New twist

Time marches on, things change, kids grow up, our homes evolve, family scatters, but sometimes we can feel like we’re standing still while the world marches past, moving inexorably forward.  Shouting down the marchers does no good.

That was more or less how I felt for a while. Clicking along, merrily, perhaps a bit cocky and overly confident in the day-to-day workings I’d churn out online in formulations, label production, graphic design, blog posts, Instagram & Twitter moments then Bam! It all came to a screeching halt.

Windows 10 ran an update,(cue ominous music) which did not play well with others.  My computer lost sight of several things – first, our network settings, so trying to get that back caused us to lose our sound card codec settings.  Trying to get those back, we then lost the ability to save custom settings for region, date and time of day.

The forced updates Windows began doing with its roll-out of 10 was a complete disaster to the desktop.  The laptop fared far better and still clicks along just fine.  I suppose in part because it’s newer.  It began life here on 8, which we could hardly wait to leave in the dust to upgrade to 10.

10 worked fine for a while on the desktop that began life here on 7, but then suddenly we could not get any wi-fi signal, so YouTube buffered constantly before dropping out completely. Being a huge fan of Hulu, Netflix, YouTube and streaming online at various channels’ websites, that’s like being denied air.  Unsustainable.

The fixes to all of those issues did nothing to repair the situation.  There was no going back as another of the casualties was the ability to set aside a custom portion of our drive to rollback dates.  It wouldn’t go back beyond the date of the fatal update so all hope and hardware was lost.

The time had come.  My desktop was going to have to be retired from full time operations.  It’s still a great computer, but the internet connectivity is unreliable.  Still a lot of my files are on there and I need them daily.  So, it will still be used for offline work mostly, though it does still connect to some ghostlike form of someone’s network.  Don’t know whose network it’s latched onto since none are listed.  My 20 year era of faithful dedication to PCs had ended.

Welcome to the wonderful world of iMac!  It’s a brave new world and so far I’m loving this and wondering now why I waited so darn long.  Yes, a couple of my programs aren’t Mac compatible, but the PC still can serve that purpose.  I’m fine with that.  Now to learn how to find everything I typically use all the time and quit scrolling on a wheel mouse in the wrong direction. My iMac is an older model, but new to me.  Has plenty of power, lots of memory, runs on Sierra, updated to the latest iTunes so this chick is a happy camper.  Everything seamlessly syncs if you want it to.  It never fails to ask first and I like that!  So here’s to another long & happy relationship with Apple computers and the bright, shiny world of iMac!

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Lessons from the post-computer apocalypse

Lesson #1 – and this is a big one so remember it well.  Back Up Your Data! Get an external hard-drive, the bigger the better because if your computer has a lot of images, pictures, family photos, videos for YouTube, etc like mine does, it will take a huge bite (byte?) out of the available space.  Get at least a 1T hard drive.  Lord of the Rings was stored in terabytes to give you an idea of size. 5792404_sd.jpg;max;max

When my PC decided it had had enough of my shenanigans and stopped booting, that hit me hard.  Many of the things I used every day for my bath & body biz were on there. Some were specific to Windows and incompatible with Mac, so I was reluctant to going Apple for the next computer.  Harder still, it had been a long time since I’d backed up the data. Why?  It took too long and my time is quickly chewed away by things beyond my control here at home so, long story short I didn’t bother to back everything up as often as I should have.

Now  we have a Mac for reaching the internet, doing my daily tasks as needed, but my soap making records were all in SoapMaker 3 and during the PC’s crash, that entire program was lost.  By extension, so were all my recipes, settings, molds & supplies.

I discovered too, that the recipes I had stored in there were not necessarily printed out in my hard copy records which are kept in 3-Ring binders in my work room. Some were, some weren’t.  That lack of information was brought into keen focus when I recently had a run of bad luck with lotion-making.  They were not turning out as they once had and I couldn’t figure out what was happening to cause these fails until I went all the way back to the beginning to my resources, studied proportions & percentages and found one item in particular was way off base.  Once corrected, the problem smoothed out – literally.  But this too is a clear & relevant reason for backing up your data.

