Davora is a specialist greeting card publisher with a focus on niche ethnic and so-called minor season occasions. Their ranges cover Eid, Diwali, Jewish New Year, Hanukkah, Jewish occasions, Chinese New Year, Christian cards, Saint Days and many more! Based in Stockport, Cheshire.
How did you start out?
By accident! In my previous life I was a Management Consultant working in Energy markets, building billing systems. So becoming a greeting card publisher was definitely not on my radar! However I was still a greeting card consumer, and as I was working away a lot, I decided to send a Diwali card back to my parents one year. I had so much trouble finding one, and when I did find one the quality was terrible – it was paper rather than card, the design was really old fashioned and there wasn’t even any gum on the envelope! So I saw a gap in the market for good quality Asian greeting cards, the entrepreneur in me got all excited and I set about sourcing good quality cards for Asian occasions. A couple of years into the business, and I saw a similar gap in the market for Jewish cards, so we moved in to that space too. The rest as they say is history! We now cover all manner of niche cards including Welsh and Polish cards.
Where do you sell your products?
We are the main supplier for most of the UK supermarket and high street chains for Ethnic cards. We also supply many independent shops too across the country. We’ve got a distributor in Australia and South Africa, and we’re actively looking for other territories too.
What do you consider to be the main challenges facing small business at the moment?
Admin, red tape, paperwork, call it what you will. Running a small business requires the owners to understand absolutely everything, and so they end up spending a lot less time on selling as they would like to. Things like VAT, taxation, payroll can take a lot of time to get right. Then there’s all the activities around running the online side – compliance issues if you take payments online, keeping up with online security. For the bricks and mortar side there’s dealing with utilities that get the bills wrong, council tax and local planning issues. All this takes time away from the cash generating activities of marketing and sales.
What tips do you have for fellow small business owners?
I’ll give you three:
- Coming from an IT background, my tip would be to not be afraid of technology. The correct use of technology in a business can save lots of time and money in the long run – it should pay for itself, and if it doesn’t then change it or change how you use it. For example, a decent accounting software package, set up and run correctly will grow with your business and will allow you to see the big picture, and a properly thought through website will do you wonders!
- My second tip is to remember to make time to work ON the business and not just IN the business. It’s very easy to get lost in the day-to-day activities, but you also need to be able to step back and ask the important questions such as Where are we, where are we going, and how are we getting there?
- Patience. It takes time to grow a business, don’t be tempted to throw in the towel too early. Patience and Perseverance will get you to where you want to be.
What makes you stand out from the crowd?
We’re the only Greeting Card company that covers all the occasions that we do under one roof. We’ve carved out a niche for ourselves and we’ve championed it. Since no one else does what we do, we don’t really need to stand out from the crowd. We are the crowd!
How important is social media in promoting your business?
We’re active on Facebook and Twitter. I don’t see Social Media as a direct selling tool – and if we used it as a direct selling tool, that would be a big turn off for our customers and potential customers. For me, Social Media are communication channels. Our followers have followed because they are interested in what we are up to, so it’s important we communicate our activities regularly. And we’re available on Social Media to help customers as needed.
What has been your most successful promotion/marketing idea?
We produce a wallplanner each year with all the key dates for Eid, Diwali etc marked on, and we send it out to all our customers and contacts. As the dates change each year for many festivals, our customers rely on the wallplanner to make sure they order in good time. By providing this useful information, our branded wallplanner quietly sits on the office wall advertising us to our customers 365 days of the year. It’s a win-win!
What are your plans for the future?
We’re always looking for new occasions to add to our portfolio, and we have some up our sleeve that are yet to be released. We’re also looking for ways to expand overseas.
What features/articles would you like to see on Gift Shop Hub?
The site is great, and there’s already so much useful information on there! A round up of what you think are the best Business Books might be a good idea.
Quick fire questions:
Favourite song: Almost anything Bollywood!
Favourite film: Groundhog Day. And almost anything Bollywood!
Favourite animal: Lion. Because my surname is Arora (A Roarer). Sorry.