Monday, February 29, 2016

My Top 10 Obvious Tips For Selling at Local Markets That You Didn't Think Of

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Last year I had my most successful local market showings to date, getting out in public with my wares paid my bills during a tricky transition from reseller to freelancer- AND it was fun, too! No matter what you do, local markets and/or conventions are an incredible way not only to make profit but to get your brand out into your community and make lasting friends and connections. My first solo showing for my new organic body care brand will be March 2 at the Jacksonville Landing and I've been hard at work behind-the-scenes combing over everything with a fine-toothed comb to make sure it's profitable and runs smoothly. I thought I'd share my Top 10 Obvious Tip for Selling At Local Markets here for anyone else who's getting out there for Spring! Why "obvious"? Because as experienced market-goers know, there are so many little "obvious" things you'll have forgotten once you get there! It happens, especially early on! Luckily, it gets easier every time.

1) Start Preparing at Least a Month Ahead of Time

Everything takes longer than you expect! Yesterday I labeled merchandise for over 10 hours! There are so many extra things to worry about that will pop up to accomplish that you can't anticipate. Get as much as possible finished way ahead of time so you can sleep and be rested for the busy market day.

2) Bring help! 

If you can, have 1 or 2 people to help you set up at the least. It's better to do a market with at least one other person in case it gets busy in case you need cashier back-up or a bathroom break. If you have to do it alone, it's certainly doable, and your fellow vendors will always watch you wares in your brief absences.

3) Photograph the entire process for whatever you're making

A lot of markets want proof that what you're making is actually locally and/or handmade, especially now that it's easier than ever to simply order things from overseas and claim it as your own.

4) List ALL of your ingredients on your labels

I've had to go back and re-create labels for myself AND for clients because different markets or stores didn't want to see "a proprietary blend of", they wanted every single ingredient listed out. And that makes sense because people need to know exactly what's in their products to prevent allergies.


5) Make a Check-List and Check it Twice

Make a detailed checklist of every single thing you could need. Leave nothing to chance. Then go through it and check to make sure you have everything packed and ready to go the night before (or further ahead of time if you'd like). Don't leave anything to chance, think of everything you need (like say, electricity) and call ahead to make sure you'll have access to it. Just a few obvious things people often forget include: water, food, more than enough change...

6) Take Weather Into Account

Have all of your signs, table cloths and products well bolted down in case of wind. Watch your breakables, think up ways to have them in boxes or other ways to keep them safe. Consider side-flaps for your tent for rain or, of course, canceling for inclement weather. Have ropes, weights, and back-up twine, scissors and tape handy in an organized market tackle box.



7) Look up the parking situation and call about rules ahead of time

Many markets don't provide assigned parking and some may not even have convenient bathroom access! Call ahead to ensure these seemingly "obvious" things are provided.

8) Consider rolling carts

These can be a life-saver, especially if you're setting up alone and/or have a long walk to your car. You're going to be tired after the market, every little energy and time saver you can incorporate is a huge help.

9) Make everything easy to break down and light-weight

Think twice about brining hard to set-up and/or heavy items. Do you want to lug it to your car, then back to your house? Can you lug it? Time is money, make set-up easy.

10) Have an Organized Way to Roll In and Out

Have all of your merchandise and supplies EXTREMELY organized! Invest in good sturdy boxes of the right sizes so your merchandise doesn't rattle too much, bring lots of bubble wrap for breakables if needed.

I hope sharing these "obvious" blunders will help you if you choose to set up at local markets soon. I had to learn a lot of this the painful way and I'm sharing so you don't have to! An easy market arrival and break-down is such a wonderful thing because markets are a lot of fun and can be extremely profitable if done right!

I'm sure I left things out! I'd love it if you market pros shared your tips in the comments. What do you do to prepare?
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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

DIY Shower Bombs: Wake Up + Wind Down with Refreshing Spa Quality Shower Tabs


Inhaling a few drops of essential oils during your morning or nightly shower can help you: improve immunity, relax, unwind, energize, detoxify, relieve cold symptoms and most importantly... promote happiness! Many essential oils (like lavender and the citrus family) are effective antidepressants and mood boosters. I'm still in the midst of an extensive Medical Aromatherapy certification and love sharing tips and tricks from classes along the way. These shower bombs are similar to your bath bombs, you put the tabs on the shower floor, the steam from the shower carriers the essential oils to your nose. Making the bombs is just as therapeutic as using them because you're working with the delightful aromas. Make these with friends and family and watch their moods lift!



