I've known artist and designer Sarah Hamilton for a few years now - and in fact I interviewed her about her work on this very blog. She's a wonderfully talented, vivacious and passionate person and when she told me about her latest endeavour - the fabulous Just a Card campaign, I was so impressed.
If you've not heard about it, the campaign aims to encourage people to buy 'just a card' if they go into an independent shop or gallery. So many galleries are closing down because people pop in, have a look around, see the prices of the artwork and feel that to buy something significant would be out of their reach financially. Even if they love the designs on offer, they often feel too embarrassed to make a small purchase - such as a card or some wrapping paper. However, it's these small purchases, when repeated by many customers, that can make all the difference to a struggling gallery owner's finances.
Sarah was inspired to start the campaign when she saw the quote "If everyone who'd complimented our beautiful gallery had bought 'just a card' we'd still be open". The message was simple and clear - if you go into an independent store, don't be embarrassed if you can only afford to spend a few pounds! As Sarah pointed out when we talked about it over dinner lately, you wouldn't be embarrassed to go to Tesco and only buy a mass-produced card, but we know who'd appreciate the purchase more.
I'm passionate about passionate people who turn their passions into their livelihood - it really takes guts and balls, and in our age of huge faceless corporations I truly love to support independent people wherever possible. I've mentioned before my love of Dartmouth (and we're off there on holiday again later this month) - it's my happy place and one of the main reasons is the plethora of quirky independent shops - many of which are art galleries - and all of which I can easily spend hours in browsing. The shopkeepers are always friendly and love to chat and tell you about all the things they're selling - it's so wonderful to know that the things you are buying were made with love and care. I'm not particularly hippy in general but I do think surrounding yourself with things that have a real story behind them lifts your spirits.
I'm so happy to see that Sarah's campaign is really gaining momentum, but if you haven't supported it yet, please do! You can check out the website, follow them on Twitter and keep up to date with their progress on their blog. But most important of all, please do buy 'just a card' if you go into an independent shop or gallery - you really will be making all the difference!