Friday, April 18, 2014

Hair Salve Survey! Discounts Code & Free Salve Raffle!

I get a LOT of questions about which salve someone should purchase.  Generally I recommend picking up the Trinity Sample Pack simply because it's hard to guess.  I have a lot of anecdotal evidence gathered over the years as to which salve works best with which hair type, but nothing remotely scientific.  It's usually best if people try a smidge of each and see which they like best.

But I'd like to make better reccomendations.  Who knows, maybe well find out that hennaed hair likes one salve over another, or that curlies do best with one salve over another. 


Win me!

Prizes

Your time is worth something, and I appreciate you taking the time to help me out.  Everyone that participates by following the steps below will get a 15% off discount code, and also be entered in a raffle to win a 2 oz Salve of your choice + free shipping (yes, even across the pond)!  The more people that enter, the more winners I'll draw, so your odds of winning don't go down by encouraging others to participate.  And everyone wins with more data!

While the survey itself will be open for 6 months, I'll be closing the raffle and announcing winners on May 19th.

How to Take the Survey

It's really easy, two steps:

1. Take the survey.  It's totally anonymous.  I'm not tracking you like some creepy creeper.

2. When you're done with the survey, let me know by either sending me an email or an Etsy covo.  Tell me:
  • Which salve you'd like if you win
  • Any open feedback you have about hair salve.  My survey doesn't allow for this, but I'd love to hear your thoughts.

If you want to be entered in the raffle or get the discount code you HAVE to do Step 2.  Sadly I can't make the survey auto-give you the code or tell me which salve you want.  I'll respond to all emails and convos with the discount code, and then will draw the winners.


 

Do I get to see the results?

Of course!  I'll be posting the results of the survey here for those that are curious.  Since the survey is disconnected from your personal data, even on my end, none of your information is made public.  Everyone can then enjoy pretty charts see how all the answers shook out.

 

Help me!

Please spread the word!  The more people that take this, the better my data will be, the the better reccomendations I can make for customers (including you!).  Feel free to send the link to this post, post it on Facebook, tweet it, do whatever.  The more people that enter, the more winners I draw!

All Set? 

 
http://kwiksurveys.com/s.asp?sid=3f18ossuon0wif4347385
Click me to launch the survey <3

 

 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Honey Bees are coming to NightBlooming!

Honey Bees are coming to NightBlooming!

Several years ago we switched to only using locally-sourced ethical honey in our products.  Because of the honey bee crisis, I wanted to make sure that NightBlooming was doing its part to only support local beekeepers who put the health of their bees in front of honey production.

This year, we're going one step farther, we're getting our own bees!

Top Bar Hives

Our family made us two top bar hives.  Top bar hives are long, horizontal hives that house smaller colonies of bees, are easier to manage, and allows the bees to build their own natural comb rather than forcing them to build on a plastic template.

And they have windows!  What isn't to like about a hive you can peek in on?  Our hives are built to the Golden Mean, which is ideal for honeycomb.


 
 
 
 


Ethical Beekeeping

Our focus on bees is helping to build up bees that are healthy and will thrive.  That are successful pollenators and will breed with the local bees to make all bees stronger.  We're using as little intervention as possible to encourage bees with strong immune systems and disease resistance, which also means that any honey we take will not be full of antibiotics, chemicals, and pest treatments.  We will also not take all the bee's honey and then feed them sugar water or artificial bee food.  The best food for bees is honey, and they will get all they need first, and we'll use the extra.

You can get an idea of both the top bar hive and ethical beekeeping here:

 

 



Bees Landing Soon!  Shop on Vacation to Prepare :)

We should be getting our bees in the next week or so. We've got a bit of preparation left in the yard to finalize where the apiaries will go and then bees to install. 

Family is also visiting that week, so in order to make time for all this, I'll be closing the shop on Thursday April 17th sometime in the evening, just before I pack orders.  That means you can order right up until I begin packing.  We'll reopen on Saturday the 26th, and the first round of orders will be packed on Tuesday the 29th.

The break will be worth it!  We're excited at the prospect of using our own honey in our products, and also, if extras allow, selling pure, raw honey and other honey products in the store.

The store will be closed until Saturday the 26th


Sunday, April 13, 2014


Hair Salve Name Change:  Panacea's, Ostara's, Freya's


The first and most important thing I want to make clear about this change is this: the ingredients, formulas and method of preparation for each salve is utterly unchanged.  And the smell.  The smell of each salve is the same.  I'd fear angry hordes if I ever messed with that. 

Everything on the inside of the pots is the same.   Only the stuff on the outside, the name and the icon, has changed.



