Jessica Huie, CEO of Colourblind Cards.
What is Colourblind cards?
Colourblind Cards is best known for being a greeting card and gift publisher who secured a presence on the high-street for black greeting cards. Before Colorblind you had to go to into local shops or order from the USA despite the fact that London is the most multi-cultural city in the world!
Now we have evolved and as well as offering a personalisation service online for our cards (over 120 designs) we have also introduced a gift line which includes baby grows, canvasses, calendars, wrapping paper, magnets amongst other products. We understand that our customers, many of whom are parents, want products which depict positive reflections of theirs and their children’s identity.
You have a hugely successful PR career, working with Max Clifford and starting your own PR company JH PR, with all that under your belt what made you start Colourblind cards?
The opportunity was too good to pass up! I felt compelled as a mother to produce a range when I couldn’t find a card which reflected my own daughter’s identity on Oxford street which is Britain’s biggest shopping street. On a social level the brand is important but there was also an obvious commercial opportunity and If you can make money and make a small social contribution at the same time then that’s the perfect business scenario for me.
Your career in PR has been phenomenal and we at The First Lady find it hugely inspiring. Please could you share the following: Thank you so much!
How did you manage being a young mother and studying?
By keeping my eye on the prize which for me, was feeling validated and being able to hold my head high. I had my daughter at a time when the issue of teenaged mums was a big issue socially and this was reflected in the media coverage. I felt I had let a lot of people down and I wanted to prove everybody wrong. My ambition began as me being an eighteen year old with a point to prove, and evolved into who I actually am, which is just a naturally driven woman. That desire to ‘make good’ didn’t allow me to quit.
What was it like to embark on a career in a highly competitive field as woman who’s profile as a teenage, single mother of Dual Heritage could have been ‘written off’ with a number of negative stereotypes?
Being mixed-race was never an issue for me as my father in particular raised us with the mindset that race should never be an issue in accomplishing what you intend. He arrived from Jamaica in England pre windrush when signs on doors still said “no blacks, no irish, no dogs” so it was a compelling argument coming from him. Being a teen mum was much more of an issue for me! When I first started my internship at Max Clifford Associates I didn’t actually tell anybody that I had a baby as I thought it would count against me. In fact when they discovered I was a mum juggling university with a part time job and an internship. The whole office embraced me even more. At the end of my first two week stint Max gave me a card saying “welcome to the MCA family, you are a credit to yourself.” That internship changed my life and I will forever be grateful to Dee Wilson my office mummy who was office manager at the time, for giving my the opportunity, and to Max himself for being supportive beyond the call of boss duty.
How has your journey impacted your daughter?
My daughter is incredible. We are extremely close and she has always had a wisdom beyond her years. Monet is articulate, confident and ambitious. Aged eleven she would make calls to stockists for me and interact with grown ups with an eloquence beyond her years. Most of all I am proud of how kind my daughter is. She is the most beautiful human being I know, inside and out and she is my side-kick.
Ok back to Colourblind cards, what was it like starting something brand new after being in an ‘established’ position for a considerable length of time?
Character building! Great question. I learnt quickly that when peoples eyes glazed over while I talked multi-cultural greeting cards, Id regain their attention quickly if I mentioned my 7 year career with Max lol. My media career has been great to leverage off for colorblind cards where necessary. Starting and running a business make you learn so much about yourself. In the early days I’d get frustrated and annoyed if a buyer didn’t recognize the market opportunity for a brand like Colorblind! I had to mature and get real quickly. I’m still learning about business, still idealistic and disorganized J t the same time I thrive on a challenge and it was exciting, I live for the possibilities! Without dreams we’d have nothing.
How do you manage to stay focussed and motivated, even on those days that are littered with frustrated sighs?
I try to have some quiet time and just not think about anything or I work out. Body pump always sorts me out. Laughing is also a great remedy on those days.
What is your biggest Colourblind achievement to date?
Being invited to No.10 Downing street for a round table on enterprise with former PM Gordon Brown. It was surreal going through the door, a wonderful moment.
Life is all about balance, how do you balance the many facets of your career with your home life? Its an ongoing challenge. With my new baby who is 7 months old, even more so. But when I’m feeling that guilt that working mums know well I just look at my daughter and think, I must be doing something right! I also try to have some family MUSTS. Like reading to my baby son every evening if possible and helping Mon with her homework.
Do you have any forthcoming projects you would like to share?
Colorblind Cards have recently launched a personalization service, so you can now change the text on the front and insides of our cards! We also have a wonderful gift line which has just been launched. You can check us out at www.colorblindcards.com
Sum up your business journey so far in three words:
Unexpected. Emotional. Unfinished…
Where can we find you?
Twitter: @jessicahuie @colorblindcards
Stockists: Online at www.colorblindcards.com and numerous independent stores around the UK, US, Barbados, Bermuda and South Africa
Featuring Jessica has been a pleasure, we think she is a testament to not letting anything hold you back. As people living in a global society we appreciate Colourbind cards as this brand represents a large section of the world we live in! We think Jessica represents a growing number of women that are brave enough to branch out of their comfort zone to follow their dreams and start something new. It is never too late and we would suggest that a portfolio of careers is the way to go in an economy full of turn’s, twist’s and downturns (please note a portfolio of careers does not mean a bandwagon jumping jack of all trades!). We urge you to check out the expanding range of Colourblind cards regardless of your background, they are gorgeous greeting cards above all else.
We have also seen Jessica in action motivating and inspiring students at St Matthew’s Academy in Blackheath, London. After listening ti Jessica’s amazing journey the children and young people were clearly ramped up to go out and achieve greatness. Although Jessica has achieved loads we think this is just the beginning!
*UPDATE: Colourblind cards will now be stocked in Nigeria and has expanded its UK stockist. Details to follow!*