May 31, 2011

Business Tip Tuesday - Seven Tips to Make Your Customers Love You

These days when every customer counts, what are some steps you can take to keep your customers in your corner ? Over the next 7 weeks I will post 7 ways to make your customers love you.

"Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see."  ~Mark Twain

"It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice."  ~Author Unknown

 No. 1- Say " Thank You"

Say "Thank You" - this seems like such an obvious and natural thing to do,but when is the last time you received a "Thank You" note from someone you've done business with? Or any correspondence, other than an invoice? This simple touch can make a huge impact because it speaks volumes about how important your customer is to you.

May 30, 2011

Earthly Delights Monday -Featuring Ingredients That Make Handmade Soap Special- Oats + Easy Oatmeal/Yogurt Facial Recipe

Externally – 

Oatmeal contains complex carbohydrates that when mixed with water form the colloidal part of oatmeal that softens, soothes and nourishes your skin.

Oats contain healthy fats that stay behind to repair and add moisture to your skin.

Oats help strengthen your skin’s defense against pollutants.

Oats contain Saponins (a natural foaming agent found in many plants.) that help remove dirt from pores.

Oats are a great exfoliator due to their slightly rough texture. Exfoliation= removal of dead skin cells from the skin’s outer surface.


Oatmeal/Yogurt Facial Mask

½ cup ground oatmeal – I grind mine up in a clean spice mill/coffee grinder
¼ plain yogurt or buttermilk
2 Tbs. of honey

Combine yogurt and honey with ground oatmeal to form a smooth paste. Gently pat mixture onto face and neck(leaving areas around eyes free of mixture) – let sit for 15 or so minutes and then rinse gently with warm water.

Remember and Honor Our Veterans

Old Glory waves proudly against a beautiful blue background of  West Texas sky

"Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?" 
Francis Scott Key 1814

"Peace is more important than all justice; and peace was not made for the sake of justice, but justice for the sake of peace." - Martin Luther King

May 28, 2011

Meet "Lavender Rustica"

 Lavender Rustica 4.5 oz

Romantically rustic; encrusted with lavender buds (with a few sprinkled throughout) this soap is for the person who is romantic at heart. Immerse yourself in the calming, soothing warmth of lavender and vanilla while restoring soulful balance to the end of a long day.

This soap was just cut-it should darken just a bit more and be just beautiful. It will be ready June 24th-you can go ahead and reserve one if you like. 
 

May 27, 2011

Beautiful Thing Friday

A sample pack I made some time back to send to some friends-beautiful in it's simplicity~

May 26, 2011

Artist Profile+Inspiration for Your Thursday

Inspiration- 1. stimulation or arousal of the mind, feelings, etc, to special or unusual activity or creativity

I know that inspiration is a very personal thing. Inspiration for me is when I am touched deeply within, something resonates causing a reaction. Sometimes the feeling is fleeting and over in an instant, and sometimes aching and persistent. 

I've tried for several days(since I knew I was going to make this post)to put into words what the following words mean to me,and I've repeatedly come up with HOPE. I feel a crescendo of  my dreams. My confidence is beginning to form into a reaction - a boldness to move forward. I think many indie businesses are born from this very same place;some have moved boldly forth and some of us are still testing the waters - but wherever you are in the process I think these words will resonate.


This is for all the "quiet rebels." 


With a Gypsy Heart…

With a gypsy heart,
she was a strong but quiet rebel          
living only internal dreams
in her corporate cardboard world.

With a gypsy heart,
she was enslaved in a cubicle
with the hold button on her dreams
and her passions in a file folder.

With a gypsy heart,
she began to dance with dreams
of new possibilities and knock on
the doors of bold adventure.

With a gypsy heart,
time began to ripen her confidence
until “invisible” was no longer an option.
The rebel was ready to blossom.

With a gypsy heart,
She set sail on a new course
to navigate life with her soul by
listening to her wisdom and to her lust.

With a gypsy heart,
she blazed amazing flaming trails
with the moon over her head
and the twinkle of stars in her eyes.

With a gypsy heart,
she knew she would never be the same
or bring this romantic life to a halt
for where destiny called, she would go.

by Donniece Smith
posted with permission  
Original poems and writing by Donniece Smith – copyrighted

With a Gypsy Heart is a poem I wrote in hindsight of the experience
of leaving the corporate job structure.  It was a few years into the
transition to entrepreneur/artist that I could look back and articulate
my desperate desire to fly. I believe we all have some  "wild heart"
of the gypsy deep inside seeking to be free.
 
Donniece Smith is a multi-faceted artist and writer. She creates original fiber stitchery, bead embroidery, mixed media jewelry, along with paintings,stories and poems. All are vibrantly colorful and textured. Her “real life” skills derive from over twenty-five years of industry experience in graphic design.  She inadvertently became a computer geek in the process but prefers to call herself an “information architect.” Donniece’s blog Thirteen Threads from the Wild Heart is a project launched in January 2011 to celebrate living her creative life much bigger and bolder upon her fiftieth birthday.  You can join Donniece, and her muse Lulu Red, explore the creative ties that bind our hearts and lives together through the metaphor of thread at  http://www.thirteenthreadsfromthewildheart.com

Donniece Smith is an amazingly talented local artist-really she is too modest. I have known of her for about 3 years now and did not know the scope of her talent until just recently, when I began to take a closer look. If you enjoy fiber art; her is a link to some of her beautiful work. Do yourself a favor and take a look around-it will make your day. :D

May 25, 2011

Camera Practice-Test Post

Warm Cedar 3.75 oz. 

