Monday, June 28, 2010

Word of the Week: Exclusive

Part of what I like about my job is that I get to experiment with different products. I can play around with designs, flavors, and fragrances to make something new. Some of these experiments are eventually added to our store along with our standard products, while some are complete failures and end up in the trash!

Sometimes a friend or customer will make a special request for a fragrance or flavor, and I'll make it just for them. I've made Singapore Sling lip balm, as well as Midori sour, Captain & Coke, and even Long Island iced tea balms. I like trying out recipes for balms even when I don't have special requests, and now I have a new shop to share the most successful "experiments"!

Our Facebook Shop will offer exclusives: flavors (and eventually fragrances) that aren't available anywhere else. (Right now we have Lollipop, June Bug, Pomegranate Martini, and Bellini balms available.) We'll also be adding some of our other popular products from our website. You can shop there even if you aren't a fan of our page, but fans get 10% off! Another plus: shipping for small packages is via First class mail, so orders of a lip balm or two don't have a huge shipping expense.

What do you think? Do you like the idea of an exclusive shop? What flavors or fragrances would YOU request? Please share your thoughts!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Word of the Week: Scary

In his book Tribes, Seth Godin refers to the "Peter Principle." This Principle, proposed by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull, says that "in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence." Godin proposes a paraphrase, namely that "in every organization everyone rises to the level at which they become paralyzed with fear." He encourages leaders to be aware of this fear, and tells us exactly what we're afraid of: not failure, but criticism.

When you put yourself out there (by making a product, or writing a blog) you definitely open yourself up to criticism. When I was in high school, I remember being terrified by it. There were certain classes that I dreaded because I knew the teacher would call on me and I would have to go to the board to work a problem or answer a question. I might make a mistake. And people might laugh, and then I'd look stupid. It's a scary feeling.

A few years ago I came across this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: "Do one thing every day that scares you." As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm an anxious person by nature, so I find lots of things scary almost every day! Just putting myself out there by talking on my Facebook page or Tweeting or posting here can be scary. Intentionally seeking those things may seem crazy, but it occurs to me that facing scary things every day makes it easier. It becomes a little less scary. Maybe if you do it every day, you never reach that place where you're "paralyzed with fear?" I wonder what I might accomplish if I never did reach that level?

What do you think? Have you ever felt afraid to fail at something? Are you more afraid of criticism? How do you get past it? Please share your thoughts!

Photo by Don89 at istockphoto.com

Friday, June 18, 2010

Creative Ideas for Divorce Parties and Favors

Soon to Be Single Balms
Just last week I wrote about marriage and gave some old and new advice from couples of all ages and through the ages. It might seem inappropriate to talk about divorces and break-ups just after sharing advice about how to have a happy, successful marriage. But when you consider that half of marriages here in the U.S. will end in divorce, it's sensible to consider what you should do if all the advice in the world doesn't help your relationship.

In his article How to Recover From Divorce, Garrett Coan, the Founder and Director of the Center for Creative Counseling, provides a list of "survival strategies" for people going through divorce. Number 20 on his list: "Create a ceremony to acknowledge your divorce."

In Japan, as in much of the world, divorce ceremonies are a new phenomenon. Their events borrow some traditions from the Japanese wedding ceremony, and are concluded with the joint smashing of the wedding ring. In the UK, divorce parties were even planned during the 2010 World Cup (note Cheryl Cole's recent celebration of her split from the Chelsea footballer Ashley Cole).

Divorce Party Favors
Here in the U.S. divorce parties take many forms and are celebrated in venues of all types. In Las Vegas, divorcees can have relaxing spa days, movie-and-popcorn nights, or learn how to pole dance. Other ideas for an entertaining evening out include wine tastings or even drag shows. I've been making favors for divorce parties for several years now, and while I try to offer lots of design and theme ideas for divorce parties, I am always impressed by the theme ideas that my customers come up with. The photos here are some examples of their unique ideas for break-up and divorce parties.

While my original smooch design (see above left) was for weddings, and suggested that the recipient "kiss single life good-bye," the selection of Dirty Bastard lip balm and a quick wording change helped the new divorcée "kiss married life good-bye" and usher in her new life.

Another customer celebrated a "Free at Last" party (above right), with Foxy Lady lip balm favors and a footloose, sexy shoe design.

If you've ever wondered what girls do after their fiancé breaks it off, the answer is: have a party. The favors above were selected especially for a young lady's broken engagement party, thrown for her by her friends. (That's what friends are for!)

