Meet the GCA Council
The Council is the governing body of the association, deciding the priorities and strategy of the GCA. The Council comprises members from a wide variety of publishing companies who are elected each year at the GCA AGM to represent the membership.
Meet this year’s Council members who explain why they have chosen to play an active part in the running of the GCA.
After seeing a rather large, yet very niche gap in the greeting card market, Rajeev founded Davora, in 2005 to cater for ethnic occasions. It was quite a jump from the relatively analytical Business Consulting and IT world that he had worked for the 14 years prior to starting Davora. However the entrepreneurial spirit was in his blood, and the greeting card industry gave him the perfect opportunity to flourish with his own business. Rajeev joined the GCA Council in 2015, bringing with him a decade of ‘learning the ropes from the ground up’.
Rajeev says “The GCA has been fundamental to the success of my business with all its resources and contacts. It tirelessly promotes the industry through the media, working with related industries such as Royal Mail and through innovative events like Thinking of You Week. The GCA helps to keep the card industry flourishing as a much-loved part of British life and I’ve jumped at the chance to join the GCA Council and play my part in keeping the industry thriving.”
Chris started working for Second Nature in the production department over 25 years ago but moved out for the industry for a few years, working in Christmas Decorations, Make Up & Satellite Equipment until his return to Second Nature in 2000. Since then he’s managed the Export Department, the Marketing Department, National Accounts & currently hot-desks between sales and marketing in the family run enterprise.
Chris says “I often joke that I’m bringing sentiment into people’s lives, but it’s actually what drives me. The net result of all our efforts from manufacturing through to retailing our cards is to put a smile on someone’s face and the GCA is a cornerstone of driving our industry forward. To be nominated to participate as a Council member is a true honour and I’m determined to help our members keep spreading a little happiness!”
Chris took over as Vice-President of the GCA Council in October 2019
Blue Eyed Sun
Jeremy is the co-owner of award winning, handmade card publisher Blue Eyed Sun and wedding stationery specialists, Ivy Ellen. Jeremy has been a GCA member since 2002 and the keynote speaker at the annual Ladder Club seminar for new card publishers since 2004. He joined the GCA Council in 2012. With a passion for marketing and social media, Jeremy is a greeting card blogger, a Sage Business Expert and the current Vice-Chairman of the Giftware Association. A regular industry speaker on digital marketing, export and personal development, Jeremy also writes a monthly column for Progressive Greetings magazine. A Henries and Gift of the Year winner, Blue Eyed Sun recently won a Queen’s Award for International Trade.
Jeremy says, “I am excited to be helping our extremely talented industry and the GCA to continue to grow from strength to strength. The organisation adds fantastic value to its members and is a must for any publishers who want to be involved in, or benefit from, a group of businesses that have created the most successful card industry in the world.”
Belly Button Designs
Rachel Hare is the founder and creative lead behind the independent greeting card publisher Belly Button Designs. With 21 years in the industry she has grown up with cards and paper. From a fine art background she has no formal training in business or design and started the company with the help of a Princes Trust grant.
A champion for the independent publisher and pioneer of the design led genre, Rachel loves anything which challenges the norm in the industry. She has returned as a member of the Council excited and refreshed and keen to give something back to an industry she is extremely proud to be working in.
Rachel says: “I feel a real pull to return to the Council and am delighted to be back!”
Rachel took over as President of the GCA Council in 2019
The Art File
Ged is the current president of the GCA, having joined the GCA Council in 2008. He has been in the greeting card industry since the age of 25 and has headed up sales teams for Hanson White, The Ink Group and Portico. From 1998 onwards Ged has been co-owner and managing director of The Art File, specialising in contemporary art cards.
Ged says: “Having spent over 20 years in the industry joining the Council was a way to give something back. The strength of the Council is that it is made up of a broad spectrum of talent and experience which is a true reflection of our industry today. I am passionate about our industry! I see the role of president as two fold; enriching and promoting the experience of membership for all our members and secondly, working with the help of the Council to promote the worthiness of greeting cards in the wider world as well as protecting our interests in that world.”
Ged served as GCA president from 2015 - 2017.