Lavender  Shave Round-3.75 oz

Getting tired of the old look, so I'm dabbling with a new look. Just checking it out. What do you think?
Also, a test to see if posts are being published to twitter.

May 24, 2011

Business Tip Tuesday-How to Publish Your Blog Automatically to Twitter Via Feedburner

Okay, so admittedly I am not a "techie." I don't own a blackberry, an iPad, or even a smart phone-so I tend to be a little behind on the latest tech movements.Quite by accident, I discovered that I could link Feedburner to Twitter so that it will automatically update Twitter each time I blog saving me a step (and I am all about saving time.) So, I thought I would share this with you too in case you're like me, and didn't know you could do this. (These directions are given under assumption that you have Feedburner already activated for your blog.)

1) Sign in on  your Google Account
2) Go to My Account
3) Under the My Products heading select Feedburner
4) When Feedburner opens up you will see your Google accounts listed under the red line that says "Feed Title" and  "Subscribers"
5) Select the account associated with the blog you want to activate
6) This will take you to a page with 5 tabs at the top - select the Publicize tab.
7) Under the Services heading to the left of the page select Socialize
8) After you click on Socialize - a Select Account box will appear on the right - click on the Add Twitter Account button.
9) You will then be taken to a page that says "Authorize Google to Use Your Account" enter your Username or e-mail and Password for the Twitter Account you would like associated with your blog - and viola! your done.

Oops!my blog post didn't feed - although I show my account to be successfully set up. I will look into it and let you all know where the hitch is in case you run into the same problem. Or if you have an idea what might be up with this - pop on down to the comments and let me know. :D

Okay, so I think the problem is solved - I had two blogs and a website with Feedburner - it appears that initially the incorrect blog was selected, and after getting rid of the obsolete blog and website and reactivating the Twitter account -  all is well. It also seems that it takes a bit for Feedburner to publish a post initially.

May 23, 2011

Just a Quick Note+Pre-Father's Day Sale - 10% Off All Shave Rounds

Clove Shave Round 3.75 oz.

Just a quick note, as I am heading out the door. Whew! the Zen Cart is up and running-so in celebration we're having a Pre-Father's Day Sale - get 10% off all shave rounds. Head on over and pick some up for Dad! Father's Day is just around the corner - June 19!!

May 22, 2011

Gifts for the Teachers - Flower Pot Gift Baskets

 Hand painted flower plant marker

 Hand painted Ladybug plant marker

 Group shot of hand painted plant markers

 Flower pot gift basket full of goodies

Flower pot gift baskets waiting for the finishing touch of cellophane wrapping and a bow

So, with the school year coming to an end - it's time to send a little something to the teachers in appreciation for all they've done. This year my daughter and I thought up flower pot gift baskets for each teacher. Included in each flower pot gift basket is a packet of sunflower seeds(a variety specifically for cutting and bringing inside to enjoy), a hand painted plant marker, Gardener's soap and nail brush (for after playing in the dirt), a hand balm and few other select goodies to fill each basket. We loved that each basket is something useful and can be utilized season after season. They were so much fun to make. My daughter and I had a ball looking for just the right touches for each one.

May 21, 2011

Analysis Paralysis - My Personal Struggle

“Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.”
—Mark Victor Hansen

I've been making soap for 3 years now and have only dabbled with selling  for several reasons; I lacked confidence, so I let others derail me, I needed time to evolve and find my niche and hone my craft (in hindsight - I am a far better soapmaker than I was two years ago) and probably the most debilitating reason is that I wanted things to be perfect. I wanted to have a plan for everything-I pondered on failure,I thought about what if things really take off, how will I manage production?  I planned,planned,planned to the point of paralysis. I was driven to have the soap that I saw others making(others with years of experience) I taught myself soap making techniques by visually deconstructing the different soap making techniques of those I admired. I compared myself to others, and often was disappointed in my attempts to make soap as beautiful as that of my muses.The joy of soaping was slowly ebbing because I was so hard on myself.  I was absolutely caught up in the self defeating circle of analysis paralysis and self doubt-I was my own worst enemy.

Then one day, I read a little Etsy Bootcamp article - I believe it was written by Lauren Miller of Sunbasilgarden that really just stated the obvious - don't wait until you have everything perfect - just get started. Well folks, believe it or not that was a revelation to me. That was a turning point. I realized I had been planning, planning, planning to the point of paralysis - because I was so afraid of failure. After reading this article I mentioned it to my husband who concurred that I in fact I do "anal-ize"(his terminology) a little too much. He also pointed out that it was he who has been telling me-just make things simple,nothing is set in stone. I also realized that I tend to forget that "nothing is set in stone"- blogs can be tweaked, website's can be modified, product can be improved upon and given a different look any time I feel that it needs to be done. It's okay to have fun and fly by the seat of your pants just a bit.

