Friday, December 29, 2017

New Years Resolutions for 2018: More Minimalism, More Living, Grow Creatively

What. A. Year 2017 has been! I am so grateful our shop venture not only worked out but is thriving more than anything either of us has created on our own. We have huge business plans going forward into 2018, there's more than I can even catch-up with here! That part of life turned out well, mission accomplished on the career front.

My view right now, our refreshed store office with a huge vision/design board

Yes, career life is optimistic, but we took short-cuts to get here at the expense of our personal lives. I have made my mantra for 2018 and it's all about making myself delegate and be more streamlined and organized than EVER so I can give AJ and myself the gift of free time! My resolutions for 2018 include:

MORE Minimalism

This isn't just about having less things (though I intend to continue to slash the amount of possessions owned) but about eliminating extra tasks, "ingredients", and steps from our business and life to make it run more efficiently.

MORE Living

Hopefully with our lives more streamlined we can leave more work to employees (eek!) while still profiting and go on breaks and trips more often. I need to start visualizing it (I can't imagine my life not overloaded with too much work right now) and making it happen!

FINISH essential tasks first-thing and FAST

I want to finish essential tasks IMMEDIATELY so we can just get to living! I sometimes mull over something too long or torture myself over stuff, no more, I just need to finish things fast so we can live more.

KEEP Growing Creatively and Otherwise with Classes and Groups

This is in regard to business but also importantly, keep growing creatively, work my hardest with my blog, my business, my creativity and connection with others. Take creative classes, develop photography, stay in that growth zone! I want to do this by taking as many creative classes and joining as many craft and creative groups as possible this year. I already bought one for our local Gem and Mineral society.

Bonus, Project 365

Project 465 requires you to take a photo a day, every day for 365 days straight. I stopped using my SLR entirely after being burned out on it when taking hundreds of photos a day became my day-job. But now I *NEED* to take beautiful photos again, I'm excited for the challenge of a fresh new year to practice.

Happy New Year! /Comments Off   - While I catch-up on stuff. I'll be updating on my store and personal Instagrams
See you with new content and things in 2018 :)

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Our Dog Adoption Story, Meet Zorro the Greyhound. The Chill Lazy Cat-Dog.

Remember Yack our adopted stray cat? Six months into owning him he suffered cognitive heart failure and passed away. We were all devastated, even AJ, the former cat hater! We'll never regret knowing our sweet pirate cat and we hope we gave him the best final six months of his life. Although we still miss Yack, it opened our heart to bringing another animal in need into our lives. With a couple of developments helping business go more smoothly we took the leap and adopted an animal I've always wanted, a greyhound!

Note how hilariously stiff he is in the first picture. Yep, retired Greyhounds do prefer to be carried like sheep because of how they're handled during racing years.

Why a greyhound? First of all they're just sweet. I can't think of a more mild-tempered animal in the canine family, they're just lovers. Second, they are the perfect apartment-friendly dog because they are lazy couch potatoes that literally sleep for 18 hours per day! They're the most cat-like dog and as a Crazy Cat Lady that makes them the perfect dog for me. Last but not least, they are gorgeous elegant animals that are always in need of homes because they're always being bred for racing.

Our greyhound is a black two year old retired racer, we adopted him from Greyhounds as Pets of Northeast Florida. His racing name was KB's Excell, we named him Zorro after trying to figure out a name for a tall, dark, dashing animal. If it was up to me he could have been Christian Greyhound but AJ put his foot down on that one, haha. We also considered Don, as in Don Draper from Mad Men.

Zorro turned out to be just like the greyhounds I've been reading about for years. He's very mellow, sleeps if we're not walking with him or actively trying to get him to play, and has pretty much no "doggie" smell because of the lack of oil glands and fur. They have a "nesting" instinct, if there's a fluffy quilt on the floor or anything soft they will go right to it and just sleep for hours! If you're looking for a low-maintenance dog to adopt I can't imagine it getting easier than a greyhound. This is so far though, I've read that he may get a little bolder and maybe mischievous and they adjust to their new life!

One thing I like about owning a dog is how it forces you to slow down and just live. 

I've always said as a creator or business owner it's a huge problem I have, I want to be productive nearly every second of the day. With a dog you have to walk outside several times a day, I have no excuse, it's now an (enjoyable) necessity. The past few days having Zorro my heart soared witnessing the beauty of the neon-bright red-orange leaves on the trees contrasting with the blue sky. Creativity can't continue with non-stop work, your brain needs moments of rest. Go hard, then take a break, sometimes the best ideas spontaneously generate from your mind matter when let your brain completely rest.

