Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Printable Candy Wrappers

After extensive research in my facility, I've determined that Special Dark is my favorite of Hershey's miniatures. You might wonder what kind of research involves chocolate. Even as we speak, you're likely planning to offer your services as a test subject. Today, I'll share how you can legitimately "research" candy bars in the comfort of your own home, all in the name of Valentine's Day.

What you'll need:
• a bag of Hershey's miniatures (you know, the kind with Mr. Goodbar, Krackel, and plain Hershey bars—and my personal favorite, Special Dark—all approximately a bite-and-a-half in size.)
• This printable PDF file of candy wrappers, including five different designs (which, by amazing coincidence, just happen to match our Valentine favors designs)
• Scissors or paper cutter
• Glue stick

Step 1: Open bag of candies for QA. (There were ~35 in my bag, so if you're getting these for a classroom, there will be plenty left for the kidlets after you taste at least one of each kind. This is the most important step, as we must make sure they are fresh and safe for children. (Kids don't like the Special Dark anyway, right?).

Step 2: Download printable PDF of wrappers, print, and cut out. You'll have to print multiple sheets for larger classrooms (or if you want to use only a few of the designs).

Step 3: Note that there is a blank area on the back of each wrapper where you can write in the name of your child and each friend. While you fill in the names, conduct research to determine your favorite miniature. This may require additional taste testing, but remember that we have to make sacrifices for science. And Valentine's Day. Wait, we're doing this for the children! *sigh* (nom nom)

Step 4: Cover each candy with a wrapper, making sure the end with the names is on top (overlapping the other end...you'll see what I mean). Swipe with the glue stick and hold for a few seconds to stick the wrapper. Repeat for the remaining candies (except maybe the Special Dark, yeah? 'Cause I've heard kids don't like those).

If you have any left after your research, you can add to your kids' classroom gifts, or place in a bowl at the office to share with coworkers. This printable is for personal use only, OK? So no reselling or shenanigans.

Please use with our best wishes for a Happy Valentine's Day!

What's YOUR favorite miniature? (It's Special Dark, isn't it? Am I alone here?)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Giveaway at Emmaline Bride

We have been so fortunate to be a part of Emmaline Bride since its beginning in 2009. Emmaline Bride promotes handmade artisans who specialize in creating items for weddings, sharing products for every part of the wedding from accessories to stationery, jewelry to decor. And of course, my personal favorite: favors.

I'm delighted to be offering one lucky Emmaline Bride reader a set of customized lip balm favors. The details of this giveaway are at Emmaline Bride today; enter before February 3 at 11:59 EST for your chance to win!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

February's Flavor of the Month 2013

Back in October we started the Flavor of the Month to introduce some new flavors in tubes. We followed this fall's Pumpkin Latte and Ginger Pear with January's Margarita (there are still a few available, if you're interested). I decided to set up February's Flavor of the Month a bit early because it's for Valentine's Day. The new flavor is....Valentini!

Valentini is based on a cocktail made with Currant-flavored vodka, champagne, raspberry schnapps, and lime juice. Just like our other drink flavored balms, this flavor is non-alcoholic. It's available here right now and through the month of February.

Do you have any favorite flavors you'd like to see featured? Please contact me and let me know! 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Guest on HandmadeChat

This past Thursday I was excited to join Donna Maria Coles Johnson from the Indie Business Network along with other IBN members and small business owners on #HandmadeChat, a "Twitter talk show to help handmade and creative entrepreneurs sell more products, have more fun, and be more successful personally and professionally."

If you weren't able to join us, our conversation is summarized in this post at Donna Maria's Indie Business Blog. The topic was How To Offer Product Customization, and we talked about things you should consider if you'd like to offer personalization services. I also shared details about my own business and experience.

If you'd like to participate in the future, please read this post that describes how #HandmadeChat works, and join the conversation at Twitter on Thursdays from 8 - 9 pm EST.

Thank you, Donna Maria, for inviting me! (Even though I was nervous, it was fun.)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sarva Soap's New Space

Back in December of 2011, we featured Sarva Soap Co. and artisan soapmaker Michelle Gilbert in our series of small business features. Then in May of last year, Sarva's Gardener's Hand Soap made an appearance in our Gardener's Gift Set Giveaway. If it isn't obvious, we're fans of Sarva Soap's line of simple, lovely soaps.

Sarva Soap has recently been available only through Etsy, but I am so thrilled to share that Sarva Soap Co. has a gorgeous new website. Michelle writes about her recent business transformation and how Sarva fits in with her other work as a holistic healing arts practitioner. It's a great opportunity to see how businesses evolve with the people behind them.

