The Celebration Project so far – the first four months
The Vision for a social enterprise supporting good causes
The idea for starting The Celebration Project was born out of a collision of events back in March this year. As a new member of Soroptimist International of GB and Ireland (a women’s movement helping women and girls locally, nationally and internationally) I realised how difficult it is to continually be raising funds year in year out. I wanted to find a sustainable way to fund- raise and, inspired by the cosmetics company, Lush, who give a percentage of profits to charity as part of their mission, The Celebration Project was born.
At the same time, I learnt about an amazing charity, Pencils of Promise, which builds schools in developing countries. This charity is supported by two of my favourite podcasters, John Lee Dumas and Pat Flynn who I have been following for several years and heard speak at Social Media Marketing World back in 2015. John Lee Dumas has donated significant amounts of money from the sale of his Freedom Journal to the charity and Pat Flynn raised enough funds to finance the building of two schools in Ghana. Awesome, as they would say.
These stories resonated with me, so much so that I decided to create a range of stationery where a percentage of profits will go to these two good causes.
In late March I read three books which spurred me into action: the first is “Will It Fly?: How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don’t Waste Your Time and Money” by Pat Flynn which walks you step by step through testing out a business proposition. The second is “The 7 Day Startup: You Don’t Learn Until You Launch” by Dan Norris which provides very different but nonetheless valuable advice. Finally, I read “The Promise of a Pencil” by Adam Braun, the founder of Pencils of Promise. If you want to be inspired – it’s a ‘must-read’!
With these books in hand I worked on my idea solidly for a week whilst on holiday in France with no access to the internet! Yes – a hand-written plan.
On my return, I set to work on the first challenge which was to find a supplier of my chosen trial product – notebooks. It was off to the Stationery Show in London where there was plenty of opportunity to size up the wholesale market. With little margin if I bought from a wholesaler, I knew I had to go directly to a manufacturer. Fortunately, one of the exhibitors was just the company I was looking for and only an hour up the motorway from me.
The Fiesta range of Notebooks
With the design of the covers in place, I took delivery of 1,000 notebooks in five colours and two styles just eight weeks after launch.
During those first two months, I created a website, starting writing a blog, set up all the social media platforms and planned my marketing strategy.
In the early days, I called on my Facebook friends to form an Ambassadors group. This group has been an invaluable place for mooting ideas, raising awareness and continues to keep me accountable. I also turned to my local business community for help in spreading the word. A big thank-you goes to so many people for their encouragement of the past few weeks.
The Bare Bones of a Company
I now have a website, an online shop, an Amazon shop and an eBay shop. My recent blog post “45 Reasons for Writing a Journal” has had nearly 1,000 views in the last fortnight from visitors all over the world and website traffic is on the increase.
I now have a new range of greetings cards, invitations and thank-you cards all ready to go and am really excited about the next phase in this new venture.
Where does The Celebration Project go from Here?
The aim is to find retail outlets and online shops to stock the stationery. In addition, I will be adding additional products such as pencils and party-ware to the range.
I will be working with companies who would like to have their own range of stationery which I will design and have manufactured on their behalf.
The Family Journal
As well as offering the existing products, I will be sourcing diaries and planners for 2017 for the Christmas market and have plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for my Family Journal, but more of that in a future post.
The Celebration Project may be in its infancy but the best is yet to come.