Dat face! Awww. About to take him on his walk at the store. He usually wears a different vintage scarf every day :D

Right now we're working on socializing Zorro, he'll be coming with us to our markets and to our store, too. He's already spoiled.

Are you a dog owner?  Please let me know any tips you have on dog ownership in the comments! We're happy share life with our sweet creature hopefully for years to come.
NEW >>> See the behind-the-scenes of me running my shop and making stuff here & here on Instagram.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Quirky Zen House Airbnb Experience in Gainesville, Florida + Our 60s Mod Room

This weekend I employed my niece and took her an hour south to Gainesville, Florida for a Body&Soul sales event. The venue was the gorgeous new-ish Depot Park. We, along with all the other vendors, discovered they'd lied about many details of the event. It wasn't the blockbuster turn-out we were expecting but with hard work we made it profitable and made some fun memories, too.

This event happened to be during the same weekend of the biggest football game in Florida. So I'm told, I'm not going to fact-check that, I hate sports! And now I hate the related sports partying because the night we arrived we maybe slept 3 hours if we were lucky! The whole block was pulsating, it felt like trying to sleep in an actual dance club. It made our Zen House NOT so Zen.

Despite the location and grumpiness of a guy we're assuming lives in or helps run the Airbnb, I adored the home itself. Sunny yellow, multiple gongs, spatial harmony, zen garden, ladder to the roof, history?! My kind of kitschy place. Different details gave it the appearance of an old fashioned church, juxtaposing that with zen trappings was delightful and spiritually uplifting to look at.

(1) the 60s mod "art room" we stayed in. (2) The entrway and our colorful room door (3) Beautiful bedazzled flower of life on the sidewalk outside the house

We stayed in the Art Room, I loved what they did with the tall ceilings and the bookshelf full of new-age books. I was clearly in the midst of fellow Japanophiles with the house name. The "learning Japanese" workbooks in the shelves were completely filled-out, too.

The gate on the side of the property

The gardens and exterior looked perfect but you could tell different spaces on the inside were under construction. I like staying at places that are a little unfinished, picturing the potential is invigorating.

And the communal kitchen bought back memories of all my favorite types of hippie shared-living places. The bathroom had a huge tub and I loved the old painted wood walls.

A picture of the courtyard I snuck through the fence, it was locked. I seemed like this was an airbnb and communal living space?

Multiple drunk asses rung the gongs loudly at night while we were trying to rest for long outdoor market days, the guests next to us were too loud and the location of this place near the busy Main St. means every weekend probably gets too loud, but it was still wonderful to get away from my normal environment even for a couple of days and just for work. I'm definitely planning to do more trips to Gainesville for more chakra healing (we did a trade for one and it was awesome!) and artistic and spiritual inspiration.

BTW: I extended my online sale until Sunday if you're looking for Gift-giving, I ship things same-day so they arrive in time for Christmas. You don't have to type in a code, just click here.
For daily updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow me on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Cyber Monday Sale for Natural Body Care Goodness: 20% Off Everything Online

Just a heads-up, we're running a Cyber Monday sale! Everything in the online shop will be 20% off!

Favorite items include aromatherapy inhalers they last six months and heal headaches, lack of focus, anxiety, sinus problems and more.

Our miracle deodorant gets RAVE reviews. They last ALL day. You just put them on and then don't have to think about it or worry about it again.

Our herbal bitters and our tooth care collection (with yes, that popular whitening charcoal tooth care) does well! And of course our gemstones are inexpensive and make great gifts for Christmas! They have sexy new packaging I didn't get to photograph yet :D

For daily updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow me on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Biz Behind-the-Scenes: One Year of Brick and Mortar Shop Ownership Success

A showing I did yesterday in collaboration with First Coast Magazine, a quick phone shot
The Friday coming up (Black Friday, we're having a Big Sale at the store, come if you're local! 20-40% off everything) will be the ONE YEAR anniversary of our shop opening! And since we started the growth has been INCREDIBLE! The first months were hard as we adjusted, now we're going through new growing pains...the pains of trying to keep up with demand!

We ordered pizza and beer for our first group work-day, then proceeded to destroy the place making as much product as possible! I'm still trying to get the place cleaned up again, haha. 

