Thursday, February 5, 2015

Arwen Butterfly Ficcares: Riding Brooch and Coronation Crown

I've been so eager to show you our latest Lord of the Rings inspired Ficcares! Previously we had our Lothlorien Leaf, Sang of Leaves, and Evenstar Ficcares:

Joining them are two new clips, each inspired by Arwen Undómiel. Arwen Undómiel is a character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. She appears in his best-known novel, The Lord of the Rings, usually published in three volumes. Arwen is one of the Half-elven who lived during the Third Age.

Arwen's Riding Brooch Large Ficcare Hair Clip $105

Etsy Listing

In Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship of the Ring, when Arwen defeats the Ringwraiths after crossing the river, the words she speaks in that scene translate into English thus: “Waters of the Misty Mountains, hear the word of power, rush, waters of Bruinen (Loudwater), against the Ringwraiths!” (Nîn o Chithaeglir lasto beth daer; rimmo nín Bruinen dan in Ulaer!)

This butterfly brooch clasped her riding cloak shut, and now adorns a hair clip fitting for an elven princess.

The Ficcare is a brand new size Large (5 inches from tip to tip). A silver Elvish knotwork butterfly is riveted and wired with sterling silver wire to the clip. Silver leaf accents grace the attachment points, and are cased in Ice Resin making them smooth and seamless so as not to snag hair.

Arwen's Coronation Butterfly Crown Ficcare Hair Clip Large $155

Arwen Undómiel shall not diminish her life's grace for less cause. She shall not be the bride of any Man less than the King of both Gondor and Arnor. - Elrond to Aragorn - J.R.R. Tolkien 

Arwen, known also to her people as Evenstar because of her unparalleled beauty, is destined to leave Middle-earth and sail to the Undying Lands of the West. While this fate looms before her, she falls in love with Aragorn, a mortal man, and is then faced with the heart-wrenching choice to leave Middle-earth with her people or forgo her immortality for the man she loves. She chooses love, and wears a stunning butterfly crown when she takes Aragorn's side in the Return of the King.

This customized Ficcare is wrought blends her Riding Brooch with the green and silver drapes of her Butterfly Coronation Crown.

The Ficcare is a brand new size Large (5 inches from tip to tip). A silver Elvish knotwork butterfly is riveted and wired with sterling silver wire to the clip. The green of the butterfly is hand-painted enamel, sealed with shimmering Ice Resin. Silver leaf accents grace the attachment points, and are cased in Ice Resin making them smooth and seamless so as not to snag hair.

A removable drape hooks onto the edges of the butterfly, with three lengths of silver chain draping to an elvish silver metal filigree in the center. Two sea green glass droplets and one olivine green glass droplet add flashing bits of color to the drape.


I hope you love our new designs as much as I do!  There's only a few in the shop, but a custom order, on any size Ficcare, is always an option.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

New Essential Oils: Catnip, Neroli, Jasmine, Rose and Sandalwood

We're happy to introduce five new essential oils!  You can use these in either our 1/2 ounce or 4 ounce custom oil blends

Jasmine Essential Oil- This oil helps to bust stress- which can drain nutrients from the body.  Using jasmine oil along with coconut oil has Shown to encourage hair growth. Along with adding to the volume and length, it gives dry hair a radiant lustre.

Neroli Essential Oil- With its light, citrusy scent, neroli has antibacterial properties that helps keep scalps healthy. Cytophylactic, it promotes the generation of new cells and stimulates the health of those already present.

Sandalwood Essential Oil- An anti-inflammatory with a warm woody scent, it soothes tender scalps and can help help heal eczema and psoriasis, soothe, shrink pimples and reduce dandruff.

Rose Essential Oil- Soothes an irritated or sensitive scalp due to its anti-inflammatory benefits that reduce redness and can relieve a dry, tender scalp. It also has antibacterial properties, helping elmininating fungus and bacteria on the scalp.  
Packed full of antioxidants, like Geraniol, it can help eliminate any impurities and protect the scalp and hair from oxidative stress.

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

We hope you enjoy the new additions!

Friday, January 16, 2015

New Product Pictures: Triple Moon Oil & Herbal Hair Colors

In our continued to update and unify the look of all our products, we've knocked two more big areas out: Triple Moon Oil and our Herbal Hair colors.

