It has been a long, slow journey over 16 years since Fiona started selling a small selection of quirky, handmade greeting cards at Sydney’s Balmain markets, to make some money as she kicked off her business dream.
As she tells me in my Enterprising Women column in today’s AFR, she had six cards in her first range, selling for $3 each. After two years she turned over about $60,000. By Christmas 2013 her Candle Bark Creations will have sold about one million cards for the year, with revenues pushing towards $2million by the 2014 financial year. That’s a lot of cards!
Over the past 18 months she has expanded beyond her, now, 26 cards in the range to introduce a bespoke corporate cards, custom invitations and wedding stationery. She sells to more than 300 newsagencies around Australia, and to gift and variety stores, so you can find her Candle Bark Creations almost anywhere, including online.
Virtually all production happens in her bustling studio in Sydney, with some cards in boxes and for Christmas, manufactured in China. Most cards retail for $5.95, packs of gift tags are $6.95 and boxes are from $10.95 and above.
While Fiona has about six staff working with her, she still says peak times of the year can be a “frenzy” but she wouldn’t have it any other way. Valentine’s Day is big, but is no match for Mother’s Day which runs a close second to Christmas.