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Planning

I did some intense idea journaling on the next Sunset Stroll (breast cancer event), which I touched upon the other night. It’s a few months away, but it takes me a little longer than the average person to get prepared for events.

I haven’t decided if I’ll try and set up a booth at the event. I never sold anything when I did before, but there’s always that chance that I have improved enough and have gotten some good exposure before, so I might get some sales. The pro/con spreadsheet is pretty dag on even, so I’ll be awhile before I make up my mind on that details I bet. Lol.

I’m planning to order 100 of the heat seal travel size packets (that I showed in the last post) and will put goat’s milk & honey lotion samples in them for the Stroll swag bags. The first time I made small pink ribbon soaps for the bags. It’s a fantastic marketing opportunity if used correctly, so I think that putting my best product in 100 hands is a smart idea. Plus it’ll look so professional and unique in that package. Soaps aren’t overly good sellers and the really whimsical ones are the only soaps that tend to go over well, so they’re not the best item to use for marketing, I realized. I’m excited because I think all of this planning and idea journaling has dramatically helped me improve.

In addition I plan to do a basket for them to raffle off, similar to last year, although I want to do a themed basket that isn’t a pink theme. I know I’m going against the grain a little, not following the pink and ribbon theme, but I think that’ll help my basket stand out more and get more interest. The more people that want it and don’t win it gives the potential of a lot of new customers. I have several full themes written out, but can’t decide on which I want to do. (See – I really can spend days writing spreadsheets, idea bubbles, and lists. *cracking up*) I’m seriously debating between pampering, sweet treats, or light and fruity. All three have some great options within the themes and really show some of my best items.

I also want to make a second basket that is focused on being kid friendly. I’m not positive that I’ll do this one, but if I can afford to do another donation and can manage it, then it’d be an even better chance to get some new customers. If a kid tries my products and really wants more, the caregiver has to come to be, since my items are so unique. I think a Monsters Away Spray, a couple bubble washes, a Splish Splash Duckie, and maybe even a Worms in Dirt Scrub to keep it all really whimsical.

I am so thankful that the Gauntlet Challenge has helped me do some much needed work for my business. I expected and hoped to have a lot more products made during this, but I feel like I’m much prepared to continue improving my business. There’s some disappointment that I can’t show you a truckload of pics and success stories, but look at how many details have been scrutinized and improved. *small happy dance* (On a side note I am becoming convinced that I have the world’s worst karma, mostly health-wise. I think I broke a warehouse of mirrors at some point and forgot about it. It’s all that I can come up with to explain how I am always getting injured or sick. *grin* When I left the forgotten warehouse I stepped under a lot of ladders too. That’s how I’m explaining a cut on my hand from the dog’s leash and spontaneously developing a croupy cough. Lol. By the way, door jams and gravity have a vendetta against me as well. I went out of my way to do some really nice things for others, so I’m hoping I get a healthy day as a reward. I’d really like to make some products and feel good about some accomplishments. *grin*)

Anyway, I’m crossing my fingers to start carrying out my ideas soon. I hope you have a wonderful and warm weekend filled with creativity and pampering!!

Could You Hear Me?

Did you hear it? Did you hear me squealing wherever you are? Ears are bleeding all around me. *grin*

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I got part of my supply order and the free sample of the Night “Blooming” Jasmine (got around that copyright, eh? Lol). It smells amazing! *starts to do a jig, then stops after the dog trips me* I’m so tickled over this FO. It definitely didn’t work to curb my FO addiction though. Oops.

I got a bag full of reducers and they kind of made me a little giddy too. I can convert all of the body oils on hand and I’m prepared for some orders.

20130424-172141.jpg (freaking adorable IMO)

Now for the meaty part. I got a few injuries from a mishap with Bo (my dog), so I’ve been working on more planning and research instead of making soaps (disappointing, but I’m tickled with what I’ve planned out). I started planning out what I want to do and accomplish with this year’s breast cancer awareness event. After a lot of comparisons I decided that if the little heat seal packets that I ordered a sample of are actually as neat in person, then I’m going to do lotion samples in them for the event’s grab bags.

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Oh yeah, they are perfect!! They are just a little bigger than my business card, so I can secure my card on one side with a glue dot and label the other side. (Have you ever tried them? It’s oddly addictive and you start looking around to see what else you can glue together *cracking up* It’s kind of like when you get a labeling machine and find yourself labeling the shelves in your pantry just because you can.) They don’t photograph well when the sun starts going down, but you can get the idea. How cool are these?

