Thursday, November 12, 2009

MY BUSINESS IS GETTING A MAKE OVER

I went from crazy, over the top, ready to sell anything I could make business woman in the early 2000's to no business woman at all. After my mom died in 2007 my life took major turns. Some I was prepared for and some... well... not so prepared for. I tried holding onto the business end of myself but completely lost it. I didn't really want to make anything, just pretended like I did. I thought if I pretended than it really meant I wanted to but... we all know how that can go.

The last 2.5 years have been full of learning experiences. A lot has happened, most of which would bore you all so I won't share it. I've even had people come IN and then OUT of my life recently that strangely impacted my view of myself and my view of the world. I actually can say with 100% certainty that I'm happy and feel energized all over again. With that said, I'm back to business and for starters, I have a new improved permanent logo.

I've gone through a few logo changes and although the others were adorable I learned that the first wasn't copyrighted to me - which is no good, the 2nd was cute but cute isn't going to represent my business well. I ask the designer of my new logo to give me something whimsical but professional. I wanted a fairy but it had to look like a logo and not just a piece of art. She did great. More than great, it is perfect. Here it is:



I also have a new website but haven't quite uploaded anything yet. That will be the next step. Still trying to figure out the "cart" part of the site. Slowly but surely. I'm in school now and trying to get inventory stocked, so it will take a while.

The business card is all finished:




I've received multiple shipments of supplies and it is time to get really busy creating and marketing myself again. The good thing is, those who loved my products before still love them. Those who don't know them definitely will very soon :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

UNDER THE WILLOW SENT ONE OF HER GIFTS

So no, I couldn't take a single picture of Carrie's laundry soap that would do it justice. So I'll just have to convey my excitement and the beauty of her product through words.
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Carrie from Under the Willow Gifts sent me some samples of her natural laundry detergent recently and the only reason I dragged my feet on blogging about it is because I can't take good pictures. Seriously! I always manage to buy the wrong camera... either that or I just have absolutely no talent for taking pictures.

I'll be honest, when I received Carrie's natural laundry soap it looked and smelled fantastic but I doubted its ability to maintain that great scent throughout the washing cycle. I've used natural laundry soaps for years and I've never had any luck getting the scent to stick when I put my clothing in the dryer. When my clothes are hung on the line, they smell wonderful but the dryer sucks every little bit of fragrance right out of the clothes before they finish drying.

When Carrie's package arrived I was eager to use it right away. Sadly, all I had to wash were towels and I always dry towels in the dryer since I haven't found the cure for line drying towels and having them NOT dry crunchy and scratchy (any tips???)

I felt like I was wasting this great product on my towels cause I really wanted the scent to linger after I washed but... I REALLY WANTED to try the laundry soap.

Ah well, life is about sacrifices right?!?

I chose the cambridge rum scent. They all smelled beautiful but cambridge rum is my favorite. My 9 year old was equally as excited as I was, she loves when packages arrive, so she took the first picture of the laundry soap in hand.

Shock #1, when I pulled the towels from the washer they had a beautiful light scent of cambridge rum. I held on to one of the towels for a minute or two because I knew once I tossed them into the dryer that the scent would be gone :( I even hemmed and hawed about possibly just putting them on the line so they'd still smell pretty when they dried but I couldn't stand the idea of drying myself with a hard towel later.

Shock #2, I'd gone out back for something and I could smell the light fragrance of cambridge rum coming from the dryer vent. Wow! I was impressed. It was about 20 minutes into drying time and I could still smell it.

Shock #3, after 40 minutes of drying on low heat I pulled my towels from the dryer. To my surprise they smelled beautiful. The cambridge rum scent hung in there for the long haul. I love that the scent isn't perfumy or overbearing, it was just perfect. I think I talked about it all day long to whomever would listen about how great this natural laundry soap is.

Shock #4, The ultimate shock was how soft the towels felt. Now, I said that my towels are softer when dried in the dryer as oppose to the line but they aren't VERY soft. I don't use fabric softeners so I don't get that fluffy soft that one would get with something like downy. I've tried natural fabric softeners but they don't seem to do much except add a fragrance. My towels felt soft, much softer than they ever were before, which makes for a very happy household because we all love soft things over here.

Of course, I used up all 3 packages of laundry soap samples that day. I decided I needed to wash bed sheets and a few other things. Never have I been so eager to wash. Now at least I know where to buy a laundry soap I can be happy with.

