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11/19/18

SOMA Shops Prep for Small Business Saturday


As we gear up for a weekend of sales I thought it would be fun to chat with some other local shop owners in SOMA (South Orange/Maplewood, NJ) and see what they're doing to prep for Small Business Saturday!


Made in Maplewood
9 Highland Pl
Maplewood, NJ 07040
65 Valley St
South Orange, NJ 07079


Q: How much does your business increase during Small Business Saturday?

A: Erin’s Faces: We do about a week’s worth of sales on Small Business Saturday itself and a
month's worth Black Friday - Cyber Monday - it's nuts in the loveliest way possible!
A: Perch Home: On the actual day itself our business does 400% more than an average Saturday!  
It has consistently been one of our top 3 days of the year since its inception.
A: Sadies: We do about 2x’s the volume of a regular holiday season Saturday - it is usually the same
volume as the Saturday before Christmas

Q: How do you get ready for Small Business Saturday?

A: Perch Home: We prep for Small Business Saturday by reminding our customers why shopping
locally matters to their community and highlighting how the experience of shopping in person can be
superior to shopping online.  We create an event, send out save the dates and promote it on social
media. SBS is a fun day filled with customer perks, trunk shows, excellent customer service, unique
merchandise, and compelling reasons for them to return during the holiday shopping season.  We
host give-aways, and have gifts for all of our customers!
A: Sadie’s: Hire extra staff, ensure product levels are at their highest to kick off the season.
Order supplies like bags/ tissue/ gift wrapping/ receipt paper- all the basics - Re-merchandise to focus on gift items
A: Erin’s Faces: It's by far our busiest time of year, but it's also my favorite because we get to
empower and educate so many people about the benefits of green beauty!  We spend the entire
month of November preparing for the weekend - making sure we have components, labels and
everything that goes inside so our shelves are overflowing.  They quickly get emptied over the
weekend!

Q: What is your top seller during Small Business Saturday?

A: Sadie’s: A lot of gift items that are small stocking stuffers and men’s graphic tees
A: Erin’s Faces: We have a lot of gift sets and stocking stuffers that get snapped up quickly.  
Our seasonal scents of Peppermint and Valencia Orange are also big sellers as we have them
available in Aromatherapy Sprays, Soaps, Body Scrubs/Butters, Lip Scrubs and Lip Balms.  
We’re excited to have our new Lumberjack body care line that’s for men.
A: Perch Home: We sell a lot of holiday decor and that is the top seller that day.  Most people are

ready to start decorating that weekend after Thanksgiving.  They also are scouting for potential gifts,
so we set up customer wish lists.  If we have a local maker or trunk show, their items will also be one
of the best sellers since people like connecting a person or a story with a product.


Q: What are the deals you will be offering this year and what days do you offer them on?

A: Erin’s Faces: 20% off - Because we’re a small business we do one sale during the year and we
love giving that discount to our customers on Small Business Saturday.
A: Perch Home: We try to focus less on "deals" and more on customer service.  With that said, we
will being having several gifts with purchase and some wonderful discounts on our most popular gifts!  
We like to announce the details & specifics on Thanksgiving, to make the excitement of the day more
imminent. And we always have a gift for our customers on SBS!
A: Sadie’s: Gift with purchase for the first 50 customers and everyone will get a $5 off your next
purchase coupon

Q: What is the main challenge of the day?

A: Perch Home: Our retail space is compact and the sheer number of people coming through the
doors can be overwhelming.  I worry that if it is a customer's first time visiting the shop, they might not
have the ideal experience.  Sometimes I wish the event could be spread out a little! This year we are
trying to speed things up by offer a second check out for customers who do not need their gifts
wrapped.
A: Sadie’s: Small space of the store for the amount of people who come in shopping
A: Erin’s Faces: As an online business it’s important to us that all of our orders are fulfilled in a timely
manner

Q: What does the weekend after Thanksgiving look like for you?

A: Sadie’s: Black Friday sees a small increase then Saturday and Sunday become the 2nd highest
volume weekend to the weekend before Christmas
A: Erin’s Faces: We do a month’s worth of sales from Black Friday-Cyber Monday - it’s all hands on
deck the entire weekend and the entire week after.
A: Perch Home: Black Friday can be a little quiet since our customers are saving their visit for SBS.  

