The serious business of ‘business’

I keep thinking I’m missing something…..because business is so very very serious right? Wrong. Or at least, wrong in my case.

I’m sure it doesn’t need to be. I actually really enjoy it. And mess it up. And make it right again. And fumble around trying to understand it.

I don’t ‘power dress’. Or pay for PR. Or wear sky scraper heels (is that what business women do…..? I don’t know). I feel very intimidated by those types of ladies. And by men in suits for that matter.

And I don’t lie awake thinking about it. Or worrying about how to make more money (ha!) or find more customers, or beat the competition, or ‘put myself out there’.

I don’t have a marketing plan. Or a business plan for that matter. I’m not sure I know what SEO stands for (……joking….I do really….kinda).

I just like it. And have a bit of fun. And enjoy making stuff. And meeting people. A friend and I were chatting (…..’a meeting’…..) yesterday and we decided that marketing is just about ‘relationships’. Meeting folk, showing them your stuff, being nice.

Just relax everyone will you?

I don’t need a master class on recognising my USPs, or ‘finding a niche’, or ‘dressing for success’, or some other crap. I just make stuff. You might like it. Take a look 🙂

 

Advertisements

10 best baby toys

I’m by no means an expert on baby toys, but I know what my kids have loved. Here’s my top 10:

1. Wooden baby gym. Don’t bother with any of these cloth ‘arches’. Go straight for the robust wooden ones. There’s some beautiful types of wooden baby gyms out there, but you can’t beat the ikea one. It’s cheap, sturdy, and easy to sell on.

2. Wooden baby beads. As well as looking pretty, they’re great for teething/chewing on. Held together by an elastic string, they can be stretched apart and manipulated. Great for developing those grasp/grips/fine motor skills.

image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Mobile. You know you don’t need to spend a fortune on an ‘all singing, all dancing’ musical mobile. Babies love to watch anything thats moving. Amazon sell a great ‘crib mobile attachment clamp’ to which you can attach any mobile at all. Choose something you think looks pretty. I’ve got a range and I swap them over from time to time – a wooden dinosaur one, a capiz shell one (sounds gorgeous) and a one made out of old CDs tied together (great for catching/reflecting the light).

4.  Rainmaker. These sound great and are pretty easy for little ones to grab, roll along the floor, pick up.

image

 

 

5. Door bouncer. Good old Lindam. Baby number two predictably LOVES throwing himself around whilst hanging from the door frame by elastic. Hilarious to watch, if nothing else.

6. Nursing necklace. Why didn’t I know about these when my first was a baby?! These are amazing pieces of kit and I wouldn’t be without one now. It’s become natural to pop one on when I get up in the morning, and there’s some gorgeous ones out there. Check out etsy for some lovely handmade ones. Baby can fiddle, chew, pull on, play with – all whilst they’re comfortably sat on your hip, or cuddled in for a feed. Perfect.

imageimageimageimage

 

 

7. Cot gym. Heimess do a great little cot gym. It’s the same principle as the baby gym but it can be tied to a cot, a pram, a car seat – so really portable. And pretty to boot! 

8. Puppet. We have a great little puppet that comes in very handy for promoting giggles, distracting from tears and introducing foods when weaning. 

9. Cloth books. They are generally filled with crinkly noisy material and in bold contrasting colours. Great to look at, suck on and generally cover with dribble, in our experience.

10. Lamaze octopus. We were given one of these when my first son was born, and it’s now getting used a lot again second time around. Fabulous and for my money, it’s the best Lamaze pram toy around. Loads to chew on, very colourful, noisy/crinkly and it doesn’t hurt when it gets bashed on your face (bonus!).

 

The craftsman vs the retailer

It’s dawning on me that there is a huge conflict of interests between ‘craft’ and ‘business’.

I make my natural products because i LOVE it.

I love my beautiful little studio. I love the big pot of herby tea i always brew when i first get in there – and manage to drink whilst still warm (other mums will understand the rarity of this). I love listening (uninterrupted) to the radio. I love gazing out of the window onto the leafy park below. Watching the seasons change month by month. I love putting on one of my many aprons, and rolling up my sleeves, switching on the huge weighing scales and measuring out great hunks of butters and waxes. Heating up the stockpots and stirring in the oils.

Carefully does it. A tiny little at a time. Only at the optimum temperature – otherwise the oils spoil. I am engrossed in the process. Watching the pot, watching the clock, eye on the temperature. And when it works – its fantastic. Something i’ve created from my bare hands. The joy of ‘being’ the process – from start to finish. I think its called ‘flow’.  (check out Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, hungarian psychologist, and his theories of ‘flow’, ‘happiness’ and ‘creativity’).

And i also do it because i believe what i’m making is beautiful, and lovely and so so deliciously gentle and nourishing. Its perfect. Or it is to me…..

Image

And then there’s retailing. A whole different species.

The focus in retail seems to be gaining as much benefit (i.e. profit) as you can with the least effort possible. Maximise profit, minimise cost. Yeah, i understand that. I mean, i understand the concept, and i understand why people would want to subscribe to that concept. But i’m afraid, that just aint my driving force.

I’ve been asked by a retailer (a really big one at that) to make a liquid baby wash. Unfortunately i have a couple of issues with this, and as such, will be unable to satisfy that request.

I do not make anything that has a water content. This a conscious choice for me, for two reasons.

1.If you include water in a product, you risk it developing bacteria. Any product that has water present therefore requires a preservative. Some modern synthetic (i.e. chemical) preservatives have been shown to cause various health problems. I dont do chemicals on my skin….

2. I have a moral issue with water based products. They are mostly water. And you the consumer are paying through the nose for that water. Its the biggest money-spinner around.

So y’see – business/retail/selling doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m afraid i have too strong a moral compass to concentrate solely on the cash.

I’m hoping my little crafty natural skincare business will do well on the strength of its quality products. I’m not out to make a fast buck. Aren’t we all supposed to be in this together?