News & Articles

the giftware association

The GA Celebrates International Women’s Day with Inspirational Women In Gifts Event

The GA Celebrates International Women’s Day with Inspirational Women In Gifts Event


The second Women In Gifts conference, organised by The Giftware Association, was held at The Giftware Association’s HQ in Birmingham yesterday (7th March), as part of their International Women’s Day celebrations. Following on from the highly successful first Women in Gifts conference in December, the latest event featured four inspirational speakers and five retail panellists, together with amazing women who work in the gift industry.


The second Women In Gifts day was a vibrant event filled with energy, featuring a packed schedule that perfectly combined fun with learning. Highlighting remarkable women in the gifts industry and motivational speakers, it offered an enlightening and inspiring opportunity for networking that fulfilled all expectations.


The GA’s CEO, Sarah Ward, opened proceedings with a positive message of the opportunities being together at an event like this presents for us all. After a fun ice breaker in which we played Talking Tables’ Phenomenal Women in History, the day kickstarted with the brilliant Meg Hawkins who celebrates ten years in business this year. Meg’s story is one of real inspiration – truly starting with paper and paintbrush on the kitchen table. Meg has not come from money, and she has never had any investment in the business. Instead, she has grafted, developed skills, and gradually built the building blocks of her business piece by piece, arriving at the place she is now – a globally recognised brand. The message that you can create something from nothing was an empowering one, and really set the tone for the rest of the day.


Next to the stage was Chair of the National Committee for The GA, and Managing Director of Buy-From Creative Agency, Louise Welsby. Louise’s passion for brand storytelling was the focus of the talk, as she shared the importance of really owning and understanding your brand story, and the impact this has on culture, productivity, and growth. Louise said, “Brand storytelling is not just about selling a product or service; it's about connecting with your audience on a deeper level, building trust, and fostering loyalty. I believe so passionately in supporting businesses to find their truth and feel confident in communicating a story that truly resonates with their ideal customer.”


The middle of the day was a wonderful opportunity to network in a relaxed and informal manner, whilst also raising money for The Benevolent Society by shopping for donated gifts from The GA’s members. CEO Sarah Ward explained that The Benevolent Society is a charity that exists for the good of the members of the trade associations that sit within the British Allied Trades Federation. The charity financially assists individuals that have worked within the giftware, jewellery, surface engineering, travel goods and fashion accessories industries, as well as helping individuals starting or progressing their career journeys in these industries through bursaries to help with their studies.


After a delightful networking lunch, it was Fi Burge of BGifted’s turn to take the stage. Fi – who grew up watching her father build a highly successful greeting card company, Paper House, now The Great British Card Company – has worked with design led product for over 20 years. Currently, she works as a freelance consultant under her own brand, B Gifted, offering support with the implementation of product development and sales strategy, inspirational advice on which she shared with an eager audience, who clearly valued the mine of useful information she was able to impart about the art of sales.


Heather Watherston, a former director of The Lagoon Group and Green Board Games, then talked about her new venture, Whiz Kid Games, which designs educational games under the Go Genius brand, aimed at the toddler to tween market. The business was set up during Covid with Heather talking delegates through the company’s business model and inspirational journey to date, as well as highlighting her focus on sustainability and the green aspirations of a start-up business.


The brilliant Women in Gifts conference was brought to a close with a fantastic retail panel featuring retail experts, Sara Albright of Retail 100 Consulting, Laura Matheson of St Peters Garden Centre, Joanna Final of Social Enterprise UK - eBay for Change, Samantha Gibbs of Nest Gifts, and Alex Becket of Ivy and Rose Gifts. The delegates were asking a range of questions eliciting detailed and insightful responses covering a range of questions such as the role of trade shows, how to approach retailers, new to wholesale, and the role of social media in building relationships between supplier and retailer.


Speaking about the event, CEO Sarah Ward, said, “It was great to spend a wonderful International Women’s Day Eve with so many of our industry’s phenomenal women. Building on our first ‘Women in Gifts Day’, we heard from some inspirational businesswomen who have built their businesses within our industry, and it was great to hear their successes, their pitfalls and everything in between. It was also brilliant hearing from our retail panel who offered insight into their buying trends and how to approach buyers and where to meet buyers – We hope that everyone left feeling inspired and had a fantastic day with their peers.”


The whole event was a joyous celebration of women in gifts - with shared knowledge, inspiring stories, meaningful networking and relationship-building, and vital fundraising for The benevolent Society.


For more information about The Giftware Association, visit:


Go back