Just some random Brick and Mortar Shop growth facts: 

- When we started we had outdoor markets and pop-ups about once a week, twice at the most. Five to seven events per week is the new norm!

- During the early months the stress from keeping up the shop and just having the fewer markets we had kept me in the shop sometimes until 3am every night AND it was SUPER hard for me to sleep before our big showings. I was a raw bundle of nerves. Now I've adapted to the stressors, I consider it a "level up" not unlike a video game, haha.

- And sales! With all these markets we're making so many! We were short of a five figure month last month but not far, this and next month we're projected to hit the five figures and then some.

- ... Of course a lot of that goes back into supplies, market expenses, and employees, but the details are a story for another day

- We started with AJ, myself, and my mom as a part-time contractor helping with our soap and product production. This week we hired our third employee so we a staff of six and a couple of floating part-timers (these are my nieces, they always want to help, haha).

- We tested loads of products and formulations and came up with a winning collection that's developed a devoted fan base! The fan favorites are our aromatherapy inhalers they last six months and heal headaches, lack of focus, anxiety, sinus problems and more, our miracle deodorant that lasts all day, our herbal bitters, and our tooth care collection

I'm excited to make the lines even better! I had to rush the design and product photos but I want more time to get the website/social media/labels to my standards, I've just had no choice but to neglect it because I'm so busy making the stuff!

When we started a year ago I'd have my doubts sometimes, it was a big leap without a ton of pre-planning. The shop and business has taken over our lives BUT we've learned and grown from it so much. No matter how mad a mistake makes me (yesterday while loading our car a $49 investment was stolen when I left it alone for a couple of minutes, and oh, the expensive car troubles this year from frequent car-use), or how frustrating any one situation can be it just doesn't feel like work. We are so satisfied with what we're creating. I'm excited to keep growing this beautiful creative messy thing!

Of course as a business/marketing lover I want to share all the behind-the-scenes details of the steps we took to turn a business that once made $0 at a market showing to regularly making hundreds at them and all the other little things, like running a team, I'll come back to all that in future posts. I miss blogging but I've got a team to steer and I've decided to prioritize sleep over trying to squeeze out posts from stolen rest like I used to. I do feel like I'm getting to the point where I can write again.

How's your business/early holiday season chaos been going? I'm going to step around some mess to get out of the store's office and go actually spend time with people I haven't seen for a bit because although it's been fun this store does rob nearly every hour of my daylight time! It's my first Sunday off in weeks and probably my last 'til Christmas, haha!

Expect some Black Friday/Cyber Monday codes from me soon, too.  I update my Body&Soul Instagram regularly, I also have a personal Instagram. Our store website is here and our online store is here. 
For daily updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow me on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Horror Movies Recommendations 2017: Artsy Subtle Classics for Annual Viewing

I almost didn't do my annual horror movie review this year. It's been a year of bad 'uns, I tell you!  So while I only have one new film to recommend this year I did finally get through some classics that you should add to your must-watch list! All the films below are going to be part of my annual Halloween watch list for life! They're so richly layered in the cinematography and deeper themes that you can watch them year after year and get an entirely different perspective as you mature.

The Black Coat's Daughter

Just my type of horror, a creepy, atmospheric slow burn! I haven't been this scared while watching a modern horror movie in a long time! Beautifully shot and mysterious, this is an art film meeting horror in the best ways. As a Mad Men fan it was nice to see Kiernan Shipka (famous as the Draper Daughter) play against type. Rent on YouTube.


Going on with the art film motif, here's horror of the arty-est sort. If you want a straight-forward horror movie, this isn't for you. This is the first in Roman Polanski's "apartment trilogy" of films that all deal heavily with paranoia and the anxieties of city/tenement living. Like The Black Coat's Daughter this moves slowly. Although there are horror elements, it could be classified as a psycological thriller or character study. The best part of Repulsion is how it rewards repeat viewings. A lot of questions are left unanswered and actions open to interpretation. You could say the young lead has androphobia, schizophrenia, agoraphobia, post traumatic stress disorder, it's all open-ended. How much of what was seen is real, for instance? How much of it is a pleasant fantasy or a horrible nightmare? How does this relate to the life of Polanski himself? You could write a whole college course on this one!  It's a classic for a reason and it will definitely be a part of my Halloween watching for years to come.

Also a bonus, surreal and affecting but not too scary by modern standards if you want a horror film that's not TOO frightening to watch.  Rent or buy it on YouTube here.