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The end is open, so you fill there (um, still not sure how I’m going to get the lotion in the small opening without burning myself, but that’s a problem for another day lol) and then just slide the heat along it. Those notches just delight me for some reason. I know…I have some really odd quirks. *grin*

As I was sorting through my new items someone decided to try to grab some packing peanuts. 🙂

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A Little Nerdy

In case you have forgotten just how nerdy I can be, I’m letting my nerd flag fly today. 1. I watch Dr Who, 2. I have been on SL (Second Life, an online community, kind of like The Sims and a chat room combined) for years, and 3. I tend to shop for nerdy things to dress my avatar in on SL. Lol. While doing some window shopping for my avatar last night I found a shirt that combines my love of all things nerdy with my love of the bath and body world.

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I want to find this in real life. I think it’d make an awesome shirt to wear for business events once my business info was added. *grin* To ice the cake, so to speak, I took a picture of my computer screen via my iPhone while playing Netflix on my Nook beside my computer. *cracking up* I amuse myself when I take a step back and analyze myself.

On a more business-related note, I ended up getting both types of sample packaging discussed previously, although I’m mostly going to go with the little flip top jars. I can’t resist the chance to heat seal some product though. Lol. It might be even more enjoyable than shrink wrapping my soaps. *grin* Yep, I’m a dork. A dork with some seriously “buh me” moments. I amuse myself, though, and that’s a key to my happiness. *sassy wink* Anywho…For my free gift for my order I chose a Night Blossoming Jasmine FO knockoff. If it’s as good as the Bath & Body Works version you’re going to be able to hear my joy wherever you are when I open it. I’m pretty sure ears will be bleeding in my tiny town. Unscented fabric softener sheets will never be the same in my house. *grin*

I also had a lightbulb moment the other day that inspired a lot of pages of stream of consciousness bubbles. Since the decorative trim and buttons felt rather odd on the soaps when washing, why not try embedding them? A total smack my forehead and say “buh me” moment. *smile*

I hope you don’t mind that this is mostly just a really fun post and not full of business “meat”. I’m super giddy because I’m done with my website changes (except for proof reading) and I am so proud that I have gotten so much done. I hope you have a wonderful weekend and if things go right I should have some pics with new embeds soon!

Sampling

One of the top items on my list is to find a better way of marketing. One part of that includes more efficient sampling. I’m a strong believer that if you try something, then you’re more likely to buy it. I found a little packet that can be sealed with a flat iron. It’s really cost effective, so I could easily budget a fairly high quantity of them. My business card can be stapled right onto the packets too. To open you just tear it open, like ripping open a hot cocoa packet.

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The second option is the flip top jars that I used for the testers at my booth at the Christmas craft fair last year. These would be perfect because they’re resealable, transported easily even after being opened, and will hold the true scent well. They also look more professional in some ways.

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Down side to the packets is that once they’re open, they’re open, because they’re not resealable, so the whole sample must be marketed right then. They’re cheaper to make though, so I can do a few of each for other moments of sampling.

Down side to the jars is that someone might like my product and walk off with the little jar, which has a bigger amount of sample in it. It also is a little more expected, I guess you could say. It says handmade lotion instead of high end sample. I don’t mind either of those impressions though, so it’s definitely not a con for either. Lol.

After looking over my lists over areas that I can improve marketing is one of the biggest and I think really doing a lot more sampling, not just my testers, will help. Maybe if I get a lot of samples in hands, like Avon or Mary Kay can, then maybe they’ll be able to see that my best items might compare to their favorites. Plus, the real samples will give true examples of my incredible scents instead of the unpredictable scent of a soaked cotton ball. A small sample of my bright and fresh summer scents might find their groove then. *grin*

Anyway, if you like one over the other, please post your vote in the comments. I appreciate any and all feedback. I want to tweak the business just right that my customers really like all aspects of it. 🙂 I hope you have a wonderful day/night!

Between the uneven lines

Having dedicated time daily to work on business things has gotten to the point that I’m working on troubleshooting now that I may have been procrastinating on. *whistling innocently* I’m really trying to emphasize the “may” in that. Lol. I’m pretty proud that I’ve been thinking outside of the box and gotten some things checked off of the spreadsheet.