The "lemons to lemonade" theme idea (see above) is a great choice for those celebrations that include a diverse group of friends or family from many generations. It really puts a positive spin on the transition, and promises good things to come.

Divorce Party Favors | Kiss Goodbye
When I received the order for the favors at left, though, I just had to laugh. I'm pretty sure there are many divorcées who can relate to this feeling, and plenty of married women who wouldn't blame them!

When I first started helping people to celebrate divorces, I had mixed feelings about it. It felt dishonest, somehow, to support marriage through my work with bridal showers and bachelorette parties, and then work on divorce parties. Was I supporting divorce? Hiroki Terai, Japan's first professional "charisma divorce planner," describes the atmosphere at his divorce ceremonies: "People don’t know how to respond, whether they should clap or stay quiet." There is an awkwardness about this subject that many people experience.

But the more I read about divorce parties and ceremonies, the more I believe that they serve an important purpose in helping the newly divorced to leave that relationship and separation behind. The divorcée has to decide whether—and how—to celebrate the end of her marriage. There are certainly a huge number of theme (and favor!) ideas to choose from to make it a party to remember.

What do you think? Have you gone through a divorce? Did you have some kind of formal celebration of the event? Have you ever been to a divorce party? What do you think of the idea? Please share your thoughts!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Word of the Week: YES!

Remember back a few months ago when I wrote about my three words? One of this year's three words was aspire, and I wrote about how I wanted to have a new work space. A later post talked about the same topic with the word hope. More recently I elaborated with build.

This week the word is YES! As in, yes! It's finally happening! Now that the ball is rolling, I feel like I can elaborate a bit and explain what we are doing.

When we bought our house about 12 years ago, it was the perfect size. We were expecting our first child and there was room enough for all of our stuff and a baby and a small home business. Fast forward about ten years, and the same house (with two kids and THEIR stuff and a BIGGER business) suddenly felt very small. We considered moving, or adding on, but the simplest (!!) solution seemed to be a garage renovation. My dad (a structural engineer) drew up a set of plans for us to use as a starting place to talk with builders. Then I tried to find a builder who was interested.

It turns out that this project wasn't as "simple" as we imagined. To offer the greatest flexibility, we wanted running water and a small bathroom, as well as heat—all on the second floor above an unheated garage. The first builders I approached (more than two years ago) told me it wasn't possible. It would be too expensive to raise the roof, it couldn't be done to code, it would be cheaper to tear down the whole garage and start over again. Basically, they said, "No." I figured it was impossible and put the thought away.

Then in January I was picking a list of words and the word "aspire" struck me. When I chose it for the year, I wrote, "I'm going to consider ideas and plans that might be too complicated or impractical (a larger work space, perhaps?), and allow myself to long for things that might be just out of my reach." When I heard about another builder who had experience with renovations, I decided to give it one more shot. And this time, the builder said, "Yes."

It's been a long process to put together plans that would really work and find solutions to all of the little issues that our project has, but today the builders came and started demolition to prepare for the new construction. The roof of the old garage is gone, and all I can say is, YES! In just under three months, we should have a new space that can be used for my home office (short term) and a family room for as long as we live here.

“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.” ~ Joseph Campbell

(Or are you are going to let someone else's no prevent it?)

What are you saying yes to this week? Are other people saying yes, too? Please share your thoughts and comments!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Father's Day Sale Through June 15th!

Father's Day is June 20th; have you shopped for dad yet? All of our Spiced Orange lotions, shower gels, lip balms, and shaving products are 25% off through June 15th.

Discounted prices are automatically reflected in the shopping cart.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Marriage Advice Old and New

Last week I read this article: Top Sex and Marriage Advice Through the Ages. The article says that as marriage and people's reasons for marrying have changed over time, couples have looked to experts for advice to improve themselves and their relationships. A steady diet of wedding advice has been served up by doctors, educators, and writers from the early 1800s to the present day. Some of the old advice is quaint and dated, while other tips seem timely and sensible even though they were written over a hundred years ago.

My parents are celebrating their 42nd anniversary today (Happy Anniversary!). June is by far the biggest wedding month, and as I thought about the thousands of couples preparing to say "I do," I realized that the real experts on marriage are people like my parents, people who are married and have found ways to make it work. I decided I'd ask people, young and old, what they thought made a successful, happy marriage. Then, just for fun, I compared that advice to the tips that writers and experts have been sharing for centuries.

