japan Seeks Craftspeople

The International Kogei Award in Toyama, Japan is offering £28,000 in awards + the opportunity to collaborate with craftspeople in Japan’s Toyama Prefecture. 

The International Kogei Award aims to create opportunities for networking and collaboration with craftspeople and makers across the world, and from there, to paint a new future vision for the world of craft.

The awards are open to artists, craftspeople and designers aged 50 and under.

For full information on the award, prizes and application process please visit the 
Awards’ website

Deadline: 27th January 2020

RBSA Annual Open Exhibition Seeks Artists

The RBSA annual Open Exhibition invites artists working in painting, drawing, sculpture, textiles, ceramics, jewellery and print (excluding photography) to submit work.

This exhibition provides an excellent opportunity for contemporary artists to showcase work in an institution with over 200 years of history of supporting artists.

RBSA President, Wayne Attwood will chair a panel of Members and Associates to make the pre-selection by digital image.

Prizes include a 1st Prize of £500 and a 2nd Prize of £200; generously donated by Clive Beardsmore, Friend of the RBSA.

The RBSA Open Exhibition will run from Thursday 5th March – Saturday 4th April 2020. If selected, work must be delivered to the gallery by Sunday 1st March 2020.

For more information and to enter please visit the RBSA website.

Deadline: 4pm on Wednesday 29th January 2020.

Top Prize of £2500 at The John Byrne Award

The John Byrne Award is a free, online exhibition, competition, and community, welcoming people who seek a deeper understanding of the values that drive our beliefs and actions.

The John Byrne Award accepts work in any creative discipline, on any topic – however, entries must include:

  • A piece of creative work on a chosen theme or value (written work must be no more than 15,000 words in length).
  • An entry title, which must be phrased as a question (this is not the title of your creative work but of your John Byrne Award entry as a whole).
  • An entry statement, of no more than 200 words, explaining what your creative work communicates, and why these ideas are important.

For full information on the awards and entry requirements please visit the John Byrne Award website.

Deadline: 23:59 on Friday 31st January 2020.

One Year In at New Designers

One Year In is a competition for talented designers launching new creative businesses

If you’re a new creative business and need help kick-starting your design practice ‘One Year In’ at New Designers 2020 provides a great opportunity to boost your business to the next level. 

Aiming to be the year’s most exciting opportunity for design talent, the pre-show mentorship programme gets your business market-ready to exhibit at the New Designers exhibition.

Winners will receive the guidance and help to make your business a success.

For more information on how to apply, visit the New Designers website

Deadline: 31st January 2020.

Applicants Wanted for Handmade Oxford 2020

handmade oxford

Image credit: Handmade Oxford

Handmade in Britain is returning to Waterperry Gardens for the second year of Handmade Oxford, The International Contemporary Arts Festival, 25-28 June 2020.

The 4-day festival will bring together some of the most exciting makers from all over the world, featuring contemporary craft and design, sculpture, interiors and lifestyle, print and photography, workshops and demonstrations, artisan food and more. Last year’s event saw over 7500 visitors including the buying public, collectors, galleries, retail buyers, and press.

To apply, fill in the online application form.

Deadline: 31st January 2020.

Artists Wanted to Sculpture in the Valley 2020

Waveney & Blyth Arts’ Sculpture in the Valley 2020 flagship sculpture event will this year curated by David Baldry on the Suffolk coast.

Waveney & Blyth Arts’ Sculpture in the Valley 2020 will be held at Potton Hall, Westleton on the Suffolk coast from 18th July to 2nd August 2020.

Organisers are looking for artists to submit proposals with the theme ‘Reflections on Landscape’, which invites artists to consider ideas about scale (micro to macro), perspectives and interaction between wild and cultivated aspects of the landscape.

For more information and to apply, visit the competition website

Deadline: 7th February 2020.

The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) has Scholarships Up for Grabs

The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) offers Scholarships of up to £18,000 for the training and education of talented craftspeople.

Aiming to sustain vital skills in traditional and contemporary crafts and contribute to excellence in the British craft industry.
The scholarships fund the education and training of any individual UK resident, aged 17 or older, who would like to improve their craft skills.

For more information on the Scholarships programme please visit the QEST website

Deadline: 10th February 2020.

Like Opportunities for Your Business?

Well, that’s it for the January 2020 Opportunities List.

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

Check back next month for more opportunities to grow your business.

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