Au Naturale Eye Essentials Kit

Monday Morning Musings

Good morning, lovelies! It's Monday, so it's time for me to just sit here and type what's on my mind.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. It was a nice one here. Tom and I went out for "date night" Saturday, which was a great chance to have a long, quiet dinner together. The boys are off all week for Winter Recess, so that quiet evening was really needed before what I anticipate will be a long week!

Last night was amusing. Nick and Ben decided to give me a makeover. I should've taken pictures, but didn't. Maybe next time. Let's say they were liberal with the amount of bronzer on my cheeks and enjoying drawing red lipstick on me. Ben also enjoyed drenching my hair with the water bottle and trying to change my look. It was a success to them--there was an interesting Justin Bieber bangs meets grunge chic meets abstract art look going on.

The boys combed my bangs forward a la Justin Bieber.

I also spent quite a bit of time making new pieces for my jewelry line, mailing orders, and doing other business-related tasks. I also got some fun new additions to add to my order wrapper/packaging drawer. If you've ordered before, you know I use French-themed gift bags. Right now, for example, they are in pinks with the Eiffel Tower. I love to use different ribbons and tags as well and stumbled upon a shop on Etsy called Vintage Bella. I ordered these thank you tags as well as some custom Loubird stickers:

Packaging and presentation is nearly as important as the item being sold. It completes the buyer experience. I am continually trying to step things up and make the buyer experience flawless and exceptional in every way. One goal I have is to have Loubird Handmade  in 12 boutiques by the time Ben starts full days at school in September. One year beyond that, I would like to be in 30 stores. Writing and jewelry are how I make my living so I am able to stay at home with my boys, and adding on more accounts for my jewelry is a strong goal.

It's easier said than done. There's lots to consider--wholesale vs. consignment, location, proper "feel" for the shop. I've had good and bad experiences. Unfortunately, stores can come and go. Sometimes you also have to decide whether a location is the right fit. For example, I had my hair pins in a salon in a great city neighborhood, but it just wasn't the right fit. I pulled them out after about 6-8 weeks.

Then there are stores you may do really well in--for me, Vintage Bliss in Webster, NY and Bento in Honesdale, PA. Both boutiques have closed. So that is two less stores where my line is offered. You all know what happened with the Queen City Emporium in Springfield, Missouri--well over 100 vendors were taken advantage of to the tune of over $55,000 and counting. I had my merchandise there as well. That store is closed as a result. You just cannot predict what will happen. I never thought 1000 Markets would close. Or Lollishops. Or many other online and brick and mortar venues that one enjoys...

On the flip side, though, I will soon be coming to Soulstice Artisan Market in Rochester and have had my line at VIX Emporium in Philadelphia for almost a year. In December, my products came to Southern Fried Studio and Shop in Virginia Beach.

In a way, I learn as I go with this. I've only been in the jewelry business for just over a year. It is very different than the skin care business. I love it. Sadly, I do not think I ever L-O-V-E-D having a skin care business. I love writing about skin care, studying ingredients, and feel passionate about skin care is different than the day to day business aspect.

Coming This Week On C & G:

Look for beauty reviews, a What's In It Wednesday reader request (an Avon item), more Etsy Love features, and a DIY Thursday once again.

Don't forget that our Just Be... giveaway continues and the lucky winner will be drawn Friday night. Click here for details on how to enter.

Also on my mind today...

I'd like to ask for prayers for a very dear friend who is recovering from surgery and is dealing with a cancer diagnosis at age 41. This friend is dear to our hearts and he and his family are close friends of ours. They have three small children and I'd just like to have everyone please keep him in your thoughts. Thank you so much.