GCA Podcast – Rachel Hare, Belly Button Designs

May 14, 2023 | Podcasts and Webinars

GCA podcasts – capturing greeting card history to inspire the industry of the future

Talking Cards with Industry Leaders, the Greeting Card Association’s podcast series, is a look at key greeting card designers, publishers and individuals whose passion, drive and talent has influenced and shaped the history of our industry.

It is hoped that listening to those who have made a major contribution to our industry talk about their journey, and hear the advice they’d give their younger self, will help and inspire the next generation of our wonderful industry.

GCA Meets – Rachel Hare of Belly Button

Amanda Fergusson meets Rachel Hare, founder and owner of Manchester design-led publisher Belly Button Designs.

Rachel talks about on how a trip to Greece inspired her, leading to the birth of Belly Button Designs. She speaks about doing the ‘pot wash’ to make ends meet in the early days as she started designing her cards. Also the importance of her fine art background, and how her job as a visual merchandiser along with a business start-up scheme and the Princes Trust supported her in as she worked to get her business off the ground.

Rachel also served as President of the GCA, taking over on the 100th Anniversary of the association and into the COVID period, she and Amanda also discuss the role of the GCA in our industry. 


  • 1990 Rachel studied at Edinburgh College of Art for a BA in technical fine art studies
  • 1992  Rachel graduates with an MA in Fine Art, Belfast
  • 1992/3 Combining jobs – Working as visual merchandiser – worked in catering – travelled around Greece as artist 
  • 1994- Belly Button was born in a Manchester flat-share.
  • 1994 – first trade show exhibiting at Autumn Fair in the Princes Trust tent – began to sell to independent retailers – Scribbler first ever order.
  • 1995- Belly Button first studio in Manchester Craft Centre
  • 1997 – Suppling John Lewis with handmade collections
  • 1998- Started exporting and began large scale production 
  • 2000- Belly Button moved to share premises with printer  
  • 2002 1st Henries awards – Best Spring Season, Best Hand finished
  • 2003 – opened ‘bricks and mortar’ shop on local high street
  • 2005 – Belly Button moved into larger premises – focus on in-house ‘hand painting’ cards
  • 2009 – Bully Button move again to include warehousing – continue to grow ranges and develop export business
  • 2012- A further move as larger fulfilment requirement  
  • 2016 – Launched separate Giftware Company
  • 2020- Belly Button Designs celebrated their 25th Anniversary
  • 2019 -2021 served as President of the Greeting Card Association
  • 2020-2021 restructured business to adapt during the pandemic including the setup of e-commerce 
  • 2022-future working towards continued growth, a creative happy place, and a sustainable business

Belly Button Designs

Belly Button Designs, founded by Rachel Hare in the mid-1990’s, aims to make everybody’s world brighter with a smile. In 2023 Belly Button are well known for their beautiful elegant designs, featuring in retailers throughout the UK and exported across the world.

Belly Button’s creator reflects on the challenges of selling her own product, and being one of the first hand-made designers to move into mass producing cards. Rachel talks about the challenges of managing and building her business – making 27,000 handmade cards for a large order, merchandising John Lewis Cheadle and how an early retail relationship gave her the confidence to get going.

Reflecting on what she’s learnt through the years, Rachel speaking about the importance of having a unique selling point and finding your own voice, but also listening to your customers and never giving up!

Further information

Visit the Belly Button’s websites to see more fabulous product and to order!

Click this link for more podcasts and webinars

See our Meet the Member series for more insight into GCA members’ businesses.

Listen to the podcast

Available on Spotify, Amazon Music and other platforms. Just search for “Talking Cards with Industry Leaders“.

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