However, we usually do some sort of promotion to draw in shoppers who are visiting for the holiday
weekend.  I can't compete with the box stores in terms of Black Friday discounts, but I can offer a
lovely respite from the mall! So we do in-store flash sales, serve up some sort of food and beverage
treat and prep for SBS.  SBS is madness from beginning to end. Sunday tends to be busy too...
customers who couldn't make it in on SBS will stop by as a show of support.

Q: What are your hours like?

A: Erin’s Faces: I’m working all day, morning til night, for about 10 days and my staff is here every
day as well.  
A: Perch Home: We extend hours that weekend a bit.  Friday & Saturday hours are 9:00 AM to
8:00 PM.  Sundays are 10 AM to 6 PM. Basically we extend the day an hour in the AM and an hour in
the PM.
A: Sadie’s: 9a-8p Friday and Saturday.10-5 Sunday


Q: Have you seen growth year over year?

A: Perch Home: We have seen growth every year, except the year after AMEX pulled its promotional
credit.  That year it dipped slightly. But now it's in the national consciousness, so it's been up a little
every year.
A: Sadie’s: It is pretty steady year to year at the old store - hoping to see an increase for the 2nd store that opened in November last year.
A: Erin’s Faces: Yes - we’ve been up over 60% each year for the past three years during the Thanksgiving weekend.

Shop local folks!

11/14/18

Geen Beauty Holiday Gift Guide 2018

Y'all - we have so much new stuff I can hardly keep it together I'm so excited, so let's just dive in!


Kiss dreary winter weather goodbye with a fresh citrus kick from our Valencia Orange Set ($35) which is full of Vitamin C and Sweet Orange Essential Oil.  We've got our Valencia Orange Body Butter, Handcrafted Soap, Sugar Lip Scrub and Organic Lip Balm in one happy set. 


If running around in fields of lavender is your bag (who doesn't want to do that?!?) then the new Lavender Goodies ($35) is perfect for you.  Wash up with our Lavender Castile Body Wash or Handcrafted Soap and freshen your rooms/pillows with our Aromatherapy Spray.  All lavender fragrance comes from essential oil, no synthetic fragrance here kids.


Our new Handcrafted Soaps ($8) are great to have on hand for your own tub time or to give as hostess gifts and stocking stuffers for the holidays (they also double as shave bars!).  We've got:
Peppermint - made with Organic Peppermint leaves
Lavender - made with Lavender Oil
Lumberjack - made with Sage, Lemongrass & Spearmint
Valencia Orange - made with Organic Orange Peel


Need a present for the guy in your life?  Whether it's your dad, brother or your husband the new Lumberjack Gift Set ($25) has everything they probably are willing to use :) - body wash and bar soap that we add Sage, Eucalyptus and Spearmint essential oils to and a lip balm (flavored with Organic Peppermint)


A fan favorite, our Mineral Lip Gloss & Shimmer Holiday Set has our Sunnyside gloss (a sheer wash of pinky peach shimmer that seriously looks good on everyone on the planet), your choice of Fairy Dust or Magic Dust which is ideal for a highlight, again on all skintypes!, and a roomy makeup bag.


Back to newness!  Our new Skincare Sets ($120) allow you to have TSA-friendly sized bottles in our roomy Logo Makeup Bag so you can have your fave items with you wherever you go.  We've got one for each skintype:
  • Normal/Combo (shown) - Soothing Aloe Cleanser, Rose Quench Serum, Silk Cream, Pumpkin Enzyme Peel Mini 
  • Oily/Breakout-Prone - Clarifying Charcoal Cleanser, Clarifying Serum, Tamanu Oil, Clarifying Green Clay Mask Mini
  • Dry - Gentle Milk Cleanser, Firming Serum, Extreme Moisture Balm, Antioxidant Facial Polish Mini




All three of our top-selling Fair Trade Tinted Lip Balms in one set ($17.50) - a color for every mood:
Blushed - sheer pink quartz
Flushed - strawberry pinky red
Crushed - blackberry sheer plum


Winterfresh takes on a whole new meaning with our new Peppermint Gift Set ($35).  Crisp Peppermint Essential Oil scents our Peppermint Sugar Body Scrub, Handcrafted Soap, Sugar Lip Scrub and Organic Lip Balm