So here’s Lesson #2 – make a hard copy immediately for all items you want backed up digitally.  Because – again – you never know what tomorrow’s going to do to you.

If you have not recently, do so now.  You never know what tomorrow is going to throw at you.  External hard drives are far less expensive than they were even a few years ago, so get one and use it often.  You’ll thank yourself many times for taking the time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping it going

After the busy-ness of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday with the expiration of the sale coupon deadline looming as a Facebook notification reminded me, it hit me that many shoppers are still struggling to finish off their shopping lists, still searching high and low for bargains since the Black Friday weekend was over and stocks were. depleted completely in many places.  Where would these good people go for savings on quality hand crafted bath & body goods and find a great bargain as well?

I’ve often stated in my hashtags “I ❤ My Customers” or in the text lines of a post, tweet or Instagram message and it’s true.  My customers satisfaction means the world to me.  I love to make people smile, to make them happy, give them their money’s worth.  They know it through customer service how much I truly care regardless of the issue they’re having, good or bad.  I try to make a positive difference in their day because they deserve it when things are throwing challenges their way.  They know I care and with that sentiment, I decided to extend the sale coupon to December 20th.

Through December 20th at 11:59 pm the coupon code SHOPSMALL2017 will continue to give you 25% off your entire order throughout our online store.  This is the ONLY location for our products at this time so you won’t find us in your nearby favorite brick & mortar haunts.  We’re only to be found at https://www.neecysnecessities.com though we can be seen in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+ & YouTube.  Click our links below to follow us or subscribe to the channel and Facebook Group.

Neecy’s Necessities in Facebook (My biz page)

Neecy’s Facebook Group. (My Group Page)

Neecy’s Instagram. (business Instagram page)

Neecy’s Twitter

YouTube channel under our business name

Our newest channel in YouTube

YouTube channel 3

Neecy’s web site

 

Crazy Sales Days (Daze?)

Others in our industry are also having banner sales receipts and they are to be congratulated for their successes.  In my own small way I’m having a good year as well.  Sales so far have cleared the shelves of 4 fragrances, two of which are best sellers, the other two are special limited edition items that are still debatable as repeaters.  They’re nice, yes, but are they outstanding?  Jury’s still out on that one.

I’m happy with the sales so far so I’m not going to look any gift horses in their mouths.  It could be far slower than it is and for the business I’ve gotten so far, I’m eternally grateful.  I just hope that I can say the same thing next year.  We all think this way during this time of year when we’re rushed off our feet.  I find myself wishing I was busier than I currently am, but then I stop and remember that it could be as silent as a tomb so I back it up and send a moment of gratitude to all who’ve made my business their destination for their bath & body supplies.

So with much gratitude and many wishes for a safe, healthy & prosperous holiday for all who shop with my online store, Neecy’s Necessities, I thank you with all my heart.  You’ve made my life meaningful, productive, creative and beautiful.  Happy holidays from my family to yours!

(PSSST – our sale ends Monday night at 11:59 pm, so stock up while there’s still time!) 

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Shopping Small keeps you home from the Mall

ShopSmallSaturday

 

After all of the visuals I’ve seen this morning from stores opening LAST NIGHT for Black Friday one-upmanship, I’m more than happy to stay home, curl up on the sofa and shop from home online.  It’s a zoo out there, folks!  No doubt about it.  Shootings, fights, thrown shoes.  Really?  Is any sale that important?

In a blatant and unapologetic self promotional post, I offer a safer option from the madding crowds.  Polish off your shopping list with us and we even offer to wrap it all up for you, too, complete with personalized tags and ship it to them if you choose to do that instead of having it shipped to you. Here’s our link  to keep it easy for you-

Neecy’s Necessities

Holiday discounts, yes or no?

Everyone knows about Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.  Many an Indie crafter lives for these three days to make their numbers go into the black and sell out their fall and winter stock.  We love any reason to be able to make more soap.  Really.  We are obsessed and unashamedly so. Still, there comes a time when the shelves are groaning, there’s a small narrow path from bed, to bath, to kitchen, to front door and room for little else because of all the inventory we’ve feverishly crafted for the past three months so we’ll be ready when the clock chimes midnight on the night after Thanksgiving.  That’s when chaos rules.  But we love it.