I am flawed. There’s something seriously weird about me (beyond my engaging eccentric personality of course). I can’t see things straight. Maybe that lift in one eyelid is the culprit, or maybe it comes down to missing this gene’s handout. Maybe they had a seminar on it with the group that gives out a sense of direction. Lol. Enough lame moments that amuse me – but seriously, when things are all wonky and a coffee cup could slide off a table, that’s when it looks level to me. Once a month or so Larry goes through the house with a level and straightens up all of the things I’ve straightened while fidgeting. An uneven position, especially a picture among others, drives me bonkers, so the Type A in me requires that I try to tap up the low corner. Apparently what I see as level is a few degrees off. *grin* Anyway, I confess this embarrassing lacking trait because it affects my business a bit. There’s a reason why I don’t often sell soaps that require cutting for a final result. I can measure with a ruler, make notches every inch to show where to cut, etc. Somehow my wonky eyes get involved there, too, and I end up with some seriously oddly cut soaps. Lol. Last night I picked this on my list to trouble shoot. Obviously I’m not able to fix this, so I needed an idea of how to adapt my processes to have the necessary result. Well, graphs don’t lie. *sigh of nerdy delight* I got a packet of grid worksheets that I can use as cutting guides then and it’ll be nearly impossible to cut wrong then, because I have four points to line up, which prevents me from creating an invisible line to follow. Booyah! *nerdy boogie* Now I can cut up my coffee loaf!

My second problem solving issue got solved at the same time, because I bought a package of white poster boards while getting the grid papers. Now I have a quick, easy, and clean photography background. I read an article about other items pulling attention from what you’re trying to sell, so maybe if I use these and not floral cloth backgrounds the items will pop a bit more. 2 down, a dozen to go.

I also tested a chunk of the coffee loaf and some of the decorations I made with the fondant mold. I have Fibromyalgia and it honestly makes me the best tester to make sure that products can’t hurt someone, like will button soap decorations hurt if they’re used against the body instead of a washcloth. Being touched at all can cause long lasting pain sometimes, so I figure that if a rough soap doesn’t make me pull back, then I can be really happy with a soap. Although the buttons and most especially the ribbon decorations felt a little odd when rubbed directly on the skin, they didn’t hurt, so I’m clearing them to be sellable. The cocoa loaf soap needs a few more days of testing. The first time I mostly got the frosting, which felt awesome, like the fat girl in me finally decided to smear cupcakes all over myself. *cracking up* The second test gave more of the exfoliating coffee level exposed and that was pretty nice and wasn’t overwhelming, so I’m tickled pink over this success. I need to decide on the scent performance at the third use, since I should be able to use all three sections on the one side now.

I’m pretty stoked that I’ve gotten most of the price changes done and applied most of the desired changes to my website. I have a little more left and lastly I’ve started working on updating recipes to fit within the new guidelines for fragrance ingredients. I have so much accomplished all ready at just the half way mark of the challenge and am really excited about tackling the remaining short-term challenges.

One big one still on the to do is to figure out some marketing that would work for me and with my limitations. That’s definitely on the long-term goals list. I’m hoping that my happy brain storming with the graph paper, cutting pieces from the coffee loaf, will allow more creative juices to slip forward and give me a hallelujah moment. *grin*

I’m thinking about posting a DIY recipe (ingredients are finally available and in season) or maybe I do some ingredient highlights. Hopefully I’ll have an extra bump of decision making when I have my hallelujah moment. 😉 *starts humming “I Need A Hero”….*

Logo and other fine details

Who knew that deciding on a logo would be harder than finding the perfect pair of shoes? *grin* Clip art or a thumbnail of one of my most appealing products? An elegant font, something whimsical, or something no one can ever say is hard for them to read? With head to toe hives right now I don’t feel comfortable touching product or equipment, so I’m doing all of this logo and packaging research instead. I know I’m not contagious, but still! Ew! I’ll stick to the tech and research side today and just let all of my sauciness show.

I realized while surfing through dozens of e-how articles and business site posts about logos that my packaging and labeling got a bit boring and stuffy. They reflect a little too much of the blah side of me. *grin*

What cries out “me” yet makes it stand out for all of the “you”s out there? So I’m going to spend a few days trying on the different logo “shoes” until I find the perfect pair to make my butt look dag on fine. *grin* Can’t tell that I’m in a cheeky mood, can you?

