Friday, September 30, 2011

Every problem, Mr. Higgins, is an opportunity in disguise

You can't make everything perfectly every time. You can try your best, but we humans are messy, imperfect creatures, which is all part of our charm. Besides, if you never made a mistake, how would you learn? Isn't working toward mastering a discipline all about learning what not to do as much as it is learning the best practices?

So what do you do if you've sold an item to a customer and it breaks, or arrives damaged, or is not what they expected? Do you look at it as a negative judgement on your skills and your worth as a person, or do you take it as an opportunity to learn and improve? It's all too easy to take the first option, but in the end, that doesn't help your customer and it doesn't help you. If you look at a problem not as some huge horrible monster waiting to eat you but instead a new path to create something better, you'll find that you approach it with a much better mindset and you may discover ways to improve your business that you might never have thought of on your own.

As an example, around mid-year I changed silver chain suppliers. The new chain is lovely, but it has a tendency to tangle up a bit if left loose in the jewelry box. A few customers mentioned it to me that their necklaces had arrived tangled, but they were able to fix them easily. I apologized for their trouble and thanked them for the feedback, because I can't fix a problem if I don't know it exists, right? Then I set about fixing it - or in this case attempting to fix it. At first we tried wrapping the chain around a notched business card, and it seemed to work okay - until it didn't. A customer ordered two identical necklaces for her bridesmaids, and somehow, the notched card was shaken loose from her necklaces in transit, and both ended up horribly knotted. I suspect gremlins had something to do with it, the knots were so bad.

Well, her necklaces knotting wasn't her fault. It wasn't strictly my fault either, but there was only one person in this transaction that could take responsibility and fix it. So, I asked her to send the necklaces back to me and I refunded her shipping costs in sending them down to me. When the necklaces arrived, one of them was knotted beyond repair. Even after I got the knot out of the chain, the chain itself was too damaged to keep on the necklace. I wasn't about to send her necklace back with damage. That's not what she paid for, and it's not what I promised her I'd send to her when I originally made the sale. I replaced the chain section and recycled the damaged part into other things after cutting out the damaged links. But one way or another, this chain knotting problem was going to be FIXED.

I set about trying to solve the problem again, and came up with putting the chain in a small plastic baggie that I then taped to the back of the necklace card. Voila! There wasn't enough chain hanging free to knot up, and the structure of the baggie kept the chain from shifting around too much and knotting within the bag. For a few pennies of cost, a plastic baggie and a little scotch tape, my customers have the pretty necklaces they love without the worry of knots in the chain, and I have happier customers. A win-win, in my book.

While not all problems are so easily solved, and not all of them can end in a win-win resolution, approaching that problem as a positive opportunity for growth and change can make the difference between joy in your work or stress from it. I know which path I'd rather choose.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's not personal, it's business

When you have a small business, you walk a fine line between business and personal every day. You want to be friendly and approachable to your customers, and you will often develop personal friendships with them, but there's a line between that person as your friend and that person as your customer. There is also a line between you as a person and you as a business owner, and you must be aware of not only where to draw that line, but which side of it you're on when.

This goes double these days in the age of Etsy, Facebook, Twitter, bloggers and the ubiquitous online culture where a seller in Kentucky can send an item halfway around the world thanks to a few mouse clicks and a Paypal account.

If you are a maker and seller of things, you have to realize that you are the business. You are the face, the management team, the PR team, the complaints line and the venture capitalist. Suddenly that line between personal and business starts to resemble a tightrope which you are attempting to traverse on a pogo stick.

Business owners are people. We have opinions, beliefs and pet peeves that all have bearing on who we are. We can make great decisions that help spur our business to greater heights of success, or we can make bad decisions that could put our business into financial or legal trouble. As the owner of the business, you get to take all the credit for the good, but you don't get to blame anyone but yourself for the bad. 

It's my belief for my business that I treat people the way I would like to be treated, and that the expectations that I have for a business are the expectations that I should meet or exceed. That means that if I forget part of someone's order and they write me to ask about it, I apologize without excuses and make it right as soon as possible. If someone's item breaks, I repair it, no questions asked and free of charge. It's what I would want, if I were the buyer. My goal is to not just make money on the item I sold, but to leave the buyer with a pleasant, positive experience so that they will enjoy doing business with me perhaps to return - and become a friend.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Updates and various

This will be a short blog post. I have a larger post about how to say "No" graciously in the crafting world, but it's not going to be written tonight.