Panacea's Hair Salve, still Panacea's Hair Salve:
Panacea was a minor goddess in Greek mythology but her name survives today as a term used for a cure-all or remedy for all ills or diseases. Panacea means "heal-all" and the goddess personified healing through herbs. In the Middle Ages, the name was applied to a mythical herb supposed to possess a cure-all quality. Some herbs that have been considered panaceas include mistletoe, yarrow, and valerian.  Panacea's Hair Salve is vegetarian (contains honey), is the most rich of the salves, and smells of incense.

Panacea's Summer Hair Salve is now Ostara's Hair Salve
 
Ostara is the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring. She is associated with the Moon Hare or rabbit, with eggs, Dawn, and the East - all symbolizing her primary qualities of bringing birth, rebirth and renewal to a winter-weary world. Her salve will bring similar renewal to your hair. It is vegan,  contains protein, and has a light citrus and herb scent.

Panacea's Winter Hair Salve is now Freya's Hair Salve
 

In Norse mythology, Freya is a goddess of love and fertility, and the most beautiful and propitious of the goddesses. She is the patron goddess of crops and birth, the symbol of sensuality and was called upon in matters of love. She loves music, spring and flowers, and is particularly fond of the elves (fairies).  Freya's Salve is perfect for men or women, with a clean unisex scent reminiscent of a winter forest draped with newfallen snow. It should be noted that this blend is vegan and protein free!

Why the change?

There were a few big reasons I've wanted to do this for awhile:

  • Clunky Naming: When I first started making salve, there was just one, Panacea's.  When someone requested a vegan version, I called it Panacea's Vegan Salve.  Then later people wanted a protein-free version.  So Vegan became Panacea's Summer Salve and the new one became Panacea's Winter Salve.  This meant that people called them Summer, Winter and... traditional? original?  For people unfamiliar with the salves, having three versions call called "Panacea's _____ Salve" was confusing.  Having three distinct names eliminates the clunkiness and confusion. 
  • Room for more salves: Because of the clunky naming convention and the fact that there were are only four seasons, there wasn't much room for expansion.  While I don't have current plans for permanent additions to the salve family, I've wanted to do special scented blends for holidays like Samhain and Christmas.  
  • Winter & Summer weren't for seasons and everyone thought they were: The naming for Summer and Winter was inspired by their scents and also because for awhile I was only offering them seasonally.  This, understandably, led people to think that Summer was, well, for summer, and Winter was for winter.  Which couldn't have been farther from the truth.  Because of this assumption, people weren't choosing the salve that was best for their hair.  Removing the seasonal designations takes away this misconception and nudges people to better evaluate which salve is best for them based on ingredients and other properties.  Now, people are more likely to look at protein vs no protein, or how much more rich Panacea's Salve is than Freya's Salve or Ostara's Salve.
  • Distinct and Updated Branding: We've been slowly updating our branding to be more uniform and consistent across all NightBlooming's products.  Because Panacea's Hair Salve was the very first herbal product, it was the most out of date.  We'll be continuing to update our labeling, but at the moment, don't anticipate any other name changes.


Spread the word!

This is a big change, so if you get the chance to, please let others know!  Feel free to use any of the text and images in this post. 

Also, keep your eye out for an upcoming survey on how you use Panacea and how it works for you.  People that respond will get a discount code for the store and a chance to win 2 ounces of their favorite salve!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Pricing Adjustments & Enyo War Goddess Henna Preview



I can't begin to express how grateful I am to everyone who responded to my previous post about needing to make some changes to NightBlooming.  Thank you so very, very much for being sweet and understanding.  I've read and re-read both the post and the comments so many times.  I wanted to be honest and in return I feel like I can move forward with my plan to make NightBlooming full time, eventually.


 

Pricing Adjustments

I took a (much needed) three-day break to visit my best friend in another city.  Since the store was closed, I made the changes I outlined a bit in the previous post.  Here's what you'll notice:
 
  • Prices on Salves, oils, herbal rinses, scrubs, dry shampoos, etc. all got bumped a little. These were the products that either hadn't had their prices updated in 6 years, or had been priced with the old, wildy out-of-date, pricing equation I use.
  • Prices on sticks, barrettes, pins, accessories, etc.  as well as all herbal hair colors and teas stayed the same.

Shipping Adjustments

Not a lot changed here.  I think the only things that got adjusted specifically were the items with the "Medium Herbal" weight.  You can't see the pricing categories, it's a back end grouping, but it's the "herbal stuff between 6-13 ounces".
 
Germany and the UK got added as specific shipping destinations, just like Canada.  I didn't change anything there, but what this lets me do is more specifically tweak pricing in the future.  Although the USPS site tells me that shipping to the UK is the same as Germany, it isn't in practice.  This will let me hone in on the bare-minimum shipping to each of these international destinations.  As I send more packages to other countries and can get a good feel for those specific rates, I'll add more.
 