The Haunting

In the viein of Repulsion, The Haunting is another 1960s horror film that uses black and white to its advantage and has psycological rather than visceral scares. You can analyze the characters and their actions on and on, debating their motives and what's reality and not for our unreliable narrative. You won't find a more arresting haunted house on film, either. For being so character the environment was not neglected, old-fashioned techniques were utilized to their max to create a claustrophobic atmosphere. Avoid the remake! It gets every possible thing wrong! Watch on Youtube here

Sunset Boulevard

"A dozen press agents working overtime...can do terrible things to the human spirit."

A dark noir that uses horror tropes to expose the dark side of Hollywood. Sunset Boulevard called "The definitive Hollywood Horror Movies" by film critic Richard Coreless. On the surface this is just a DAMN FINE, well-crafted, compelling film that sucks you right, hypnotizing you from frame one to the conclusion. It's also a cautionary tale about the Hollywood star system; its obsession with youth and unattainably perfect looks and the damage the inherent objectification of celebrity worship does to the human soul. Despite many heady themes including ones about the importance of creating movies, or any art, with integrity, you'll find this noir classic a great fit for Halloween watching. (There's even a creepy old house! Haunted with proverbial rather than literal ghosts!) Available on Netflix and Youtube Here

And funny how 3 out of four of these and black and white! I wish I had more to recommend this year but let's go with quality of quantity this time. It would have been easier to write a list of what NOT to watch.

Random Bonus: I watched our thrifted VHS of Michael Jackson's Thriller / Making of Thriller combo dozens (hundreds?) of times as a kid. See the behind-the-scenes feature here and the full music video. It's a fascinating look at just how hard it was to craft those few minutes of magic, the strict adherence to detail is unrivaled amongst all music videos, there can be no doubt! Wanna fight about it? Bring it! All these years later it's still the most beautifully shot tribute to classic horror I've ever seen, no bias,, that art direction! The smoke, the colors, the make-up~! Also, it's so weird to watch this again realizing he was 24 when this what shot? What...what are we doing with our lives? 

Have a happy halloween! We're excited because it's our (AJ and mine's) first day off together in eeh...I don't even know, it's been so long! We're going to order some vegan pizzas and chill with friends and beers :) Then get back to the crazy hustle for Christmas shoppers!

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Horror Flick Recommendations: October 2012 // Vintage Picks/Amazing Set Design | October 2013 // Classics on Netflix //  My Top 13 Unique and Scary Films for Halloween //2015 Recommendations // 2016 Recommendations
For daily updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow me on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.

Monday, October 16, 2017

A Birthday Post: A Reflection on Success (Finally) During 2017, Being 31, and Risk

Yesterday, after the craziest whirlwind weekend for our business wound to a close, I got a text from my mom. Apparently I'd forgotten it was my birthday! I stopped birthday celebrations at 25 but I do enjoy arbitrary dates for reflection. It was 12:45AM when I got the text, we were unloading the car after a 3-day long double-booked outdoor market (Octoberfest at the Beach). Murphy's Law was at work and my car, our employee's car AND my boyfriend's car all had car trouble at different crucial times! As it does only when you're at your busiest!

Our recently depleted shelves, I had AJ snap a quick phone shot for my birthday. Now to order supplies!

I looked up at my 2nd floor brownstone apartment window, glowing radioactive orange from our ample Halloween string lights. I was utterly exhausted, but satisfied.

All the crazy risk taking was worth it.

When I look back at my life from say 25-30 there was a lot of floundering and struggling. (And before THAT let's just say I've worked LOTS of crazy odd jobs.) I'd left the security of my copywriter day job and it was liberating at first but I soon learned I didn't want to resell vintage anymore. At my wit's end with it I, very serendipitously, ended up being able to be certified in clinical herbalism and aromatherapy. I spent a couple of years studying and learning at that school while ever-so-slowly trying to build up the confidence to start our new natural body care business venture.

I don't know if I'd have ever guessed (merely dreamed) at any age that by 31 I'd be:

  • Still living in my quirky, historic, beautiful bohemian Riverside, Jacksonville neighborhood
  • Owning a brick and mortar SHOP in my childhood favorite neighborhood/artsy area
  • AND doing exceptionally well with it + making big plans for expansion
  • A Team-builder, boss and employer
  • Eating SUPER-healthy; feeling younger/fitter each year vs. all-burger-all-the-time eating days
  • Owner of my own apothecary (dream since very young) sharing holistic care with 100s weekly
  • Constantly surrounded by interesting creative people at outdoor markets and business events
  • Constantly making sales and running my most successful business to date, the cumulative experiences of my creative experimenting paying off at last.

