The Dreaded Day. The one I have been fearing for over 20 years.
But first, here’s a (very) brief history of Ivor Ross.
This is my dad, on my wedding day, probably one of the best days of his life as well as ours.
I’m an only child so you won’t be surprised to learn that I was the sunshine in my dad’s life. He thought the world of me, and I of him.
My dad was born in 1928, the 6th of 9 children. Just too young to serve in WW2, he saw all his older brothers go off to fight and luckily all come back alive and physically unhurt, mentally – well – who knows. He did his national service and saw active service as part of that overseas. A sort of jack-of-all-trades and master of none he held various jobs and kept a pretty mean garden, growing plenty of fruit and veg for eating at home. There’s nothing quite like peas grown by your dad! A keen sportsman, good at football, bowls and billards and woe betide anyone who tried to take him on at whist. (Unless you were his brother or sister as they had all been brought up round a card table by their mother, my grandmother). Oh and he told tales – tall ones!
He married my mum in 1974, at her suggestion…. and I came along in 1976.
That’s my dad in a nutshell
So why am I telling you all this and what has it got to do with the Dreaded Day?
Sadly dad died less than two years after this photo was taken. Bowel cancer didn’t kill him in the end but while he was ill they discovered he had it. It wasn’t really suprising. His father, my grandfather, had died from it and 3 of his brothers and sisters had already died from it too.
I was 24. Not particularly young but not that old either.
Clearly there was a higher than average incidence of bowel cancer in the family, they said. I should speak to a genetic specialist, they said.
They got samples, tested them, looked for genetic markers but found none. At least none that they know indicate a genetic link. But the indicators are still there. There’s a high likelihood I too might develop bowel cancer.
But it’s OK cos I was only 24. All the occurrences within my family were older, way older so I didn’t need to worry about it – just yet.
At least not until I was 45.
I was advised to start getting regular colonoscopies every 3 years from the age of 45. Bowel Cancer is one of the most treatable cancers provided you catch it early. My limited understanding is that it takes time for the polyps to develop into cancerous lumps so catch the polyps early and you can even avoid the cancer altogether.
At 24 I had hoped that they would develop a less intrusive scanning method by the time I turned 45.
I’m 45 tomorrow.
So I’d like to use my 45th birthday to raise a little awareness of bowel cancer, remind us that it needn’t be a death sentence and raise some money for Macmillan Cancer Support who help so many people affected by cancer.
How you can help
If you’d like to make a donation then the easiest way is to buy a quiz! If you like a tea-time puzzle, my mum has been printing quizzes with the help of a couple of puzzling friends and the latest one is available to buy and download here. Just £1 and the full £1 goes to Black Isle Committee of Macmillan Cancer Support. My mum has been on their committee for over 20 years and has raised over £14000 with the quizzes alone.
If you’d like to make a larger donation to Macmillan Cancer Support then simply buy more quizzes (it’s up to you if you download it or not!). E.g. if you want to donate £10, buy 10 quizzes, the full £10 will go to Macmillan as I will cover any payment processing fee myself.
I’ll also be donating 10% of all my sales from both my Cards and Gift Wrap shop to the Black Isle Committee of Macmillan Cancer Support over the next week.
Help me literally kick cancer in the butt on this dreaded day!
So you’re looking for a new way to earn some money. Direct Sales seems a good option with its flexible working hours and it looks like it has some good prospects. But you haven’t quite worked out how to fit it in to the nooks and crannies of life. I’ve been in direct selling for over 12 years now and promoted to Executive Partner with Flamingo Paperie in the first month it launched. I have 4 children aged from 2 to 12 and as you can imagine that keeps me very busy. The flexibility of direct selling works really well for me and my strategies for success in direct sales are really different ways you can make your chosen company work for you.
The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.
My strategies for success are based on my experience with Flamingo Paperie, a direct sales company that produces cards, gift wrap and stationery but I believe these ideas could be adapted to most direct sales businesses. If one way of working seems to fit your lifestyle but the direct sales company you’re looking at doesn’t offer it then my top tip is to think twice before you join. All my strategies for success are possible if you become a Flamingo Partner. You don’t need to turn your life upside down or find more hours in the day. Here are ways you can make it work by using what you already have or do.
10 Strategies for Success in direct sales
1 Add it on to something else you’re already doing
It doesn’t have to be either/or. It’s unlikely that you will want to drop everything else to try and make room for a new business. Choose a product that will compliment your lifestyle, hobbies or other business. If you’re making crafts for sale then gift wrap will add an extra to your service, or a greeting card to go with a gift gives you the ability to offer the complete gifting package.