Essential Oil Suggestions:

Relaxation: Roman Chamomile, Bergamot, Lavender, Sage, Clary Sage
Wake-Up: Peppermint, Rosemary
Happy: Neroli, Sweet Orange
Anti-Congestion: Eucalyptus

Ingredients:

1 cup baking soda
1/2 cup citric acid
1/4 tsp bentonite clay
2 ML Essential Oil (Try mint for waking up in the morning. I also love Eucalyptus.)
Witch hazel
Mold of any type, we use silicon baking molds for these

Optional, Natural Colorants like mica powders or dried/powdered herbs

Directions

Mix all of your dry ingredients together in a bowl, making sure to mix out all clumps. Distribute everything evenly. Add you essential oil and mix thoroughly. Next, you're going to gently add in your witch hazel. In class, we use a spray bottle. You don't want to add too much liquid because the reaction will cause your show bombs to fizz. You want just enough to where the consistency is like wet sand. When the consistency is right, press your shower bombs into your molds and let it dry overnight.

Just writing this up has me excited to mix more batches to sell next month online and at local markets (If you're local, I'll be at The Landing for Art Walk). These are delightful to make and use. I hope you'll experiment with different blends for different needs...or just for fun!

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Friday, February 19, 2016

3 Weird Ways to Tap Into Your "Growth Zone" and Become Massively Productive

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There's a lot you want to accomplish in this life. Countries to explore, aspirations to make reality, some of them you'd never share because they're too "embarrassing" or "impossible." Thinking in that negative mindset is what limits you. It's not that things are impossible, it's that many adults stopped truly growing and developing years ago, it's sad but true.


Have you heard of The Monster Engine? Artist Dave DeVries' premise for it seems simple: what would a child's monster drawing look like rendered realistically? According to Big Think his goals run deeper. Dave wanted to see things like a child. Why?

In many ways, children flourish where adults fail. Children are more creative and are natural inventors. Their worldview is incomplete and demands discovery. They prosper because they embrace their ignorance instead of ignoring it. And they are willing to explore, investigate and put their ideas to the test because they are willing to fail. Unlike adults, they don't care how other people perceive or evaluate their idea, and they are unconcerned with the impossible or what doesn't work...A study conducted between 1959 and 1964 involving 350 children found that around 4th grade our tendency to daydream and wonder declines sharply. In other words, Picasso was right: "Every child is an artist. The problem  is how to remain an artist once we grow up."

That child-like mindset, free of societal expectations and rules to follow, is the perfect headspace to be in for growth. And that makes sense, because who grows exponentially more than children do? Taking DeVries' musings a step further, the artist-designed Destiny Lofts in Japan are designed like adult-sized playgrounds, the intent was to keep the brain stimulated so one could "live forever". But how do we do this as adults?

Getting uncomfortable, exploring new places, and trying things you normally wouldn't is essential for personal and business growth! If you don't have something on your to-do list that scares you, you're doing it wrong.

I'll use myself as an example. I've shared before that I became too comfortable working from my apartment doing work I enjoy. I wasn't challenging myself enough, creativity and especially social skills waned. I felt myself stepping back from things that made me nervous or uncomfortable.  To get out of that rut I've recently stepped back up to my whole living teaching post and I'm going to keep practicing my public speaking. I want to make videos, too. It all makes me nervous as hell, looking at the calendar and seeing those classes scheduled fills me with anxiety, but that's the point.
Artwork in this post is from The Monster Engine. 

I'm also continuously signing up for classes, especially ones I had some interest in, but also felt an aversion to. I embrace that slight aversion, if I feel that way, it often means it's something I need to do to grow. My recent Reiki certification was one of those classes I was really on the fence about. The classes were all day every Saturday from 10am to 6pm on Saturdays and usually more class on Sunday if we missed anything. It seemed excessive, but those classes ended up being life-changing. I loved it so much that I'm working on teaching free local Reiki classes. That sealed it. There will be many more classes and scary new things on the schedule this year. I'm sold! I'll be using the meditation learned in Reiki to help with the public speaking anxiety!