Thank you Carrie for sending me the samples and the beautiful wash cloth. I have the bar of soap sitting on my kitchen sink, we all love washing our hands with it. It has a wonderful fragrance and feels really nice.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

BEFORE YOU REACH FOR THE HAND SANITIZIER…


Or antibacterial soap, think twice. As I mentioned in a previous post, antibacterial soaps contain an ingredient called Triclosan. Did you know that Triclosan is a pesticide? CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

Triclosan is known to weaken the immune system, not something you want to do during flu season. Your goal should be to strengthen your immune system since it is that very system which will keep the flu at bay or make you strong enough to make it through if you do manage to catch the virus.

Triclosan can cause birth defects and uncontrolled cell growth. Not only will you find this in your soaps and sanitizers but it is also in some brands of toothepaste, cosmetics, deoderants, etc… ALWAYS CHECK THE LABEL!

But what if Tricolan isn’t the active ingredient, such as in hand sanitizing gel? Most hand sanitizers contain 60-90% ethyl or isopropyl alcohol. If they don’t contain the high percentage they aren’t affective at killing bacteria. The main danger associated with hand sanitizers is ingestion by children. Not just a small child drinking it but an older child using the gel before lunch, touching their food and than ingesting it. It has also been reported that children who have licked their hands after using a hand sanitizer have become gravely ill.

READ SANJE GUPTA OF CNN's OPINION ON THIS

Alcohol also dries the skin. I don’t know about the rest of you but the last thing I want to do is have my kids use a product that dries their hands out when we already live in a climate that is very drying in the winter months.

READ THE INFO AT OSHA ON THE DANGERS OF ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL

What alternative do you have when it comes to protecting your kids from the flu? There are three great ways of staying healthy through the flu season (in no particular order):

#1 - Frequent hand washing. This is the best way to avoid viruses. Wash your hands often using soap and water.

#2 - Strengthen your immune system: Reduce your sugar intake. Get good rest. Avoid stress. Exercise. Eat lots of healthy fruits and vegetables, especially garlic and onions. If you aren’t getting enough vitamin C than take a supplement.

#2 - Create your own antibacterial hand sanitizer. Anne Marie from Brambleberry has some antibacterial recipes on her blog using antimicrobials like cinnamon or antivirals like tea tree. NOTE: Cinnamon bark oil is an irritant and sensitizer, if used topically it must be used at no more than than 0.1% CLICK HERE FOR RECIPES

Other antivirals include: lavender, melissa, lime, lemon
Other antimicrobials: lemon, rosemary, myrrh
Other antibacterial: neroli, melissa, lime, lemon

My own children use a mixture of EO’s in a spray bottle and use it on their hands and face throughout the day at school. A colorful bottle with a great blend of EO’s makes for a child eager to use whatever is created.

NOTE: Make sure the EO's you use and the dilution rate is safe if your creation is for children, elderly, pregnant women, or those with particular health issues.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

THE ART OF BLENDING


I think anyone that works with essential oils knows that over half the fun is blending to create ones own scent. In my aromatherapy certification course we were challenged into creating a blend that not only smelled the way we wanted it to but would accomplish what we needed it to as well.

I've played with blends since the day I learned that essential oils existed but never did I create a blend for anything other than scent (except maybe bug repellent). Talk about difficult. My entire class spent 2 hours (first) deciding on what we needed a blend for, (second) what essential oils would accomplish what we needed and then (third) having that mix of EO's have a pleasing smell. The blend could be based on a physical (like for flu, arthritis, cramps, etc...), psychological or emotional need. I chose emotional & psychological. I needed to create a blend that would help me focus while I meditated. To help me feel calm and relaxed, reduce my anxieties, and bring about creative thoughts. To accomplish this I chose 4 EO's: Rosemary, Bergamot, Vetiver, and Chamomile. Sadly, I don't like the smell of chamomile and rosemary is overpowering. I was also being a little OCD making sure I had at least one EO from the top note, middle note and base note. Plus, I wanted a blend that didn't leave one EO as the dominant scent. Yes... it took forever! But, out of 25 people only 1 person ended up not loving their blend and thankfully it wasn't me. I ended up with something so beautiful I plan on using it in my soap.

For those interested in blending their EO's but not sure where to begin.

Top notes: usually evaporate within 1-2 hours
Middle notes: usually evaporate within 2-4 hours
Base notes: Take the longest time to evaporate and are considered the stabilizers of the blend.

When creating a blend for the first time it is recommended starting small, no more than 3 different EO's.

My instructor suggests the following ratio for beginners when creating a scent blend: 30% top notes, 50% middles notes and 20% base notes.

