30 April 2021|Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder
Kay Patel is an Essex-based stationery entrepreneur who has been creating luxury bespoke stationery for the rich and famous for over 10 years. She co-founded Intricate Creations with her husband Jit and the pair have now joined forces with another print industry expert and friend Lewis Stevenson to launch ethical and eco stationery business, The Seed Card Company.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
Along with my husband, Jit, I co-founded Intricate Creations a luxury bespoke wedding and events stationery company which has been running for over 11 years now. We have been fortunate to work with many celebrities, ultra-high net-worth individuals and well-known household brands to create unique and very different stationery items for their events – from invitations and menus to bespoke packaging. Like many in the hospitality sector we were rocked, to say the least, by Covid-19 and the immediate closure of our industry overnight. Initially, we had the hard talk as to where we stood financially for the next two years (being realistic) if literally no business came our way; then we embraced the gift of time we had been given and with our son being over 16 months old a lot of quality time we never would have had. However, Jit and I always have itchy palms, always want to be creative, always want a challenge and there was no better time.
Through Intricate Creations we had worked with seed card for a number of years, and we loved the material and what it represented as an eco-alternative to a material we use every day. So, we thought, why not use our expertise in print and design. Jit and I approached Lewis, who has also worked in the print industry (Leeming Brothers) for several years and a very good friend of ours who had also been knocked by Covid-19, to start planning and designing the fundamentals of The Seed Card Company. From June 2020, we researched, planned, and designed over many Zoom calls and successfully launched the business in February this year.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
Through the other business I co-run, seed card is a material I have worked a lot with for several beauty brands because of its eco-credentials. I remember being blown away by a material embedded with seeds that we could use to make stationery and then could actually grow into flowers. Considering the length of time I have worked with card and paper there really was not much I had not seen, but this one was special. Coupled with my own behaviours changing around eco-alternatives, the gift of time and having two very supportive individuals who also believed in the material, we knew we could bring a difference to the greeting card and stationery industry. All three of us bring different strengths and knowledge and we knew there was a market for us – we just had to tell the world about it.
How did you achieve awareness?
This is where I believe own experience really helps. Through running the other business, and starting a business with no audience there were many things that were done well and many things, upon reflection, I wish had been done differently. The importance of marketing a product we knew was vital, there is no point having a great product if no one knows about it and I knew it was important for individuals to know why I fell in love with seed card in the first place. First stop was PR. My advice is never underestimate the reach and contacts a PR agency has, in my opinion if you can afford to do so it is imperative to build brand awareness. Next, social media to drive awareness to our consumers directly, and lastly, your own black book – this one I found the most powerful.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
I have to say we are quite fortunate as we have been able to self-fund the business to date. Something I do believe in is when you put your own capital into something you have even more drive to not let it fail. You are motivated and constantly aware of all your expenses and therefore make more calculated decisions and are resourceful in your approach to every task or purchase you make. It also means you are in control of your own destiny and that always makes things interesting.
What are the key successes?
Without a doubt launching! As many other entrepreneurs will know, launching the business takes a lot of blood sweat and tears. When the website/business went live it really felt like we had conquered Mt. Everest. Also, securing our first trade order, locally and on the scale we did was a very special moment. Honestly, I feel so proud of the three of us and all we had achieved individually and together to secure the order so quickly since launch.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
I would definitely say with the challenges we have faced the consistent factor for us all has been not being able to meet people due to the restrictions we have all had to live with over the last year. Not being able to test machines, unable to attend trade shows to show our products on a larger platform has been hindering. However, I do believe challenges are here to test us, and they have, but it has also meant we have had to be inventive and creative. The power of talking to others and asking questions has really helped us overcome a lot of challenges and allowed us to work through the problem and brainstorm innovative solutions.
What are your plans now/for the future?
As we have just launched the business our immediate plans are to grow the different arms of the business whilst continuing to be innovative with our designs and the material itself – watch this space.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
Start! Don’t procrastinate, grab some coloured pens and a large piece of paper and get everything you need to do to get your business live onto that paper – have a brain dump. Then tackle one task at a time.
Can you share you top tips for entrepreneurial success?
Believe in yourself and your product
Reflect on your successes and failures
Surround yourself with those that you trust to give you great advice and to pick you up when you have had those “off days”
Offload/outsource work (as soon as you can) to those that do the job as their day job. Accounts, there are accountants for a reason! Leaving you time to focus on growing your business to the next level.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most?
My son – throughout Covid-19 he has constantly reminded me what is important and maintained the drive to achieve more for him
My dad – his drive to go out and achieve and not taking no for an answer has helped me on some many occasions
Jit and Lewis (my husband and both my business partners) – their constant push, their constant support, their constant drive to take make this idea happen with balancing other businesses has been incredibly inspiring
David Attenborough – his documentaries and research have been impactful and a constant reminder every day of why we all need to do something, even one thing, to help our world for our future generations
Working mums – I respect and admire each and every working mum out there. Every single one of them inspire me and I learn so much from the blogs, groups and forums I read and am part of.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
Every day is one day closer
Go hard or go home
What are your social handles and website links so our readers can connect with you?