Perfect for everyone on your list these body scrub/body butter duos ($25) leave your skin exfoliated, smelling delightful and feeling super hydrated.  We've got:


Yummy smells for the whole house!  These Aromatherapy Spray Sets ($18) use an Organic Aloe Juice base that we pop essential oils into for freshening up of rooms, linens, clothes, cars and even you as they're safe to use on your body.  We have two sets:
Holiday - Forest Crunch (pine), Orange Clove & Cinnamon
Classic - Peppermint, Grapefruit & Lavender


Another newbie this year, we're combo'ing our Mason Jar Soy/Beeswax Candles with our Aromatherapy Spray in our Winter Scents Gift Set ($35).  You've got your choice of evergreen in Forest Crunch (fresh) or pomander with Orange Clove (citrus and spice).  


Get those lips mistletoe ready with our, you guessed it!, new Sugar Lips Set ($16) which combos our Sugar Lip Scrub to buff dead skin away (it tastes awesome too!) with our Organic Lip Balm to hydrate and soothe chapped smoochers.  Great for guys or gals.

10/30/18

Last Minute Halloween Makeup Fun


Need some inspiration for Halloween this year?  Here are some of my fave looks and how to get them!



Sugar Skull by Jordan Liberty



Butterfly by Erin's Faces




Deer Makeup by The Makeup Chair



Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad by Nikkie Tutorials


Skeleton Makeup by Michelle Phan


Vampire by Erin's Faces



Cat by Lucy Oriole






Mermaid by WanderBlush







10/1/18

Super Hero Oil - Tamanu


You guys, I am seriously so excited (and I just can't hide it!  or help making bad jokes!) because I have been waiting one year to launch this product!

Okay - short story - our new Tamanu Oil is fantastic for all skin types - normal, oily, acne-prone (yep!), sundamaged, even eczema.  It's a totally organic, virgin, cold-pressed oil and is known for being full of antioxidants as well as for being anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory.  All the anti's.  The good ones anyhow :).

Longer story - I've been doing makeup for nearly 20 years now *gulp* and sometimes I would get a client with the softest skin.  I'd always relish the moment because soft skin = good makeup but, more importantly, because my skin has never been soft.  Maybe at birth but I think it lasted a week and then it was over.  The oil kicked in and I always have some sort of texture going on.  Living in the Northeast also adds to this in the winter as my skin has started to get dry in cold weather - but nothing worked for me as everything broke me out!  Not anything we had, not anything anyone else had.  I was getting frustrated and dried out and it was no good.



So I started researching ingredients that would be a good fit for my skin.  Tamanu Oil kept coming up so I got a sample and fell. in. love.  My skin was SOFT (like those clients I've had!) and hydrated and I didn't break out at all.  Like at ALL.  But I thought, "this could just be me, I have to check in with other people too."  So I sent it to clients last winter/spring who were having the same issues I was.  Here's what they said which made me feel like this wasn't going to just be for me:



And then another sent me this before/after and testimonial:

"I reached out to Erin when I was struggling with a major breakout of perioral dermatitis.  She immediately knew what product to recommend for me.  The Tamanu Oil reduced the inflammation within one week of using it and left my skin with not ONE scar.  The area stayed hydrated and I enjoyed the fresh earthy smell!  Besides helping the inflamed area, it gave me my confidence back.  which for me, meant more than anything!" 

What?!  I know!  I was in.  

It does have a nutty/grassy fragrance to it which took me a minute to get used to but, you guys, I did not care once I realized what my skin could be like when using it!

A French nun first brought it over to the West at the turn of the century when she was working with patients suffering from leprosy (what?!) and then another Frenchie used it in 1918 with a patient who had gangrene who was scheduled for amputation - after Tamanu Oil drenched dressings she got to keep her leg!  This stuff is nuts.  Literally actually, as it's from the Tamanu Nut!  In a recent study Calophyllum Inophyllum, aka Tamanu Oil, was tested for its wound-healing abilities and antimicrobial properties and it was concluded to be an alternative therapeutic option to treat infected wounds.  Which is SO SERIOUS!

In my opinion it's best for skintypes that fall under the normal/combo and oily/breakout prone headers.  If you're dry I would go with our Argan Oil.  However, if you have eczema, a rash, a bite, or something that requires an anti-bacterial situation I'd go with the Tamanu.  

So, if all of that sounds good check it out HERE for more specifics and if you pick one up please let me know what you think!




