Awesome Autumn: Farmer's Market Issue
This is so much my favorite time of year. It is truly a time to take a break and reflect on who YOU are and what YOU like. And I love pumpkins so much I hope heaven is full of them. In this issue I will lead you on a 7 day side trip I had to take to Houston during this writing. I am always working and feeling guilty when I am not. My trip to Houston demonstrated you cannot AFFORD not to take a break. Some of your best ideas will come from walking away! My million dollar ideas ALWAYS came from vacation time and I can name three. My inspiration was never drawn from being in the box. I had to be outside the box. And I still need to be reminded of this. Please read 245/140 for an inspiring story. You will also see another unexpected trip to help of Rescue Dog Shelter's and the Salvation Army in the Wilma hit area of Florida.
YO! Packing Made Simple
Everyone has the same issue I do. We can make great products, but how do we acquire glass easily for candles and how do we uniformly label our wares?
Houston! I went to a perfume shop and bought the $31 dollar candle. This is a very special candle, indeed. Look at the very lower right of the photo. First of all I was sick over spending $31 on a 12 ounce candle that did not promise to do anything. But I had to buy it. Why? I could not believe they took a regular barrel glass and made it look elegant and so purchasable with a simple label with a gold foil border. I have seen MANY candles and many attempts to make them "look" expensive--often the marketer over doing it. This candle was so simple I studied it to no end. It was also the solution to labeling all other products with or without a candle. This taught me that I could cover all of my product line, when, and if, I have one, with one--perhaps two labels. I do not want to get invested in a ton of labels for each item and no one else does either.
I noticed that all they did was have a 6" by 3/4" label (that could have said anything) in a gold font and a gold border. In fact, I could not even read the cursive of the product brand. Who cares? It looked pretty. I noticed they used the same exact label to go up over their bath salts--to also act as a tamper proof agent, and killed two birds with one stone. The ONLY other regal thing they did was to place a nickel-sized round gold foil label just under the first label--or used the round gold foil label to hold down simple raffia. No instructions were anywhere, no promises and no ingredients. Not that I recommend failing to list ingredients in any manner. I am just studying a high end line. But it also did not matter what the round foil label had on it. I am going to start selling these labels with the Fleur de Lys and maybe a few other symbols. HELLO! That way no one can get us for type-setting charges and such. Hallmark will give you a certain amount of their gold foil round labels, BTW. Until you get your own.
So, high end, simple investments in two labels--they shot off two other brands the same way to perhaps appeal to men. See the black set above right? BTW the $31.00 candle was terrible and burned down the middle, never burning the wax down the sides. It was not even scented. So, why did I spend $31? Not for the candle, for a real marketing lesson. I always believed you could sell cow dung as long as it was packaged right. Well, they proved my point. I am not sure the candle I bought aims for repeat business as much as it does spontaneous purchases. But with such a simple packing measure, we sure know how to make better products that go inside and we have for a long time.
Bling Bling! Did you say? Well, beyond the two labels, I guess they invested in some silk ribbon with the same hard to read name and tied a pretty bow on drawer linen sachets. The gold tins are no different than what we already sell and neither are the salt tubes. I did notice the use of Parchment paper was the main default paper and that is great. Parchment paper and boxes are always on sale anyway. The main label will always tie the product together.
The only other ingenious thing I noticed in Houston was that you can label a candle by hanging a tag off the wick. They simply did not cut the wick to size and used it for a charming tag. Use a business card, fold it in half and punch a hole with a circle, heart or any of the cute hole punchers offered in the kid's section of the craft store. They even have heart and star hole punchers. So, beyond that and some thin, sheer ribbon, you can really let loose with this packaging theory. Hit our site for containers, Pier One for stock glass, or the Dollar Store, look for parchment paper or boxes on sale--hit up Hallmark for the gold foil regal labels and perhaps a fabric store for some sheer, thin ribbon. The rest is sheerly up to you!