I challenge you to do the following three things this weekend: (1) Sign up for OR do something that you wouldn't normally do. It could be an online workshop or workbook you wouldn't normally try, or even listening to a whole album by an artist in a music genre you hate. Read new blogs in different niches. (2) Go somewhere completely new. (3) Do something that scares you. Even if it's something small and silly, like holding a spider for a few seconds.

Do everything above. Then keep doing it. Get uncomfortable, see new things, and get back with me and let me know how it works. You should see a big boost in motivation and creativity! These steps will give you practice, they're stepping stones to the bigger dreams you were scared of, the ones you thought were impossible. You can do it.

PS: Ironically as soon as I finished writing this YouTube played an ad where Rachel Weisz talks about Youth and how characters in the movie regain their "youth" and freedom from fear. Interesting! Watch it here.
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Monday, February 15, 2016

Things I Didn't Buy at The Thrift Store: A Warehouse of Gorgeous 1960s-1970s Finds

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I haven't been thrifting or yard sale hunting in a long while, but while on the way to a nursery yesterday I spied a sign around the corner of my apartment for a vintage sale. I was enjoying a rare day "off", how could I resist a peek?


What I pulled up to was amazing! It was a storage shed full of vintage furniture, clothing, and more from the 1960s and 1970s! How did I never know this was minutes away from me? It's directly behind Flaire Antiques which I shared here. Look how organized and neat the lines are in this set-up!


The clothes were beautiful and well-priced (antique mall type prices vs. yard sale). I was tempted to get a jacket but I feel uncomfortable in stuff with faux fur for some off reason.


I loved the bar in the entrance of the shed, and there were several barware pieces I've seen around the SDCP offices from Mad Men.


Beside the bar was a sight that made me swoon! A retro free standing storage unit! Unfortunately, it can't accommodate a modern TV (which is what I'd use it for, thought it could easily replace my IKEA storage unit). Beautiful pieces!


Now imagine the storage unite filled with gorgeous, colorful mod glassware. Beautiful.


This unique hand-painted Japanese pottery was adorable. I have enough tea pots, but how can I not adore this expressive set?


There was so much to take in and lust after! I was putting together beautiful mod room layouts in my mind while I browsed.


And many little treasures hidden away, like this Merry Mushrooms set.


This awesome unwrapped single from Eddie's short-lived music career!


This compact shelf that was another little temptation. Love how it's covered with plants in the photo.


And of course, silly kitschy toys, I've never seen Charlie's Angels merchandise in all of my hunts. My favorite part of that silhouette in the logo is the kung fu hands! Chop!


I was soooo close to buying the hell out of this! I've always wanted to make a collection of ceramics based on vintages ones, no better way to do that than with the actual molds. These forest animals ones is so cute. Should I go back for it? I left it because I'm still selling vintage I have on hand now (and so, so much more stuff!) and probably don't need another thing to do.

Have you found anything good 2nd-hand shopping lately? It's been nice to be out of the game, now I can resist pretty much everything!
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Friday, February 12, 2016

Behind-The-Scenes: Loads of Classes, Brand Pain, and Wonderful Opportunities

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There's a distinct veneer in the lifestyle community that takes the "life" right out of it. I love writing and reading DIY and tip posts, but we tune in to blogs to see the real lives of others. I haven't done a real behind-the-scenes in a little while, here's what life's been like so far this year.


I'm not putting as much work as I'd like into our product development. The branding is tying me up in knots. I know it takes years to develop, it won't "click" for a while, but it's killing me regardless.

Before Editing

Ironically, it's easy as HELL for me to put OTHER people's brands together. Funny how that works in life. Doing your own branding is, like I once said, trying to hold on to a greased-up water snake toy. Underwater. During a tsunami. It's so much easier to straighten out someone else's mind matter.

After Editing. I'm working on a product photography e-Book to show how I do this.

Right now I've got it to where I'm working three days a week to get my teacher's brand ideas labeled, bar-coded, shot, edited, and it into websites and shops. I get to make, cut, smell, label, photograph and work with gorgeous natural products every day! The work days go by fast because we're having fun, and because the projects are non-stop. There are unique kinks here and there to work through but I'm learning a lot from all of them. After Lotus Therapeutics is done, I have five more complete brands to create on my plate thus far and more in the future! And then my own brand, it's on the back burner, haha.


