20 years of Alice Palace!

By Alice on Thursday 6th June 2024

This month marks 20 years since I set up my own business called Alice Palace!

It all began with a love of art and drawing...

...and in June 2004 - I registered Alice Palace as a business and started working above my mum's old pet shop. I did my first trade show, selling my first range of greeting cards to shops (it was quite scary!).

This was one of my first greeting card designs, called 'Carrots & twigs are precious things'...

2005 - I went full-time and set up headquarters in the spare room of our first house. I started creating new greeting card ranges 3 times a year.

2006 - I joined Not On The High Street, after they approached me at a trade show. This personalised Mr & Mrs apron was one of my first products (which we still sell now)...

'This is my second order of this item - BRILLIANT idea for newly weds and it always goes down a treat! THANK YOU!'

:: https://www.notonthehighstreet.com/alicepalace/product/mr_and_mrs_apron

2007 - I had over 150 greeting cards on sale and I was doing up to 3 trade shows a year (Spring Fair, Top Drawer Spring, Top Drawer Autumn, PG Live, Pulse, Autumn Fair) and we were stocked in over 250 stores accross the uk. I also started the Alice Palace blog.

2008 - I started doing wedding stationery as part of the business.

One of my greeting card ranges 'The Magical wishes' raised over £490 for the charity Winston’s Wish who help children, teenagers and young adults find their feet when their worlds are turned upside down by grief.

This was the top selling design from the range, called ‘Happiness, smiles & laughter’...

2009 - I got way too busy and my sister Liz joined the company as studio manager and we moved to work above Mum's new pet shop (I loved the geraniums we had in the windowsills and we painted a cool pink stripe all around the top of the room). We launched wrapping paper, and I designed a Christmas card for The Groucho Club. We celebrated Alice Palace being 5 years old with the launch of a new greeting card range called 5 star birthday.

2010 - I worked on greeting cards for Oxfam, which were sold in their shops throughout the UK.

We started to work harder on personalised gifts and selling direct to customers. The popularity of the personalised products on the Alice Palace website and NOTHS went from strength to strength.

2011 - We moved into a new office with more space, and were featured in many lifestyle, greeting card and wedding magazines.

2012 - We joined Etsy. Our first review was for a personalised love story print...

'Really lovely print. The couple whom we bought it for loved it.'

:: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/AlicePalaceDesigns

2013 - We started selling in Waterstones (which got me lots of new illustration work), and sold greeting cards internationally in Europe, Canada, Australia and America. I worked on illustrations for Boden.

2014 - I did illustration work for the Museum of London, and celebrated 10 years of Alice Palace illustrations.

2015 - Our personalised teacher bag was on ITV This Morning, and the orders came FLYING in! Mum came to the rescue!

I worked on a book called Doug the pug, (and I finally joined the instagram party!).

2016 - We did our last trade show, and I created the illustrations for a children's book called Desmond's Dragon.

We also celebrated 10 years of Noths.

:: https://www.notonthehighstreet.com/alicepalace

2017 - Our personalised aprons were on the TV show 'Come Dine With Me'.

2018 - We started getting requests for 10 year wedding Anniversary gift/cards from our original wedding stationery customers! After creating well over 1000 greeting card designs, we stopped selling to trade and concentrated on selling personalised gifts and cards instead. We were chosen by Theo Paphitis as a Small Business Sunday winner. Here's Theo holding the personalised football kit bag we designed for him... #SBS winner.

I started doing the 100 day project, and I did illustration work for Daisy Haggard's TV programme Back To Life.

2019 - We started doing personalised hoodies. We also had our busiest teacher gifting year to date.

Liz left after 10 years for pastures new, and I had a garage converted into a really great little work space, now lovingly known as garage HQ, and Mandie started. I moved into an office at home (all accidentally in perfect timing for covid to arrive). I also put some greeting card designs onto Thortful.

:: https://www.thortful.com/creator/alicepalace

2020 - Covid times and we remained very busy sending out more orders than usual. I completed my 1st 100 day project (after 2 years of trying!). Here's Day 5/100 - Dogs find the greatest joy in the simplest of things; life is better with dogs.

2021 - I worked on a bag and thank you card design for Daisy Haggard's 'Back to life 2' series.

Our teacher cards & gifts were on ITV This Morning for the second time.

The big story card for teachers, and the thank you teacher print both got their 5 minutes of fame, and Holly said 'they'd bring tears all round'.

And the new wild swimming bag became a big seller too.

2022 - Great Drama! ...the personalised drama bag was on ITV's Coronation Street.

2023 - I started on a fabulous journey creating illustrations for a children's book series dedicated to spreading Chinese culture.

:: https://www.littlefrogbooks.co.uk

2024 - So far I've moved into our new home office, taken part in Getting Paid To Draw, Mike Lowery's 8-week portfolio-building class for illustrators (I've absolutely loved it, creating new illustrations for my portfolio and finding it so brilliant to be learning again and to feel like I'm back at uni after so many years!), and I'm busy working away on the 3rd Little Frog Book - this one's about an elephant.

Thank you to all the amazing people and loyal customers that buy our products, and give us such lovely feedback;

'Can't express enough about how sweet and lovely and imaginative your work is. We just adore it. Congrats on having such creative hands!'

'For brightening lives with your wonderful designs and fantastic service I hereby award you the sunshine smile of the year!'

'Beautiful, whimsical, unique and personalised. Amazing products, a huge range and you can see the love and talent that goes into each and every piece of artwork.'