Potential buying list: 6" by 3/4" label (that could have said anything) in a gold font and a gold border, Nickel-sized round, gold foil labels, thin raffia, thin, sheer ribbon, silk ribbon with your name on it if you like, parchment boxes or paper, a hole puncher that can be round, star or heart shaped, business cards that can be run through a printer and folded in half to hand tie. Beyond that, it appears any containers will do. Click here for metal tins, here for bath salt tubes, bottles and jars, here for lip balm pots and sticks and here for stand up pouches.
We find it easier to package small items, such as lip balm, in small stand-up pouches because they are easier to see and easier to meet labeling requirements. Customers have been buying our tin tie bags and pouches for making and selling granola as well as pet treats. We created a gold clip art CD to help us and you along with tasteful packaging efforts. Click the Gold CD photo for more about that. Good luck with your endeavor!
*Post note. A customer asked me how to get a gold border, I guess if you cannot outsource that label to a professional printer and I explain that at the bottom of this newsletter. She also gave us a great recipe for homemade foaming bath butter--which I have never heard of.
The Bottom Line
I have been preaching "making your own products" for years because it is easy, does produce a higher quality product and saves you money. Some people have to actually see the savings to get the drift. Yes, most of your money is in good containers, but they are generally reusable. Even so, you are still saving money. Below is a chart I created so you can compare the maximum it should cost to make about ten of each of the items below--from a per item view: (If you click the link it will take you to the main supplies to make each item.)
If your balm comes in too hard, you can add safflower oil (right off the grocery store shelf) to make it more creamy. Just heat it up, add a little, and test on a cold surface. It is easier to add oil than to take oil out. Safflower oil is very high in vitamin e, and yes, you can also use it to make lotion. We tend to do the same, it has a long shelf life, but we will add some expensive components such as jojoba oil and shea butter for depth and quality. We tend to make balm harder in the summer months because the trucks get very hot and it is easier for a customer to add oil than to find a hardener such as beeswax. Olive oil is good also, if you can stand the taste!
Flavor oils can be used in bath salt mixtures. We find them quite yummy. Not suggested to eat however. Anything you melt and pour, candles, lip balm, what have you--is generally one ounce of flavor or fragrance oil to one pound of wax or base. Personal taste does vary--so some of this is up to you.
If you have extra shea butter left over, or other butters, by all means melt them down slightly and add them to lip balm, body butters, or even melt and pour soap. All we are really dealing with are fats that cool at room temperature as a solid. You will get slush if you add too much oil. The only way to go back after you get slush is to add a little beeswax, Candelilla wax or another hardening agent. Never use fragrance oil as a flavor oil. You can do the reverse.
If you feel your lotion is too "oily" you can try adding a touch of corn starch, clay or talc. Leane recommends to just do a water focused recipe with less oil than an oil focused recipe with less water. In the winter I do suspect consumers need an oil heavy formula. My books discuss both ways and "in between" formulas. In between meaning 50/50. Oil heavy recipes require less ingredients and hassle as I discuss at the bottom of this newsletter.
245/140 to Houston
245/140. That would be my blood pressure as I boarded a plane and left Sarasota as Hurricane Wilma aimed at South Florida. I knew I just could not compete with her and had to get care. I took very little with me. At the airport I bought a blank notebook and a pen. I was ready to start a whole new way of thinking. Not long after my plane touched the ground I was in St. Luke's Hospital in the Houston Mediplex. They took great care of me. I must say one of the best Hospitals in the country. Clean and peaceful, no papers were shoved at me to sign before I got the care I needed. The guy who admitted me looked like a 6' 5" angel. Thanks St. Luke's!
I was caught-up in the Astro's excitement, win, and subsequent defeat. So, they have a soccer team! Yeah, I will stay out of sports. Keep my day job. My notebook got so long I started to subject title each page, number it and make a Table of Contents in the front. This means I observed and learned a LOT. As an artist, my best experiences are reflected in this newsletter--as are most of my day to day explorations. I admit some days I do not explore more than an entire box of Oreo cookies, but here is Houston...