Thankfully, throughout this ongoing life lesson, my passion for the ingredients and the art of making soap has kept me afloat. As I look back, I see a distinct pattern of letting the fear of failure overwhelm me(often before a new idea even got off the ground.) I still struggle and often have to remind myself that nothing is set in stone - nothing is permanent and that the only way to eat an elephant is-one bite at a time.

May 20, 2011

Beautiful Thing Friday

Lemon Honey Hand Balm 1.0 oz.

I am so excited about these, and they will be listed as soon as the changes on the website are complete (and if the world doesn't come to an end or something it looks like it might be up and running Monday folks.) Hand Balms are made with fabulously moisturizing and nutritive ingredients to take care of hands in urgent need of moisture and repair. These balms are also great for your lips, elbows, feet and cuticles. Hand Balms will come in four great scents; Honey, Lemon Honey, Lavender Honey and Orange Honey Drizzle.

May 19, 2011

Quote of the Day

If you were watching American Idol last night, you saw Haly Reinhart take a fall while performing-somehow she kept right on singing and didn't miss a beat. During judging Stephen Tyler exclaimed "It's not about how many times you fall, it's how many times you get back up." Brilliant!

I think that is also true in life and business- what do you think?

Last Nights' Fabulous Dinner + The Recipe


 Sweet and Sour Pork
Sorry for the lame picture - I think I was a little too close and the lighting is horrid in the kitchen at night

Last night, we had Sweet and Sour Pork for dinner and I must say it was out of this world delicious! We are currently working towards adjusting to a lacto ovo diet. We are still eating meat (supplemented with a veggie recipes) a few nights a week while we are learning the veggie ropes so to speak. Lately, there have been a few nights of stir fry and I must say it suits me just fine. The following recipe is fabulous, and I can tell you first hand it is even better left over - (as I sit at my desk polishing off the leftovers.) The recipe calls for pork butt  - we subbed a leaner pork chop cut and oh my stars it is yummy! I am not a big, big meat eater and I have to say this is a delightful way to prepare pork. 

There is a little bit of prep time - the meat needs to marinate and there are veggies to cut up - but Oh Yum!

There is some refined sugar involved, but you could probably just eliminate the sugar and go with whatever sugar is in the pineapple juice. Also, the not so healthy for you part is the meat is fried. This isn't the most healthy of recipes one could make, but it's not the worst and it is fabulous!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pork butt, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 quart vegetable oil for frying
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  •  
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 stalks celery, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, cut into wedges
  • white sugar to taste
  • salt to taste
  •  
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 (8 ounce) can pineapple chunks, undrained
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions

  1. Place cubed pork in a medium bowl, and season with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon sugar, and 1 teaspoon soy sauce. Mix in the egg white and green onions. Cover, and place in the refrigerator at least 1 hour.
  2. Heat 1 quart oil to 365 degrees F (185 degrees C) in a large, heavy saucepan or deep fryer.
  3. Coat the pork with 1/2 cup cornstarch, and fry in the heated oil about 10 minutes, until evenly browned. Drain on paper towels.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok over medium heat. Stir in the celery, green bell pepper, and onion, and cook until tender. Season with salt and sugar. Remove from heat, and set aside.
  5. In a large saucepan, mix 1 cup water, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 3/4 cup sugar, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, and 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce. Bring to a boil, and stir in the cooked pork, celery mixture, and the pineapple chunks with juice. Return to boil, and mix in 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 1/4 cup water to thicken. Cook until well blended.
Recipe source; Allrecipes.com

May 18, 2011

Making Up Some Kale Chips

 1 bunch of kale washed and allowed to dry thoroughly

 Carefully remove stems from leaves

Yummy, kale chips ready to eat!


1 bunch kale
1Tablespoon of olive oil
Season salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees - Place bite sized kale chips on parchment covered cookie sheet
Wash and allow kale to dry well (or use salad spinner to dry leaves) - leaves must very dry so they will crisp up
With scissors or knife carefully remove the kale leaf from the stem and tear into bite sized pieces
Drizzle Kale with Olive Oil and sprinkle with season salt
Bake until the edges are lightly browned 10-15 minutes

They are surprisingly light and airy and very tasty!
(My very picky 11 year old loves them.)

May 17, 2011

Business Tip Tuesday - Why Buy Handmade?

I often think that perhaps people are always a little shocked buy the price of handmade items. Take handmade soap for example; who wouldn’t love to buy scads of handmade soap because it’s obviously beautiful to the eye, it’s made of gorgeous (and often more natural) ingredients, it feels fantastic on your skin – and the aromas are more than a vast departure from everyday commercial soap- but then potential customer's are sometimes stopped dead in their tracks by a $6.00 a bar price point they see as exorbitant. I think that perhaps it is more important than ever for artisans to educate and speak out about why handmade is important and even though the price point may be a bit higher than Wal-Mart – handmade is a great place to put your money. It’s just not enough to throw around the “Buy Handmade” motto – we (the artisans) need to have a true grasp as to why it is a good thing from an economical standpoint as well as a quality, and personal connection standpoint so that it is reflected to the customer.