According to Salvatore Battaglia, author of The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy:

Floral notes blend best with woody, fruity, sweet and musty notes.
Green notes blend with any essential oil but are best used in small amounts.
Herbaceous notes blend best with camphoraceous and wood notes.
Spicy notes blend with any note but should be used in small amounts.
Woody notes blend well with any notes.
Earthy notes can blend with any notes but should be used in small amounts.


Caution using EO's with the elderly, children, pregnant woman, and those with certain health issues (i.e, epileptics, those on blood thinners, etc...)

Learn all you can about essential oils before you use them. They can create beautiful fragrances but they are also powerful medicines.

and... HAVE FUN! It is very rewarding to create something you love and that other people find pleasing as well :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

SOAP: LIQUID vs. BAR

Yuck, who would want to use bar soap? They are full of germs. It isn't as clean as using liquid soap! I'm not risking my health, sorry."


A friend actually said this to me once when I tried to give her a bar of soap. She asked "what would I do with it, I can't use it to clean my hands or my body."

After that experience and of course realizing that so many people prefer liquid over bar, I started thinking about why most people turned away from bar soap and instead reach for the commercial liquid soap. Is it the convenience of the pump bottle? Is it seriously because more germs hang around on a bar of soap as oppose to the bottle of liquid soap? Numerous questions abound. But... what are the facts?

Here are the top reasons I've found that make people choose liquid soap over bar soap:

Myth: There isn't any lather in a bar of soap.
Fact: Detergent bars (those bars masquerading as soap) - you know them... ahem - DOVE, cough cough - OIL OF OLAY), can have a limited amount of suds. But they aren't real soap. That is why they don't have the word "SOAP" printed on their packaging. Real soap, those made from handmade soapmakers can have anywhere from very little suds to a massive amount of suds. I create a bar for my kids that I wrap in a muslin bag, hang below the faucet while running a bath, and it fills the entire tub with suds for a great bubble bath.

Myth: You feel cleaner after using liquid soap. Bar soap leaves a residue behind.
Fact: I've never heard anyone complain about feeling dirty after using handmade soap. One of the greatest benefits of using natural handmade soap is having healthy oils like olive, coconut, almond, avocado, etc... on your skin. Sometimes with the added benefit of herbs and essential oils. It is true that detergent bars leave an uncomfortable residue but that is because of the chemical ingredients they use to make the bar hard, to preserve and bind it. A healthy natural bar of soap won't leave a sticky residue on your skin. It will feed your skin.

Myth: The price of liquid soap is much better than that of a bar soap.
Fact: It depends on how one would measure "price." If price is solely determined by your pocket book, than yes, I'm sure it costs less to buy a bottle of liquid soap. Most liquid soaps cost anywhere from $2.50 - $5.00 depending on their size and manufacturer. A bar of soap generally costs between $3 and $7 a bar (depending on weight and the soapmaker). I don't measure price by cost, I measure price by health and environment. Our environment pays a hefty price for all the plastic liquid soap bottles we toss into the landfills. Sure you can buy a giant refill bottle but you will eventually toss that and toss the broken down pump bottle, but a bar of soap will get used and leave nothing behind. Liquid commercial soaps also have quite a bit of chemicals in them that can be absorbed through the skin and potentially harm your health.

Myth: Bar soaps are loaded with germs. You couldn't use the same soap for all family members like you can liquid soaps.
Fact: According to a 1988 study, prewashed and softened commercial soap bars were inoculated with E. coli and P. aeruginosa bacteria at 70 times as high as those reported on used soap bars, 16 people washed their hands with the inoculated bars.

“After washing, none of the 16 panelists had detectable levels of either test bacterium on their hands,” the researchers wrote. “These findings, along with other published reports, show that little hazard exists in routine handwashing with previously used soap bars and support the frequent use of soap and water for handwashing.”


To my friend I say this. Don't be fooled by marketing gimicks. The main reasons liquid soaps became so popular, beginning in the 70's, was because of their appearance. They didn't dissolve the way bar soaps do, but instead came in pretty appealing bottles. Those pretty liquid handsoap bottles soon became liquid body soap bottles. In later years the selling point was "antibacterial" and it worked. Triclosan is the most widely used anti bacterial ingredient in liquid hand soaps, which by the way has a hazard score of 7 on the cosmetic safety database site, with 10 being the worst. We've now heard that the over use of antibacterial products kills healthy germs with bad germs. In short, we've become victims of mass marketing.

Sure, we all need to market what we are selling, but shouldn't our marketing be honest? I believe a bar of soap can sell itself if people take the time to really learn how wonderful it is. Don't be afraid to ask what ingredients are in the handmade soap you'd like to buy, you will be able to read and understand what is on the label, unlike with commercial products. A bar of soap is a luxury for the skin and great for the environment... can a commercial liquid soap honestly state that?

