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!”
Blue Eyed Sun
Jeremy is the current Treasurer of the Greeting Card Association. He 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.”
Bill works at Paperlink as its sales and marketing director and has served on the Council since 2004. He served as president of the GCA from 2011 - 2013. One of Bill’s goals as GCA president was for the association to become more inclusive and he was thrilled that the members agreed and voted to allow associate members (non-publisher members such as retailers, specialist suppliers and any business with an interest in the greeting card industry) to be a part the GCA at an EGM in June 2013.
Bill says: “I’m delighted that so many associate members have joined since we introduced this new membership category, they now play an important role in the GCA.”
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!”
The Great British Card Company
Chris served as GCA president from 2013 - 2015. Chris has been sales director with The Great British Card Company (Paper House and Medici Cards) since 2006, previously working UK Greetings and CCA and has been in greeting card industry since 2000. Prior to this Chris worked in print, paper and marketing, but his first job was as a golf professional. Chris lives on the edge of the Pennines to the east of Manchester with his wife and two girls and is still a keen golfer, when time allows.
Chris says: “It was a real honour to serve as GCA president. During those two year I’m delighted that the GCA has successfully expanded it’s associate memberships, grown the Festive Friday event to boost early Christmas card sending, launched two education resources and, most exciting of all, launched Thinking of You Week a consumer card sending initiative. Whether it’s fighting major issues or trying to understand the future of our industry, the Council plays a major part in pulling these thoughts together. I’m a great believer in the quote by Aristotle ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ and the GCA Council is a great example of this.”
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.”
Ceri joined Carlton Cards in 1992, holding various positions within marketing until she left the industry in 1998 to join Asda as a buying manager. Since 1998 Ceri progressed her career through many levels of buying and general management at Asda before taking the decision to reconnect with the greeting card industry joining UK Greetings. Ceri headed up Special Editions, the charity Christmas and private label packaged division until January 2012 when she was promoted to the role of director of marketing, responsible for UK Greetings product management and category management. Ceri joined the GCA Council in 2012 and is now serving as vice president of the GCA.
Ceri says, “I feel very proud and privileged to be a member of GCA Council and making a positive contribution to our industry. I hope I add value to the Council with my breadth of experience both within our industry and in retail … And have some fun along the way!”
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.”
Steve Wright is ceo of Hallmark International, a division of Hallmark Cards, Inc, leading the Hallmark business in the UK and continental Europe. Prior to joining Hallmark, Steve worked for consumer goods company Sara Lee, then as commercial director for Dewhirst Textiles, a major supplier to Marks & Spencer. Steve joined Hallmark in 1996 and was appointed managing director of the UK’s Tigerprint business in 2001. He assumed his role as managing director for Hallmark UK in 2010 where he was responsible for strategic direction and oversight. Steve was promoted to his current role of chief executive in 2011.
Mark is the co founder of Brainbox Candy. His early career was spent in the financial markets in the UK and later Switzerland, as the director of a derivatives broking company, followed by time as a business analysis consultant, for banks and Fund managers in the City.
He always had an entrepreneurial spirit and desire to eventually start a business, alongside a penchant for humorous greeting cards, it seemed a logical fit that this should be the basis for a business. A brief discussion during a family holiday, with co founder and brother-in-law Ben Hickman, lead to the inception of the company in 2008.
Mark says “I am extremely passionate about this lovely industry of ours and feel privileged to be asked to join the GCA council. Brainbox Candy approach the industry with a fresh perspective and I hope to do the same during my time with the GCA, plus they have nice biscuits at the meetings”
Paper Rose and The Art Group
Nigel began as a trainee sales rep with Image Arts of England in Liverpool and calling on great independent card shops and multiples. Apart from relatively short stints at The Bucentaur Gallery, New Generation and Images & Editions he spent major part of his career at Macsel Greetings (a now defunct 16 site cash & carry group), The Art Group and the last 12 years at Paper Rose as sales & marketing director.
Nigel says: I am in my 36th year in this wonderful greeting card industry and still enjoy everything about it, especially the people! I hope to contribute to the GCA through my experience and humour and to put a little back into the industry.