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Season 1 Ep 47: Chat With a Card Maker: Kiki Gunn

This week on the xoxo, jess Podcast This week I’m talking to Kristy Gunn. She is a graphic designer originally from the UK now living in beautiful rural France. She specializes in design for greeting cards and art prints. Her shop, Kiki Gunn, has a very unique design style and loves to create pieces that are bold and a little cute, sexy and fun. Listen in as we talk about her journey from the music industry into making greeting cards, designing across cultures and languages, and more! Listen to the episode above, on iTunes HERE, or read the transcription below.

Episode Transcription:

Jessica Walker

Welcome back to xo xo jest where we dive deep into the world of greeting cards, the highs and lows of entrepreneurship and the mindset tools needed to start creating the business of your dreams today. I'm Jessica Walker, your host here with another Wednesday episode and this week I am talking to Christy Gunn of Kiki gun. She's a graphic designer originally from the UK, now living in beautiful rural France and she specializes in designs for greeting cards and art prints. She has a gorgeous, unique style that I am obsessed with. It's just it's cool. It's bold, it's fun, it's sexy. It's I just love it. You're going to have to look it up right after this. And I'm just really excited to dive into this conversation and get to know one of our other international sellers who's inside of the card maker mastermind. So here bringing you another chat with the cardmaker this week. Welcome Christy. Hello. Hi. So excited to have you here.

I wish you guys could see Christy's room that she's in. It's absolutely gorgeous. There's like it's just how I picture France looking like this gorgeous floral wallpaper.

Kristy Gunn

I'm just is it just so lovely living there. It's a little cold. I got to say third floor. That sounds actually I've just said we have three floors. Yes, we have on the top floor has no heating or anything. So yeah, I put stuff up to make it look nice. But when it's not Sunny, I'm up here in many layers. Family members who call me who just go Wow. So it's lovely. That it can be very cold. So yes, I see that. I feel that

Jessica Walker

so Christie let's just dive straight in and start at the beginning. So start a little with your background what got you into the greeting card world? Have you always been into art and design? What got you here?

Kristy Gunn

Yeah, it's weird actually, having said that I was going to be doing this. I'm like, Well, yeah, I do have like, quite a journey into it. But um, where do you start with music I'm was obsessed with music and music videos as a kid, and design and color and like an 80s kid. So like, pop neon Suzi quatro any stuff like that was you know, even I think I was obsessed with backfields for a year if anyone from England knows who that is like, but anything Poppy and colorful and bright. And didn't necessarily I didn't find it anthropology at university, wow, kind of material culture and sociology, ethnographic film, blah, blah, blah. But I ended up doing my dissertation on Britpop, like understanding differences between like north and south of England and Blair and Oasis and stuff, and interviewed lots of people with magazines and TV and stuff. And then I ended up being a runner and working in film and advertising and work for an advertising agency and then decided that I wanted to go make music videos, which is what I randomly did for six years. And my job I went in as a production person to produce because I'd been producing the TV ads and stuff and doing, you know, helping understand studios that and the person who I worked with, like, I think you'd be really good at working with directors on ideas. I'm like, What is that a job? Like? So you actually sit with the other directors, you listen to retrack and you come up with they come up with ideas, and then you just tell them if would work or not? Or like go for you know, is that what you're doing for yourself? Are you doing for the band or when I did that job for six years, like my job was to go and have coffee with directors and come up with ideas for music videos, listen contracts, and then like, yeah, so I did that for six years. And I moved to LA with my lovely husband who I met. He was a producer did like some awesome music videos.