The best discovery was HOW TO PACKAGE, CLASSY AND SIMPLE. I would have never figured that out if I stayed a recluse in Sarasota, FL. So many customers, me included, love to make products but loose steam when we have to deal with labeling the items. Another goal I had was to read books written by other people. They are listed below. I like inspiration and true stories. Two small examples, I found Oprah got started just working of sincerity and kept that policy to this day. She delivers what is presently interesting in her life at the present time and keeps it sincere. Vera Wang became famous because she found a hard time finding a wedding gown. Seeing a "void" in the market, she jumped on to making great wedding gowns. As Vera Wang would say "You need a platform to work off of. Once you have a platform, go for it!" Back to Houston...
I went to Galveston first and did not see much there except a lot of major shipping vessels and a sign that clearly stated "Drinking is Legal." I wish I had my camera on me for that. I had to read that more than twice to believe it!
Kemah, I think a little South of Houston was AWESOME and I had to be dragged out of there by my two hundred dollar lighted hair! There is so much to do, for kids also! You can spend more than one day in Kemah and never be bored. Christmas in Kemah will be awesome and they already started! If my daughter's were still young, I would live right in Kemah and never leave. One of the many amenities is a "cooling off" mist system like walking through clouds and a stepping stone area where water spurts out. Kids love to "control" the stones and be sure they are the reason the water went off--so as a parent you can watch on auto pilot. That will tire them out.
Another place I found was interesting was The Woodlands, Texas. A little North of Houston I think. Double Dave's Pizza has it going on and after 42 years I learned to love beer. I hate beer. I kept drinking a glass of something and a friend said, "since when did you start liking beer?" I was like, oh my gawd, that is beer? It was Texas beer too! Shiner Bock. My Doctor's have been mentioning drinking beer as a preemptive measure to kidney stones. I just never thought I could learn to like it. Well, I did at this place. DD's pizza lays out one heck of a buffet and their pizza is just the best I have ever had. Being a New Yorker at heart--I highly doubted it walking in.
But my BEST adventure, and a place I will return to many times is known as "Rice Village." It is in West U, part of the Houston first loop, and just so quaint. Not pretentious like West Palm Beach, Rice Village had a great Bath and Body Works store, Anne Klein, bookstores and if you get tired of that, Starbucks is more than friendly. Thai Village Restaurant had the best food on the planet and I hung around there the most recuperating in the wonderful cold front that came in. The best fun I had was walking around and getting "free" things like sample tea's from Starbucks, drink coasters and tons of wood matches from Tommy Bahamas, and silly stuff to take back home. I highly recommend a meaningless meandering like I did to anyone! Click the thumbnail to see the freebies I collected for my friends back home! The Tazo Chai Tea? Awesome at Starbucks.
In this issue you will LOVE what we are doing! I am highly supportive of our Bradenton Downtown Main Street Market, which is only open on Saturday mornings. Farmers and vendors bring things out to sell they typically spent all of the off season making. So, I will be doing book signings and having my own booth there for fun and relaxation. What I plan to sell in my booth is the most interesting part. Obviously I have a running start with our own supplies here. So, below is an article, if I had to choose what items will really sell--and if they do not sell--what I would kill to just keep here. Yes, getting my finished product out of my hands will be interesting! I am an artist so what I create is for sale until someone really wants to buy it. Then I have to think about it!
Last weekend I donated a "Poochie Rest Area" sign to the market because the hand written sign just was not powerful enough. So, here is a photo of my handing it to the Mayor, Wayne Poston, of Bradenton and Kerry Ward, the President of the Downtown Progress Association as well as Sun Coast Bank. And a photo of the sign in use! Click thumbnails for full view.
