Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Internationals: Let's get you some Selkie!



Because of the complex logistics concerning international crowdfunding law, Etsy could not roll out international shipping for the pilot of Fund. I had a chat with Etsy today and stressed how important my international customers were to me and proposed a couple ideas to them as to how you can participate in the Selkie campaign.  I've gotten the tentative go-ahead. 

Technically speaking you CAN participate right now.  You can purchase Selkie, but the shipping address has to be to an address with the US.  So if you've got a friend in the US willing to ship Selkie to you, or will be visiting the US at the end of this year (we project Selkie starting to ship in October) you can pop right over and back Selkie now. 

I'm also not so dense that I don't realize that that's not a great option for most of you :(

So, I've two options for you that would allow Selkie to be shipped right to you and I'm going to ask you to tell me in the comments which you want.  I want to make this call soon, so please kick this around to anyone you feel would be interested and let me know asap.  I'd like to have a solid international Selkie option by this Friday, and doing both a preorder and a shipping cost listing is not an option.  It would just get way to confusing and I don't want to risk messing up people's orders as a result. 

Keep in mind, this is only an issue during the Fund campaign.  Once that's over and all the orders are shipped, there will be a normal listing in the store forever after. 


Please note that with either option you cannot apply discount codes.  It must be the full price to match what the campaign already has posted.


Option 1: Selkie Preorder Listing
A preorder listing would be just like a normal listing for Selkie, but would not be slotted to ship until the actual Selkie campaign orders ship.  There would be a sample size 1 oz listing and a full size 8 oz listing and you could add them to your cart.  You have to check out with all of them at once for this to work properly.  Shipping would be calculated by weight, and when Selkie starts shipping it would go out behind anyone that backed before you.  You cannot add other items to your order unless you plan on waiting for those items to ship with Selkie much later this year. 

The down side to doing it this way is that it doesn't actually back the Selkie campaign.  It doesn't make the little bar move, and doesn't show Etsy and the world how much you would love to try this detangler.  Obviously it's important to me to show the success of the campaign, and while I'm sure you'll like to contribute directly, I wasn't sure if the hassle in Option 2 is worth the additional steps to you (and me) or not and wanted to leave the choice up to you.


Option 2: Selkie Shipping Cost Listing
This option is more complicated, but makes the little bar move. For this option you would purchase whatever bottles you wanted through the actual Selkie Campaign (which means you'll have to list a US shipping address even if you have zero intention of it going there). Then you'd:

  • leave me Message to the Seller in checkout telling me what actual address you want the bottles sent to
  • have to go to shipping cost listings and check out with listings that essentially just cover the additional cost to ship the bottles (by weight based on the options you chose) to you.  I would adjust this so that the shipping costs that are already rolled into the cost of Selkie in the campaign are applied to you. So if you purchased two 1 oz bottles and  one 8 oz bottle you will need to add a quantity of 2 of the 1oz shipping listings and a quantity of 1 of the 8oz shipping upgrades to your cart and check out with them all at once so the weight/cost is calculated properly.  Just like with the previous option, you cannot add other items to your order unless you plan on waiting for those items to ship with Selkie much later this year. 


Essentially this is almost exactly like Option 1 except that you have to check out twice (once with the campaign and one with the shipping option(s) you need. Then it's on me to match up addresses and get labels printed properly



My deepest apologies that this is complicated, but many international customers expressed wanting to participate.  It's a little more legwork on my end and on your end, but you wonderful international customers are worth it :)  
Which option would you like to see for shipping Selkie internationally?
 
pollcode.com free polls



Please vote in the poll and leave comments below. I'll go with the most common one, or if it's close, go with the one that shakes out to making the most logistical sense. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

More Selkie backers, bigger discounts just off shore!


Wow! We did it! In only a few days the Etsy Fund Campaign for Selkie Herbal Hair Detangler is 100% funded. That's all thanks to our wonderful backers. Keep spreading the word, the more backers, the more possibilities lie ahead with Selkie! 

As a thank you, I'll post a discount code for every % over 100% that Selkie is funded on 6/24, 7/1 and 7/8 (up to 50%, not including custom orders or shipping costs). Example: If Selkie is funded at 130% the discount will be 30%. Please help spread the word and dig up the discounts!