And so we went to LA to follow his director who is working with DPI, just big properties and stuff. And I worked at a French company called parties and you had like Michel Gondry, and some really awesome directors were in food, who's like, one of my favorite directors ever was there when I and he still is he doesn't like Daft Punk videos and all that sort of stuff. So it was always it's always been visuals and music, and I feel very lucky to have gone on that journey. But while I was there,

I did pitches for directors. So like, a job would come in for either a music video or commercial, and then I would help develop the idea with the directors. And then from there I started developing my graphic design skill did a graphic design course. I'm started deciding that I wanted to do stuff that was mine, not for other people. No, not that. I did it all for them. But I did a lot of writing then as well. But I just wanted something that was mine like that reflected me. And I started doing cards, designing greeting cards and finding a style because I think the directors I used to love working with the most were the ones whose style I liked the most. And it all started coming together. And then I quite like funny things. And I found like commercials with a little everyone took themselves a bit. See, it's not everyone, but it was quite serious. And I just wanted something that was a bit more like me a bit more like my friends. And a bit simpler and a bit just something entirely controlled by me. Goodbye directed for about a year, I was not very good at it because I'm tolerant. And, and too many people got involved, you know, stylists and stuff. And then it never ended up being what I wanted it to be. And but cards and art prints and design is exactly who you are what you are. And it's up to you to either make it something that you would want to buy, you know, like if you if you don't like it don't

Because I look at lots of stuff now. And I'm learning that being on your course I'm learning like just because you've done it, it doesn't mean that you have to look at it and go do the same thing. Yeah.

I also think the people I used to work with and like would they like it? You know, would they all the skills that I've learned from them? Is this good enough? Or is it a bit lame? You know, like, so? I'm a bit hard on myself like that. But yeah, so when I was there, I kind of got into, like the last year we were there. 2017 I had enough sort of confidence to apply for unique LA. I forgotten her name, Sonia. Priscilla, I think it is he's like the person who heads up and champions new businesses and things. And they just asked to show three pieces of your work. And I think I put like, I've got a card that says Happy Birthday bitch, which is meant to be funny. Yeah, it's like, a cloud and a heart. Like, it's like, you talk to your sisters like that. It's like I love you. Exactly. I hate you. But if I did that one and a couple of funny Christmas ones, Harry Christmas, I think it was a very Christmas with like, I know, it's just silly stuff. But I got straight in. I couldn't believe I couldn't believe I was like, Wow, so I had to like do a massive Christmas stall. My friend Lauren, who's like, awesome view, I think I just like most of my stuff with her in mind actually might be achieved by it. But, um, so she came along to help me because she's just like, all like, Hi, you know, like, when I'm a bit

I'm quite, I'm quite confident, but also quite shy, which is not a really good combination, or is, is in the right place. But it's not when you're trying to be Front of House selling something, I don't think she came along and did it with me. And it was amazing, you know, like with people who were retailers who were looking for stock, you know, stockists and stuff. And she you know, Sony came over to me and said, I love all your stuff. And it really felt like it was gonna go somewhere. And then with the Brexit will the Brexit stuff happen, and we might if we don't go now, we if we don't get a house, we don't get settled in France, then we might never get to go might never get there. So just as it was getting good. And a couple of people had asked me to stop their stuff, I had to add things in a few little stores there. Didn't have an Etsy cipher, which is crazy to think only got that in 2019. But um,

yeah, and then, uh, suddenly, I was just like, wow, I'm in the French countryside, all of those connections can't really exist anymore. And I had to just email a couple of times. I'm really sorry. I just, I just moved country when everything was like getting really good. When market for makers approached me. I think they were unique. And I and they approached me to do their Christmas market. I was like, yeah, let's, you know, go for it. But that was really weird. That ended up being I was like, Why is everyone buying all this stuff? And it's so friendly. And so lovely. Ended up being Scientology Christmas fair. And I tell my gosh, yeah, at the end, I got invited to this guy kept coming back. Where would you like to come to our Christmas event? Or like, what would that be? I mean, I was in front of the Scientology building. So I should have guessed. I mean, Oh my gosh, that is why I met so many really good people who I'm still friends with stuff like that. But if I was on a really good thing, and then suddenly it's like, boom.