On Saturday, I became a convert to the cult of Silk Naturals' Idolize eyeshadow. I was wearing a cool light blue top and decided to pair up Benefit's Creaseless Cream Shadow in Birthday Suit all over my eye, with Idolize on top of the lid.

If you like neutrals, you really must give this a try. I can't think of an eye color that this color combination wouldn't flatter, and I've been fighting the urge to wear this color combination every day.

I also picked up my first MAC Paint Pot in Reubenesque. It's a fantastic peachy gold shade that's not TOO gold, so it's very flattering to my skin. When I was in the mall on Sunday, the lady at the Estee Lauder counter was convinced that I was wearing Golden Sands, which is a more sheer metallic gold than Reubenesque. I'd say if you're fair like me and you could only have one of these shades, go with Reubenesque.

I have to say that I like the MAC products I've tried so far, but I really hate going to the MAC counters near me. They're usually super crowded, and if you know what you want to buy, it's a little difficult to get that done. The staff have always been very sweet and helpful, but even with five or more of them working in the teeny tiny store space allotted to the MAC counter, they're usually swamped, so it can take a while to get your one thing and go.

Other than that, it's fall, and I've reverted back to my love of neutrals. I think at heart, I'm really much more of a neutral eye look girl than a brights girl, though I love seeing the bright looks on other people. I think neutrals can be every bit as exciting and fun as brights, and there are some amazing neutrals from Darling Girl CosmeticsSilk Naturals, and Evil Shades.

Okay, so this post was longer than I thought it was going to be.

Monday, September 19, 2011

In the Pink (and the Peach!)

Here is my lovely new hair color, thanks to Joey. Some of the shorter bits near my crown will need to be touched up this weekend, but I'm so happy to have my pink streaks back that it's a minor worry.

We avoided the areas that were most damanged by the failed Cupcake Pink Manic Panic coloring episode, so there are only a few pink pieces in my bangs. I really like it! My base hair color is Garnier #316, Pure Purple. I bribe a dearly beloved Canadian friend to ship me this fabulous purple-black dye in exchange for jewelry.

I am wearing Holika Holika Peach Girl in Shade 02 in these pictures, both BB cream and the cream blusher, plus the Magic Pore Cover Powder. Peach Girl 02 is VERY close to Holika Holika Green (Watery) in tone, and it loves my skin, even more so than Peach Girl 01. I love it right back. It makes getting ready in the morning (and as we know, I am so not a morning person) so much nicer.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Custom OCM Blends from GloryBeHerbals

My friend Jackie at Glory Be Herbals on Etsy has started offering custom OCM oil blends in her shop! If you have wanted to try OCM, this would be a great way to start! Order yours here!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Something old becomes something new

I've added something new to my skincare and makeup regimen this weekend. While researching ways to make your own cosmetic fixing spray, I learned that most recipes for MAC Fix + are one part glycerin to three parts water. Well, I knew from shopping at my local food Co-op, that you can get Rosewater and Glycerin ready made, for about $6.00 for 4 oz. (I'm only linking to the Amazon listing to show you what the bottle looks like, not to endorse that particular seller, as their shipping is WAY high.)

I also did a little research on Burt's Bees Rosewater and Glycerin Toner, which gets high marks for being close in formula to Fix + Rose. I decided to try both, since the outlay was under $20 for both, and both are multitasking products.

Rosewater and Glycerin are said to be great to gently moisturize sensitive, acne prone and mature skin. The bottle at my Co-op was a flip top bottle, but I had a 4 oz. sprayer bottle at home from the set I used to make up my OCM oil blends, so I cleaned it out with alcohol and distilled water, then filled it with the Rosewater and Glycerin. I have a metal aromatherapy spray bottle that I cleaned and used for the Burt's Bees Rosewater and Glycerin toner.

