Open the champagne and start the celebrations, because 2019 is my 30th year in the stationery industry. My love of the industry continues to grow and since becoming part of the industry, I have become an independent retail advisor in the cards, gifts, stationery and heritage industries, I work with many small and medium-sized businesses.
Alongside my role as an advisor, I am currently Deputy Chair of The Giftware Association – a real honour!
Over the course of the next few months, I’d like to share some of my stories, lessons and how I’ve seen the industry change and adapt to challenges.
So, lets start at the beginning (a very good place to start!) When I started work at WH Smith in September 1989, I had no idea that these were the first steps on a journey that would last me more than 30 years.
I have always loved stationery, be it erasers with googly eyes, new packs of colouring pencils or the freedom allowed by using a fountain pen.
Despite this, I had never actually grasped that working with stationery would be such a joy and that it would become such a passion. The old saying rings true for me; ‘things happen for a reason’ and my start in this industry is a perfect example of just that!
I was looking for a new job and I wrote a letter to WH Smith on spec asking if they might have a role that suited me. Previous to WH Smith, I had been store focussed working for Habitat and Next selling interiors, jewellery and ladies accessories . As you can imagine landing a job heading up their own brand product development team was quite a gear change and not necessarily an obvious progression. That’s how my journey down this long and winding road began; thank goodness they saw I had what they were looking for!!
In 1992, I was asked to move from developing stationery into buying stationery and it was then that my passion for paper grew.
My husband describes it as my ‘fast moving career in stationery’, which really is a good joke!
But a love for stationery runs in the blood - my daughter Jess has a thing about notebooks and lists and my son Jim adores pens ……is it a coincidence? I have loved every minute of my time in the stationery and wouldn’t have done anything differently, it is a brilliant industry, full of brilliant people and a selection of brilliant product to be surrounded by.
During my time in the industry we have seen the introduction of bright colours on the most mundane office stationery product, the threat of the paperless office has arrived and swiftly departed and, most recently, stationery has become a fashion statement that reflects our personal styles and tastes. There’s always something exciting around the next corner.
I hope, over the next few months, you will have time to share my thoughts on my 30 years in this amazing industry . I promise it wont take 30 years to read!