Meet Peace & Blessings
Peace & Blessings is an online stationery boutique that creates beautiful stationery and gifts for non-mainstream festivals. All their products are responsibly sourced and crafted in the UK.
Their founder, Zakera Kali, spoke to GS1 UK about starting their business and the challenges ahead.
How and why did you start the business?
I launched Peace & Blessings because I saw a gap in the market for premium quality gifts and stationery with a design aesthetic reflective of the many second and third generation communities in the UK, who continue to celebrate festivals of their faith or culture. In addition I wanted to ensure that the ethos of the company was compatible with the values of those communities. I launched my range and website on 4 May at a pop-up in the Birmingham Bullring centre - to a fantastic response!
How long have you been a GS1 member?
We joined up with GS1 UK in the winter of 2016 whilst we were designing our greeting cards.
Do you trade with any partners/channels? Which one did you start with and why? i.e. Amazon, John Lewis etc
We thought and researched very carefully before settling on which partners and sales channels to pursue. At the moment Peace & Blessings works with two marketplaces: Haute Elan and Not On The High Street. Haute Elan specialises in modest wear which targets a segment of my target audience and NOTHS premium quality and design have recognised the benefit of catering to our growing audience.
What is a typical day like for you?
I normally wake up between 6-6.30 and get myself organised spiritually and physically. This often involves meditation or yoga and preparing breakfast / lunch for my children. It's the only time of day when I really have some me-time. I start working at 8.30, either at home or at my studio which is a 15-minute journey away.
Work starts with checking my emails - I’m pretty strict with myself on this: I only do it twice a day. Then I concentrate on my tasks for the day ahead. This can be talking to suppliers, researching or testing our products, or designing our range. I have to be quite disciplined with my time as I still do a few consultancy projects and lecture part-time, spending my time between London and Leicester.
What are the main pros/cons to running your own business?
Peace & Blessings is a way for me to follow a genuine passion and that's the greatest feeling. I also enjoy the creative freedom I have with the products and touchpoints - I love paying attention to every single detail of how a customer might encounter Peace & Blessings, because I want them to have the best experience every single time.
It feels like a real adventure at the moment! Every week I’m doing something out of my comfort zone, whether it’s launching our first range at the pop-up or talking about my Hajj Journal & Planner on a TV channel that broadcasted to over 130 countries. The cons are that as a small business, it feels like there’s never quite enough time or budget, so I have to prioritise and have patience as I follow my roadmap for the future.
What are currently your biggest challenges in the business? What keeps you up at night?
The biggest challenge I face is ensuring that every idea, every creation meets the high standards we have for our products. When we are developing a product, we try to use the finest materials, which we select for their long-term sustainable credentials, along with ethical sourcing and production. Adding this extra layer to our product development inevitably has an impact on costs. My team and I have to be quite creative to overcome these challenges. Also, as the driving force behind this brand, and a creative who works for myself, I have the life-long challenge of balancing a working passion with a family and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
What are your plans for the business for the next 12 months?
We are currently developing our range of cards for Hanukkah and Chinese New Year as well as partyware for all these celebrations. We would like to start supplying selective retailers and have received our first few export orders, which is very exciting indeed.
Tell us an interesting fact about you?
I've never seen Lord of the Rings (although all my family watches it!).
Who inspires you?
The late Steve Jobs. A person with vision, who wasn’t afraid to challenge the status quo.
What top tip/piece of advice would you give to our other brands/sellers?
On a professional level, have a clear vision and strategy in place. On a personal level, overcome your fears! If you are starting out, don't fear failure, as you will have failed already. And so has everyone who ever did anything successful!