Disclaimer: For informational and educational purposes only.  These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  If you have a health concern, a medical condition, are pregnant or breastfeeding or are taking any medication please consult your healthcare provider.

7/13/18

A Case for Organic Bedding with Boll & Branch

Photo used courtesy of Boll & Branch
We spend about 1/3 of our lives in bed.  In one year that's 4 months, which is a long time to hang out in one location!  We're good at making sure our skincare, makeup and food are sourced in clean ways but have you thought about your sheets?  I really hadn't until I sat with the co-founder of Boll & Branch, Missy Tannen, and Milla Leighton, Senior Manager of Design & Development, where I was majorly enlightened about the world of bedding (and wanted to be BFFs with them because they're so fun but that's another story!). 

Milla, Missy and myself
I had reached out to the company after having been given a set of their Signature Sheets as a gift (thanks mom for introducing me to B&B!) and later purchasing a couple more sets.  Since I felt like our motives in having our companies were aligned and I wanted to learn more about what they did.  You guys, I'm so into them :).

It all started with a home remodel - Missy and her husband, Scott, were doing a bedroom renovation and were upgrading their mattress from a queen to a king.  In need of new sheets, Missy went to a local department store to check out the options available and found the choices limited (maybe one organic set) and was unclear as to why certain sheet sets cost so much.  It came to her to ask, "what is the perfect product?" and, after research, she and Scott decided it came down to three major components:

Photo used courtesy of Boll & Branch

1 - RAW MATERIALS

Conventionally grown cotton is funky y'all.  It uses more pesticides than any other crop in the world.  Do you want to sleep on that?  And rub your face into it, a la your pillow?  Neither did Missy and Scott, so organic cotton was the goal.  Since cotton fields and bedding manufacturing facilities are limited in the United States, they headed over to India, the largest producer of organic cotton in the world*, and met with local farmers who used rainwater, marigolds, sunflowers (the flowers attract pest eating birds) and manure to grow their crops - and that was it.

Photo used courtesy of Boll & Branch

GOTS
, short for Global Organic Textile Standard, is the certification that all of their cotton bedding has and here's the layman's breakdown of what that means:

  • at the end of the day the sheets must contain at least 70% organic cotton 
    • Fun Fact - Boll & Branch exceeds this and does 100% organic cotton because they're awesome
  • any dyes used have to meet GOTS environmental and toxicological rules 
  • if there's color dying happening they have to have a functional waste water treatment plant (meaning, they can't use hot pink dye and then dump it in the water system and ruin the water for that community - did you ever think about that?  because I didn't)  

Photo used courtesy of Boll & Branch
"GOTS will literally go in unannounced and audit the location and see how they manage the dye waste.  I wanted rich, vibrant colors that wouldn't wash out but didn't come at an environmental cost" Missy said.  "We also use hydrogen peroxide instead of bleach to get our whites white and we don't do wrinkle resistant chemicals after dying as they tend to contain formaldehyde."  Um, good because that's gross.  And also, WHO KNEW?! 

Photo courtesy of Boll & Branch
GOTS also follows every step of the supply chain - from seed to spinner to weaver to dye house to finishing (cut and sew) - keeping organic fibers separated from conventional ones and regulating chemicals used.


Missy with factory workers
Photo used courtesy of Boll & Branch
2 - LABOR CONDITIONS

This is two-fold - you've got the farmers and you've got the factory workers.  In general, both generally get treated pretty horribly so this was another area Missy and Scott wanted to focus on.  Since they had decided on GOTS certified organic cotton that took care of the farmers.

Photo used courtesy of Boll & Branch
With conventionally grown cotton Missy explained that "the average cotton farmer's lifespan is 35 years old due to the chemicals they're using and the debt they go into purchasing GMO seeds and pesticides to keep them growing." (what?!)  She went on to explain "in India cotton farms are made up of small villages.  It's 1-4 acres per family and, while they'll grow a small amount of food for themselves, the primary amount of land is for cotton which is how they make their income.  We have visions of huge cotton picker machines here in the United States but in India everything is done by hand."  So all of those insecticides and pesticides - those are applied by hand in conventional farming and affect the health of those touching anything in the plot.  So once you eliminate chemicals, not only is it better for YOU but it's better for the farmers.