Both of these products have been shipping with the new labels for awhile now, but only recently was I able to get photos for everything.  Better and more accurate product pictures help people feel confident in what they're buying.  They're fun, but arranging them, shooting them, editing the photos, and uploading them takes awhile.  Just to do the two sizes of Triple Moon Oil, start to finish, took well over ten hours.

Triple Moon Oil

One of our very first products, Triple Moon Oil looked like this in 2008:

It got a label update in 2010, but the pictures stayed the same:

But now, finally, we've got the newest labels as well as brand-new product shots! Here's a few, but check out the listings for our 1/2 Sample Size and 4 oz size of our Triple Moon Hair Anointing Oil to see them all!

Herbal Hair Colors

The packaging here went through three variations, just like the Triple Moon oil had. They started out looking like this:

I really wanted to get ingredients on the packages themselves, so even though they never got updated product pictures, the labels that shipped looked like this for awhile while the newest ones were in development:

But the newest pictures, not only reflect our current branding but also show all the ingredients (on the large sizes, samples have too little space on the label):

Many of the listings (where photos allow, I can't bring myself to take down the 1000 x 1000 pixel warning on some of them to make space), now also show a picture of the closeup of the herbal dust to show how fine the sift is. 

More improvements are in the works!  New labels and product photos are being developed for Miruvor (both the sample and the large size), Forest Glade Dark Hair Herbal Rinse sample and full-size, Sunlit Meadow Light Hair Rinse sample and full-size, our organic Catnip, Catmint, and blended Catnip & Catmint blossoms, and the Moondust Herbal Dry Shampoo Dry Refill bag

Friday, January 9, 2015

Year End Fun with Charts

While I get to look at this data all the time, I thought some of you might want a peek at it.  It helps me appreciate the amount of orders, traffic, and time that NightBlooming demands.  It also makes me happy to see it grow.

Yearly Item Charts

These charts show the percentages of the types of items I sell.  The early ones aren't very accurate because I was new to this sort of recordkeeping (who am I kidding, it was solo sticks, pairs of sticks and "everything else.")  When I got to about 2010 my best friend started doing my books (she's paid in a blend of time and whatever she wants from the store) because she's some sort of wizard in Excel and I'm likely to poke my eye out with my own dunce cap.  I'm good at a lot, but data entry and numbers in tiny cells are not part of those things. 

NightBlooming started out stocked mostly just with hair sticks and other types of jewelry.  In 2008 Panacea's Hair Salve and Triple Moon Oil were introduced. 

 Ostara's Salve (then Vegan/Summer Salve) and Freya's (then Winter Salve) came along in 2010.  For awhile there, most of what I sold was hair sticks, and then salves edged them out to be my most commonly purchased item.

And then the hair colors happened.

We've offered Faerie Dust as far back as 2008, it was actually one of our first products.  Faerie Dust is a blend of the non-henna/cassia herbs used in most our hair colors, and I offered it for sale with the idea that people who mixed their own henna might just want the additional herbs.  It didn't really take off, but did well enough that I kept it around.  Along those same lines, I've offered custom blended hair colors as far back as 2009.  

Devas and Rusalki were the first totally stand alone pre-blended herbal hair colors I offered (starting in 2009).  I didn't work up the guts to offer Genasi (2012), Kitsune (2012), or Enyo (2014) for a long time because I was afraid of someone not reading and using henna, then finding out it didn't come out, and accuse me of ruining their hair.  So far *knock on wood* that hasn't happened.

What really set the hair colors on fire, though, was changing the leading images from packets of herbs to what you see today.  The sample colors and color charts on the first slide are really what  both got people's attention, and gave them more confidence to try.  And that's why, in 2014, herbal hair colors finally unseated hair salves as my most sold product. 

But by that same token, as other orders increased, the amount of time I've had for making other things dropped. Sticks had suffered the worst, taking an additional blow in 2014 as our Ficcare mods became much more in demand. 


You can see some of this same data reflected in this listing of the top 10 favorited items in the shop for 2014. 

Only one hair toy made the list (the TARDIS stick), the Salve Trinity Sampler barely hung on, and our Moondust Dry Shampoo managed to make a nice showing. The remaining 7 of the top 10 favorited items were all hair colors.