I thought that this week it would be great to come up with a comprehensive list of Reasons to Buy Handmade. I will begin the list and hope that the soapmaking /artisan community will add your contributions freely. This list is intended for you to copy and use on your blogs, marketing materials etc. so let’s see what kind of list we can come up with.  I will start with five Reasons to Buy Handmade

  • You’re supporting a small local business; perhaps allowing a work at home parent to stay home with a child while still contributing to the household income.
  • Buying handmade is a direct investment into the artisan’s passion.
  • Giving handmade is like sending a handwritten letter rather than an e-mail.
  • The customer and artisan build a personal connection that is a rarity in the corporate world.
  • Isn’t it nice to know where, by whom and how your prized item was made?
  • I think the artists love or passion comes through into what they do as well... so that love and passion come through in using the soap. by Jen of Naturalmente Mediterraneo
  • Buying handmade rewards,passion,creativity and endorses the artisan.
  • Many of todays' artisans are utilizing recycled materials in their upcycled, repurposed works - upping the level of creativity and reducing waste going to the landfill.
  • Supporting handmade helps keep traditional handcrafts alive.
  • Buying handmade locally puts money back into the local community.
  • In more global terms- buying handmade puts money into the pockets of the artisans' suppliers (often these are small business owners as well.)
  • You've already listed all my favorite reasons! Especially the relationships you can build with customers, and the uniqueness of the product.by Amy of Great Cakes Soapworks 
  • I have a few reasons I like to buy handmade. I like to know the name, sometimes even the face, of the person who made the item. I like to know the ingredients or the materials that were used to make the item. I also like the sense that I am buying something unique, something that can not necessarily be bought at the department or big box store. Buying handmade makes for a unique shopping experience overall. by Tara of  On a Branch
  •  I think we should support local artisans just as I think we should support local farmers. I value knowing where my food comes from. Most of us have become accustomed to going to the grocery store or big box store for the convenience of one-stop shopping. I appreciate convenience and a good bargain, but more than that, I appreciate value. I like knowing as much as I possibly can that what I’m eating and using is good quality, grown, harvested, crafted, and created with care. The other benefit is getting to know my neighbors. Buying local helps us to build and make connections in our community.by Leslie of Joyful Soaps
  •  the most important reasons,like¨-I love Natural and Simplicity, a lot !-I adore to FELL anything ,send me some feelings to ´´talk to me´´,to tell me:pick me,pick me...-And last, I like Originality, a lot ! I hate everything that is in series and repetitive!I am an imaginative person who finds inspiration in Nature(almost) and very few (unfortunately)handmade things truly original which deserve to be bought.Being Vegetarian , i eat only Natural and Handmade products(only) ,being an Artesan Soap I use only Handmade products(mine),so I can say I am a´´consumer´´only by Handmade products!Is not easy but I can handle because for me is My Lifestyle!I believe in him and I feel so good in there!by Claudia of Allegria Meditteraneo 
  • All handmade items, whether they are clothes, soaps or food stuff are made by someone who has passion for their craft/skill.                                                                                                            Many of these skills have been lost due to industrialisation and other factors and it really is a shame that we are so reliable on machines.. for almost 90% of our daily task. machines are taking over everything...i love handwritten letters...i dont get them anymore, all of these little handmade items and gestures are personal!! by Bobbins and Balms -   
  • I'd just like to say that buying handmade makes me feel good knowing that I am buying something of quality and almost always made with love. It feels more like a gift than an everyday purchase. by Bianca of  Soap is Beautiful

                May 16, 2011

                Earthly Delights Monday - Featuring Ingredients That Make Handmade Soap Special - Lemon (Nature's Sunshine)

                Fresh Lemon – Garden fresh lemons; Sunny and bright with a note of earthy green, a perfect way to revive and refresh your senses. Pure essential oils provide fabulously fresh scent and a happy yellow color to the soap while olive oil infused with calendula calms and soothes your skin.

                Lemon (Citrus × limon) a small thorny evergreen tree with oval yellow fruit native to India. By the middle ages lemons had made their way to Europe and the Greeks and Romans were advocates of the lemon's therapeutic properties.  

                Lemon essential oil is obtained by cold pressing the fresh peel. Lemon essential oil is tart and tangy with a note of fresh green like the freshly grated peel.

                Bright,happy, clean and fresh;the scent revitalizes and instantly lifts your spirit. Zesty lemon oil refreshes and revitalizes your body and mind and increases your ability to focus.Lemon oil is reputed as an antiseptic and as having cooling revitalizing qualities that pair perfectly with summer.

                Uses for Lemon Essential Oil in the Home -
                • In the bathroom. For a sparkling bathroom sink or tub, mix 10 drops of lemon oil with one cup of baking soda. Use the mixture to scrub away dirt, grime, and soap buildup. Make sure to rinse well when you've finished scrubbing.
                • Disinfectant. Take an 8 oz. spray bottle, fill it with water, and add 25 drops of lemon oil. Shake well, and spray directly onto faucets, doorknobs, bed linens, or into the air as a disinfectant. 
                • In the laundry room. When laundering whites, add 25 drops to the rinse water. Do not apply directly to clothing. Avoid adding to colored loads. 
                • Vacuuming. Drop a cotton ball sprinkled with 15 drops of lemon essential oil into your vacuum bag. The scented cotton will add a crisp, fresh scent to the air as you clean, and also will deodorize your vacuum cleaner. 
                •  For the spirit. Lemon is a naturally uplifting, clarifying oil. You can either inhale it directly from the bottle or use a diffuser. Lemon is an excellent oil to diffuse in a child's environment, and when placed in a car diffuser, lemon oil can help keep you alert and your spirits high during your daily commute.Source;Greenfeet

                May 14, 2011

                Hometown Flavor - Field Trip Into the Past/ Part Two

                Sprinkled along this time line of the Old West you will see other items of interest  - 

                A majestic windmill stands proudly against the West Texas sky

                 This wagon held water in it's large storage tank; probably for watering cattle or crops.

