Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Why You Should Buy Handmade for the Holidays

There are a lot of reasons to buy handmade as opposed to mass produced, commercial items to give as gifts. As a maker of handmade items (soaps, lotions, and other bath goodies), it's important to me that I put my money where my mouth is and buy handmade for gifts during the holidays and throughout the year. I wanted to share with you some pieces from artists that I've met during my first year in business (and yes, I bought gifts from each one of them...even if some of the "gifts" were for myself!). If you're looking for some ways to shop local, support crafters, and show your gift recipients just how much careful thought you can put into that perfect gift, then read on.

I felt so passionate about buying handmade that I made an infographic about it.
If you knew the extent of my computering skills, you would be super impressed by that. 

Yuko Miki of Honeyberry Studios

Photo by Yuko Miki of Honeyberry Studios. Check out her Etsy shop!

I met Yuko at an event in Ballard this year, and just fell in love with her whimsical designs. From canvas tote bags, to tea towels, to original artwork, Yuko's offerings are functional, fun, and very giftable. Earlier this year I bought a printed notebook from her that I use at events for customers to sign up for my monthly newsletter (which you should totally click here and do right now because I'm about to send out the December newsletter with a really stellar coupon code in it!). Even though I'm really (really, really) bad about getting holiday cards out in the mail, I just bought some of Yuko's Holiday Greeting Cards knowing that I'll be much more likely to actually send them out so that I can share some gorgeous art with my family and friends!

Dan Lecocq of New Leaf Turnings

Photo by Dan Lecocq of New Leaf Turnings. Check out his Etsy shop!

Dan is another artist that I met recently at a holiday themed event. His wood working is so graceful and polished that his Wood Bottle Stoppers stood out in my mind weeks after the event was over as a gift idea for a wine-loving relative. In addition to the wine stoppers, he also makes some really sophisticated pens and bowls. Check out his Etsy site, or for more pictures click here.

Erika Slothower of Sassy Sloth Studios

Photo by Erika Slothower of Sassy Sloth Studios. Check out her Facebook page!

Erika and I met at an event this fall that was really...really...slow. With few customers stopping to smell my soap  or chat about the soap making process, I had a lot of time to look around at what the other vendors were up to. Erika's booth was right across the way from mine, and I absolutely adored her hand drawn tote bags. She does some amazing jewelry, woodwork, and coasters, too! When I was thinking about holiday gifts for a dear relative of mine who I find a little bit difficult to shop for, the gorgeous tote bags came to mind immediately. I contacted Erika on her Facebook page and she graciously did a custom order for me. That's one more holiday gift that I can cross off my list!

Heather Lea Garrick of Heather Lea Garrick Clothing

Photo by Heather Lea Garrick of Heather Lea Garrick Clothing. Check out her Etsy shop!

I met Heather at the same event that I met Yuko! I have to tell you that as a woman of, let's say, Rubenesque proportions (I have a few...ahem...dozen pounds to lose), I rarely browse handmade clothing. It's almost a given that whatever amazing work the artist is doing, it isn't going to fit me. Imagine my delight when I found out that Heather has a line of Voluptuous Yoga Clothing in addition to her other hand painted yoga tops, pants, and jackets! Right now I'm in love with her scarves, which would make a great holiday gift!

Here I am, selling soap in the hand painted shirt I bought from Heather (see it here in her Etsy shop!).

Now that you have some great handmade gift ideas, don't forget to sign up for my monthly newsletter for promo codes, insights into the soap making process, gift ideas, and more!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

6 Ways to Take a Pause from the Holiday Hustle

Between back-to-back craft shows, holiday shopping, custom soap orders, kid activities, and maintaining our house (or trying to), I've been incredibly busy these past few weeks! As my soap making business becomes more and more established, I really wanted to put as much time and effort in during this holiday season as possible. It's been quite a balancing act, too! I love this time of year, and with my kids so young and full of holiday spirit, I really want to savor this time with them. During a recent craft show I had a few slow minutes and started thinking about some of the ways that I like to take a quick pause when I start to feel overwhelmed with tasks, duties, and the regular juggling that comes with being a stay-at-home mom and and fledgling entrepreneur. Bonus: Each and every one of them can be enhanced with your favorite music! Here are some of my favorites (in no particular order).

1. Take a Bath

We had both of our bathrooms remodeled this last spring, which means that our ugly old pink abomination of a bathtub was replaced with a deeper, wider tub. Our new bathtubs have been my saving grace more times than I can count! I've found that there is very a little that a nice warm bath can't fix, and it's especially nice with additives. It sounds really olde time-y, but lately we've been really into using epsom salt in the bath. It's very inexpensive and easy to find at drug stores. Some essential oils for aromatherapy or bath tea would also be a nice, relaxing addition!

2. Breathe (or Meditate)

It's so simple, but sometimes I still have to remind myself to do it. Just breathe! If I ever have a block of time by myself, I like to listen to guided meditations like Meditainment. It's a cross between meditation and entertainment. See what they did there? It's a great way to make 20 minutes really count in my day. After I'm done, I feel more focused and relaxed. Plus, I love the way the English narrator says "meditative."

3. Enjoy Nature

This one is simpler than it sounds. It's doesn't require a 5 mile hike or special gear. It could be as simple as a stroll in your back yard, or taking a minute to appreciate the colors of the fall leaves. It instantly makes me feel more grounded when I stop to take care of my tiny little herb garden or notice that the chickadees are looking for a nesting spot near my deck. Bonus points for taking a walk and racking up some exercise!

4. Do Something for Others

This one is my favorite because it's so easy to do and makes me feel really good. There are opportunities to be of service to other humans everywhere. It doesn't mean that you have to make a huge cash donation or volunteer all of your time away (although those things are really nice, too!). Helping others could mean offering a genuine smile and some patience to a harried cashier, offering to help someone who looks like they could use a hand, donating something you don't need but that someone else might treasure. It all makes a difference!

5. Experience the Holidays Like the Kiddos Do

My kiddos are 3 and 7 this year. As cheesy as it sounds, I can't deny the joy that I get from watching them experience the magic of the holiday season. Watching them meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, putting up Christmas (and Hanukkah, and Festivus, and...basically we celebrate everything) decorations, and counting down the days until Winter Break from school is a proverbial youth tonic. Just remembering how awe inspiring my early Christmas experiences were makes me feel at peace.

6. Bring a Beverage

The weather is icky, you're crazy busy, and the holiday rush has you a little frazzled. You need a really great beverage! Water is always good (stay hydrated!), but it's the holidays, so you should treat yo' self to something really great. If you're into tea, this Caramel Popcorn Tea from Tea Guys comes highly recommended. Into something caffeinated? I tried a Lavender Honey Latte the other day that was downright transcendental. My go-to favorite is a nice Cabernet Sauvignon (this one is one of my local favorites right now), but if you're going for something a little more boozy, then really go for it with Hemingway's Daiquiri