Where are these orders coming from?

This first map shows orders. While the majority of my orders are domestic, we do a LOT of international business, with Germany beating out everyone else by a substantial margin.  The second map shows views (both general site and item-specific combined), and it's awesome to see so many people finding their way to NightBlooming from every corner of the world!

Here's one more way to look at our orders, by month:
I was doing pretty good, keeping up with all the herbal stuff and sticks and Ficcares and salve and custom orders, and blogging and new packaging and and and... I kind of burned out :(

So while I did more orders than ever this year, I couldn't keep up the pace.  I'll try a little harder next year; if I could have kept up the pace I had at the first half the year, I could have closed out even better than I did.

What's coming in 2015?

I've got a pretty aggressive wish list of things I'd like to do in the coming year.  Firstly, I'd like to finish the Henna & Herbal Hair Coloring E-Book I've been working on for a good while now.  It's, I'm proud to say, the most comprehensive thing on herbal hair coloring I've ever seen.  It covers everything from sedr to senna to henna, essential oils, additives, and a million how-tos from mixing, to strand testing, to application.  It'll have amazing things like a pictoral how-to showing how to tell pure henna and herbal colors apart from chemical-laced henna compounds. It will show new henna users what dye release looks like and give them a step-by-step guide on application, rinsing, and after care. Right now it's about 52 pages and has well over 100 color images, the vast majority of them shot in my own little light studio to show exactly what I want.  Here's a few sample pages to give you an idea of what you can expect:

I imagine it'll be 20 or so pages longer by the end, with even MORE images. This one is my big priority and I'm itching to wrap it up and publish it. 

With the addition of bees to NightBlooming we've got fresh, clean, amazing beeswax on hand now.  We're planning on launching lip balm and also a Panacea's Salve-Scented solid perfume.

After that?  I'd love to launch brown hair colors.  I currently do them on a custom order only basis, but having them stocked as a general set of colors like Genasi and the others would be great.  It's also a massive undertaking, and if I was worried about people thinking henna ruined their hair, I'm terrified of what they'll say about indigo.  Doing them on a per-order basis helps me manage their expectations and limitations of the colors.

I also have dreams of a Frequent Customer Rewards program, but have yet to find a way that I can do it without crippling amounts of bokeeping on the back end :(

So that's where we're at!  I'd love to hear what you're looking forward most from NightBlooming in 2015!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Primavera Ficcare Update 2: Epoxy Sculpt

I remembered I had this amazing compound laying around (my craft room closet is an immense horde of random things), and I decided to see if I could use this epoxy-based sculpture mix I have to make the patterned top for a Primavera clip.

After some elbow grease, I'd managed to clean most the Ice Resin off my poor battered test clip, and got out the mold and mold release.  There's still a thin, thin layer of Ice Resin in some parts of the mold, so I knew I'd have to sit down and spend forever picking that out for any real work.  But for this I was just looking for a general test to see if the pattern would work and if the epoxy sculpture mix would hold to a clip.

Here we are all set up with the clip, the mold and a mold-releasing compound:

The first thing I did was mix up a little bit of the compound and press it into one of the cleaner parts of the mold to see what sort of pattern I got.  Not too bad.

The I rolled some out and pressed it into the mold:

Then pressed the Ficcare into that.  The modling compound is cool in that it acts like a clay, but sticks and cures like an epoxy.  If this worked, it'd self-adhere to the metal clip.

And after it'd cured for a few hours I popped it out:

The bad news is that it wasn't quite centered and wound up being a little shorter at the top because the clip shifted.  Rather than stop the test, I pulled off the coating with the intent to transfer it to an Avian clip to finish up the plans for making it silver and seeing how the finish goes:

That's another test clip on the left, I was practicing Violet marbling for a faux border, but since it wasn't centered, I'm just covering it up with the Primavera test.

That mostly worked, but I had to cut off the silver bits that stuck out the top with my Dremel

And then I let it dry:

The pattern got a little muddy with me screwing with it so much, but its promising.  After this I cleaned up the edges, filling in the gaps and then sanding them smooth.

The next step is to primer and apply silver leaf and see how the finishing process goes.