Creative Industry Finance
The Juniper Tree Card Company Ltd is a small handmade greetings card business based in West Yorkshire.
I have always been creative, always made things, usually with the sewing machine, but whilst my family were small and I was looking for an income which meant I could spend most of the time at home, what had been a hobby became a ‘proper job’. I am a self-taught textile artist, developing free hand embroidery skills on the sewing machine (this means using the needle like a pen and ‘drawing’ with the machine) through lots and lots of practice, finding my own way to get the result I wanted. The business evolved slowly, over the past few years and really took off around 12 months ago.
I applied for the programme after I did my first Trade show and was inundated with orders but didn’t have the capital up front to purchase the materials needed to complete the orders! I hoped to ease the initial cash flow problem and make sure the business succeeded as it had such great potential. I got lots of orders, interest from agents and people were really positive, but in order to move forward and supply the orders, I had to pay for the printing, buy the envelopes and cello bags and send the orders out. All these companies wanted paying up front to start with, and yet I was having to give most of my customers 30 days terms. It was really tricky trying to balance everything. That’s where the Creative Industry fund really saved the business.
The Creative Industry Finance has helped enormously – it kept us going and bridged the gap between initial essential spending and money coming in. I’m not sure we would have survived without it. Then it helped when we moved premises, we had completely outgrown the one room we were working in, and it was making us really inefficient. We were able to move with the Fund’s financial help into premises where everything has a place, and the everyday running has become much smoother and more efficient.
The proudest moments are lots of little ones, when a customer says without prompting that they love the cards and they’re selling really well, it always gives me a thrill. Others have been personal goals that get ticked off, such as stocking a particular shop that was on my list of dream stockists. I think the biggest achievement to date has been building a customer base of over 600 shops in just 11 months.