2 Take it with you
Can you take your products to the office, to the school gate, to yoga class, to toddler group or wherever you go on a daily or weekly business? Use the networks you already have to show off your products and attract repeat customers.
Why not use one of these great nappy caddys to transport cards, notebooks, and the gift tags fit snuggly in the front pockets.
3 Use your products
In theory you don’t have to like to your products to sell them. A good salesperson might be able to sell water to a well but it does help if you love what you’re selling and use it regularly. Not only does it give you confidence in what you’re selling but giving your products, in my case by sending cards or wrapping presents in style, is an opportunity to show them off.
4 Raise some money for a good cause
Are you involved in a community group or is there a charity close to your heart. Use your products to raise some money. Offer 10% or more of your sales to your cause. People love to help and love to feel that others are benefitting from their purchases. Make use of that and help others while building your customer base with some good publicity.
5 Enhance your subscription box
If you already run a business that sends out a regular subscription box then use the new products to enhance your box. Gift wrap or tissue could be used to wrap the contents while advertising the same gift wrap and tissue for customers to buy for their own wrapping needs. An appropriate card could be included to match the theme of your box or the time of year, again advertising the range of cards available for sale. The average person in the UK sends 33 cards a year. Be creative with how you present your products, this will make you different to the rest and attract others to your business.
Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.
6 Add the personal touch
Do you run a company that provides a service to others, or does your partner or another family member? For example, I know estate agents who like to give a ‘New Home’ card to their clients when they pick up their keys. Or a Vet who likes to send a sympathy card when a loved pet is put to sleep. I have a customer who runs a Beauty Salon who likes to send cards to her clients when they have get married, have a baby, suffer a bereavement etc. Sending greeting cards can add a very powerful personal touch to your business.
7 Treat your employees
Similar to the previous idea but if you already employ staff then can you use your products to treat them? Can you reward them for a job well done? Send a birthday card or occasion card to show you take note of their lives outside of work. Personal touches make people feel valued and that builds loyalty within a workplace. Little acts like these can make you stand out from the crowd as an employer.
Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customer. I think you should build one with your employees first.
8 Provide a community service
No I don’t mean of the criminal penalty kind! Do you live somewhere that people find it hard to access the products you offer? I have a good friend of mine who got so fed up of hearing her neighbours say they were off to town for a birthday card that she asked to take one of my baskets of cards to have at home so she could offer a better and more convenient service and product to her community.
9 Help a hospital or care home
Do you work in or visit a hospital or care home on a regular basis? Similar to the community service idea, many people who live or work in these places have great difficulty in getting to shops to purchase things. Bring your ‘shop’ to them. Ask if someone can care for your ‘shop in a basket’ which you can leave in a safe, convenient place for them to buy from when they need to.
10 Build an online business
Do you spend time on social media? Are you a Pinterest addict or an Instagram lover? Use that time to build a business. Share images of your products with links to your direct sales website. No need to even buy stock, just let people love what they see and tell them how to click and buy for themselves. Rather like affiliate marketing but usually with higher profit margins. If you’re already doing affiliate marketing then treat your direct sales business as an extra string to your affiliate bow.
The secret of getting ahead is getting started.
Whatever you do, however you do it, get started. Don’t put it off by waiting for the prefect business model to come along. Find the products you like then make the business opportunity work for you, in your situation. Use the strategies for success that fit with where you’re at. Start there and build out as you grow.
If you’ve heard of Flamingo Paperie but aren’t sure what it’s all about then you might find this answers some of your questions. Flamingo Paperie is still a relatively new company, which rose out of the ashes of Phoenix Trading. It’s about to enter its busy period with the Christmas range launching late August. Now is possibly the best time to join and reap those rewards. But you might be wondering how it all works. Whether it could work for you and possibly even who or what is Flamingo? Well here’s my Flamingo Paperie review after 6 months being an Independent Flamingo Partner with the new company.
Who or What is Flamingo Paperie?
Perhaps you haven’t even heard of Flamingo Paperie and that wouldn’t be surprising as the company only launched in February 2018. You might have heard of its predecessor Phoenix Trading. Flamingo is a different company with a new focus but it comes built on 22 years of Phoenix Trading with many of the same staff and independent Partners. Flamingo is a British greeting card company specialising in exclusively illustrated greeting cards, gift wrap and stationery. I’m proud to be part of a company with a strong ethical and charitable vision. All Flamingo’s cards are ethically printed in the UK, using FSC card and vegetable based inks and all our Christmas cards are charity cards. The design team are passionate about supporting and promoting the illustrators and artists who create the designs (I’ve met the design team, their passion really shines through them when you talk to them).