It's taken hard times to get here and we're still, of course, ramping up. I went broke during my transition, living off savings because I knew in my heart I had to, that I would figure things out with just a little more patience. I got used to living on the most extreme frugal lifestyle so everything could go to my new business. 

The past few years there were lots of times were I would feel hopeless, like I'd never be successful or get out of on and off creative slumps.

This weekend was a huge record sales breaker and all our data shows it's going to keep going like this.

25-30 feels like a blur. What stands out starkly in that haze are the huge risks. All the times I was scared or hurt but kept going, these are the events and experiences that paid off. The true growth zone stuff. These are what slows down time, having these missions are what makes life worth living. Having the store keeps me in that challenge zone. I lost my keys until a few minutes ago, (haha) I'm typing this between helping my team re-stocking the store, but I'm really living! 

The mid to late 20s was a lot of learning hard lessons that are paying off now. I'm enjoying rolling into the thirties with more wisdom. Now I just need some more time to craft and travel, haha... :)

Note: I had lots of posts ready to go for October but I've had lots of on-and-off trouble with the web, some possibly still Hurricane related. I update my Body&Soul Instagram regularly, I also have a personal Instagram. Our store website is here and our online store is here. 

For daily updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow me on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Vintage Halloween Decorating 2017: Retro Halloween Finds and Childhood Favorites


The best time of the year is back, it's October! This year I didn't wait and put most of my decorations up late September. I also get to decorate a local shop and LOTS of outdoor markets and pop-ups this year, too! I'm overdue for Halloween crafting and decor hunting, if I can get it in.

I thought I'd share some quick shots of my decor so far for 2017. This is a mix of stuff I've found while thrifting the past year and other things from my childhood.

And you just can't go wrong with mini haystacks.

I crafted the banner above last year. I need to make more of these!

Can't go wrong with Pumpkins and plants.

It looks I'll be out tomorrow to get a few more little things like replacements for my pumpkin and eyeball string lights, I can't wait to hook them up at art walk. Now's also he time to hit up flea markets and thrift stores, the hidden Halloween goods make their way out for purchase! Hopefully you get in some Halloween gatherings and explorations this season, we'll be doing a LOT of business events but I'm going to try my best to fit them in. There's a definite spooky and fun one I'm mixing with business at the end of the month.
For daily updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow me on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Business Update June - August: A Summer of Growth (and Succulents!) for Body&Soul

By the end of the summer we'd racked up more markets and events than ever. For September we had 16 market days scheduled though 3 were cancelled due to weather concerns. August (and even September so far) have had some record-breaking sales days. I've also realized just how routine everything's getting. Early this year I was staying in the store until 3AM trying to play catch-up. I often couldn't sleep before new markets because of the anxiety. Now I leave right when store hours end, we're far more caught-up on things, and I'm sleeping like normal again! Of course there's still problems and stressors like all start-up shops and businesses face, but still, the growth is promising.

I'll just share some bullet-points here:

- We recently had a product and a blurb about our shop featured on our local news. Seen here

- I hosted my first Succulent planting class as part of a collaboration with a local succulent grower. I learned some pointers on not killing the precious succulent babies I think I'll have to share on the blog. It's given me big-time inspiration with filling any vessel I can with loads of the beautiful desert plants.

- Damn you Florida weather, we had lots of outdoor events cancelled due to the rain all summer long with the max amount being three this week. It's great our sales were still better than ever despite this.

Our finished pots

- We now have an ad in our local Natural Awakenings magazine and host a couple of monthly open houses and tea tastings. I made some new tea blends too which is always exciting.

- Behind-the-scenes I've been writing and plotting. I'm sleeping normally I'm waking up early and having lots of tarot-studying, journaling, self-improvement journaling time and even some meditation time at night, which is nice. It doesn't make all the stress and problems go away of course but still, so much better than it was earlier this year.

The past few months have just been a lot of making stuff, packing it up for markets, taking it to markets, selling it, packing it down, rinse, repeat, save for our short eclipse reprieve. It's been so busy time's flown since May and my last business update, yet we've grown so much in terms of getting experienced that June feels like ages ago.

