Author Archives: Lord Dodo

📢 📢 HELP!… the Dodo Pad is destined for extinction!!!

I’m Rebecca Jay, Managing Director of Dodo Pad.

This, by a long mile, is the hardest and the saddest blog post I have ever had to write in all my years at the ‘helm’ of Dodo Pad. And in case you are counting, yes, every single Dodo Pad diary ever produced is in the word HELP! below. All 54 of them.
The Executive Summary
In short, unless some magic happens and a fairy godmother or white knight appears in the next few weeks, the 2020 Dodo Pad diary will be the very last in the Dodo Pad’s proud 54-year history and the company will close in the Spring.

The Details
I helped rescue the Dodo Pad from extinction in early 1996 when my son was a tiny baby – an almost unbelievable 24 years ago. HarperCollins, the previous publishers, had sold their stationery interests to Debden who had no interest to continue with the Dodo Pad – it was believed to be a brand that had ‘had its day’.

The opportunity fell into my lap via a chance conversation which brought back fond memories, as a teenager, of my own 1968 Dodo Pad diary. It provided me with the opportunity, aged 40 and with my very unexpected and only child, to avoid returning to the fierce world of advertising in which I had worked for over 15 years. It gave me a chance to do something for myself, to become a ‘kitchen table entrepreneur’ and to be around to enjoy my son as he grew up. It was an exciting challenge to build a company from scratch and develop an already much loved and ‘indodispensable’ diary brand.

Exactly 23 years ago today, Sunday 8th December 1996, this article ‘Diary of a Somebody’, by Rachel Cooke (to whom I am forever grateful) appeared in the Sunday Times Style Magazine and it propelled us into the next stage of the Dodo Pad’s life.

Over the years we expanded the range with the objective of building a small but sustainable business. There have been a number of product successes – for instance our recently expanded everyday stationery range – and some failures too (like our Book of the Big Move launched in the week of the financial crisis in 2008 when house moving slowed to a tiny trickle), but here’s a quote from Winston Churchill that has been my mantra throughout:

I have no regrets. The last 24 years have been a rollercoaster with thrills and spills but since the 2008 recession it’s been increasingly tough. The parallel rise of Amazon/online retailing and the demise of the high street, coupled with increased production costs vs. retail price expectations (everyone wants something for less and is prepared to find a way to get it!) have brought us to a point beyond which we cannot go.

The past 3 years, in the wake of the Brexit vote and the massive fall in the value of the pound, have been the toughest yet, despite my sunny demeanour when I speak to customers.

2 years ago I started searching for potential buyers. After much effort, protracted negotiations with an ideal buyer had achieved what we believed was a firm sale. It came to nothing this summer when their board voted, instead of taking us on and building their publishing arm, to concentrate on removing their core print business from China due to the trade war threats emanating from the USA, courtesy of Donald Trump. Outside influences over which we had no control. 

It’s a wry irony that our 2020 Dodo Pad is Amazon’s best-selling family planner this week and we’ve just achieved our highest ever Trusted Shops website review score.

To those of you who tell me you couldn’t live without your Dodo Pad (and you are many) well, I’m afraid you’re most probably going to have to undergo some gentle withdrawal therapy over the next 12 months… unless something very magical happens over the next few days and weeks.

To those of you who have read this far and have been buying loyally for over 50 years; to those of you with a more recent habit or just some curiosity about what makes the Dodo Pad so special; to those of you who always buy Dodo Pads for Christmas in the knowledge that they will bring unbridled organisation with some gentle humour, please remember that…

And if you don’t happen to know any fairy godmothers or white knights (we’re gender-neutral here so we accept fairy godfathers too) please give everyone you know a 2020 Dodo Pad for Christmas and help us go out with a bang! We plan to hold a super sale in the early Spring when everything left will be on very special offer.

A little part of me will die with the demise of the Dodo Pad – I have given it well over half my entire life’s work and it’s the only job my son James has ever known me do.

We need HELP!
Please follow us on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram where we’ll be making a bit of noise over the next few days, hoping to be heard above the cacophony of the UK’s imminent general election!

Is there someone out there to take the Dodo Pad into the future? It’s a great and much-loved brand and still has huge potential, but it needs a new champion for that future. If you are that person or know that person, then please get in touch.

I thank all our customers and supporters over the years, for your loyalty to and enjoyment of the Dodo Pad.

All best wishes for a wonderful Christmas and a very happy and healthy New Year.

Rebecca Jay
CEO/Managing Director
Dodo Pad Ltd
The Old Stables | Liskey Hill | Perranporth | Cornwall TR6 0BB
T +44 (0)345 053 1166 / (0)345 634 6272
info@dodopad.com  www.dodopad.com
         
Since 1966 | Over 50 years of Muddle Management | Low-tech organisation in a high tech world

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Do-do you still use a Filofax Deskfax?

Maybe you’ve never stopped using yours or maybe you have one gathering dust in a drawer somewhere or on a high shelf elsewhere. Or you might have been (re)introduced to the wonder of this 9-ringed organiser more recently through the aptly named ‘Fraternal Order of the Nine Rings‘ on Facebook (it’s a closed group but ask to join…). The fact is that a Deskfax is for life. A bit like a Dodo Pad (ok, we are unashamedly biased) once you are hooked, it is hard to resist its charms.