Who am I and what do I know about Flamingo?
Flamingo don’t sell through shops, at least not in the UK (it’s slightly different in Australia and New Zealand). Their fabulous cards can only be purchased through an Independent Partner, which is what I am. I was a Phoenix Trader from 2012 until they closed and have been a Flamingo Partner since they launched in February. I’m an Executive Partner, which means I support a team of my own and their teams too. At the last check I was the top sponsor, which means I have added more people to my team than any other Partner in the business since February. I have a team from Shetland to the Channel Islands and in France. I love sending cards and I’m a complete stationery addict! This is my personal Flamingo Paperie review from my experience.
How does Flamingo ‘work’?
There are prinicipally three ways to earn money as a Flamingo Partner. You can buy and sell stock to friends, colleagues, relatives, at craft fairs, pop up shops and more. You buy stock at 30% off the retail price but you do pay delivery on all your orders (£6 max). It is possible to sell without buying any stock. You can do this by directing people to your personalised website. Here the company ships all the orders direct to your customer and you get 20% profit. The other way to earn is by building a team of Partners who you support, with the help of your upline Executive Partner. E.g. if you joined my team and someone joined your team then I would support both you and your team member in your businesses. When your team sell you earn a commission from the company depending on how much you sell and they sell etc. If you would like the details of how this works exactly just ask.
Flamingo Paperie review of the good stuff so far?
I live in the Outer Hebrides and pay the same delivery on all my orders as everyone else in the UK. It means we all have the same opportunity.
The quality of the cards and gift wrap is outstanding. Phoenix were reknown for their high quality affordable cards and gift wrap. I think the designs and quality that Flamingo now have are even better. The gift wrap always had a reputation for being quality and ‘unrippable’. Now it’s even thicker with Flamingo than it was with Phoenix. It still has the same invaluable cutting grid lines on the back. This helps to make gift wrapping a pleasure not a chore.
Everyone gets a personalised website as standard. This is simpler because we all get the same but it’s included in the starter pack cost and everyone has the same opportunity to sell online if they want to.
We have a narrower range than we had with Phoenix. This gives the company more focus on what they do and doing it really well.
The ‘team’ feeling is outstanding. The mutual support that most Partners give each other in Flamingo is something I’ve not seen anywhere else. Given that we earn commision on our own teams and not on other people’s you’d understand if it was all a bit cliquey but it’s not. I’ve had support from other teams. I also have quite a few Partners who have asked to receive my team emails and be part of my Facebook team support group. In the long run if we support each other we all grow as the company grows.
30% profit is a really good rate. I find it pretty easy to reach a monthly level of sales where I earn a further 10% on my bonus sales volume.
There are no targets that have to be met or sales levels that have to be achieved. There are rewards for selling and growing a team but it’s up to each Partner to decide what they want to achieve.
What could be better about Flamingo Paperie?
We have a narrower range than we had with Phoenix. Wait a minute, I said that before!? Well while I think it’s a good thing on the whole there are products that I loved that we don’t do now. So I have supplemented my business with colouring in tablecloths from Eggnogg and gift wrapping accessories from British wholesale companies like Deva Designs alongwith designing my own inspirational stationery.
Brand awareness. This is my personal opinion only. I think the company could do more to promote the name and range of Flamingo Paperie. They believe it’s up to us as Partners. I think it’s a joint venture. Without the company using their clout to get us ‘out there’ we are struggling. Too many people have never heard of us.
Social media. I have nearly 1800 followers on Facebook, 3000 on Twitter and 500 on Instagram. As far as I know I’m the Flamingo Partner with the biggest social media following. But I’ve done most of that myself and it’s hard work. Other direct selling companies I know produce a library of images and suggested posts for their Partners to use. We have access to all the stock images. I’d like to see more of the creative eye catching images that work well on social media produced by the company. What is great is how Partners who create their own images and posts are willing to share them with other Partners. The ‘team’ feeling, which I mentioned before, that exists in Flamingo is priceless.
How could Flamingo work for me?
Do you love cards?
If you love cards and/or gift wrapping and/or stationery then by becoming a Flamingo Partner you will have direct access to Flamingo products you will love.
Do you know other people who love cards?
If you know other people who also love cards then you could make some money selling your Flamingo cards to them. There is no doubt that Christmas is the most lucrative time of the year for this especially with our traditional advent calendars. If you haven’t seen our advent calendars before and you love Christmas then you are missing a treat! Selling your Flamingo cards could make you some nice spending money.