                Um -I have no idea about the year model of this truck, but I'm in love - the color is perfect

                A few more structures - 

                 80 John Wallace House
                Daniel Webster Wallace was born the son of slaves at 17 he ran away from home to join a cattle drive with very little formal education Wallace went back to school at  the age of 25, where he was admitted to the second grade. Learning to read and write over the course of two winters Wallace eventually joined Clay Mann's outfit - a move that would end up fulfilling Wallace's dream of becoming a rancher.


                 One room schoolhouse

                 School books

                Ropes Depot 

                 Barton House
                Probably the most famous structure on the National  Ranching Heritage Center grounds

                May 11, 2011

                Hometown Flavor - A Field Trip Into the Past

                While Lubbock boasts several attractions that herald its farming and ranching traditions-one that stands out as a must see is the National Ranching Heritage Center museum and historical park. The NHRC hosts thirty eight structures that have been relocated from some of the West’s most well known ranches onto the NHRC land. The structures reveal the evolution of ranch life from the late 1700’s through the early 1900’s. Each building is a testament to its unique geographical area of origin and to the creative practical use of raw materials that were used in the day of their build.

                Along the path of the self paced tour you will see a clear evolution of time and history as the tour begins with the crudest of minimalistic shelters progressing to a more refined if not luxurious home. Each building is authentically restored with each painstakingly numbered piece reassembled at the NHRC Park where great effort is made to keep furnishings and artifacts as authentic as possible (one of my very favorite aspects of the whole experience.) I find that I am more interested in the furnishings, tools and artifacts than I am the structures – what fun it is to imagine weaving by the light of a burning fire and oil lamps or cooking over an open fire while the weather howls just outside the door. Over the years I have been several times to this wonderful museum of time gone by and now my daughter and I go annually – what a fabulous resource to teach generations about the life and hardships of those that came before us.


                Hedwig's Hill Dogtrot House
                A dogtrot house consists of two log cabins under one roof with a breezeway in the middle. The breezeway provided a cooler covered are for sitting and perhaps even more importantly- pulled cooler air into the living quarters.


                "What fun it is to imagine weaving by the light of a burning fire and oil lamps."

                Jowell House
                Built in defense of Indian attack - this two story rock house was built with rifle slits placed on an angle to keep arrows from entering,inside a trap door leads with to the top floor so the family could climb up pulling the ladder with them to help keep them safe.

                Jowell family cemetery

                 Waggoner Ranch Commissary 

                Dry goods inside the commissary


                Furnishings and artifacts are kept as authentic as possible.

                A baby's bed

                 "Singer" sewing machine - I wonder how many clothes and quilts were sewn with this machine - isn't it beautiful?

                A warm and functional kitchen

                May 10, 2011

                Business Tip Tuesday - To Market, To Market..,

                The following is a comprehensive list of supplies, inventory tips, marketing tips and all around great advice for how to get through a day at the market.

                 Supplies

                Make sure that you have all your office supplies very handy ... nothing like taking an order and can't find a pen or an invoice book or a calculator, to make you look less than professional.

                If you're using a calculator or a cash register ... keep the tapes full and a back up very handy. (I always had an office box filled with anything that I would need. Papers, Rulers, Pens, extra Tapes, Invoice Books, etc.).

                Have your information sources handy. If you use specific reference material ... have it either on the table or on you. Don't go "fumbling" around for it.

                Leaflets: yes, a brochure or leaflet is a good idea ... that way they have your name and address when they get home. Just remember that you are trying to make sales, not give away brochures. LOL Put a brochure in each bag with a sale actually done.

                Business cards to give out with each purchase and a few to set out on your table for customers to have access to.

                Attire

                Dress comfortably ... it's going to be a long day (or couple of days) ... you are not at a fashion show ... no high heels or other clothing that will restrict you or make you uncomfortable by the end of the day. On the other hand ... don't dress down to the point where people see you as unprofessional either. Balance is the key here.

                Display

                Signs should be less artistic and more clear and visible. Mark the price and the type on every single item ... don't make people look too long to find the information that they want.

                Use your "height" as well as your width. Lots of display space goes unused if you don't pay attention to wall space.

                Rack 'em and Stack 'em ... have lots on the table (and the wall displays) so that people can see immediately that you are serious.

                Keep your displays neat and tidy ... nothing like picking up a product that has dust or dirt on it to put someone off really fast.

                Set up your display at home prior to the show, then pack your product so that it comes out in order. Mark each box with which display this product will be going into/onto. This will save you so much set-up time once you're there.