Jessica Walker

So that's honestly like one of the reasons I wanted to have this conversation because one like just to dive into what you just said, you have the coolest resume, like I feel like you've lived like several lives. That's so cool. And that also makes total sense like your cards are so like rocker like that pa like it's it's so cool and that that makes sense because you have this background and you also mentioned like you have a clear person or group of people in your head who would buy these things do you have a clear vision and that makes sense why you have such a cohesive look so again so yeah you went and had had your business in LA and then totally pivoted and then are in a new country with with like you you don't have your suppliers and like all the things like that and I'm just like, what does that look like? So what are first steps I know that you're you're in the process of this right now like

Kristy Gunn

It's so weird I don't know if it's I can't remember how I found you but it was almost like something just dropped out of the sky because I was so because then all the stuff with I was still designing things but if I don't know where we go with this and then wait you know I approached a couple of stores I'm friends with a couple of girls in the stores near me but I feel this sort of still quite a closed group and I don't want to force my self okay if I live here she doesn't have to choose me to say really I kind of

the supplier thing is like a nightmare like I used to screen print all my cards in I used to do all myself and because I felt like a sense of ownership like like I used to be funny about like if I if I just sent them off to get printed with I less authentic than if I get that I realized it's really limiting to the colors and i also got really sick at one point from all the chemical but that's another story oh my gosh, part time Yeah. But um and then I was like well I have to find out another way of doing it and move I used to footprint my business cards with new in the states and I was so good like the quality the speed at which they do it. And so I was like you know maybe I'll just see how they go. I think just being at it amazing has completely changed everything for me. We've had a few bumps with Brexit because all of a sudden I don't think they were registered in like wherever they are they are now it's all fine and they I think they set up in France so that they can get stuff to me by not a whopping great like in tax bill for like 45 euros for something that was only cost me 70 or whatever. Oh my gosh crazy so but that seems to have ironed out now but I was looking for other places to print. I tried out a couple of places in the town. But my my French is pretty good but it's not that good. And it was like drawing pictures and writing stuff and Then the Colors all around and I'd go and have a meeting with them. They were they are and bla bla bla bla like you know what let's just draw a line onto this and stick with what works stick with what you know and stick with it really good fluid communication with mood like it's everything's like any if there's a problem I think I said something was wrong with one of my cars but the black was upright. They printed the whole thing that was amazing. Okay, you don't need to That's crazy. But what amazing customer service I'm so glad you somebody and get out this is really hard for me like where like where I could approach stores in LA was just the million and one and also

I don't know generally find Americans I mean, the English to love greeting cards, like it's the whole thing. And I got approached by somebody when I was at unique la he wanted to do like can we have your cards as part of our we've got a gift service and would you know can we have it doing that? I was like we're so excited but he is just a bit like, I don't know how to go about this. So um, I there's a place called it's a it's a trade show called Misa chez mais OBJ is in Paris every year. And the first year I was in second year was here I was like well I'm gonna go and check out what their stationery trade section is. It's all interior design. I've heard about it before for for like lots of other reasons for people and my sister does interior design and she like dinette. I knew about a knew about it. But I had never thought about it having stationery for me, you know, so I went back and checked it out. And as I would comfort you know, I went in I was like, You know what, it might take me a while but I could get to this level. And I'm thinking the other thing I might do is t shirts or just a few like t shirts prints, greeting but just keep it like you've always just keep the thing the thing don't start making mugs and like go crazy because it's so easy.

Yeah. Because start getting a market followers and everything. You don't want to start spending money that you then can't ever recuperate things like I said with cards and art prints, you could just print as you go. Yeah. And so I'm like, okay, that's my goal. My goal is to get in there in say like two years. Fine with an over laugh and have a clear style and clear brands because it's so educational to go and go right okay I love that brand that brand that brand I don't know what that brand is and like so you learn a lot from from going to research such a good tip

Jessica Walker

I'm glad that you mentioned that actually I feel like just doing your own market research is so smart like I would I still do this I go into greeting card shops see what's on the shelves I go to those that I want to be and see what's going on. I knew the national stationery show just to like see what it was like and and by seeing it you can see like this is possible maybe not right now but I can totally do this. It's like yeah, it just like puts that clear image in your head as opposed to this big like unknown I think that's so smart that you're doing that.