If you look at a list of marriage quotes, you realize that there is no shortage of marital advice from centuries past. For example, William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, said, "In marriage do thou be wise: prefer the person before money, virtue before beauty, the mind before the body; then thou hast a wife, a friend, a companion, a second self." Penn was a young man during the 17th century, but a bit of that marital advice was also shared in the present by Pat, who has been married for more than 40 years. She says that if you want to have a happy, successful marriage, "You should enjoy doing things together. You've got to be friends first before you're partners in marriage."

In the book Fascinating Womanhood, by Helen D. Andelin, a list of "Do's and Don'ts" for wives includes the following: "Do revere your husband and honor his right to rule you and your children; Don't stand in the way of his decisions, or his law." What I find interesting is that the two pieces of marriage advice I received from men (one married 15 years, the other more than 40) mention the importance of balance in a relationship. "One person can't do all of the thinking and work for both of them," one said, while the other added, "You can't both be strong all the time." At least for these men, sharing the "right to rule" is more comfortable in a marriage.

For myself personally, as well as one other person I spoke with, what is also comfortable in a marriage is humor. I've written about this before, and I'll say it again: my husband and I are goofy, and it works for us. Sharing a good laugh connects us with one another because, as my friend Kristina notes, "laughing together is such a good feeling." It's like Charles Dickens said, "Come, let's be a comfortable couple and take care of each other! How glad we shall be, that we have somebody we are fond of always, to talk to and sit with." And laugh with!

Pearl S. Buck said, "A good marriage is one which allows for change and growth in the individuals and in the way they express their love." Kristina noted the importance of expressions of love in her marriage, saying, "One of the things we do well is communicate. It takes so many forms: the daily sharing; compliments; being clear ('My grumpiness doesn't have anything to do with you, and I'm sorry if I'm taking it out on you.'); thanking each other for day-to-day things ('Thank you for mowing the lawn. It looks really good.')." Clearly there are lots of different ways to show that you care and to express love for another person. As relationships grow and evolve, communication is key.

The most common piece of marital advice came from the youngest AND the oldest people I spoke with. My grandmother, who has been married for nearly 65 years, shared the tip she remembers her mother giving her: "Never go to sleep at night without working out things that bother you. The longer you harbor something, the bigger it grows." Advice from my great grandmother, who was born in 1892: Don't go to bed angry. Which might have been what Leo Tolstoy was getting at when he said, "What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility."

How about you? What do YOU think makes a happy, successful marriage? Did you get good advice from friends, parents or grandparents when you were getting married? What would you share with a soon-to-be wife or husband? Please share your thoughts.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Word of the Week: Wisdom

To borrow a quote from Abraham Lincoln, "I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday."

I've often referred to intelligent people as "wise" without really drawing a distinction between wisdom and intelligence. I recently watched this TED talk by Barry Schwartz that talks about our "loss of wisdom." In the talk, Schwartz says, "The good news is that you don't need to be brilliant to be wise. The bad news is that without wisdom, brilliance isn't enough."

I have had some difficult business and personal interactions in the past few weeks that relied more on knowing (and doing) the right thing than on how intelligent any of the involved people were. As the dictionary says, wisdom is "knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action." Or as Schwartz says in his talk, "practical wisdom is the combination of moral will and moral skill." Aristotle believed that practical wisdom came from experience, that you learned over time and trial how to behave in certain situations. Knowledge of the world and of people is only one part; doing the right thing once we recognize it is the other piece of wisdom.

Here is the quote from the TED Talk that is sticking with me as I go about my work and life this week:

"The truth is, that any work that you do that involves interaction with other people is moral work, and any moral work depends upon practical wisdom." ~Barry Schwartz

I hadn't really thought of my work as "moral work" or considered the wisdom involved. How about you? Did you watch the TED talk? What do you think about practical wisdom in our everyday lives? Do you try to become wiser every day?

Friday, June 04, 2010

Feedback Friday is a Balm and a Survey!

This week's Feedback Friday you have your choice from several flavors of lip balm. This time, it's utterly f.r.e.e.—which means we'll ship it to you at no charge, too—but there's a catch. Will you please answer our survey first?

This is 10 quick questions (actually 9, since the 10th asks for your name and mailing address and which flavor of balm you'd like!). We want to know how long you've been a customer, what products you like (or would like to see), what parts of our newsletter you like the best, what is missing on our blog or newsletter, and so on. These are multiple choice questions, so it should only take a few minutes of your time (I promise)!

Thanks so much for participating! And please don't forget to come back and tell us what you think of your lip balm! You can choose from apricot, bare balm (which contains no flavor, color, or fragrance), coconut twist, cupcake, lemon blueberry, mango madness, piña colada, Jamaican me crazy, or strawberry daiquiri.