Right now I'm enrolled in Reiki (last class tomorrow, yay!), Advanced Aromatherapeutic Skin Care Creation, Medical Aromatherapy and Materia Medica. Advanced Plant Medicine Creation and an Advanced Tea Blending certification are coming up, the classes will never end!  I'm saving up to eventually take some additional nutrition certifications at another school (always nice to have another perspective) and I will eventually torture myself by going back to Florida State College, to finish an abandoned degree in digital media. The photo above is a tincture and spray I made and delivered to my friend. One day I can see myself treating patients but for now I do it for free for friends/family. I want more practice before I have a practice. Right now I'm learning, feeling things out, and saving money for future projects.


I'm also still applying Kon Mari tweaks to my apartment. And you're like "B***, shut up with that S***, aren't you DONE yet?!" I keep thinking I am but I guess that's why she says it takes six months to properly do it? You do you initial purges but little tweaks to perfect your space are ongoing. The space I'm happiest with right now is, weirdly enough, my bedroom closet.  She mentions how your home should have "power" spots and for reasons I'll get into in a post next week. Her second book, Spark Joy, was really helpful for painting the picture of her method further and answering some questions that were bugging fans of the method.


There's still a scattered mess on my dining room table from packing orders and shooting things that I'm going to take care of as soon as this post is done, dammit! Bad me!


The rest of the house has remained rather clear though! I'm still taking out little donations here and there. You would think I have no excess crap left but I still find some despite how minimal my space is.


And the least Kon Mari/Zen/Feng Shui'd area of my home...my storage boxes of random vintage and nerd/Japanese things collections. I still need to list online. I'm doing that today so I can put more funds into my business bank account, even though I want to just donate it.


I haven't walked around/rode my bike around the neighborhood daily like I promised I would for my new years resolution. The picture above was such an adorable sight that I had to pull over and photograph it while running an errand the other day. That dog! Those ears! So adorable!


And then another one came and they were both barking at me and I was so happy. (So happy.) I love all dogs but especially ones with huge bat-ears. I can't wait to adopt two greyhounds one day but it's not the time yet.


And a shot before heading to the gym for one of the few times this month. This has been my worst attendance month since I started got my membership, I've just really started to hate being in there. But I have to suck it up and keep going. Once you get in a solid routine it's easier, I need to wake up earlier and knock it out first-thing. And yoga next, I get it for free with my membership and just need to start going. Blerg!

So that's life lately! How's business and other things going for you? My friend Jackie is here (yay, don't see her enough) so I'm going to pick up my table-mess while we hang, then do an errand for my teacher, then photograph stuff, then class! Work forever!
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Monday, February 8, 2016

A Creative Brain Idea for Productivity That Really Works: Write it ALL Down

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Today I'm just sharing a small tip that really works. Sometimes the most inane, obvious actions can clear your mind and help you be incredibly productive and creative. Today I'm challenging you to do just one thing:


Write down EVERY SINGLE THING that's on your mind "to do". You may already be doing this, but most people don't. Write down every personal, business, and innocuous action. This is NOT just a to-do list, it's a list of every little thing that pops into your mind that keeps you from thinking clearly about any one task at hand. Write down dusting, buying thumbtacks, brushing the cat, every tiny thing you have to do. I read about this technique in David Allen's "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity" and have more steps and tips on how to implement this and other productivity methods in my workbook. Basically, this is how you achieve a "mind like water", that zen mode where ideas flow easily and naturally. You can't while your mind is constantly bombarded with the things you have to do. David puts it better than I could:

"The short-term-memory part of your mind-the part that tends to hold all the incomplete, undecided, and unorganized "stuff" - functions much like RAM on a personal computer. Your conscious mind, like that computer screen, is a focusing tool, not a storage place. You can only think of 2 or 3 things at once. But the incomplete items are being stored in the short-term memory space....there's limited capacity, there's only so much "stuff" you can store in there and still have that part of your brain function at a high level. They're constantly distracted, their focus disturbed by their own internal mental overload."
This "full mind RAM" concept is why you'll sit at your computer and find yourself unable to write or make a single solitary thing, instead retreating to get lost down the Google or YouTube rabbit hole.