Do you fundraise a lot?
Do you support a local charity or are you involved in a local community group? You could direct people to your online website and donate your 20% to whatever cause you are passionate about without having to handle any stock.
Do you want to make money?
If you want to make serious money with Flamingo then you’re going to have to work very hard. You will need to build a team. There is only so much you can sell. Growing a team is like opening new shops to sell to people you can’t get to. This takes time.
Do you have another selling business that needs a little boost?
If you have another business then I seriously suggest that cards and gift wrap will go very nicely hand in hand with almost anything else. If you sell books, chances are they are often bought for gifts. So why not sell the gift wrap and card to go with them. If you sell skincare, jewellery, candles, cosmetics, chances are there are gifts in there too. Your customers will need wrapping paper! Whatever you already sell, or whoever you sell to, everyone knows someone who has a birthday!
Want to know more?
If you think that Flamingo could fit in to your life, your passion, your business then let’s brainstorm together to make it work for you. Ask me for more information or for me to give you a call.
What’s really good about Flamingo is that it’s totally flexible. Every Flamingo Partner runs their own business their way. Join today and start writing your Flamingo Paperie review story.
Want to know how you can do some fundraising with Flamingo Paperie? Well here are a few ideas to help you raise money for your good cause.
Fundraising with Flamingo Paperie
Become an Independent Flamingo Paperie Partner
Some of my team joined Flamingo Paperie purely to support their fundraising. My mum is one example! She joined Phoenix Trading initially, to raise money for her local Macmillan Cancer Support Committee. She’s given them about £2-300 each year for the past few years. You could do this too. You buy everything at 70% of retail price so I suggest that you can allow for brochures and courier charges on your orders and safely donate 20% of all your sales to your chosen charity.
Be a Fundraising Fairy
If you don’t want to join the team but you like the idea of collecting a few orders and raising funds then become a Fundraising Fairy. I will send you as many brochures as you need and samples where possible. You then show those samples and share out the brochures and collect the orders and money. You don’t have to do it alone. Perhaps your whole organising committe could collect 5 orders each? Send me a list of the orders and 80% of the retail price. Keep 20% for your charity and I’ll get the orders delivered direct to you to hand out.
Buy our Christmas cards
ALL our Christmas cards are charity cards, even our advent calendar cards. So buy our cards and you’ll be supporting charities via the Phoenix International Charity. Our cards support both national and local charities. Our Independent Flamingo Partners, like me, nominate the local charities each year.
If you have other ideas how I can help you raise money then please ask. I love supporting charities and it’s one of the reasons I became an Independent Flamingo Paperie Partner.
This week we received our first Christmas card. It always comes from the same family friend and is one of those things that lets us know Christmas is here.
It’s glittery (or flittery as we say in the card market), plain but very effective.
I do look at every card we receive, not just the first Christmas card, quite critically as I sell Christmas cards!
Every Christmas card that comes through our letterbox gets a good look over. Because I sell Christmas cards that are exclusively designed I am always on the look out for other cards of a similar appeal. Phoenix Trading asks us to submit Christmas cards each January in to a sort of competition to see who else is making popular or attractive designs. Therefore I am always on the look out for extra special cards (that obviously aren’t Phoenix ones!) to submit.
Are they charity Christmas cards?
Nearly every Christmas card that we receive is a charity card, but not all. I know some people just buy cheap cards then make a donation to a charity instead, I get that. However, if the card doesn’t say it’s a Christmas card then it does leave the impression that the sender just bought the cheapest pack of cards they could find because they felt they ought to send a card. Perhaps that’s just very judgemental on my part but that’s the impression I get that’s all. Personally I think every Christmas card could be a charity card, even some charity cards can be pretty cheap these days so there really is no excuse.
Does it stand up?
Most of our Christmas cards will end up hanging on a string in our hallway for everyone who visits to see. However a really special card may well get pride of place on the mantelpiece – but only if it can actually stand up! How many cheap, thin Christmas cards there are that come through the door that cannot stand without being sellotaped, glued or blu-tacked to the surface?!
I choose the cards I send making sure they look good, do good and are good quality. How do you choose yours?
Looking forward to seeing what Christmas cards drop on to the mat this week…
All our Christmas cards support various charities via the Phoenix International Charity. Our cards support three main charities; Macmillan Cancer Support, Cancer Research and Together for Short Lives. Flamingo Paperie Partners nominate all the other charities. If you’d like to see your charity nominated then all you need to do is a fundraising event with me.
Our luxury, exclusive bestselling Christmas cards are for sale here and in my Flamingo Paperie shop.