                A rack that has shelves; although admittedly you do have to make certain that it can be "anchored" to the ground and yet still be light enough to transport with you.

                Just remember that you are paying for 10x10=100 sq. feet on the floor but that gives you 10x10x3=300 sq. feet on the walls too. Of course, only half of that is really usable ... nothing works below waist or table level really, unless it's large boxed items.

                Write down your set-up procedure. Set-up and Tear-down is really the most difficult part of the process.

                Do a floor lay-out and plan the displays.

                Customer Service 

                Don't spend all day with one "talkative" customer. Answer their questions and queries ... but don't give them the impression that they can take up your whole day or that you're there to "make friends". You are there to sell product and make customers ... not "buddies".

                If you are not certain of the answer ... say "I don't Know" ... don't make something up or say I "think" this is the answer. Get their name and number or email addie and tell them that you will look it up and find out for them. And then follow it up in a timely manner.

                Do a couple of practice sales ... ask a neighbour to come by and pretend to be a customer. That way you get an idea what you need by going through the process before you get there. You'll feel less nervous if you've done this a couple of times.

                "Tell ... don't Sell" If a customer comes by and seems interested ... take them on "walk about". Walk them through the different types of products and tell them what they are for and why yours are superior. By the end of the walk through ... both of you will be more comfortable buying/selling to each other.

                Do not leave your booth unattended. It's just not good sense, when a customer wants your attention, you need to be available.

                No items on the table that are not for sale! Gitchy stuff is cute and all, but ... decorations should be on your product. Keep the focus on your product and what you do have to sell. Having a beautiful crystal candle holder that no one can purchase creates a negative experience for the buyer and for you.

                Marketing 

                Make up some gift baskets / gift sets ... it's easy for people to purchase products that go together if you have them set up and ready for them to purchase quickly and in a pretty format. Add a couple of "extras" like a washcloth or scrubby or ... just to make the gift basket a treat.


                As for small amount of stock looking like lots, here are some ideas:

                Take the same bar as a 1 pack ... 3 pack ... 6 pack ... with some sand & shells (from your statement) ... packed in a mini gift pack with a face cloth (dollar store). That gives you 5 products from one.

                Don't know if you're selling anything besides soap ... but if you are ... A soap & lotion pack ... a soap & moisture pack ... a soap & shampoo & conditioner pack ... a soap & scrub & body butter ... etc. Gift Packs make the most of a limited inventory base because they use up more space and the same product is used in many applications.

                Bath Salts are a great space filler as well. And not expensive to add.

                Market the same bar for several applications: for example ... exfoliating hand soap ... exfoliating foot soap ... you get the idea. Keep the signage clear and the displays to a minimum ... your product is the star of the show here.

                Crates (cheap at the dollar store) are perfect for "mini displays" of gift packs or of special application type product. Fill one with everything to do with foot products and make the signage "Foot Care". Fill one with all gardener product and make the signage "Gardener's Corner" ... "Exfoliating" ... again, you get the idea. Just keep that going to fill a table ... then you have the main table with all your soaps laid out ... looks like you have lots of product now.
                To put this into perspective ... look in a jewellery store ... The same necklace will show up in several displays ... as "amber" "silver" "celtic" "necklaces" "new" "beaded items" etc. ... one necklace ... many placements.

                The less product you have, the more creative you need to be with display and packaging. Again ... keep the packaging simple (you don't want to spend a pile of money) creativity is key.

                Box some soaps individually ... and have the same soaps just shrink wrapped and "open" as well. Same soap looks a lot different in the two different packaging types.

                Specials: yes ... definitely do have specials ... just put the price up slightly for individual items and then make a "special" for buying 3 of them. That way you sell more at one time to a customer you already have, it's a good sales technique

                Scent & "LOOK" sells them the first time ... they come back if the quality is there as well.

                Inventory Tips 

                To make your inventory keeping simpler ... type up a sheet with every item (double check the count as they go into the box). Mark the sheet with lines to create a couple of columns. Excel works well for this, if you have it.
                Column 1: Product Type
                Column 2: On Hand

                Then when you are packing up fill in
                 
                Column 3: New On Hand Amt.

                And that gives you
                 
                Column 4: Sold at Show! (Column 2 minus Column 3)

                Date this sheet and then use the Column 3 information for your next show and add any new product you've made as well.

                Source; The Dish Forum via "Rainbow"

                May 9, 2011

                Earthly Delight Monday - Featuring Ingredients That Make Handmade Soap Special + How to Make Lavender Honey

                 

                Fun Trivia about Bees and Honey –

                Honeybees
                • There are 3 kinds of bees within the hive – Queen, Workers and Drones
                • Honeybees fly at 15 mph
                • Honeybees are the only insect that produces food for humans
                • Honeybees are the only bees that die after they sting
                • Honeybees are responsible for pollinating approx 80% of all fruit, vegetable and seed crops in the U.S.
                • Bees communicate with each other by dancing and by using pheromones (scents).
                • Honeybees never sleep!
                Honey
                • Honey is 80% sugars and 20% water.
                • A single honeybee will only produce approximately 1/12 teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.
                • A single honey bee will visit 50-100 flowers on a single trip out of the hive.
                • Honey is the ONLY food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including water.
                • A typical beehive can make up to 400 pounds of honey per year.
                • Honey never spoils.
                • Flowers and other blossoming plants have nectarines that produce sugary nectar. Worker bees suck up the nectar and water and store it in a special honey stomach. When the stomach is full the bee returns to the hive and puts the nectar in an empty honeycomb. Natural chemicals from the bee's head glands and the evaporation of the water from the nectar change the nectar into honey.
                • Out of 20,000 species of bees, only 4 make honey. 
                On a different note - Honey and Insomnia

                I am going to try this and let you know how it works – I have been having random intermittent bouts of insomnia for a couple of years – so at the onset of the next bout I will try this to see how it goes.