Another note on summer, it's been raining nearly every day here. As I type this it's raining hard outside my store's door. It's been a relaxing season to work, though. The view of the rain and wind from my store window makes the interior cozy. I put a short video above. One of these days I want to just set up a tripod and record the beautiful Florida rain. (Although there's already a very nice one here.)

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I update frequently on my Body&Soul and sometimes (haha) on my personal Instagram. Our online shop of natural goodies is here.

If you're in the path of Hurricane Irma (currently heading our way where I'm located in Florida, USA) I hope you stay safe!
For daily updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow me on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Great American Eclipse 2017: A Short Savannah Stay and Eclipse Viewing Mini-Vacay

This past Sunday we stayed in Savannah, Georgia so we could drive to South Carolina the next day to be in the line of Totality for the 2017 solar eclipse! Clouds came and completely obscured the sun right in time for the total eclipse, haha! But it was still amazing to be there and nice to get a short break. We've been working nonstop in the shop and doing pop-ups like crazy and even a one-day break is helpful for coming back to home and work with a different perspective amid chaos.

Staying at  and photographing hotels is a favorite passtime. I'm a rolling stone gypsy at heart! This Travelodge in Savannah Georgia wasn't bad for the price. The indoor salt water pool was closed though, boo!

An awesome thing about running a natural body care shop and business, right before we left I grabbed a bunch of our goodies so make my hotel room stay spa like, short though it was. Coming back home after a hotel say gives you a fresh perspective. Inspired to get to work on lots of kits and travel sets for the shop.

The next day after not enough sleep (boo again, the breakfast wasn't worth getting up for, note to self for next trip, sleep the hell in!) we drove until we were well into the path of totality for seeing the eclipse and luckily found parking in the packed rest stop, haha.

This is a quick shot AJ took of me setting up the camera. Poor AJ, what an unflattering shot of him, haha, but I liked the moment.

And a quick bad shot of the eclipse with the eclipse glasses we bought over the camera lens. You couldn't look at the sun and see it (ah, your poor eyes!) but it was neat to watch the moon slowly create a crescent sun when wearing the correct protective eyewear! It was like phases of the sun.

Then right before totality was going to begin the clouds came and completely obscured the sun, haha!

It started slowly getting darker. The street lights came on. People took our their cameras.

Above is the sky with the eclipse at totality. It didn't get pitch black like we thought it would. It was still neat to the sky so dark at 2:30 in the afternoon.

Above a crane operator snaps some shots. The sky was beautiful! It wasn't twilight or golden hour colors. The tints were different. You can't predict the future, but AJ and I hope to be around and together for the next American Eclipse in 2024. We'll fly out to Texas where it starts and where it hopefully won't be cloudy, haha ;)

Did you get to see any part of The Great American Eclipse of 2017?
For daily updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow me on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Our New One-Eared Cat: Yack the Black Tail. Adventures in Stray Adoption.

Our household now has two cats! Marianne (my roommate) named him Meow but I call him Squeak, Squeaker or Yack because he has a raspy barely-there meow from talking too much, according to the Vet. AJ calls him "Black Tail".

Black tail fits because he's a raggedy pirate cat.

We let him in one rainy day when he came meowing to our door. He's missing half his right ear, he had fleas, flea allergies, and a hole in his paw. He's also missing a lot of his teeth.

He was aged between 7-9. You can tell he's been through a lot in his life.

Yack is mostly mild-mannered except when it comes to food. He begs for it all day! If you leave food alone for a moment he will swipe it up in his mostly toothless jaws in a moment and chow down! The vet says this is from his rough life outdoors. He never knew when he was going to eat again so he's always searching for food. We may never train that opportunistic eating out of him.

The photo above is a rare example of Yuko and Yack actually being near each other peacefully, Yuko's still territorial and fighting with him a couple of months later. Regardless of the adjustments, I feel good that Yack's off the streets and being fed and watered regularly. If anyone has tips on getting two cats acclimatized to each other or abating the hunger of a forever-ravenous cat, let me know!
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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What I've Learned the Hard Way - Focus on Self-Care: Rituals for Health and Wellness

We've been selling our natural body care wares since 2015! I dove into herbalism study starting late December ‘14 during a difficult, transitional period in my life. A couple of years (and certifications in Clinical Herbalism, Medical Aromatherapy, Reiki, and much more along the way) we turned our frequent pop-ups into a local brick&mortar and online store!