If you'd like to keep up to date on the Selkie campaign, just click on the Follow Campaign button and you'll get the updates sent right to you.  Otherwise, you can just check in manually by using the updates tab.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Selkie Herbal Detangler: Filling a sea of bottles

video


Etsy has given NightBlooming the amazing opportunity to participate in Fund, a new and exciting crowd-funding way to give your customers new products, while making it possible for us to take the store to a higher level than ever before.

While there is a lot of information here, please head over to the actual Etsy Fund Campaign, Selkie Herbal Detangler:  Filling a sea of bottles.  We only have thirty days to make this happen, and early backers to get the campaign going are much appreciated!


Important Note for International Customers:  I am so, so sorry that this isn't open to my beloved international customers :(  It isn't an option I had.  Etsy Fund currently doesn't support international shipping or purchasing, though it will eventually.  If you would like to participate in Fund, all I can recommend is that you ask a friend in the US to donate on your behalf and ship the product to you.  I cannot accept payments for Selkie towards the campaign directly, as then it doesn't count as contributing towards the campaign goal. 

How can I help?
Please help by spreading the word.  Getting enough backers is critical to our Fund campaign.  Blog, Tweet, post to forums, and email your long-haired friends.  The more backers Selkie has, the more of a chance this unique opportunity has of succeeding. 

Shipping Included!
Please note that all the options for Selkie on the Fund campaign include shipping within the US :)




Selkie by the amazingly talented Selina Fenech.  Image used with her permission.

What is a Selkie?
Selkies are mythological creatures in Scottish, Irish, and Faroese folklore.  The live in the ocean as seals, but when they come ashore, can shed their seal skins and walk about in human form. Stories concerning selkies are generally romantic tragedies. Sometimes the human will not know that their lover is a selkie, and wakes to find them gone. In other stories the human will hide the selkie's skin, thus preventing the selkie from returning to its seal form.  Selkies, male and female, are sometimes seen in human form upon shoreline rocks, combing their wave-tossed hair. 





Introducing Selkie Detangler



Selkie Ingredients

Every ingredient in Selkie is vegan, hand-blended, and certified organic.  So what’s in it?
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    • Distilled water– Ensures that Selkie has no mineral buildup and allows for a pH neutral start.

    • Marshmallow root, slippery elm & fenugreek seed herbal infusion These three ingredients give Selkie its slip by virtue of their mucilaginous compounds.  They also naturally soften hair, provide natural plant protein, add shine, and sooth an itchy or dry scalp. 

    • Aloe vera gel  While well-known for its benefits to skin, this third mucilaginous ingredient provides deep moisturizing effects to the hair and scalp as well.  In addition it helps restore pH levels and has both emollient and moisturizing properties, meaning that it smooths the cuticle and attracts and seals in moisture.

    • Apple cider vinegar– The mildly acidic nature of this helps balance pH of hair and also helps to remove buildup.   ACV encourages the cuticle of the hair to lay closed, making hair shine and tangle less. 

    • Argan Oil  Sometimes called “Miracle Oil,” argan oil is extracted from kernels of Argan fruit by crushing.  It is swiftly taking the place of other natural oils for hair protection and treatment. Argan oil contains tocopherols (vitamin E), phenols, carotenes, squalene, and fatty acids, making it both light and great for brittle hair.

    • Borage Oil Sometimes known as starflower, borage grows wildly in many parts of the world.  Borage oil is extracted from the seeds of the plant, and its essential ingredient has been found to be gamma linolenic acid, commonly known as GLA, which is an essential fatty acid that provides a replenishing effect on the skin and hair, and is able to restore moisture and elasticity where it had previously been lost.  

    • Camelina Oil  Known as the “gold of pleasure” to Europeans not long ago. Rich in natural antioxidants, Omega-3 fatty acids, tocopherols, and high in vitamin E content, Camelina oil is truly under appreciated. 

    • Vitamin E Oil Our natural Vitamin E oil is obtained by vacuum distillation of vegetable fats derived from non-GMO soy sources. It prevents rancidity and it acts as an anti-oxidant. This particular Vitamin E oil has been verified and tested GMO-free from crop to finished material. 