That white dog--I really wanted to grab that dog! Such bait. I cannot leave Mark Eubanks out who is just one of the most dynamite people I have ever met. He is loaded with degrees, personality, and knows how to write grants, which is what we share in common. In fact, I am working on a Grant Writing Software to make it easier for associations to just write their own grants and not miss anyone. There is a lot of money out there, no one ever knows about and most questions are template. Really. Being known as a Grant Writer is not a glamorous thing. It can be tedious and boring unless you learn to template it out. Regarding Mark, he looks BETTER than Jerry Springer, so do not confuse the two. As I mention later on, Springer lives near by. If there was ever a hair fight, Mark would be throwing holy water. As it stands he cannot let go of that podium.
Back to Pumpkins, (East Coast Request for housing for Pharmaceutical Interns) I was going through my three daughter's memorabilia. All three are now in college and one is a Pharmacist, about to be doing an internship at the Cherokee Hospital. It appears that she and a few other interns need places to stay for one or two months, as they have a 12 month internship--staying in neat cities for a month or two at a time. Fiadora has asked me if I have any friends in the Key West, Cherokee area (Maggie Valley, NC) or anywhere neat. I do have a lot of friends, and associates I trust. So, it is easiest to ask right here in the newsletter. The interns are never home and always at work. When they are home they are exhausted.
This morning I flew a private plane to get a Golden Retriever who needed to be adopted from Katrina. The dog had no name and was shipped to Plantation, Florida where Hurricane Wilma just visited. Adopting "Ringo" suddenly became ultra critical as most Animal rescues do not have electricity down there and may not even have it by Thanksgiving. As not to fly an empty plane I brought donations that poured in from Petland, Albertonson's, Winn Dixie, Publix, and Starbucks to name a few. To read more about this trip and Ringo click here. Yep, I am hammering out my Christmas wish list right on line. Jazz passed September 7th, 2005 as a result of defending a break in while I was sleeping. God closes doors to open others. Ringo was found in the water and had no name. The LSU Veterinarian branch picked this approx 3 year old male up in the water and no name was ever found.
Back to my daughters and going through their childhood things, I found the ceramic plate (right thumb nail.) I cannot believe how beautiful it is and a twelve year old made it! It has a frog and a little lavender bud that are also in it. And no, Fiadora, you cannot have it back. (I have not told them yet I was pilfering.) My youngest had to do a Power Point Presentation on how Mabel got started and that was so cute. Obviously I helped, but she really did fly with her own thoughts. By the way, girls, we have a new dog, as you just heard!
Mabel Village: A Cool Default Page and Our Own Hip Hop and Music Site
I have been into web design for so long, I created a page I work from called "My Office." That is my default page to get into Pay Pal, E-Bay, great music and just about every other site my customers do. I can even access this page when I am away. I do not like to use the major carriers as a default page because it is not relaxing and often too full of wild offers. I decided to share this page with my customers.
If you like it, just go to your internet page, select "tools" and then select "internet options." While in internet options select "Use Current" if you are on that page I created and hit "Apply." This way you can navigate how YOU want to and not how someone else wants you to. If anyone in this group is really HTML gifted and wants side work, please contact me at email@example.com and subject title HTML Whiz. We do perform back ground checks, so this should be known up front.
Hip Hop and Music: Ashley Ledoux, our Mabel liaison in Seattle Washington, introduced us to Hip Hop as a method of exercise. Well, I have my own music page I draw from, and use that as I work. If I expect to be an author another 40 years I need to get up every half hour and jump around when no one is looking. It is a circulation issue. Most songs I do not have to download and can just hear from the site that offers it. www.singingfish.com is awesome for that. I do not use any music I have not already bought, and I have bought a lot. I am not thrilled with companies like Kazza.com and such. This page I made is different. There are times when some links will be dropped. I will adjust the page on a monthly basis. But if you're alone at work and want to boogie, visit our page here! Save it as a favorite and do tell your friends. Anything great you find at singing fish, send me the link and I will add it to the appropriate section of our music page. I really need help to populate the page and my time is limited. Please e-mail with the subject MUSIC ADDITION clear to firstname.lastname@example.org with the link inside the e-mail. I will try to add it ASAP. In case of bandwidth or download "issues" I am putting this on our old site, Martha. Please click here for that cool music page. Do not forget to send friends e-cards with our recipes that can be found at:
It is easy, once you find the song you like and it is not a 30 second one, OK? Just right click the properties and it will take you to that song without going through pop ups, site promotions and such. I also do not like predatory sites that surf my PC, so you will not find them in my selections. Have a ball! I sure do!