Along the way I learned, more than ever, personally and via our customers, how important self-care is in our busy, modern, stressful world.

My self-care drawer with essential oils, gemstones, incense, sage, palo santo, resins, taort cards & items from my reiki class

In fact, self-care was everything they needed. It is now the cornerstone of my business.

When customers and visitors smell our essential oils infused oils, inhalers, soaps and incenses I watch them light up. They smile, they’re transported. For a moment they forget the stresses in their lives. Work, family, kids, bosses, money, it all melts away.

Our number one selling product* is our anxiety essential oil inhaler, infused with antidepressant may chang essential oil. The tiny molecules cross the blood-brain barrier and are processed by the limbic system quickly, I watch people instantly perk-up. (And yes, when things are tough with the business, I want to walk around with our anxiety inhaler shoved up my nose! I advise people not to do that!)
(*Our deodorant & charcoal tooth scrub is also popular! Triple tie?)

Running a store can be stressful. Running one where you HAND CREATE, design, label, and bottle all the merchandise inside (though I pay my mom and eldest niece to help me, thank you mom for your beautiful soap, bath bomb, and bug spray formulations) is LUDICROUS. I’ve learned the hard, painful way, why people tend to order the stuff for their store instead of making it themselves. There were too many 3am to 4am nights stuck working for me early on. And this is when I learned the hard way to re-embrace self-care rituals; not just encouraging this for others, but healing myself.

When I worked in an office as a copywriter I had a favorite work ritual. I got up early enough to beat (most) of the traffic and was the first person to get to the office. The lights were off, the office was zen and peaceful without the hustle and bustle of my coworkers. I used the porcelain Japanese tea set in my cubicle (on a silver, tray, even!) to make a delicious tea and sipped that while checking e-mails and writing, easing into the day.

The quiet time with my tea was healing.

Self-care rituals are as simple or involved as you want them to be. It’s burning sage and journaling before or after work, taking a hot bath with your favorite bath bomb or making sure you have regular spa, yoga, or friend hangout days scheduled.

When you take the time for Self-Care you life transforms. There will still be problems or stressors, but you will handle them better. You’ll be happier when you're working smarter and not harder, and MUCH more productive, ironically! When you get to a certain level with your Self-Care you’ll feel like you’re floating, not walking around. Yes, without drugs! Ha!

Get your tea mugs and journals ready and start mapping out some free time for self-care. I’m excited to share that bounty of self-care information with you.

I’ve spent a lot of this year behind-the-scenes writing loads of informative posts on how to use herbs and essential oils for healing. These are informative and scientific posts like what type of incenses to use to calm your nervous system (herbal classification: nervines). They’re posts on easy rituals to incorporate into your life that heal your body and soul.

Come back to read them. Treat yourself to self-care. You deserve it.
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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Why I'm Grateful we Started Our Retail Store the Broke No-Money Way

We started our retail store without a bunch of money in the bank, and I'm so grateful we did. Hell, the first half-year in I wish we'd have spent even less!

In The Seven Laws of Money, Michael Phillips writes about his experience giving grants. He noted churches, nonprofits, businesses and organizations that received them more often that not, failed. He learned from it and didn't give grants to beginners anymore. Instead he gave them advice: grow your audience first. You need a following, your buyers, your people, to grow.

Your loyal followers will keep you in business, not start-up money. You have to go out there and find them. My copy of the book was from 1974 but the same principles apply. Now we have social media to help us find thousands of followers easier than ever before.

98% of our store's retail displays were free or from my apartment. It's FAR from my intended vision for the store but It still earns us hundreds and let's us grow so we can replace everything with our dream retail displays down the road.

Furthermore, especially as a beginner, if you have the money, you're more likely to spend it on non-essentials. And probably on things you don't absolutely need. But when you're a lean small business without that capital you're going to learn to spend on only what you need. You'll retain those lessons, remaining a smart business spender even when your business has more capital to play with.

About five years ago I got a check in the mail for $15,000 to start a vintage retail store with a couple of friends. The check bounced when my investor ran into trouble with the IRS. I'm confident we'd have squandered those thousands on non-essentials as overwhelmed 20-something creatives with ample talent but insufficient business smarts, just liked Phillips describes in his book. I'm grateful for our slow, low-cost start-up, it's already paying off beautifully and giving us room to keep growing!

Being broke doesn't have to be a curse. Sometimes it's your biggest advantage as a new business owner.
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