                Insomnia: Honey can help you sleep. Eating honey raises your blood sugar level slightly. This results in a controlled increase of insulin, which then causes the amino acid trytophan to enter your brain. The trytophan is converted into serotonin, which promotes relaxation. Finally, in the pineal gland, with the aid of darkness, the serotonin is converted into melatonin, a well know cure for sleeping disorders. Honey also contains the ideal 1:1 ratio of fructose to glucose making it a super food for glycogen storage. Sufficient glycogen storage is necessary for restful sleep. When your liver runs out of glycogen at night, your brain starts to trigger stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin to convert protein muscle into glucose.

                I wonder who was brave enough to try honey that was 2,000 years old?
                • Honey stored in air tight containers never spoils. Sealed honey vats found in King Tut's tomb still contained edible honey, despite over 2,000 years beneath the sands.

                How to Make Herbal Honey with Lavender



                Sources; Utah County Beekeepers Association, Fun Facts about Honey, Health and Honeybees

                May 8, 2011

                A Hint About the Hometown Flavor Feature for Next Week


                May 7, 2011

                Travel Back in the Soapy Time Machine

                 My first soap cake

                Nut Brown -"Barley and Hops"

                 Anise and Clove - "Fleur de lis"

                Pale Ale - "Barley and Hops" 

                Enjoy a few blasts from the past-

                I came across these here and there(all are from a couple of years ago)- some are from my Flikr and some have been hanging out on the internet -I thought it was fun to see them. 

                I remember being so proud of the "Fleur de lis" soap- it was my first time with activated charcoal and my first really cool swirl and a huge inky mess to clean up. :))

                May 6, 2011

                Beautiful Thing Friday - Under the Dreaming Tree

                The Dreaming Tree
                 
                Azure sky
                Dappled sun filters through the leaves pleasantly warming my skin
                Leaves rustle and whisper my name
                Dreams dance in my head; anything is possible on a day like today
                Me~

                What makes your day beautiful? Leave a comment or a linky...

                May 5, 2011

                Pssssst - This Sunday May 8th is Mother's Day (and I'm Pretty Sure She Would Love Some Handmade Soap)

                Don't forget you can save 10% on each bar of soap over at the Tierra Verde Handmade Soaps shop - and while you' re at it pick some soap up for Dad (Father's Day is June 19th.)

                So, What do All These Other Photos Have to do With Soap?

                Red Yucca

                 As a small business owner I find it just isn't feasible to outsource product photography 1)it's costly 2) it's not convenient - I have new soap coming out of the mold all the time and I want to take photos right then. 

                The only way I know to get comfortable with your camera is to practice, practice, practice. I would say I consider myself merely a novice photographer. I enjoy it, and I work at it because I want to have the ability and freedom to take photos of my handmade soap when I want to and when I need to get it up and listed on my blog or website. Below is a list of a few tips I have found helpful.
                • Using your camera often, helps you to become familiar with the settings.
                • If you aren't comfortable with the manual settings put the camera on auto and go at it. 
                • Experiment with the macro and different angles- using different angles makes your photos more interesting.
                • Take lots and lots of photos and you will probably find a few that you are very happy with. 
                • Pay attention to lighting opportunities - I've learned just what kind of light I like best. I look for that very warm light found usually in the late afternoon, early evening depending on the time of year. (of course that always varies with the seasonal changes.) 
                • Check out library books, or look to your local community center for a class in digital photography basics, check out books from the library and read a chapter daily.
                • Spend a day one day a month carrying your camera with you - you'll be surprised at how differently you will begin to look at things - and you will find yourself becoming more and more at ease with your camera.   
                 Good Reads

                7 Product Photography Tips

                7 Ways to Improve Your Product Photography Without Buying New Equipment 

                Tips for Great Product Photography

                May 4, 2011

                Red Hibiscus

                Red  Hibiscus from my walk last night~


                The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.
                - Helen Keller

                The Language of Color

                Please remember that the above logo is under copyright.



                Psychology of Color: Green
                The color of growth, nature, and money. A calming color also that's very pleasing to the senses. Dark forest green is associated with terms like conservative, masculine and wealth. Hospitals use light green rooms because they too are found to be calming to patients. It is also the color associated with envy, good luck, generosity and fertility. It is the traditional color of peace, harmony, comfortable nurturing, support and well paced energy.

                Psychology of Color: Brown
                This color is most associated with reliability, stability, and friendship. More are more likely to select this as their favorite color. It's the color of the earth itself "terra firma" and what could represent stability better. It too is associated with things being natural or organic. Caution however, for in India it is the color of mourning.

