Able & Game
Q&A WITH ANNA BLANDFORD, ABLE & GAME
How did you feel when your picture book was published?
When I was illustrating it and really in the thick of it with a deadline looming, I kept trying to imagine the moment when I would see the finished copy for the first time and how happy I would feel. It was a real focus for me. So that moment when I saw it I really felt like it was a moment for me, 6 months early when I was feeling the stress of a huge project.
What’s been the wildest part of the Able + Game adventure?
It doesn’t seem particularly wild, but I love hearing the customer stories. And seeing how an idea I have created has been interpreted and received in a big life event. Sometimes they see a different meaning in the card, which I find exciting. Cards are not expensive and are often overlooked, but I know they have the power to make people feel so happy. We’ve heard the stories!
What first steps did you take to turn your business idea into a reality? Was it scary/difficult, or did everything come easily / naturally?
I began the process of creating Able and Game in 2008. I had a small handmade business that was a real mishmash of products, styles, and ideas. I call it my training wheels business and although it wasn’t successful, I think its success was in helping Able And Game become successful. I spent about 8 months slowly working everything out, the biggest decision being how we would produce the cards. I ended up opting for a small high-quality inkjet printer, which was perfect for our business. We still print our products ourselves and I love the freedom to design anything we want and know the only thing it will cost is my time and around 8 cards. I don’t think I’m naturally good at business, but I enjoy being able to run my own business.
How do you keep your business fresh and exciting? Do you have any new, upcoming products in the works that you can tell us about?
Over the years I’ve often wondered if I’m done and I won’t think of any new ideas. But ten years in and I’m still coming up with stuff. I’m about to embark on a huge pile of design work for The Big Design Trade and I’m really excited to get these designs out there. Last year, because of the book, I didn’t design as many cards throughout the year and it feels like my brain is full to the brim of birthday ideas that are bursting out.
Who is your biggest inspiration, and why?
I think the reality of life is a huge inspiration. Because of social media, the landscape has changed so much since we first started back in 2009. People seem to be living a much more curated life but behind that is real life and that is the inspiration. I think this started to really come into play around the time we had kids in 2015 when our life became much messier! With our cards, we love to celebrate everyday life, which we know isn’t perfect. It can be messy and mundane, but when you put those things on a greeting card people feel a real connection and love to celebrate it.
What advice would you give to someone who has a creative business idea?
Talk to people about the idea. I think this is a really important process because the feedback and self-reflection when seeing your idea interpreted and told back to you is so important. Often an idea inside our head can make complete sense to us because we are filling in all the areas that are needed to make it make sense, but communicating all that information is impossible, so you have to get the idea across with much less, so this is where talking to people is so important.