Kristy Gunn

Yeah, but you can't you can't sort of feel like because I'm on my own at the moment is that's what I'm trying to do that's why meeting you and all the girls at the cardmakers I say girls I do feel bad that is all it is I know we need to get some guys I don't know I do all prints like awesome guys to do like our Christmas so many graphic designers and illustrators that'll be the project for this year is got some more guys up in there yeah I'm not trying to make some more guy car you there's a couple of knock guy cards but guys I think make bring they buy maybe cards for the guy see buy cards for other guy I don't know. So I'm trying to do a few more things like that. But on the other thing my art prints I do my art prints g clay because I really like bold colors. Sometimes I get frustrated with color printing because it's the CMI k thing and it just does everything so I the one thing I'm doing do my art prints I get done professionally g clay print really beautiful paper and the colors are just like food, like, so bold and strong. So the some of the stuff I've done is car designs for the you know, seven day challenge. Right? I knew that it would never make it so I've turned them into posters. But I'm like that I missed your face one that you're one I've done that as a print. Oh cool. I think it just lit now like with fun, you know, neon yellows and pinks and stuff that like dark blue just doesn't have the same effect. So I this place called Evo Lambo in Bordeaux. And so they're amazing. But we have a really good like, easy, she speaks English and I my French is like, sort of okay, but um, so that sighs I feel like I've got a really good handle on where where am I I can get my products done at a level that I really like. And then the rest I think kind of just gonna I think I'm looking at like wholesale and trade shows. And just getting a bigger audience because it's just not the same. It's not I can't just go around with pot around little. Not LA is not the massive market that you know, at seeing us has that so huge.

So yeah, I'm having to rethink what my goals are in terms of human if you want uplifting stuff, too. And I love that you're just piecing it together because like I remember when we first met you were still you were trying to figure out the suppliers you were trying to figure out do I how do I screen print and whatnot and you really worked with what made sense for you, you worked with the resources you had and now you have your your suppliers and your people and and that's something I feel like for anyone who's maybe got moving or jumping to a new market is it does take time. But if you're just creative and receptive and open to possibilities like it you can't find these people you just have to keep sticking with it and and just because I'm curious now that you are marketing to the French market, or does that change? are most of your cards in French? Do you find that like does humor translate in French like this? The ways that you did it I'm just interested in the language Well, you know, I fit I think the more the more international the shops and boutiques I go into feel like when they feel more like there's a really beautiful store called slow in near where I live. And, and her stuff. It's like walking into a store in in Los Angeles. I used to live in Highland Park or like in that area. But it's just like walking into a silver lead store like all the beautiful vegan clothes and all of her stuff. A lot of it is English, very French cards. But then the more there's a couple places Lera shell a little bit more traditional in style and they have more French cards, but there's things like Mother's Day here are all those days are very French so I've just done a series of French Mother's Day cars, because they're not going to buy Mother's Day cards for their older Frenchman because it's not it's not as doesn't sound that way. But I think humor cards pretty much I've seen most humor cards are English. And so I just think key holiday things and I've done all went most of my French cards, holiday cards. do half of them in French and half an English because I think Traditional, it depends who you're sending it to. So if you've got like someone in Paris, a young D, in Paris, giving it to his girlfriend, they probably all understand English and they get that joke. Or if you've got a card that you're sending your grandma in regional France at Christmas, then you probably want it to be in French, just trying to piece it together. So, yeah, half and half at the moment, but I'm trying to do more French,

Jessica Walker

that's so smart. And a great way for anyone who is just, I mean, like just thinking through your clients. It's not, you're not always selling, actually, you're really never selling to the person buying the card, it's the person that person is giving it to. So that's like, that's actually a good idea. Um, and and yeah, I love that, that you're like, I have the market for both. So just make sense, in which circumstance, you use that language. I love that. So with international selling, just because I know we have a lot of UK,

members of the group and I know that greeting cards are really big in the UK as well, when you're in France, just because I have no idea about this the international market Really? Do you get orders to America often is it mostly like orders that your international orders? Are they mostly in Europe? Like what does that look like?