What to buy HIM for the Holidays
If they like books consider the books below, Young's Double Chocolate Beer (Available at most large liquor Stores,) Corona Cigars (if they like a cigar now and then.) Maybe a DVD/CD-ROM head cleaner $9. Cologne I think is real sexy is Abercrombie & Fitch as well as Pi for men.
Best Books, DVDs, Movies
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, (Cannot put the book down), Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, and the movie Dreamer was great for adults and kids. For Music DVD's Sarah McLachlan's Mirrorball is just always going to be a classic for 20 and up. I really love The Aviator because it was based on a true story of Howard Hughes role in Aviation and thinking outside of the box. I will always love The Notebook because it is what life is about.
The Tipping Point, you just learn so much about everything.
Best Wine Under$10?
Las Rocas Garnacha, Calatayud, 2003, Spain
It's thick, rich, and full of chocolate, licorice, and spice. Not too fruity or acidic, and sturdy enough to store for some time.
Letter from Diane Early Regarding Packaging
Deborah - I really enjoyed your last newsletter -- especially the article on packaging and labeling. The importance of packaging - so true, so true.
How would I get my inkjet printer to print gold? Do they sell ink cartridges like this?
Answer: No ink jets come with gold or silver. If you cannot out source one main label to a professional printer--well then copy paste a rectangle of gold or silver from a web photo. Once I get a rectangle-I just copy paste that seamlessly around--or make it one long object. Any good color printer will mimic the metallic foil pretty well.
I stumbled across a label which I think looks really good -- especially on bottles/jars with black caps... brown kraft labels. At first, I thought "no, that would be way too country." But when I saw them on the products, they looked really good -- especially if you spray them with a clear spray before applying to the bottle. The spray turns the brown a richer color.
Comment: I think pink gingham ribbon is awesome to match up with the Kraft color. Blue gingham would be nice also if it a "boy" type gift. Orange gingham ribbon this time of year is awesome to match with the color Kraft. Kraft has a very natural appeal and great for the environment since it is typically recycled. It is, however, a country bumpkin look. As far as Diane's Kraft labels that did not look too country--well, Bath and Body Works is pretty much doing this with a retro black cap--brown bottle--and Times New Roman font--very well. Like the old apothecary look. Simple is coming back again to being better--whew. As far as caps--I have always been a white cap girl. It stands for purity. I need to start liking black. It has its merits.
I want to know about your market stall. What are you selling??? What are people buying???
Answer: That's me. I will elaborate after I get a few more Saturdays under my belt. I am doing this to "get out of the house" and support my local community also. It is different for me to interact with customers buying a finished product I make just for fun. It has been years. Most people are awesome, but there is always a "nasty" person out of 50 or so, and I still have a hard time to be nice and keep my mouth shut.
I am mainly selling "scoop and weigh your own" spices. That is a hallmark of any good Farmer's Market. Cannot say it is a great profit maker--but it sure has the potential. Otherwise, my books sold well, and the teens were my BEST customers as they like to know they can make their own products. If I could sell Ringo Star-my new Golden Retriever--I would have made a fortune. He was the draw, not me.
Dip Mixes sold the BEST. More so the desert mixes that no one else sells. A few years ago, when I visited Ft. Worth, Texas, I noticed everyone at least bought a dip mix. So, I bought a dip mix company and we sell wholesale. Click here for wholesale dip mixes.