I can proudly report that I finally made up my mind on the creature for the Monsters Away Spray pictures. I’m going for a piñata. I’m going to be able to make it “float” then and not be scary. *happy dance* I admit that I kind of love that idea.

So I’m going to check the Monster off of the planning spreadsheet and go troll the printer companies a bit more. *grin* Can you imagine if we could earn frequent flyer miles for trolling businesses? I’d be in Scotland determined to help the hot Scots in kilts (because they’re all Gerard Butler clones that would be perfect in every historical romance novel, you know) see how much my goat’s milk lotion could help their skin after I helped them sample it. In fitting with that naughty thought here’s a pic of the apron I’m going to get and wear when I’m making product. *flirty wiggle of the eyebrows while humming “I need a hero”…*

20130408-215332.jpg I can use it for a background when I’m feeling particularly…um…in need of an eye-catching picture background 😉

Can’t make up my mind

These pictures and conversation didn’t really go with yesterday’s work, so I’m doing a separate post. I admit that I’m feeling a bit meh about the monster wreath right now, so I decided to look at some other options. I kind of like the idea of using a piñata that can be used later at a party. Plus, piñatas are never considered scary, so I don’t have to worry about my own gory tendencies accidentally coming through. *grin*

So here are a few decently rated piñatas that could make cute “monsters” for the pictures for the Monsters Away Spray. Any votes??

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And then a refresher:

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Soap Experiments

I did a few experiments yesterday, but right before I was going to post them I developed a severe allergic reaction that landed me in the ER until midnight. The doctors aren’t sure if it was an antibiotic I was on or from touching a new plant yesterday. Thankfully we ruled out an allergy to any ingredients, which was a concern since I was making soaps when the reaction occurred. While I’m on bed rest with my epi pen beside me (and a probable beard brewing under my skin from all of these steroids lol), I want to share my pictures. *smile*

I’m not overly happy with the experiments with the decoration soaps, but it’s a learning process. I had some troubles “gluing” the decorations and my tremor resulted in a few wonky angles. Lol. My tremor was particularly strong because of the allergic reaction, but some is just part of my illness, so I’ll have to figure out how to work around that. I absolutely love the little button decorations no matter where they land on the soap though! *grin* No matter how I approached cutting the trims they were consistently uneven. Lol. So no judging on the odd lengths and overlaps, please.

20130407-165534.jpg An overall of the decoration experiments

20130407-165605.jpg A closer look at some of the trim and a button to top it off.

20130407-165644.jpg My favorite trim. I even cut one flower out to use as a decoration.

I also worked on a coffee loaf soap. The big base is a mixture of Coffee Beans FO and Hazelnut Cappuccino FO. Sadly the mouthwatering Hazelnut is so soft that I had to add the Coffee to boost it. The second layer is Coffee Beans with actual ground coffee, for a little bit of gentle exfoliation and texture, although the soap was a little too warm and melted into the bottom a bit, so I suspect there is some ground coffee down in the bottom. Topping it all off is some Buttercream soap frosting. I wanted it really frothy and wild, which took a lot longer than expected. I really like how it looks; the different colors, the wildness of the frosting, and the decadence of it. I am really looking forward to when the frosting is fully set and I can slice it. I think it’ll have more impact when laying down. I’m debating if I should add a dark drizzle, like when you get a mocha at Starbucks. Any thoughts?

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20130407-170729.jpg The finished bar. Smells like morning 🙂

Honey Cleanser DIY

As I’ve said before I think honey is an amazing ingredient that has tons of awesome benefits, not just making a biscuit delectable. *smile* I have made a few variations of the “Honey Bear Cleanser” in the Ecobeauty book, by Lauren Cox. It’s actually what inspired me to start using honey in a facial soap (Acne Bee Gone Soap). I want to share this incredibly easy recipe with my favorite variation since I’m not feeling well enough to work on my projects.

“1/4 cup of honey
1/4 cup of water
2 tablespoons of liquid soap

Gently stir all of the ingredients together, being careful not to beat the mixture, as this will cause it to foam up. Pour the cleanser into a clean plastic honey near container or a container with a pour spout or pump. To use, pour a small amount in the palm of your hand, then massage it gently into your skin or even your hair. Rinse thoroughly with warm water, then pat dry.”