The fact is that a Deskfax is for life. A bit like a Dodo Pad (ok, we are unashamedly biased) once you are hooked, it is hard to resist its charms.

Whichever category you fit into, whilst Filofax still produces diary pages for the Deskfax, they no longer produce regular writing paper to fit but, somewhat irritatingly, a search on their website would lead you to believe that they still do. (Grrhh!)

Here we have to thank Victoria at Filofax Customer Services for passing people onto us when they call to enquire as to WHY?  Panic not…help is at hand!

A little background – or skip straight to this link if you just want to get your hands on paper for your DeskFax!

Calf leather Red Deskfax orgniser

My old, but much loved, Deskfax

About 12 years ago, I came to the conclusion that I had to make our original Dodo Pad work in a loose-leaf format to fit my beloved DeskFax organiser. It was red and somewhat worn and getting on for 20 years old by then, but had been my organisational lifeline through the wide shoulder-pad days of the 1980’s when I started in the world of advertising. Move on to a spell in Prague as the head honcho of a certain rather notorious ad agency that fell from grace in the mid 90’s, through early motherhood and juggling paid consultancy (to pay for the nappies etc.) and unpaid work in the early days of saving the Dodo Pad in the late 90’s. It became quite clear that using a Deskfax diary and going to meetings for Dodo Pad was a bit of an unacceptable brand clash!

By a stroke of extreme luck, the Dodo Pad diary was almost identical in size to B5 (176 x 250mm) Deskfax inserts.  So (with a bit of a print tweak to the barcode on the back cover and a cheat on the Frontispiece page to include both ISBNs) we produced a small quantity of loose-leaf Dodo Pads. Add to this a ‘DodoPOD’ binder into which you could ‘download’ it (we are talking early days of the iPod…), writing paper and some pouched ‘Dodividers’ and we had our very own ‘DodoPAX’ system… and you may see a certain verbal connection here!

Filofax was still producing writing paper and other inserts at this time, so for me (with my trusty 9 ring hole punch to punch my diary pages) it was perfect. A Dodo Pad diary, no more embarrassment at not using the brand I loved and had worked so hard to save and see flourish), and my Deskfax remained on my desk and in my briefcase for meetings…becoming increasingly battered.

Fast forward to early 2015 and we learned that Filofax was no longer producing Deskfax sized organisers and worse still… no more paper!

We leapt into action. Our paper fitted, it was an excellent 100gsm, perfect for fountain pen with no show through quality and we could produce it with DeskFax holes by creating a DeskFax Hole Punch Bespoke Service to punch our writing paper (and any of our B5 notepad products launched since!)

DESKFAX9-ddpx18

‘Deskfax-ify’ our paper, calendar year diary, address book and many other accessories

The process is quite straightforward. You purchase a single ‘Service’ and then as much or as little paper or other of our products that fit a Deskfax as you like. You choose any or a combination of the ‘Related Products’ on the page. We only charge for one hole punching service irrespective of the number of items you buy. If you spend £25.00 or more use the FDXFREE code and we send your order to you carriage free in the UK or take the equivalent off the cost of overseas postage. It is all explained on the page on our Dodo Pad website. If you prefer to phone in your order or have any queries, we always welcome calls during UK business hours – 0345 053 1166.

Simples really. And no need to give up your Deskfax for the foreseeable future! 🙂

Rebecca (aka Lord Dodo)

 

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When you just want to do anything to help… #GrenfellTowerFire

A week ago, last Wednesday morning, we woke up to the news of the unfolding horror of the dreadful fire at the Grenfell Tower block of flats in London. Some of us never woke up and that was and is, the horror of the reality of what happened. Hundreds of displaced people and a system that did not, from the official standpoint, kick in to help quickly enough. It is not for me to speculate here on the reasons why the fire happened – all I know is that I was moved that morning to do something, anything, to help.

I was travelling most of the day on a train from Cornwall to a meeting in Birmingham. During that journey, I resolved to donate a load of clothes I had stacked up ready to sell on Ebay or local Facebook groups to the survivor victims of the fire. I also decided to see if I could gather a group of other people in Cornwall to help with their own donations, which we, Dodo Pad, would arrange to be transported to London. By late evening almost 70 offers of donations had come in from people I have never met who also felt moved to just try to do something to help. I was overwhelmed with people’s generosity to reach out, but by Thursday morning we were being told by the media that the community was totally overwhelmed with donations and asking, please, not to send anything more but to send financial donations instead. So I did that.

But I still wanted to help in some tangible way that I felt would make a difference. So, having now made contact with the Grenfell Nursery who put out a plea for stationery and diaries (it is now operating from the Ilys Booker Stay & Play and Drop-In Centre for the foreseeable future), today we are sending almost 400 Dodo Pad diaries to help the families who have lost pretty much everything, reorganise their lives and move forward. I really hope they help in some small way and also make them smile.

A happy face - from the Grenfell Nursery website :)

A happy face – from the Grenfell Nursery website 🙂

Rebecca Jay, Managing Director.

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