Candles: Second best. I did find the classic scents sell. Candles--Almond, Gardenia, Lavender, and Vanilla. And this time of year Pumpkin Pie, Baked Bread and Harvest in that order. I was questioned about Soy Wax the most. So many people have no clue what it even is. I thought a few were kidding me when they asked why Soy is better than paraffin. They were not kidding. They all bought after they got an education. A good sign and/or brochure will save a lot of repeating in the future. I will bring in soy based crèmes and lip balms next. They are easy to make and have a high profit margin. The best reason for soy, I feel, is that it supports our American Farmers, beyond the fact it does burn cleaner and just as long. Really, do you even have to think twice about that? And our new oil based dyes do make bright colors now to chunk and/or layer.
You give so much to us, that I wanted to give a little back to you... I want to share a recipe with you for a really fabulous product. I found the recipe posted on the internet, so I guess I haven't "stolen" anything. You may already know about it. It's homemade foaming bath butter. I've used the "store-bought" foaming bath butter agent before, but this is really different. The end product looks just like creamy, yellowy whipped butter and smells good enough to eat. Incredible lather!
8 oz. Melt & Pour Soap
.5 oz. DEA*
.5 oz. Jojoba oil
3 oz. thick liquid soap (like shower gel base)
1 drop yellow food color
1 tsp. Germaben II
3 (or more) tsp. Bourbon Vanilla fragrance oil
*If you have no DEA, increase thick liquid soap by 1 oz.
In large bowl, melt the M&P for 30 seconds; stir and then 30 seconds more. Let cool a little bit while stirring with a bamboo stick. Add 1 drop of yellow food color. Add the liquid soap and jojoba oil. Mix with a hand mixer on low for a little while. Add the Germaben II and fragrance. Continue mixing with hand mixer. The butter will gradually thicken. Keep mixing until it starts to get thick around the mixer blades (you will know when you see it). You don't want it to be pourable, but you don't want it to be too thick so that you cannot spoon/dollop it into your container. Spoon dollops of the butter into a 16 oz. container, pushing the butter down with the back of the spoon as you go. The end result will look JUST like Land-O-Lakes whipped butter! One recipe will fill about 1 1/2 16 oz. jars.
Directions for use: Using a wet scrubby poof, scoop out some of the butter and apply to skin in a circular motion. Lather increases as you squeeze and bathe with the poof.
Let me know what you think.
Comment: Cannot wait to try that! Someone gave me a ton of "Burt's Bees" balms and hand crèmes. I still love that company. I did note ALL of the ingredients were the same except for like fragrance and color. Like one was Almond Milk, and another "Beeswax and Banana" hand balm. Rose Hand Crème, same thing! I will expound more upon this in the next newsletter. But I noticed it was mainly an oil based formula. Sweet almond oil, water, beeswax and borax. The addition of kaolin clay made this a unique recipe to me. Along the lines of putting Titanium Dioxide (zinc) powder in. I asked Leane how they could have water in the formula and no emulsifier or preservative. I used oil based only for years. She said because anytime the water is under 10% of the formula it will emulsify with just the beeswax and borax that is found in all of the old recipes. This is the old school method--way before we had emulsifiers and preservatives. And what I love the best is NO preservatives. I cannot stand the idea of a preservative if I can by pass it. And emulsifiers are another extra pain. Many times I am putting that same balm on my lips. So, I use flavor oils for all of my balms and butters.
I better find out what DEA is because I do not know! The only issue with soy wax, and other oil based products is rancidity. You cannot sit on them for a year or expose them to high heat for a long period of time. You will know rancid if you ever smell it. And you will never forget such a smell. So, we put ROE. Rosemary Oleoresin Extract in almost everything oil and butter we sell. Just 1 percent or so helps ensure us good stuff. However we make sure our product moves--or we will use it up. It is never older than 30 days here.