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?
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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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