This year I am excited to announce that Phoenix are providing special packs of 7 cards for you to send during Thinking of You week (26th Sept to 2nd Oct).
Normally a pack of 7 cards would cost you £12.25 but these are being made available at a special price of £8.40.
Last year I made my own packs and donated £2 from each pack to my local charity Hebrides Alpha Project. It was obviously such a good idea that Phoenix have decided to roll this out nationally!
Thinking of You week is all about lifting people’s spirits, letting someone know you care. #sendingcards can have such a positive impact on mental health that these packs will support Mind and Hebrides Alpha supported housing project (1 and 2 pounds from each pack respectively)
Last year you helped me to raise £100, can we do it again?
If you can’t order online then you can email me at email@example.com for a pack (£1.30 postage) thank you x
If you would like to see some samples first just ask and I’ll be happy to send you some.
Perhaps you have a business that could use every day cards too? E.g. how about sending ‘New Home’ cards to your customers if you’re an estate agent, or ‘Sympathy’ cards when people lose their pets if you’re a vet.
Sending a greeting card to your customers with a handwritten note makes an overwhelming positive statement. Boost your image by making it personal and send our exclusively illustrated cards to your clients today.
I am proud to make a donation each year from a proportion of all Christmas cards sold to Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative (WICCI). A minimum of 10% is donated each year. Throughout the year I also support WICCI supplying them with stickers, paper tape and stationery items for their fabulous rainbow care boxes.
I also attend local craft fairs in the run up to Christmas and there is usually a fee or percentage donation from these sale to local charities and organisations.
In 2016 my nominated charity Hebrides Alpha Project received £150 from the Phoenix International Charity. The Hebrides Alpha Houseing project provides supported accommodation for people recovering from alcohol, drug, mental health or crimal justice related issues.
Over the past few years Laxdale Cubs and Beavers invited me several times to help them raise money for their nominated charities. Because of this, I thought it was time to give them something in return. So I nominated them as my local charity for 2017. I’ve already donated £100 from your Christmas card orders this year.
I was also really privileged in early December 2017 to support a coffee afternoon in memory of a family friend. From Christmas card sales that afternoon I gave £50 towards Cancer Research UK.
Flamingo Paperie charity Christmas cards – look good, are good and do good!
Click here to buy your cards now and support some great causes.
The 1p donation by Flamingo Paperie was unusual for card publishers. This is not the same as the usual charity donation on Christmas cards that retailers give. Flamingo Paperie are effectively the wholesaler in this case. It’s unusual for a wholesaler to make a charity donation on cards.
With Thinking of You Week just around the corner I thought it might be helpful to give some ideas of people you could send your 7 cards to.
1 – Your neighbour
Let’s face it you could send all 7 cards to people in your area and light up the whole neighbourhood with smiles. A little card to say, ‘Thanks for being a great neighbour’ would be lovely don’t you think?
2 – A family member
Who is special to you in your family but you never quite tell them often enough, or maybe they’re so special that you can’t tell them too often. How they’ll smile if you pop a card through their door this week.
3 – Work colleague
Who’s having a tough time at work? Who makes the office more fun and bearable and makes coming to work worthwhile? Send them a note to let them know that work wouldn’t be the same without them.
4 – Secret admiree
Who would you like to talk to but can’t quite pluck up the courage to do so? Or maybe you don’t get the chance without someone else around all the time. Why not send a card, they’ll feel very special and it might just break the ice.
5 – Someone bereaved
Who’s lost a loved one recently, or maybe it’s an anniversary of their loved one’s death? A card to let them know they’re thought of and cared for is a nice touch, especially if it’s a bit awkward to bring it up in conversation.
6 – Your bestie
I know you see them all the time, you talk and text on the phone regularly but I bet they’d love a card from you. It would be unexpected and special.
7 – Your postman
Well why not? They deliver all your mail, be nice if they got one to take home with them wouldn’t it?
8 – The Queen
Now Britain’s longest reigning monarch I bet she’d love a card for no other reason than to say ‘thanks, thought you might like this’.
9 – A celebrity
Well, when else would you have the excuse to send a card to George Clooney/Justin Bieber/Rihanna/Shakira?
10 – ‘Thinking of You’ surprise
You could be really daring and leave a card for someone to find! Check out Share the Love Letters for more on this.
The challenge is to send 7 cards over the course of a week, I’ve given you more than 7 possibilities in case some of the ideas don’t apply or appeal to you. Go on – send some smiles!
For more reasons to send cards read my other blog about being a Mad Hatter