                While on the subject of color I thought it would be interesting to see what the colors in my logo represented. What do your logo colors say about your business?


                Source;Color Psychology and Marketing


                Please remember that the above logo is under copyright.

                May 3, 2011

                Business Tip Tuesday - Market Booth Display Tips

                Research – look around online at what others are doing. Browse the various Flikr groups for lots of inspirational craft booth set ups. Visit local markets and take note of the booths that you are attracted to, what makes them stand out? Is it the colors, the signage, table coverings, packaging? Pick the brains of craft show veterans for their advice and tips.



                Show Me Your Booths

                The Stall Style Pool 

                Space – Think outside the box on the best way to utilize your allotted market space. Ask before hand what your space is like. Are you on the end? Will you have access to power? Is your space very limited? (if so consider utilizing vertical space-to allow customers plenty of room to browse your items.)

                Lighting – Will you have access to power? A well lit display is a great advantage to your product. Use lighting to illuminate your work or show off your best piece.

                Theme – Use a theme to reinforce your brand. For example, if your handmade soap business has a bubble logo, perhaps you could find a table cover with a bubble theme, or spread some fake plastic bubbles around your table. Consider using props that serve a dual purpose for example; a vintage suit case can add great interest to your display and add varying height as well when products are displayed on stacking suit cases.

                Color – consider colors that make your product pop. Don’t wash your product out with colors that are to bold or a pattern that is to busy. Keep your theme in mind when selecting a color palette. Think about the mood you want to create when people visit your booth.

                Levels – Varying height gives depth and interest to your booth drawing customers your way. Consider this – a table with product at all one level may appear empty from a distance. Use functional props to get them up where they will catch the customers’ attention.

                Signage – Be sure to have a clear sign or banner that shows your store name. Make it interesting and attention grabbing. Be sure you have signs indicating the price of each product, some customers will not be comfortable asking and will be turned off at the idea of asking the price of each item. Also, consider that when you are busy you won’t have time to tend to each customer for pricing questions.

                Keep it simple – Remember that your display should not overwhelm your items for sale. The idea is to enhance your product not to grab the attention away from your product. 

                Oh, and don't forget to have plenty of  business cards available.

                May 2, 2011

                A Note to the Shave Round Devotees

                Warm Cedar Shave Round 3.75 min.net. wt.

                I know that there have been a few who have mentioned that they are patiently waiting to purchase shave rounds. I had hoped to get them listed over the weekend, but instead we decided to upgrade the shopping cart first. This change will allow us much more promotional freedom with promo codes and sale pricing etc. Soooo, all this to say that as soon as possible I will get the rounds listed and rest assured there will be special promotional pricing involved. :))

                Earthly Delight Monday-Featuring Ingredients That Make Handmade Soap Special + An Orange Pomander DIY Project

                The clove vaguely resembles a small nail in it's shape.

                Cloves - (Syzygium aromaticum, Eugenia aromaticum or Eugenia caryophyllata)are aromatic dried flower buds of a tree in the family Myrtaceae. Cloves are native to Indonesia and are popular for use in food all over the world. The English name derives from the Latin “clavus” meaning nail as the bud vaguely resembles a small nail in shape.

                The clove tree is an evergreen with large square leaves and blood red flowers. The flower buds are at first a pale color gradually becoming green turning to a blood red when they are ready for harvest. Once harvested the buds are dried to a dark brown hue preventing them from decay. They then shrivel to a brownish black and the spicy tidbits we know as clove.

                Clove Lore

                “It is said that the nutmegs have to smell the sea and the clove has to see it to grow to maturity properly.” Source: Spices and Herbs Lore and Cookery” by Louise S. Hayes

                Burned cloves attract riches, drives away hostile and negative forces, produces high spiritual vibration, and will purify the area.To stop others from gossiping about you.

                Worn or carried, cloves attract the opposite sex and brings comfort to the bereaved.

                Orange Pomander Balls

                To make 2 balls, you will need:
                2 oranges (or try apples, lemons, or lime)
                Toothpick or pin to ease the cloves into the orange
                Whole cloves, at least 1/4 cup, depending upon your design. (I buy mine in bulk as they tend to be expensive.)
                Spice mixture (see recipe below)
                4 feet of Ribbon

                For the spice mixture:
                3 Tbs. ground cinnamon
                3 Tbs. ground cloves
                3 Tbs. ground nutmeg
                3 Tbs. ground ginger
                3 Tbs. orris root powder (the dried and ground root of certain iris used as a fixative)

                Directions

                Making a Pomander Ball is easy, but can take some time! Simply stick a clove directly into an orange (or any of the other fruits listed above). You may want to use a toothpick or pin to make the first punctures so that the cloves are easier to insert. It seems that everyone has his or her own method when it comes to filling a ball! You don't have to fill the entire ball though—try a pattern or design if you feel inspired.

                Once the ball is completely studded with cloves, roll it in the spice mixture and set it aside for a couple of weeks in a cool dry spot so that it will dry. Once dried, tie a ribbon around the ball for hanging. Multiple pomander balls also look beautiful displayed together in a large decorative bowl.