    • Catnip Essential Oil A stimulant, catnip can increase blood flow to the scalp, encouraging growth. It’s astringent properties help tighten muscles and skin, helping to reduce shedding in some cases. Catnip is also reputed to assist in reducing split ends. 

    •  Cedarwood Essential Oil– Excellent for both hair and skin care. It balances oily skin, soothes and helps to heal skin rashes, and reduces oil in hair and skin. 

    •  Lavender Essential Oil– Enhances hair growth by stimulating the scalp. The name “lavender” is derived from the Latin lavare, meaning, “to wash” and was known as one of the seven polyvalents (effective against many toxins). 

    • Lime  Essential Oil–  A bright scent, lime is antiviral, astringent, and bactericidal. It is at once a cleansing and moisturizing oil, helping with dandruff and scalp buildup.   

    •   Petitgrain Essential Oil– Made from the leaves and twigs of this amazing tree, it is antiseptic, antispasmodic, a natural deodorant, and nervine. Use in a hair oil will leave hair and scalp fragrant (petitgrain has woody, citrus and floral notes all in one!), while soothing and preventing bacterial and fungal growth.

    • Sage Essential Oil– A scalp soother and astringent, the herb is of ancient repute, valued as a culinary and medicinal plant – called herba sacra, ‘sacred herb’, by the Romans.  


What this means is I have to fill lots, and lots, and LOTS of bottles.  This is where your help comes in!


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Part of the idea for naming Selkie after a sea-fairy was because, sometimes while filling bottles, my countertop winds up looking like the sea. Every single product NightBlooming offers is filled by hand, and in my determination never to skimp on product I sometimes overdo it.  Using a top-heavy funnel is time-consuming and messy at best.

This machine would allow me to fill not only bottles of Selkie, but many of our other products as well: Triple Moon Oil, Panacea’s Hair Salve, Ostara’s Hair Salve, and Freya’s Hair Salve. Its design is compact, efficient, and easy to use. All parts of the machine that come into contact with either the product or the bottle being filled are made of stainless steel and Polytetrafluoroethylene and meet food-grade standards. On average the machine can fill 40 bottles per minute, which would be a mind-blowing increase in efficiency and accuracy!  (The fact that I wouldn’t have to swab the countertops like a sailor on a ship would be a nice bonus, too.)




What if this really winds up rocking and we exceed our goal?

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Selkie Herbal Hair Detangler comes in high-quality, reusable, and recyclable amber glass bottles. If we exceed our goal, the extra funds will go towards exploring adding spouted refill pouches as a way for us to not only get a lot of uses out of one bottle, but also reduce shipping costs for our customers who want more! 

The blind kitten in your video, who is he?  How is he doing?

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Tsavo is the official NightBlooming mascot (he’s even listed on the store staff page along with our honey bees).  You can read all about him, and his amazing journey from blind to being able to see on our blog. The short version, though, is that thanks to the kindhearted people of Etsy, he is now almost 7 years old and doing great!


Again, thank you so much, and see you over on our Selkie Campain page!  Leave your comments below and help spread the word!

Friday, June 5, 2015

A New Product Approaches Shore

You might be able to catch your first glimpse of Selkie on June 16th, but what is she?  Will you be able to catch her?  And if you do, can you make her stay?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Calculated Shipping & New Shipping Labels

Calculated Shipping

I've talked a little in the past how shipping on Etsy was a messed up game of averages.  Check out the "How do you set shipping costs?" section in the link for more detail, but the short version is I had to create these shipping profiles and assign them to products.  It entailed a lot of fine-tuning them again and again and again.  If the guessing game was wrong and I was short on what Etsy collected for postage I was kinda screwed because I wasn't going to go back to a customer and ask for extra to cover the difference.  If it was too much over, I was doing refunds.  There was also no way to do shipping upgrades at checkout. 

Calculated shipping is a new feature in Etsy that live-calculates the amount of postage needed to send a parcel from me to you.  Each item in the shop is now assigned a weight and dimensions (meaning I had to weigh and measure every individual item, which is why this all took a little while to get off the ground).  When you add items to your cart, Etsy adds up the total weight for the package and then checks my address, then yours, and then figures out what it would cost to ship a package of that weight from here to there.  It also adds in a very small ( 50 cents) shipping and handling fee per item to cover the cost of packaging materials, labels, tape, time spent packing, etc.

