International Women’s Day: Meet the Women Behind the Cards You Love

Last updated: December 6th, 2023 Published on: March 1, 2023

International Women’s Day is just around the corner, so if you’ve thought about sharing some love and appreciation with the women who’ve helped make you who you are with, there’s never been a better time. Whether it’s your mum, sister or a friend who’s always been there, putting together a few words to let them know how much you value them can mean so much.

To help get you inspired (and because we love showing off the incredible independent designers that we get to work with!) we wanted to get to know a couple of the incredible independent women creators behind the cards you love. So, let’s meet Toni Pilling from TeePee Creations and Gabi Maksimov from Tikkled Pink!

Toni Pilling, TeePee Creations

Hi my name is Toni Pilling, owner of TeePee Creations. I’m based in Keighley, West Yorkshire and I have been running my illustration business for over 5 years.

Describe your typical work day…

My typical work day now starts with some breakfast, a gym session (I joined one in 2022 and it’s been great for not just my physical health but my mental health!), a morning of packing orders, a lunch break and then an afternoon of working my way through my to do list in order of priority. All this with a couple of coffee breaks in between

What gave you the idea of starting your own business?

I started my business after a work experience placement at university with Rethinkthings. I was in awe of how Ilsa ran her own gift company and was encouraged to start selling my own designs whilst there.

How did you get started?

I had dabbled in bits of selling my designs online on ‘print on demand’ platforms whilst at university but really got stuck into my business once I graduated. I ran the business alongside working as a Graphic Designer for the first couple of years and then went full time back in August 2019.

What challenges do you face? How do you get around those challenges?

Challenges I have faced whilst running my business is mainly overwhelm. It can feel really daunting doing everything on your own.

To get over this I have looked for help amongst my creative community and my family. In particular, my partner has really helped me organise my work to do lists into a better structure as he works in a corporate design company so has the skills to help me run my business more efficiently.

How do women inspire your work?

Some of the women that have really inspired me in the last year have been The Lionesses. What they did for the Euros 2022 was amazing and I love that they are smashing through the stereotype of women’s football.

Other women that inspire me a lot are my small business friends through Instagram. I love seeing them succeed in what they do and it pushes me to keep going on my own business.

Do you have any advice for other women thinking of setting up their own small business?

Do it now and don’t put it off. I think sometimes you can get in your own head that you’re not good enough or that your designs aren’t quite ready but honestly the hardest step is just to get started. You will end up looking back wishing you had started sooner, so just do it, start the business, put yourself out there, trust me, it’s worth it!

What influences or inspires your women-focussed designs?

When designing cards that are women-focussed I am inspired by the banter and fun I have with my own girl friends. Examples of my favourite cards are:



Gabi Maksimov, Tikkled Pink

Hi! I am Gabi Maksimov, designer and illustrator at Tikkled Pink, my creative business. I am originally from Bulgaria, but have been calling London a home for over 12 years.

I have always been creative and dabbled into various design fields. I graduated in Interior Design in Manchester which gave me a well-rounded skillset to do most creative jobs, from technical drawing and illustrating, to print and digital design. I moved to London after university and have been working as a digital product designer since. I typically design web or app experiences for big companies.

Around the end of 2020 I started to transform my hobby of painting and illustrating into a business.

What gave you the idea of starting your own business?

I started to paint again in 2020 after a big break from it and quickly fell in love with it. I was spending every spare moment outside work illustrating on my iPad or painting. It just gave me such a stress release and such a loved way to spend my free time. Eventually I realised that I’d love to see what would happen if this was my job.

I started slowly, as I was fitting in around my full-time job, designed around 10 cards to start with for Valentine’s day. After selling an unexpected amount of cards for Valentine’s day I felt a rush of confidence and realised that it can indeed be a business that I’d love to have.

I have been building on it since and would love to see where it takes me.

What challenges do you face? and how do you get around those challenges?

There are many challenges on a daily basis. From juggling my full-time job to deciding how much stock to order and planning my next designs. One of the biggest challenges for me today is getting visibility of my work a business. I have successfully come out of my self-proclaimed validation phase – testing if my designs are well received and selling – now I am working hard to build more visibility and brand recognition.

Thankfully I am very organised and productive. With the power of my favourite productivity tool, a little bit of planning and lots of self-encouragement, I am able to go about my work day, set aside time to be creative and do all the admin work that comes with it. There are, of course, lots of ups and downs and things don’t always go to plan.

Do you have any advice for other women thinking of setting up their own small business?

Don’t wait until you feel ready – start at your own pace and learn as you go.
Looking back I spent way too many years thinking I have to have a number of years of experience or particular skills, or certain mastery of illustration to be able to start. I didn’t even think that people would like how I draw and illustrate, let alone buy it on products. How wrong I was!

All you need is your idea and believing that you are capable of amazing things. Which is something I came to realise for myself, loved the quote so much I turned it into a card, which also is one of my best-selling designs so far. Life is full of surprises!

Describe your typical work day…

I am a freelancer but I work full-time majority of the year. So I spend my typical 9-5 working and then trying to fit any illustration work before and after work as well as on weekends. The best part is that it rarely feels like a second job as I am enjoying it very much.

I love to take a break from everything by taking my dog out for a walk or to the park.

How do women inspire your work?

I am constantly inspired by women around me, women in business and some famous figures. What inspires me is those who choose to be openly vulnerable. I think this is probably the most admirable and a hard thing to do. I take inspiration from strong women who choose to lead their own way and with their own pace, setting aside stereotypes and expectations but doing it in a way that feels authentic and personal.

Through my work, I take that inspiration, and channel it into bold, colourful style that celebrates personality, authentic humour, self-gifting and being your own best cheer-leader.

What influences or inspires your women-focussed designs?

I think, when it comes to designing cards for women, I try to show a brave, confident and colourful side.

What are your favourite cards that you’ve designed and why?

My favourited cards to design are those with puns and “intelligent humour”, as I tend to call them. I also like designing cards that can also feature patterns and detail.