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UPDATE: Due to overwhelming response (and limited supply of lip balms) we have concluded this survey. Thank you to all who participated!

We're in NAILS Magazine Boutique Section!

I'm excited that our Bridal Story Lip Balm Set got a mention (and a photo!) in June's NAILS Magazine! We're in the Boutique section, which features bridal items this month. A big thank you to NAILS for including us!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Phthalates in Beauty Products

I remember when I first started hearing about phthalates, described in the news as the chemicals that make rubber duckies soft. They're in all kinds of plastics, from shower curtains and rain coats to medical tubing, but it was their presence in children's toys and products that caused the greatest alarm. In July of 2008, in response to studies that linked phthalates with hormone disruption and reproductive defects in lab animals, Congress banned phthalates from children's products.

Phthalates are back in the news recently for their presence in items other than plastics, including beauty products like hairspray. As components of fragrance oils that help the scents to linger, they can be found in body lotions and hand creams as well as many other scented household products, products to which consumers are exposed on a daily basis. With this history of bad press and legislation against it, it's hard for people to be objective about this group of chemicals. But the question is, do humans have the same hormone disruptions and reproductive effects that have been seen in rodent studies? Are people harmed by the levels of phthalates present in everyday products? Are phthalates safe?

Last week's 60 Minutes asked that very question. If you missed the segment, a quick scan of the video or transcript will show you that they asked, but the researchers questioned couldn't give a definitive answer. Phthalates are like so many other chemicals in our environment, according to these scientists: we need more research, and more data, before deciding if their benefits outweigh their risks. The jury is still out.

What do we know? The FDA states: "It's not clear what effect, if any, phthalates have on health. An expert panel convened from 1998 to 2000 by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), part of the National Institutes of Health, concluded that reproductive risks from exposure to phthalate esters were minimal to negligible in most cases....In 2002, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) reaffirmed its original conclusion (reached in 1985) that DBP, DMP, and DEP are safe as used in cosmetic products. The panel evaluated phthalate exposure and toxicity data and conducted a risk assessment for dibutyl phthalate in cosmetic products. The panel concluded that exposures to phthalates from cosmetics are low compared to levels that would cause adverse effects in animals." The EPA added 8 phthalates to its list of "chemicals of concern" but diethyl phthalate, (DEP), one of the phthalates most commonly used in personal care products, was not one of them.

Many of the articles and blogs listing "toxic" chemicals in personal care products point to Europe as the example we should follow; yet Europe's Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP) (now the SCCS, or Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety), issued "a positive opinion...on the safe use of diethyl phthalate (DEP) in Cosmetics. This positive opinion was confirmed by the SCCNFP at its 26th plenary meeting the 9th December 2003." In this Opinion on phthalates in cosmetic products, they also stated, "The levels of phthalates found in perfumes, either as impurities, technically unavoidable during manufacturing or as a fragrance ingredient would be a minor contribution to the global exposure from other sources." The SCCS advises the EU about the safety of non-food consumer products, such as cosmetics.

How do we as a company make decisions in the face of ongoing research and opposing opinions? We offer choices.

If you want to avoid fragrance and its components altogether, select unscented products—or choose those that use essential oils instead of fragrance oils. All of our bath and body products, for example, are available unscented. We also offer lavender products, scented with lavender essential oil, and our peppermint pedicure is scented with peppermint essential oil.

For those of you who enjoy scented products but would like to avoid phthalates, we have been adding phthalate-free choices. Our fragrances page lists our available fragrances and lets you know which are phthalate-free. Why aren't all of our fragrances phthalate-free? We have been testing fragrances to phase in phthalate-free alternatives, but have not yet found adequate replacements for all of our line. We know that our customers have come to expect high standards, so we are being careful to replace with fragrances of comparable or higher quality. Some of our custom blends, such as lemon blueberry and cupcake, have proved more difficult to reformulate. We appreciate your patience as we work on more options for you.

If you would like more information about our fragrances, or would like to make a special request, just contact us! I'd love to hear from you and would be happy to work with you to provide the fragrance solution you are looking for.

Additional sources of information:
Phthalates information at cosmeticsinfo.org

FDA opinion on phthalates
U.S. Fragrance Association finds new cosmetics report misleading
SCCP Opinion on phthalates in cosmetic products
European Union reorganizes its scientific advisory structure
Decrease in Anogenital Distance among Male Infants with Prenatal Phthalate Exposure
American Chemistry Council's Phthalates Information Center
Environmental Working Group on Phthalates

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