Since I have oily skin and like the soft matte look that my Holika Holika Pore Magic Cover Powder gives me (yes, I will be posting about it later), so I decided to try using the Burt's Bees toner almost like a primer. I gently sprayed my face with the toner, let it air dry, then applied my Holika Holika Watery BB cream, Peach Girl cream blush and Pore Magic Cover Powder. So far today, I have noticed that my makeup has stayed put nicely, and my skin looks somewhat dewey, but not oily. The rosewater scent is also very pleasant. If you decide to try the toner as a makeup fixing spray or primer spray, I'd be extremely careful about spraying it near your eyes due to the alcohol content.

As for the Rosewater and Glycerin, it states the following: "Certified. Soothing and old-fashioned. Skin lotion you can trust. Harsh weather defense. Suggested use: Use as a face and body lotion wherever the skin needs soothing and protection. Shave well before using. Certified by periodic laboratory test to be free of pesticide residues. Seal of approval. Not tested on animals. Atomizer mist sprayer. Contains: Vor-Mag Water (water that has been vortexted and magnetized to raise the energy to a higher vibration that we believe to be more beneficial), Natural Vegetable Glycerin and Hydroessential Rose Oil. Based on the Edgar Cayce Readings."

I'm not sure how much of that claim you'll want to believe, but I do believe that the rosewater is pesticide free and that the glycerin is glycerin, and that both are beneficial to your skin. I am using it as a facial spray after I use my moisturizing oil blend at night. I love the smell of roses, and it makes my skin feel smooth and cool.

So far, I can't complain about the less than $20 I spent to try these two products. When you compare it to the $19 you'd spend on one bottle of MAC Fix +, I consider a thrifty win to get two great smelling, naturally based multitasking products for the same cost.

A side benefit to OCM?

I love nail polish, but that isn't the point of this post. The sad fact is that I haven't been able to wear nail polish for some time now. Firstly because I'm a horrible nail biter and tend to bite my nails off very short and secondly because I'm hypothyroid, and being hypo affects your hair and nail growth. My nails are extremely fragile and extremely brittle, and it gets a little worse every year. These days, I can painfully shatter my fingernails trying to open a cardboard box. Sad but true.

However, while on my way to lunch with Joey today, I noticed something. My nails looked a bit smoother and shinier. A little healthier than usual. The only thing I'm doing differently these days is using OCM to clean my face at night and using oils to moisturize instead of creams. Of course, there's oils left on my fingers during the oil massage and the nightly moisturizing. I wash my hands gently with soap and warm water, but I don't spend a ton of time scrubbing the oils off because I like the way my hands feel after the oils soak in.

So it could be that a side benefit (at least for me) to OCM is a little help for my fragile, brittle nails. I certainly won't complain if that's the case.

Monday, September 5, 2011

OCM - Favorite Oil Blends

I've finally taken the plunge and invested in some small dispenser bottles for my OCM regimen. I've found a few oil blends that I like best for cleansing and moisturizing.

For cleansing, I like a fairly thin oil blend right now, so I'm using 2 parts Grapeseed oil, 1 part Sunflower oil and 1 part Castor oil, with about five drops of lavender essential oil per batch.

I've found that for my face, the lighter the oil blend, the more "scrubby" it is, and the more oil plugs and crud comes out during the oil massage. The only downside is that this blend is not as moisturizing as the previous blends I was using, so I need a few drops of moisturizing oil after I've steamed/cleansed my face.

For moisturizing, I'm using a 1 part Grapeseed oil and 1 part Sweet Almond oil, with about ten drops of a custom essential oil blend that my friend Jackie at Glory Be Herbals made up for me. If you'd like an essential oil blend of your own to use with OCM, contact Jackie through Etsy convo and I'm sure she'll make one for you too. Mine is blended for someone with aging skin, sensitive skin and acne/rosacea. It smells great and I think it has helped my skin improve. I am noticing that my skin is no longer red in the morning (a common side effect of rosacea), and I am not having as many rosacea lesions, even during periods of hormonal imbalance, which used to be an itchy, burning, living hell, let me tell you.

So how much did I make? Truth be told, not much. I think I did three batches of cleansing, and maybe half that much of moisturizing, since I only use a very small bit of the moisturizing blend each night. Still, it should be enough to last me for a week or two, since my standard "part" measure is a teaspoon measure, so each batch makes enough for two washes. I didn't want to make too much at one time.

What about you? What are your favorite OCM oil blends?
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