Stellar Besties & Cosmic Friends

Watching on TV Leeds Rhinos rugby player legend Kevin Sinfield finish his amazing but exhausting Extra Mile Challenge, running 101 miles in 24 hours for his bezzie mate Rob Burrows and raising over £2 million for Motor Neurone Disease research, it roused a flood of emotion and a proud belief in humanity, but it also hit home the strength of love and support of having a bezzie mate in life. As the infamous quote begins, ‘Good friends are like stars’, so long-time greetings industry stalwart and promo filmmaker Gale Astley, asks a cluster of card industry luminaries to share their best friend stories and the importance of friendship cards across life’s cosmos.

Pictured top: A popular design with gorgeous sentiments from Angela Chick.

We know about famous friends Morcambe and Wise, but did you know Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe were good pals? Or that Hillary Clinton and Meryl Streep are BFF? And CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien were novelist friends, Lewis pushing his bestie to finish the little-known book Lord of the Rings? And, in the realm of film, who could think of a better life-long partnership than interstellar friends, Han Solo and Chewbacca?

It’s so wonderful that a complete stranger can turn into a friend. One minute you’re space traveling alone and the next you’ve a furry pal for life. But seriously, friendships play an important role in our time on this planet, helping us to grow and influencing how we feel about ourselves. Friends provide comfort, a listening ear, company and more often than not, a good laugh!

Greetings publisher, Angela Chick, who is an aspiring ultra-marathoner, was blown away by Kevin Sinfield’s running achievement, but also by his feat as a friend in his mate’s hour of need: “In life, the luckiest of us have a best friend. If we’re really lucky, we might even have a few. Those true friends who you can tell anything to. The ones who are cheering you on. The ones you would do anything for. The ones who just ‘get’ you and don’t judge you. The ones you can truly be yourself in front of. They help us through our darkest days and are there for our brightest moments. Good friends help make the world a brighter place.”

Good buddies can be relied on to be there through the good times and the bad, but it’s greeting cards which can be the board that bonds, with designs that can reach out and help keep those friendship binds tightly tied with words of support and encouragement, or simply jokingly announcing, ‘This card is us!’

“Often choosing a card for a friend is one of the most important that we purchase. We want to get it just right for that particular friend. I have one friend who I need to find something sentimental, one something funny and one something stylish; they are all different but all just as special”, shares Jo Sorrell, retail owner of Cardies in Stevenage.

Jo notes that there are scores of quotes that spring to mind about friends and friendship: ‘Friends come in all shapes and sizes’, ‘Friends are the family we choose’, ‘You can count your true friends on one hand’. “For me each of these quotes are all so very true. I have young friends, older friends, lots of furry friends, friends who live far away and friends who are my family or I would choose as family. Perhaps because friendship is so important to most of us that’s why we have so many quotes to choose from”, she discerns, adding: “My bestest friend of all is my very special Mum! Days spent with her having coffee, cake, a good chat and little retail therapy are the best. My furry friends are of course right up there too. Days out just walking or cuddling with them on the sofa are perfect.”

And Jo’s bezzie moto? “Keep your friends close, don’t bother with enemies!”

Picture Gallery Above: A Birthday Bestie card from Hotchpotch’s Butterscotch range with neon inks and gold foil; One of Second Nature’s latest new stunning Friendship designs; Especially for friends across the miles, a poignant card from Think Of Me Designs; Lucy Maggie Designs’ contemporary and bold Happy Birthday Bestie design; Cardies’ Jo Sorrel and her special person and best friend, her mum. Her pack of gorgeous Labradors come a close second.

‘Good friends are like stars. You don’t always see them, but you know they’re always there’. “I love this quote about friendship”, reveals Rachel Burt, designer for Hotchpotch, “… especially over lockdowns and not being able to see people in person. I find with closest friends when you do see them it’s like you’ve never been apart. I love that!” she exclaims.