 

Discounts, Promo Codes & Sales

NightBlooming sales never happened.  Discount codes were pretty rare.  Largely this was because I just didn't have the margin to allow them while making any money at all. One upside of the new pricing structure is that now I can give my loyal customers more sales, discount codes, and other promotional offers!  I'm very excited to be able to have the flexability to do this.  There's actually going to be one coming up soon for Panacea specifically, so if you love your salve (and good gods, some of you do!), keep an eye out for an upcoming post.  I'll be offering a discount code in exchange for telling me a little bit about your hair and which salve it likes best.  Anyone that participates also gets entered in a drawing to win some of their favorite salve!
 

Enyo: War Goddess Henna Hair Dye
I've wanted to do this one for awhile.  It isn't open for general sale yet, but if you're a lover of deep, deep henna red, this one will be for you!  We hope to release this in the upcoming weeks.
 
Enyo was the Greek goddess of war, the female counterpart and close companion of the god Ares. Often depicted with deep red hair and covered in blood, Enyo so delighted in warfare that she even refused to take sides in the battle between Zeus and the monster Typhon, preferring the fight to go on as long as possible.
 
This blend is our darkest red, trending towards ruby. Keep in mind, multiple applications will deepen the color from orange, to ruby red, to burgundy. Because of the henna content, Enyo dye will still flare orange in the sunlight.
 
This herbal hair color would be fitting for a war goddess, imparting vivid orange tones to lighter colored hair, and giving deep red warmth as well as amazing natural conditioning properties to darker colored hair. Enyo War Goddess Herbal Hair Color is made entirely from powdered herbs, and contains no chemicals, metallic salts, or other additives.
 
Ingredients: Henna (Rajastani), Elder berry, hibiscus, beet root, triphala powder, indigo. 
 

 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Looking Forward



I’ve had to think about a lot of things lately concerning my store, life, work and the balance thereof.   This is going to be a long one, so if your cup is nearly empty, you might want a refill before reading the rest.

Some Background

When I first started on this adventure, now nearly seven years ago, I had no idea that the store would ever pan out, much less be this successful.  It has, and I am eternally grateful to my endlessly supportive husband, to my customers, and to whatever bits of luck, chance, or fate played into it.

At times people inquire if NightBlooming is my job.  It’s a fairly popular store and I do brisk business, so it isn’t a bad assumption. But no, it isn’t my “real” job; I have a normal 40-hours a week full time career.  I enjoy what I do there, but it isn’t the same level of fulfillment as NightBlooming.  I read somewhere that there are three types of work:  jobs (where you’re just there long enough to get someplace else), career (where you stick with it, do it well enough and like it well enough), and passion (work that you love). My day job is my career, NightBlooming is one of my passions.

Given the chance I’d make NightBlooming my full time job, and either stay part time at my current job, or quit it completely.  Making that sort of jump, though, often seems a pipe dream at best.

But lately I’ve realized three things:
  •           It might be more possible than I think
  •           To make it happen I have to take a hard look at things
  •           I cannot carry on as I am for much longer


NightBlooming, on an easy week, takes up about 25 hours of my time.  During very busy times, like Christmas, it’s easily over 40.  Which means that on a best-case week between my two jobs, I’m working 65 hours a week, worst case, closing in on 90.  Then there’s household projects, personal projects, and just life in general.  It all adds up.  I have no time to just enjoy things.  Every day, every weekend, is a calculated to-do list.  Falling behind means a snowball effect that is nearly impossible to recover from.

I haven’t painted in years.  I haven’t drawn in just as long.  We have a beautiful yard that I have never once just sat and read a book in because there’s always something else more pressing.   I miss my hobbies.  I miss relaxing.  I miss spending time with my husband.

I can’t just quit my day job, tempting as that thought is some days.  My shop, while successful, isn’t nearly enough to live on.  And I don’t mean “having miniature giraffes” lifestyle; I mean “covering my half of the mortgage and bills” lifestyle.  Then there’d be the additional costs of having to pay for insurance out of pocket, not having a company contribution to my 401k, etc.  The sacrifices of leaving my day job are substantial, but it’s NightBlooming that makes me happy.


Evaluating


One night about a week ago I was overwhelmed to the point of nearly sinking to my knees.   The one all-consuming thought in my head was, “I can’t do this anymore.”  The thought of everything I had to do and the things I wanted to do, but couldn't, was so intense I felt ill. 