Kristy Gunn

Yeah, the moment like I say, No, we're also I think people look at my shipping prices now to the States. And, and I just think I haven't I haven't had an order to the states for a long time. But I think it's because you know, I was I was looking to order something, I've got some big favorite shops in both the love rifle Paper Company, I said, Come on, I went to buy a calendar for man the other day, or calendar placed, there was something and the shipping was like, more like the same prices that so and it's funny, mine's not as expensive as that. But if you've got Yes, so so and I was selling quite a lot of stuff to the UK. And then Brexit hit, like I was sending good card cards and art prints to the UK. Because the shipping was fast and easy and literally overnight. Gone. Because the shipping their taxes that their end, and it's all over the news. Like if you get something you are paying for the shipping, I had it happen to me, you know, like, something that cost me 70 euros to buy because me 40 euros to receive. So yeah, that's been a bit of a touch and go but I'm actually looking trying to get more into German.

Now market is, I think I started following somebody, but I got enough message from wholesalers in Germany, Berlin, about maybe approaching them, so I think I'm just gonna have to, it's a shame that shut The doors on the UK for a bit because there's no way no one's gonna pay five euros for a card that costs less than that to ship it and then the taxes on top. So UK was what I was doing. But because I have moved as a printer mu international and whatever I put on file with them, they can print in the States. If I did have that happen. And I you know, hopefully when I get into a situation where I'm ready to do house wholesale or something like that, then then I would use them and maybe get a friend there to help do the packaging and stuff. I print all nearly all my stuff with them and my stickers and all that stuff. So we could just get it done there. So I think, because there was a problem, the breakfast stuff, I've looked at finding another printer for cards. But in the long run, it wouldn't be in advance. I need to stick with them because they are huge and international. And I could the quality control would be the same, though. Yeah, not the status has been like gone, because it's not easy for me for people buying it. And the time as well doesn't ship that easily. So I'm just going to focus more on you now. Because Yeah, there's not much else I can do. We were in the UK. So if I you know, get my little niece involved, she can do packaging and stuff for me. Love it.

She's amazing, amazing artists, actually, I keep telling her to do her new postcards and stuff, but she's too shy. But she's really good. Better than me.

Jessica Walker

Well, I love that. I mean, because the thing is, is like you're navigating a new market, and you're also navigating it during a crazy time. And then you're having these things and the thing is is like instead of shutting down and being like, you know what I don't I don't know, this is I don't have this market. I don't have this market. You're like creative forward thinking, thinking like, Okay, let me look into Germany. Let me stick with a printer that's going to carry me further in the future. And it's just like, I really do think and I feel like you'd probably feel the same as that mindset is so important as a small business owner that like you. It's what carries you forward because like you have to be a creative thinker. And, and the way that we do that is like to have the mindset. It doesn't mean just like being positive all the time. But it means like saying, there's a problem, I recognize it, and I'm going to try to work around it.

Kristy Gunn

Yeah. But it's not to say that that that work around is easy. Sometimes you go, Oh, my God. And also when you comparing yourself, too, you know, because a lot of the guys that I'm with you with their car maker mastermind, are all in the States. And sometimes when you're talking about my Oh, I wish my like, you're not you're a bit of an I'm a bit of an island in terms of the things that I have to think about. And how I'm going to think about them are not the same, and you can get frustrated, but it's Yeah, you just have to, and then then you don't realize you've actually solved it, like it might take you ready to go, I'm gonna give you go. I've come to my own conclusion. And I have actually worked out and because again, I'll say with the with the the G clay printing, I thought I'd try someone in the UK, because obviously in the Brexit happen, but it was awful, the colors were awful, everything was awful. So I just went back to the amazing relationship that I already had. And I was like, Okay, that's it, I'll stop messing around. Just got to, you know, but it doesn't, it doesn't happen that fast. And it's not that easy. And I do feel like joining you guys is just when you're having a bit of a like one of those days. And I do have a lot at the moment, because we're locked down. We're not allowed to go more than 10 kilometres from my house, there's no shopsafe. But it's like being a spike, feel like someone's about to jump out with me with a camera.