I’ve never claimed that I’ve made the perfect product for my face and doubt I ever will, honestly. I figure the big wigs with the labs have a better chance at that, especially when my illness makes things kind of complicated. So I use my favorite-for-the-moment facial cleanser in place of the liquid soap. When things really go wrong and I start breaking out on my face I even dab a dot of honey on the spot (after the night ritual), and usually when I rinse in the morning it’s at least a little bit better. Or I switch to my honey soap for a few days, sometimes.

Any way you look at it honey is amazing. Try adding a little to your favorite cleansers or “a dab will do you” when needed. *gestures for you to come in close and then whispers* I’ve even added it to my bath water when I’m having a lot of trouble with my skin. If your honey is a little too thick, it’s not bad. Just give the closed container a warm water bath (mine always tips – i hope you have better luck lol) and the crystals should turn back. It still works though, so I just take a butter knife and scoop some out. Local honey tends to crystallize a little faster in my pantry than commercial stuff, so I learned to not freak out over the crystals. *grin*

Hope this quick and easy recipe, plus the variation and tips, help you. Sometimes I feel like a folk doctor from olden times. “You have a boil? Ouch! Have you tried a little honey on it while letting the spot air out?” 😉

My Monster

I’ve been working on figuring out a monster to use for the marketing picture for Monsters Away Spray. I have spoken to a few moms, a few kids, and last night I even ran a few ideas by an artist. Almost all of us agree that it should be colorful and kind of fun, so the picture isn’t scary to kids. (The boy that I asked said there needed to be robots, but I’m not about to go there…*imagining a bunch of smoke when liquid gets to the electronics or the cardboard getting icky if we made a fake robot*. Yeah, I’m dangerous enough just walking across a room. Let’s not add situational dangers. *cracking up*)

Anyway, I honestly don’t want to buy a stuffed animal or creature. Last night I eyed my troop of stuffed animals up in the canopy (hey, lots of sweet memories, so I couldn’t just toss them once I became an adult. Comes in handy when kids are over, too, and in a hanging canopy they’re out of the way. *smile*). I have a small dragon, a massive dog, and a nice sized bear that could all work with a little creativity. I could attach all manner of things! And then I decided to see what ideas Pinterest had for this project.

20130404-175009.jpg I’m seriously thinking of making a version of this guy. I wouldn’t have to deface a childhood memory or something that Larry won for me when we were dating (wow, was that really almost half of my life ago??). If I do this I will put wiggly eyes all over, but especially a set on the top, so if it’s “haunting” under the bed it’ll look like it’s still looking at the kid when they peek under there and spray it. Plus it’s sturdy and bright enough to just hang out in the closet for that version of the shot. It’ll be fun to bring it out to decorate with afterward, too.

I admit that it’s really hard to go soft on the scariness. I love blood and gore. (Weird thing is I get squeamish watching someone put contacts in though. Love to watch botfly extractions and look at medical journals full of wounds, but seeing someone in person put contacts in or even remove a splinter…I scream like the girl in The Ring is after me. Rofl.) It’s so hard to not think of dripping blood (I actually have a theatrical blood kit in my cabinet *trying to whistle innocently*), jagged fangs, crusty boils, and a body part snagged in the teeth. *happy sigh* So I get extra credit for trying to keep this on the adorable side. *grin*

A little background note – we’re coming up on our tenth anniversary and have discussed a party (although this was originally thought up for the fifth, then agreed to reconsider at ten). Although it’s in June we would have a total costume, blood, gore, and black lights kind of event. When we had been planning our wedding one idea we had considered was Frankenstein and The Bride Of, then our wedding party would be other monsters. At the time there were too many itty bitty kids and we were worried that we’d scare them, so it got set aside, and then Larry won the debate for a traditional wedding. When we thought of the anniversary party we found some Halloween and movie prop supply stores that have some awesome dismemberments, packaged body parts, and what not. The person being electrocuted is out of our budget though, sadly. *laugh* A severed hand holding the knife for the vegetable spread on the buffet, a coffin that people can get into and take pictures in, and even a box of miscellaneous costume pieces in the bathroom in case someone wants or needs to get more into the theme…

Now you get why “cute” is so hard for me. *grin* Any input on which kind of monster you think would look good for the marketing?

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