Paul has been managing director of Woodmansterne since 1987 growing the business into one of the leading greeting card publishers, retail planners and brokerage suppliers in the UK. Paul is a founder member of the current GCA Council and served as president from 2000 – 2002.
Paul says: “The GCA provides invaluable information for start-up businesses, a friendly forum for the whole industry, and robust advocacy to government, the press and the media.”
Sarah-Jane has been Head of Licensing at Moonpig since 2013, working with the character entertainment business as well as many greeting card publishers. She has a 360 perspective on licensing, publishing, bricks and mortar and online retail within the card and gift category.
Sarah-Jane’s first foray into cards was working for Hallmark’s Tigerprint division in 1999, initially as an Everyday Product Manager, she then moved on to initiate and head up its licensing business for 12 years covering cards, toys, stationery and gifting. She joined Moonpig in her current position after three years as Commercial Director of Watermelon, children’s wear company.
Sarah-Jane says: “As a massive supporter of the GCA, I am honoured to be joining the Council. I hope I’ll be able to add another useful perspective, from the relatively new greeting card business model of print-on-demand/personalisation. The GCA carries out a huge amount of fantastic work within our industry as well as raising awareness of the greeting card category and I am looking forward to continuing this work with them.”
Amanda Del Prete
2018 marks Amanda’s 25th year with Hallmark globally, equipping her for her latest role as Hallmark UK Managing Director, starting 1st of January 2019. Having joined Hallmark UK & Ireland in June 2018 as Creative and Product Director, Amanda was previously at Hallmark’s US Headquarters in the roles of Sales Director & Product Director. Amanda’s Hallmark career started in Australia in product development, progressing to Marketing Director for Australia/New Zealand.
Amanda says “I’m looking forward joining the GCA council, connecting with members and to discuss the future of the greeting cards industry. It’s important we join together for the greater good, share opportunities and our experiences to support one another. I hope to bring with me my breadth of knowledge and creativity”
Lisa is the other half of the dynamic duo that runs Really Good. A grounding force and voice of reason she joined the company in 2001 and brought fresh perspective to the business of creating, distributing, and selling greetings cards. Brought up by parents who were retailers of cards and gifts, Lisa was (quite literally) born into the industry. After a foray into the world of accounting, she returned to the fold (where she was meant to be).
Lisa says “I want to help the industry in a more proactive way, we’re facing a lot of interesting challenges with the flux and evolution of the high street. The way we sell, and the way customers purchase, has changed and is changing again - we need to work together to move forward and discover new and inventive ways to engage with customers.”
Lisa is Treasurer of the Greeting Card Association
Art Cards Ireland
Marion Hancock has an editorial background, having worked in magazine publishing and corporate communications for organisations including Emap, the British Council and the Health Education Authority. For five years she was editor of Design, the Design Council’s monthly magazine for designers and their clients. In 1999 she moved to Dublin with her husband. Noticing the lack of home-grown Irish art on greeting cards, she founded Art Cards Ireland, a business she continues to develop now that she is again UK-based.
Marion says “The advice available from the GCA was a massive help to me when I set up the business. Having been away in Ireland for many years, joining the Council offers me a chance to see the bigger picture in UK card publishing, and I hope I will find ways to contribute.”
Brett began his life in Greeting cards as a store manager, opening Clinton Cards Peterborough branch in 1989.
He went on to spend 23 years with the retailer in a wide range of positions including Store Operations, Marketing, Buying and Commercial roles.
These years spent working in such a high octane and exciting Company, during times of phenomenal success as well as difficult years, have helped shaped Bretts management style and work ethic.
He left the business in 2012 to help found the Cards Direct retail brand. His career has since taken him from retail to supply, working with Is It Art, Pioneer Balloons, and most recently as Sales And Marketing Director at Danilo.
Brett says “Greeting cards are certainly in my blood and over my time I have been lucky enough to work along side so many talented and fantastic companies and people in our Industry – many of which are now GCA council members!
I believe strongly in an inclusive management style and draw inspiration from the Rudyard Kipling poem, IF , the opening being
“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs….”