Writing down EVERY TINY THING on your mind is a huge help! It's helped me with meditation, and more importantly, it's helped me with meditation via being sucked into a productive work groove, my favorite thing to be stuck in! I hope you try this and let me know how it works. I made three lists, there's over 100 items on them and they're not done yet, but they've been very helpful. Take as long as you need because you need to think of EVERY little action that's been on your mind to do in your work, creative and personal life.


Make your brain cry tears of joy. Write everything you have to do. Clear your mind RAM.
What things do you do to increase productivity or creativity?
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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Thrifty Bohemian, Colorful Bedroom Before and After Tour From Little Vintage Cottage

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Isn't is awesome when you finish something and it's exactly the way you envisioned it in your head? Tania over at Little Vintage Cottage recently finished her Bohemian master bedroom re-creation and the end-result is very polished and magazine ready. I hope this before/after inspires you with your own space re-vamping. I love her mix of colors and textures.


Before the space was very different, and quite generic. The after is very dramatic, and mostly DIY'd. Tania's a vintage seller and thrifted many of the pieces in this space.


I like the curtained closet and how everything beyond the curtains is also neatly organized. It's not just a clutter hider!


The faux woodgrain wallpaper was a really good idea in this space, it adds texture and a different vibe when viewing the room with different angles.


And a consistent color scheme throughout in cool tones is very relaxing. A great scheme for a serene bedroom.


I love that she has a bedroom fireplace! I miss having a fireplace every winter. Most of the hanging pieces were DIY'd and/or painted salvaged pieces.


The metal piece in the picture on the left, for instance, is a piece from an old screen door painted green. The end result of the whole space is cozy, polished and personalized. I'm definitely taking some crafting inspiration from these photos as I slowly gather supplies for DIYs to make my now rather empty home cozy again.

What's your favorite element of Tania's space? Thanks for sharing your photos and your home with us! If you have a space you'd like to share here, please e-mail me!
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Monday, February 1, 2016

Easy Vegan Coconut Veggie Curry and Quinoa: I Eat This All Day, Every Day!

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For reasons I'll explain in depth on Wednesday, I tend to make the same foods over and over again seasonally. Winter 2015-2016 has been the season of spicy quinoa curry! I can't get enough. Quinoa curry is creamy, delicious, and amazingly nutritious. Curry powder has a powerful antioxidant from the turmeric root, curcumin, that aids in inflammation reduction. Pair it with circulation boosting capsaicin and you have a powerful pain reliever and endorphin producer. But wait, there's more! Quinoa is a rich protein source, color veggies add more nutritious and the fat of the coconut milk makes the nutrients more bio-available. It's heavy enough to sustain energy but not so heavy that I feel lethargic afterwards.

Yes, it's a literal super meal, but if you don't care...just try it because it's amazingly delicious.

Ingredients:

1 Can Organic Coconut Milk
2 Teaspoons Tamari (Can sub in soy sauce)
3 Teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (any veggie oil will work)
2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
2 Tablespoons Curry Powder
Cayenne Pepper to taste
Quinoa
Toppings of Your Choice (pictured above with tempeh, I love to add bell peppers and mushrooms)

Directions:

1) Boil water for your quinoa. The normal ratio is 1/2 cup quinoa to 1 cup water for 2 servings. Once the water is boiling add your quinoa, cover, and cook for 12 minutes. Cook any veggies or additional add-ons now, too.

2) While your water is boiling, add the tamari to your coconut milk. Have this ready beside your saute pan.

3) Add the olive oil to your saute pan on medium heat, add your garlic and chili powder. Stir this in the oil for 15 to 30 seconds, then add your curry powder. Again stir for 15 to 30 seconds, then quickly pour your coconut milk over the oil.

4) Stir evenly to incorporate everything into the coconut milk, then bring your sauce to a boil for 4 minutes. Boil for a little bit longer if you'd like a thicker sauce, keep an eye on it.

5) Now you're ready to top your quinoa with veggies and amazing spicy curry sauce!

I'm all about simple, fast, nutritious and delicious meals. This sauce cooks in minutes, the longest part is waiting for the quinoa. I've tried this sauce on rice and couscous but this tastes best on quinoa or baked potatoes to me.

What's your favorite winter comfort food? If you have recipes to share to get me out of my curry addiction I'd love to read them!
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