As a bonus, you now get to select from multiple shipping options if you'd like things there faster, or pick the lowest rate if the box doesn't need to break the sound barrier along the way.


If you want to check the shipping on a single item, it's on the Shipping & Policies tab.  To see multiple items and combined shipping you'll have to check in the cart.


New Shipping Labels

My international customers have never seen what the domestic labels look like, but it was like this:

I used a postage printing program called Endicia that allows me to create my own (domestic) labels and print all labels (domestic and international) from home.  This was a huge boon over having to address and weigh all the boxes and take them to the post office, but the process was still pretty inefficient.

It went something like this:
  • Take all the items for an order and put them in their box/bubble mailer
  • Weigh the package
  • Put the package weight and the customer's name on the package
  • Put the package in my shipping bin
  • Repeat for every order (usually 8-20 on the nights I pack, which is very late at night on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays)
  • Once all the orders are packed, go to the office, open Photoshop and my postage printing program
  • Enter the address and weight for a package and create the label.
  • Pull the labels into Photoshop and arrange it on an 8 1/2 - 11 page (usually I can get 5-6 labels per full sized sheet)
  • Enter the tracking information on Etsy
  • Mark the order as shipped on Etsy and send the confirmation email
  • Repeat for every order
  • Print out the sheets of labels
  • Cut out the labels by hand
  • Play hide and seek, matching the right label to the right package
  • Peel and stick the labels
  • Put all the packages back in the shipping bin and set them out for the post
On a night with 8-10 orders, assuming every product was already packaged with a label (which is another ongoing battle), boxing would take me two or three hours with labels taking another hour+.  For such an inefficient process, I was pretty fast with it in the end, but yeah, still inefficient.  

Enter two things:  Etsy shipping labels, and a new label printer.

Etsy Shipping Labels


Etsy recently paired with Endicia (which is the same company I was already using) to allow sellers to print labels right off Etsy and be charged through there rather than buying postage for my account and having it deducted that way.  Here's what it looks like on my end:

The arrow is pointing to the option that says "Format for 4x6 label printers"
Here I enter the final package weight (if it was a little different than the calculated weight), enter a message to the buyer, pick a few other variables and the decide what I want the output to be.  By doing it this way, the tracking number is automatically assigned and sent to the buyer in one step, eliminating the chance of me screwing it while entering it. 

I go through each order this way and then at the end print them all out to one PDF document that's sized for 4x6 labels.  They look like this:


Lame, I know.  I hate them.  That these labels look so... not special is one of the main reasons I held out doing this for so long.  I like the idea that my customers get excited (at least I hope you do!) when you see the pretty NightBlooming logo on your package.  I'm currently looking into a sticker I could add to the label to make it a little more special again.

If I actually had magical packing faeries, I'd be the happiest person ever.

But, regardless, I'd love your thoughts.  Do you like the logo on your packages?  Does it make them feel special or am I being a little silly?


New Label Printer

In any event, design aside, the new labels can be printed on this little guy:
Come on, for a printer he IS pretty cute!

The label paper is thermal-printed, so it doesn't consume ink.  The labels are also glossy, peel and stick, and much more weather-resistant than the ones I was previously using. 

So what's the process now?

A lot more streamlined.  I just ran my first night with the new labels and printer and already tell it's going to be a massive time improvement once I get a into a groove with the new system.  The process is now like this:
  • Take all the items for an order and put them in their box/bubble mailer
  • Write the customer's name on the package
  • Check the final weight and enter it into the Etsy label field
  • Repeat for all items
  • Purchase and print all the labels
  • Play hide and seek, matching the right label to the right package
  • Peel and stick the labels
  • Put all the packages back in the shipping bin and set them out for the post
MUCH better.  I'm hoping over time I'll be able to make better improvements, like printing each label as I go (right now that feels like a time sink because I have to go through the label purchase process per each label rather than all at once and print them at once, but there might be a better way).

I know this all wasn't the most exciting stuff ever, but I knew people would notice when they started getting labels that looked differently and wanted to give the why.  As always, I appreciate your feedback.  That you have the best experience possible and reliably get your packages for a reasonable rate is super-important to me.  I just bought a $4.50 eyeliner pencil today and they charged me $5 to ship it.  I promise, I am never going to be that person :)