Great advice I have tried to follow many times over my career.
I have a real passion for retail and I’m hoping that my diverse experience from the past 29 years will enable me to contribute and add value to the GCA and its excellent work”
Jack is the managing director and co-owner of the calendar publisher BrownTrout for the UK and Europe.
He began his career in the industry over 35 years ago when he joined Accord Publications as a sales co-ordinator and left a few years later to head up The Ink Group as MD at the beginning of the 90s. During his seven years there, he was fortunate enough to be closely involved in introducing Gary Larson’s ‘The Far Side’ to a large UK audience. After a short period working with companies such as Paper D’Art and Gibson Greetings, Jack started BrownTrout twenty years ago after recognising the huge growth potential for quality calendars in the UK and across Europe.
Jack says “Although I have been away from a direct involvement in the Greeting Card industry for some years now, I still work with most of the same customers and have always followed the card industry and recognise the importance of the GCA to help maintain a robust environment to sell our products. If, through my experience, I am able to contribute something to the future of an industry that I have worked in and loved throughout my adult life, then I am honoured to be on the council”
Karen retrained as a mature student, gaining a degree in Surface Pattern Textiles, before becoming freelance and designing wallpapers and fabrics, in those days everything was painted by hand in repeat a skill that has been useful when designing award winning ranges of gift wraps for Glick.
It was purely by chance that Karen entered the greeting card world; her agent at the time secured some work designing some ranges for well established publishers. Karen, and her business partner Claire, enjoyed the brief so much they decided to have a go at publishing themselves and Paper Salad was born.
“Now entering our 15th year we think we finally know what we are doing! It has been a steep learning curve and we have probably made every mistake possible and come out the other side smiling. It is an honour to sit on the GCA board and I feel I have a lot to bring to the table”.
Ohh Dear Ltd
Mark is co-owner and Managing Director of Ohh Deer, specialising in humour greeting cards and stationery since 2011.
Mark set up Ohh Deer with his partner, Jamie Mitchell, while studying Illustration at Kingston University, it has since rapidly grown to become the recognised brand it is today both in the UK but also internationally with strong growth in the US market over the last 5 years. Their commitment to using Ohh Deer as a platform for artists has meant that they have now worked with over 100 up and coming illustrators in the industry, gaining recognition for their work both in the UK and USA including 5 Louie Awards and 1 Henries Award. Mark hopes to bring his experience of growing a start up business to the GCA.
Mark says “The GCA plays an important role in supporting and growing the industry as well as providing a support network for publishers through networking. I’m really excited to join the council and help them build on their successes and shape the GCA for the future”
UK Greetings Ltd
Darren is Commercial Director at UKG. He started his career on the graduate training scheme with Tesco before commencing his greeting card life in 2005 with Watermark Publishing. Having progressed in various commercial roles, he was Watermark’s Associate Commercial Director when UKG acquired the business in 2011. In 2014, he took over as UKG’s Director of Merchandising, ultimately becoming responsible for all UKG’s field sales operations.
He is married to a greeting card illustrator (it’s in the family) and has two children; a keen sportsman he’s a Manchester United supporter!
“It’s an honour and a privilege to be a member of the GCA and I hope to make a valued contribution to the fantastic work being undertaken on behalf of our industry”.
Daniel Prince is Managing Director of Danilo .
Daniel originally qualified as an accountant and joined the family business, Danilo Promotions, in 2001, at the exciting time when the company was just developing itself in the greetings card market. Daniel started in the warehouse and worked his up way to Operations Director before becoming MD.
Daniel says “I am very passionate about greeting cards, and especially licensed greeting cards. Being a father of two young boys, I try to make sure I keep up with the trends which I can transfer into the business to maintain our position as the number one publisher of licensed greetings cards. I firmly believe it’s important that younger and future generations understand the importance of sending greeting cards and the pleasure they give.
“I feel honoured to serve on the GCA, help promoting greeting cards, especially licensed products. There are many issues facing publishers, and members of the association, and I’m keen to identify these issues and work with fellow members of the Council to find solutions in this rapidly changing, and exciting, market.”