One last thought: if you just can't seem to part with your liquid soap at least go natural. There are great all natural liquid soaps available.

Interesting reading:

ARTICLE 1
ARTICLE 2

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

THINK BEFORE YOU GO PINK


Although I'm sure this post will cause some controversy I still feel I must share it. Besides, I'm not one to shy away from controversy. LOL!

In 2000 my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had the cancer for a year, a lump in her breast, but didn't mention it to anyone. Literally a year from the date she first found the lump the cancer errupted through the breast and came out of the body. It was then that I learned of her cancer and begged her to seek treatment. She sought treatment and after 8 months of battling, she won. She didn't die until 2007.

Shortly after my mothers successful battle with breast cancer she showed me an article she had, not sure where it came from, about how the brochure the hospital staff at the breast center had given her showing all the wonderful things she could buy to help deal with the effects of chemotherapy actually contained items that caused cancer. Not only that, many of the companies contributing to cancer research were actually profiting off those who had cancer. I remember not being too surprised since much of the article had targeted chemicals in cosmetics and how the American Cancer Association would push specific products through advertisement on cancer patients, all in the name of making the patient feel better. Somehow I managed to shut this all out of my mind and move on.

Recently it has come to my attention again since a dear friend is taking care of her aunt who is battling cancer. She called and asked if I had heard about the controversy related to cancer research, something she had just learned. Since I hung up the phone with her I decided to share what I know about this with the blogging world since I'd want to be told if I wasn't aware.

The gist of it all:
"The Cancer Industry consists of corporations, organizations and agencies that diminish or mask the extent of the cancer problem, fail to protect our health, or divert attention away from the importance of finding the causes of breast cancer and working to prevent the disease. This includes drug companies that, in addition to profiting off cancer treatment drugs, sometimes also produce toxic chemicals that may be contributing to the high rates of cancer in this country and increasing rates throughout the world. It also includes the polluting industries that continue to release substances we know or suspect are dangerous to our health, and the public relations firms and public agencies who protect these polluters. The Cancer Industry includes organizations like the American Cancer Society, that downplay the risk of cancer from pesticides and other environmental factors, and who historically have refused to take a stand on environmental regulation."
READ MORE FACTS HERE

THINK BEFORE YOU GO PINK which is part of THE BREAST CANCER ACTION GROUP is trying to shed light on this issue.

It reminds me of when I learned that my products were actually tested on animals and the awful things the lab tech's would do to those innocent creatures. You feel like it is too horrific to be true but deep down you know there is no denying it.

"During the month of October, pink ribbons everywhere remind us to race, drive, cook and shop for the cure. But where did the pink ribbon come from?

In the early 1990s, 68-year-old Charlotte Haley began making peach ribbons by hand in her home. Her daughter, sister and grandmother all had breast cancer. She distributed thousands of ribbons at supermarkets with cards that read: “The National Cancer Institute annual budget is $1.8 billion, only 5 percent goes for cancer prevention. Help us wake up our legislators and America by wearing this ribbon.”

As the word spread, executives from Estée Lauder and Self magazine asked Haley for permission to use her ribbon. Haley refused, and Self magazine was startled by Haley's answer. “She wanted nothing to do with us. Said we were too commercial.” But they really wanted to have her ribbon. They consulted their lawyers and were advised to come up with another color. They chose pink, a color that focus groups say is ‘soothing, comforting and healing’—everything breast cancer is not. Soon Charlotte Haley’s grassroots peach ribbon was history, and the pink ribbon became the worldwide symbol for breast cancer.

Breast cancer has become the darling of corporate America. Companies use the pink ribbon to sell their products and boost their image with consumers as they boost their bottom line. Meanwhile, breast cancer rates continue to rise every year. Ending the breast cancer epidemic will take more than just pink ribbons and awareness. Learn more about pink ribbon marketing and what you can do to help create real change to end the breast cancer epidemic."


I urge you to read on, take from it what you will. I'm grateful that this information is becoming more widely spread and those with cancer and their loved ones are being informed.

I'll end with this case in point:
(during breast cancer awareness month 2009) In the Pink for a Cure Collection, 15% of your purchase of authentic designer perfumes by Ralph Lauren, Kathy Hilton and others goes to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Save on your order with FragranceNet coupons.

When you crave the alluring scents of Burberry, Lacoste or Valentino, shop at Perfume.com and feel good about it as you're supporting a great cause

Fabulous Savings