I share this because I know several of you are big fans of Michelle's work, but if you aren't familiar with Sarva Soaps yet, take a moment to explore the new site. I know you'll enjoy it!

Mermaid Party Favors

Mermaid birthday party favors
Tag design 1351, Label design 334

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

Some Assembly Required

Back in June I ordered an exercise bike for my office. I was really excited, ready to commit to more physical activity, and couldn't wait to get started...until the bike arrived. I opened the box and was greeted by a thick instruction manual which included a diagram outlining the correct placement of approximately 1.2 bazillion pieces. Before I'd even emptied the box, I panicked: "How will I ever put this together?" I thought. "You'd need an engineering degree to know what they're talking about here! Do I even have the proper tools?"

Feeling defeated, I reluctantly pulled out the packing material, certain that I was starting an all-night project. But when I finally saw the contents of the box, I had to laugh. There, nestled into layers of styrofoam and plastic, were a half-dozen large, pre-assembled metal and plastic pieces and a bag of nuts and bolts. About 40 minutes later I was sitting on my bike with a new appreciation for the term "Some Assembly Required."

Here in the middle of January I awoke in a similar panic. Like many people, I started the month with lists and plans. I'm taking a class, I joined a book club, I'm rethinking my entire business, and all of this feels like it needs to be done this month. Preferably, right now. (Actually, wait, I don't already have the Master Plan in place?!) I'm feeling overwhelmed by all of it. What if I don't have the right degree, or the right tools? How can I take these complicated plans and assemble my days when there are so, so many pieces?

Then I remembered my experience with the bike. And realized that even if I don't have ALL of what I need, I came to today with SOME of the skills and experience I need to get things done. I'm not starting from scratch, not today or any day. None of us are. When we build on what we know, and learn from others as much as possible, then some of those many, many parts are already assembled. It's much easier for me to face each day when I know that there's only SOME assembly required.

What about you? Are you tackling those big plans? What helps you to put together the pieces of your projects and goals?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Why We've Changed Our Shipping Policy

Small business owners understand that customer satisfaction is EVERYTHING. If you make a product that doesn't live up to expectations—or offer less-than-stellar customer service—you won't have customers for long. I have always wanted to make my customers happy, usually by providing more: more designs, more services, more options. Today, for the first time, I realized that assuring customer satisfaction sometimes requires offering less. As a result, we're changing our international shipping policy; I'd like to explain why.

Several years ago GCDSpa started offering international shipping; we've sent gifts and party favors to Ireland, Switzerland, and Australia, among other countries. While I've enjoyed working with people all over the world, shipping issues have always complicated this process. International shipping is expensive and products can take a long time to get through customs. Even customers who are happy to pay high U.S. shipping charges may not be as delighted by their own countries' customs fees, VATs (value added taxes), and the additional shipping fees assessed once their packages leave customs. And when favors or gifts are held up in customs, they may not arrive in time for the event, making them basically useless to the customer when they do arrive. Preventing these disappointments is our priority; however, with shipping times and fees largely out of our control, we've had limited success.

When I order something, I want to know what it's going to cost and how long it's going to take to arrive. Our customers expect that, too. Through experience we've learned that we can't accurately predict either cost or ship time for international orders. Shipments of $50 products shouldn't take four weeks to arrive and cost $75 to ship and claim, but since we can't change how long it takes or how much it costs to claim packages—and we can't afford to refund shipping or product charges to (understandably) disappointed customers—from now on we will only be shipping to addresses in the U.S. and Canada.

I truly appreciate the interest in our products and regret any inconvenience. I know that I can't guarantee that my customers are happy, but when an option consistently leads to stress and disappointment, it's time for a change. Please let me know if you have any questions at all about this; I'm always available to help and I welcome your feedback!

Thursday, January 03, 2013

January's Flavor of the Month 2013

I mentioned back in October that we'd be trying a flavor of the month for a while to offer some different options for those of you who love balms in tubes. We featured Pumpkin Latte and Ginger Pear this fall, and the response was great! (Thank you.) I'm excited to share that we'll be starting the New Year with Margarita.

Every time I make this flavor, I think of the Jimmy Buffett song because Margarita balm really does taste like tequila and lime (though of course our version is nonalcoholic). Available in January while supplies last. You can get yours here and no minimums apply.

Do you  have any favorite flavors you'd like to see featured? Please contact me and let me know!


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