Factory workers who make Boll & Branch goodies
Photo used courtesy of Boll & Branch
Then we get to the factory workers.  Missy cared about the labor conditions of manufacturing  because "I'm a mom of three children, I was a teacher and I just wanted to know who was making our products and thank them."  Missy got samples from a number of factories in India and ended up loving the ones from a particular factory, and after meeting the owner, loved him too!  She asked if he would undergo Fair Trade Certification for his factory and he said yes.


Photo used courtesy of Boll & Branch

The Fair Trade Certification guidelines ensure
  • workers make a fair wage set by the country they're in + Fair Trade together (rare in factories)
  • workers are not discriminated against due to gender, age or religion
  • there's no child labor (do you want an 8 year old making your sheets?)
  • the prohibition of harmful chemicals
And then, one of the coolest parts to me, was the "Fair Trade Premium" - with every purchase order companies make to a Fair Trade Certified facility, a premium is paid.  A board of factory workers is elected by the workers themselves and they decide what to do with these premiums which end up being about 3 months extra wages.  Sometimes it's handing out cash bonuses to everyone, other times it's investing in healthcare supplies or even hotpots to cook in for all employees.  Excellent all round!

Photo courtesy of Boll & Branch
3 - AESTHETICS

"A majority of our customers haven't slept on organic sheets before so it might just be a bonus for them instead of a requirement" Missy explained, though after reading this far aren't you SO on board for organic sheets?!  Also, "they had to visually hold up to the sheet sets at Bloomingdale's, Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn".  Each set comes in a beautiful box tied with a ribbon, instead of wrapped in plastic, as Missy wanted people to feel "that it was worth the wait of ordering online and that it's a special purchase."


Photo courtesy of Boll & Branch
And then they had to be SOFT - crazy soft.  Their Signature Soft Sheets have a loose weave that wraps around you.  The more you wash them, the softer they get without having a deceptively high thread count.  "We promise the you your best, softest sleep" Missy said.  

So all of this - quality raw materials, fair and humane labor conditions and beautiful aesthetics all combine to make up everything that Boll & Branch creates.  Missy said "I truly love that we're making amazing products that people love.  Knowing that the more we sell means it's a positive impact on our supply chain - it means so much!"

And that's what you're paying for - clean cotton, fair wages, healthy farmers and luxurious bedding.  The organic cotton alone, straight off the field, costs Boll & Branch $20-30/sheet set (depending on size), which is nutty if you think of the sets you see for $30 at big box stores.  It starts to make you think about how much those sheets actually cost.


Percale sheets
Photo courtesy of Boll & Branch
In that list of goodies are, of course, sheets, as well as blankets, throws, duvet covers and pillows.  And new for summer are their Percale Sheets.

"We have thoughtful product launches that come from customer requests" Missy shared, and the Percale was no exception as the team was getting asked for them.  Think of a men's dress button down shirt - it has a tighter weave and a crisp "hotel sheet" feel.  They're great for people who get hot in the summer as they "sleep cool" since the sheets tents over you, creating more airflow, as opposed to hugging you as other sheets can.  The ladies were very generous and gave me a set of Percale sheets and you guys, they're SO LIGHT.  It feels like little angels are holding the sheets up over you so you don't get too hot - I can actually spoon my husband, or be spooned!, for more than 30 seconds and not overheat in the summer!  It's magical!

Photo courtesy of Boll & Branch
Tricks of the Trade from Missy & Milla:
  • always wash new sheets - even if they're organic they've been touched by multiple hands and you should wash them before you do a face plant into your bed
  • don't wash sheets with other items - towels and clothing can be abrasive and break your sheets down more quickly and leave lint
  • you need two sets of sheets - one for on the bed, one in the wash - that's it!
  • Erin's tip - if you're going to the trouble to using clean sheets use clean laundry detergent - check organic options from Whole Foods or lines like this one from Molly's Suds or from Eco Nuts .  
I'll put it to you this way - my husband is going to go work at a camp this summer for a couple of weeks, and probably will for many summers after.  He has to bring his own bedding and said "I guess I'll go pick up a set of twin sheets from Marshall's before I go"  - at which I think steam started coming out of my ears *lol*.  I'm ordering a twin set of Boll & Branch today!

*https://ota.com/sites/default/files/indexed_files/OrganicCottonFacts2015_0.pdf 

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