But I am nothing if not relentlessly stubborn.  It’s gotten me this far, it can go a little further.   I came up with a plan to make NightBlooming full-time happen, and while it’ll take me a few years to get there, the knowledge that I just might pull it off if I work a little harder, and work a little smarter, gives me resolve.

That plan involves getting a little help in between now and when I can quit my day job, saving everything I possibly can to have a safety net during the transition period, getting the NightBlooming site up and running so I’m not losing so much in fees, and other farther-reaching things.

I also needed to evaluate what I’m paying myself, which brings us to:

What my work is worth

When I first started NightBlooming the vast majority of time was spent making things.  When I developed the formula I use to price things it takes into account the time spent making the item, my material costs, overhead, and fees.  With only doing a few listings and a few orders a week, there wasn’t a lot of back-end stuff to do, so I never factored it into a pricing scheme.

Now?  All those non-making things are the bulk of my time.  Writing descriptions, posting listings, answering convos, sourcing materials, doing bookkeeping, taking and editing photos, designing, printing, cutting and applying labels, and marketing are constant demands on my time.

I ran some numbers and I was shocked at what I wind up paying myself for all that background work.

~$4.50 an hour.

The fast-food taco place in town starts people at nearly double that. So, if I’m to make NightBlooming my job at some point, I need to pay myself fairly. 

Item Pricing

In 2008 I sold my first 2 oz jar of Panacea’s Hair Salve for $13.50, and the first ½ oz sample jar for $3.75.  If you check the store right now, six years later, those are still the prices.   Another great example is Triple Moon Oil.  The price has never wavered from $3.75 for a sample bottle with dropper, or $15 for a full 4 oz bottle.


I tried really hard to think of something I was purchasing today for the same price I was paying six years ago, and couldn’t.  While I’ve been able to buy ingredients in greater quantities as sale volume has increased, it still boils down to the simple fact that my pricing on my salves, oils, and other products hasn't been updated enough to cover the costs of inflation and the ever-increasing time it takes to package and ship it at the volume my store does today.  Even the new products are using an outdated pricing equation.

Shipping Costs

As you can read about here, Etsy pricing is a game of averages.  I give each item a primary and secondary shipping cost, and then hope that it shakes out to be about the cost of the shipping + packaging + fees for my postage program.  And usually it does.  When it’s over by more than a dollar or two I’ll kick the overage back to my customers.  But it’s also under way more than it’s over.  But I hold to my word and if I said a sample of Fire Genasi Hair Color costs $6 to ship to Japan, and when I print it all out and it actually cost me $7.85 (not counting any costs from my program or the cost of the mailer and other packaging supplies), I’m actually out the entire cost of the sample, and then some.  I will never go back to someone and say, “Hey, your package actually cost $4.82 more than I guessed.  Mind if you send that over?”  That’s my problem.  But I do know I short myself far more often than I’m kicking back overages and I need to address it.

Because I order so many things online, I know how much I hate inflated shipping costs.  I never, ever want to be regarded as one of those sellers who sets their shipping at more than the dead minimum required to cover my costs.

In that light, I’ll be keeping a closer eye on my shipping and will be making adjustments.  I don’t expect them to be drastic ones, but expect to see numbers change a little in the coming months.  As always, if I find I’ve adjusted them to high, I’ll bring them back down.

Pricing Change Head’s Up

I’m largely reluctant to raise my prices because I genuinely like my customers.  That they’re so happy with the things they purchase are what drive me to work such insane hours, and inspire me to constantly innovate new designs and products.  I don’t see them as faceless hordes to make money off of, but  people who I want to make happy who are, in return, happy to compensate me for my efforts and creativity.  

In the coming weeks I’ll be looking at how to adjust things on products that better reflects all the time that goes into NightBlooming, not just into making that one specific bottle of oil, hair stick, or pot of salve.

The last thing I want to do is chase my customers off. I felt it was important to let people know why I’m changing things before I do because I want my reasons to be clear and not have people think I’m being greedy or taking advantage of them.

How much prices will change,  on what, and when isn’t finalized yet.  I know that sometimes people have to save up for a larger order, or were planning on picking up something maybe in a month, but in a month if might not be the price they have budgeted for.  I didn’t want to spring changes on anyone, and wanted to give people enough notice to pick up items at their current price.

Know that if I quoted you on a custom order, that’s the price you’re paying.  Anything that’s currently in queue for custom orders or is already reserved is price-locked.

Let me know what you think

I’ve always felt that my customers and I have a pretty open line of communication, with people feeling like they can let me know what their thoughts are.  The reason this post is so long is because I want my customers to know that there's a human on the other end of all this working her tail off to make what she loves to do a reality; not some faceless, soulless business.  

So, please, let me know in the comments what you think, and I hope you understand where I’m coming from.