But no. And so, I do have those days along, but I might my lovely husband is like a huge champion of me. And he because I should be working a lot at the moment, but he doesn't. He's like, just do what, you have an opportunity to change something in your future because you have this passion for this. I'm just going to keep working at the same job that I do. And you just do see you and I'm very, very lucky to have that. Like, I don't know, you know, because I probably would have given up a long time ago, but he can see what it does for me. And I do love my other job when I do pictures and stuff like that. And I've become much more selective. I don't just take a job just because it's there. I take it because I love, you know, essentialism thing that I didn't even realize I was starting to do having read that. But essentially, it's a My, my, I am a bit like that Now, like I do like what's it worth? And what's the job for because the other thing that happened is that

I got asked to do just as a side I got asked to do a pitch with Zack Schneider for like for a couple of film things on a terrifying thing that I ever got asked to do. And I went in nothing was like, Oh my god, it was the most surreal meeting I've ever had in my life. I just had an operation on my teeth, and I was on like painkiller drugs. And I'm just like, Oh, my God, he offered me a coffin alone and pasta, but I'm now done three with him. And he asked me to do one just before just last Christmas. And it's like, I sometimes have to look back and go, I've got to beat like,

I don't have to let go of what I really love to carry on doing this, as long as I'm making the choices for the right projects. So I've got like two or three people I like working with whose jobs I've always loved doing. So if I do that, and the 100% carry on trying to do greeting cards and prints then that's okay. I don't have to say yes to everything. Because it just stresses me out. And I get actually quite quite sick. I get really stressed and stuff. But this is just something I'm so sort of passionate about that I just do the good. And I keep focused, which is what I I honestly don't think I would feel like this if I hadn't joined your group. And if I genuinely don't, because it's like you're not you're not on your own. You're all on different paths. But it's but it's the same. Like you all want the same thing, but you're coming at it from different lives. And there's a couple of people on your on the clock, of course, who I just think are amazed that you know, like who's like, million times more talented than me and their stories so passionate. And I'm like, well, it just makes you sort of feel really grateful for everything you have and give it a go because if they give it a go, you're going to give it again. So there's like that team sort of drive that I wouldn't have had if I hadn't I probably would just feel a bit more Moray sort

of challenges you set off the seven day challenge like go go, and it's just made me just don't focus. I think I lost a bit of focus. But you know, it's been amazing.

Jessica Walker

It is amazing that you're so glad you're in it. You're such a light in the group and I just love love having you in there. And I feel like that's such a great note to end on is just like you're you're right you can choose what you want to do. You can choose what you're passionate about and you can just go after those. You don't have to say yes to everything. And I just love that. I think that's such a good reminder. So for anyone who hasn't seen your cards, where can people see what you're doing see your work and reach out to you if they are interested in learning more?

Kristy Gunn

Yeah, I've only got two sites at the moment. I've got my bit of a random email. I'm sorting it out the most not email website. So it's my is my personal site with all my greeting cards and art prints and contact details and stuff on there. And then my Etsy page, which is actually shop Waikiki. That's correct. Yes, that is correct. Yes. But I only went on there in 20. I don't know why I didn't do Etsy before. I do get a bit overwhelmed with Etsy, like knowing what to do and like, how to get there. And then I'm pretty sure a lot of people do go when I was, like, I'm one working through all the advice that you have given us about, like how to make to go to kind of make it work for you. But it's still a bit of process for me, because I'm trying to work out the French English thing. Yeah. Like it's quite hard for me. So I'm just going to try and get back into using my personal site. And because it's really I've just rebranded it and put more sort of like clarity into it. Because before it was like a bit wishy washy, but it's now my name and just greeting cards and offerings, because that's what it should be. Love it clear. To the point. Yes, Kiki, confused by what? I just I just think I lacked confidence, actually, to say that that's what I do was good enough to do so. But yeah, I got a bit more competent now.

Jessica Walker

And it's warranted her stuff is so cool. It's so cute. I just you're gonna love it so.

Exactly. And I'm going to be linking her Instagram, my Kiki dotnet as well as her Etsy so you can go take a look, shop and see what's going on. Christy, thank you so much for this conversation. I loved it. And it was just so insightful for people who just are new to the whole concept of these international markets, and I really appreciate you taking the time to share with us. Thank you.

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