With a little more time on our hands during Covid lockdowns, many saw it as time to reconnect with those important to us, and that included friends; either on Zoom, phone calls, on daily outside walks, or through a greeting card sends.

“It’s been a difficult couple of years for everyone, I think we’ve all gone through a fair few scary ‘moments’, but one of the biggest things to make me smile is that’s it’s made me get in touch with some long-lost friends”, says Chris Bryan, general manager for Second Nature. “A quick card here and there has spawned several rekindled friendships that I thought were too long lost to save. I’m now speaking to three of my oldest friends again and it’s meant a huge amount to me, each time I think of this I can’t help but feel happy.”

From rekindling old friendships to close but far away pals, maybe even on the other side of the world ‘across the miles’, those relationships remain cemented as ever… although shared greeting cards reinforce the build.

“Moving from the UK to California certainly made me appreciate and miss my closest friends”, reveals Freya Kane, co-founder of Think Of Me Designs. “It also made me realise that no matter how far away or how much time spent apart, true friends always feel close. But the joy of sending and receiving cards definitely makes you feel that little bit closer. When relocating to the US I received nothing but love and support from my friends and this has certainly inspired many of the friendship cards in our collection.”

Distance is never a barrier to good friendships but there are times when you need your core group of friends, even if it’s just to share a giggle and put the world to rights (#winesquad).

Recently there has been an emphasis on strong female friendships (#squadgoals), a social explosion of BFF and girl pals that support and empower one another that have inspired greeting card designs. Not only have female historical heroines been highlighted and reignited through film, art and literature realms – Frida Kahlo being one of the biggest to sweep the design sphere – bold and bright card designs have reflect this societal swell too with specific female to female sends and captions such as ‘You Go Girl’, ‘Boss Babe’ and ‘GRL PWR’.

Card Gallery Above: A Near Modern Disaster design created by Sam Kramer, from Redback Cards; Troublesome twosome, what else are pals for? A Curious World design from Icon; Red Cards’ Sally Matson and her close friend and work colleague Karen, enjoying an afternoon tea.

“Friends are the family you choose! I really don’t know where I would be without my best girlfriends – our lives have drifted over the years and we’ve all found ourselves on different paths but there’s something about a true friendship that means distance will never get in the way”, says Lucy Nicholson, founder and illustrator of Lucy Maggie Designs. “My friends are the first people I turn to when I need advice, someone to moan to, or a shoulder to cry on… though mostly the moaning!”

Wisely and simply put, Jasmin Coles, sales and marketing manager for Redback Cards, feels “The best thing about having a good friend is always having someone to support you, someone who always knows what you need, someone to laugh with until you cry, and cry with until you laugh.”

Kate Jamieson, creative editor for Icon, believes often, as we get older, the number of friends begin to reduce to a core set of close friendships that have stuck by and supported each other over the years. “And it’s the quality of those friendships that make them the most important relationships in our lives. That’s why greeting cards play such a huge part in those friendships, a physical hand-written message conveys so much more care and kindness than a ‘thumbs up’ on social media,” says Kate.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have the same best friends since primary school, so we’ve been sending each other birthday cards for well over 40 years now and although we joke about how we’ve run out of things to write inside, it’s always a joy to choose the right card for them. For some reason, however, they say I’m very hard to choose a card for… can’t imagine why!”

Then there are those rare times when a person unexpectedly becomes a wonderful friend, making everyday moments stellar and extraordinary.
When a Sunday girl position was advertised at Red Card in Petworth seven years ago, local lady Karen applied for the post. Since that moment she has not only worked side by side with the shop’s owner Sally Matson, building up the store to where it is now, but the pair have built a wonderful bond.
“Karen and I are great friends”, says Sally. “The basis of our friendship is laughter and positivity: we laugh at ourselves and each other, and we lift each other up. In the same way, we are just as happy to work beside each other in silence. There is no pressure in this friendship – it has honestly changed my world!”

Wishing you a little friendship starlight in your cosmos.

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