So you’ve spent a lot of money on ingredients, the best that money can buy, little extras you hope will make others squeal with unabashed glee when they open their boxes, made things at a frenzied pace for weeks in early fall or late summer, all with Christmas or wintry themes.  Observers scratch their heads in confusion, glance at the calendar and walk away hoping you’ll come back to reality soon. But you know what you’re doing.  You’ve planned great things for this holiday shopping season.  Big plans and now the game is afoot.  The calendar has now flipped over into November.

The turkey’s gone, the dressing is drying out on the table.  Coffee mugs rest abandoned and cold.  Football plays on the television in a room nearby but the cheers are overlaid by the distinctive sounds of snoring.  You know what’s going on in there and it’s all about the tryptophan.  Ah well.  You’re ready to makes really right with your business world.

Time to set out the packing materials. Wait for midnight when you can begin lining up those emails from orders that begin pinging into your inbox.  You’ve prepared for this.  You made beautiful things that everyone loves and set up coupons for real deals on all those little lovelies that you hope they just have to have!

Let’s think about that for a bit.  You’ve worked hard, created those items, building them from a tiny kernel of an idea that you stewed over, losing sleep, making notes late into the night.  You’ve lost time with family, hubby, pooch, grandbabies too maybe (depending on your age) that you can never get back but you did so willingly because this is your career and you love your work.  It’s your purpose and feeds that deep-seated need in your soul to provide something to others that they cannot find or have been searching for before stumbling across your website/Facebook page/YouTube channel/whatever.  You bounce out of bed every morning to do this and yet you want to sell these things short?  You decide to use a coupon code and be a part of the shoppers rush even though you know your products are worth every bit of time, effort, stock, labour, blood sweat and tears at their original price.

Hm, what is missing here?  What am I not comprehending fully?  Yes, a sale is a good thing and at this time of year, it’s a way of life now. If you don’t have a sale price, well, you will lose business.  On Black Friday, Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday it’s all about the sales numbers.  It isn’t about the product anymore.  It’s about the price point.  Somehow, though you know that consumers love a good deal. With luck, if they come to you now and like what they get, they’ll come back again throughout the rest of the year.

We as business owners & crafters are keenly aware of how much consumers love a bargain and we do as much as we can to give them one because we love what we do.  This is the heart of our deal.  They buy from us, at a slightly lower price for this one weekend out of the month of November and we will be happier for knowing we gave them more for their hard-earned money and they still have a wonderful gift for their giftee for all that work on both ends.

Using coupons and sale prices was a tough call for me this year.  Frankly I can’t afford to offer coupons or reduced prices, but I also know there is a bit of room for compromise to be able to sell my products, still be compensated for all the superior quality ingredients I use in each of them, the time it took to craft them all from scratch and still be able to pay my electric bill at the end of the month. But some other deals had to fall by the wayside.  Ideas were toyed with then scrapped for lack of funds.  It’s been a long, hard, expensive drive to the end of this year and I still hope I can remain in this a good bit longer.  As the others, I love what I do.  I’m not ready to stop.  There are too many really great ideas and new things I want to offer yet it was becoming clear that things must change or it will be lights out for my business that’s struggled for so long.

Using coupons or running sales, offering give-aways are good things, but they don’t have to happen all the time. Free shipping will have to be applied only to larger orders that will qualify for it. Keeping the sales to the holidays, offering free shipping for larger orders will be the new rule for Neecy’s Necessities if I want to stay in business at all. It’s a painful reality, but a very realistic one from a business standpoint.  I know what my customers are getting when they order from me and I’m confident they’ll love it once they’ve discovered it, so my prices, while lower than some are still competitive, not too low, not too high and can withstand three days of sale price levels once a year.  It’s a compromise I do for my customers and perhaps in the future I’ll offer something else instead, perhaps loyalty points or a buy this many, get that free.We

We’ll see what the future holds for Neecy’s Necessities and in the meantime I wish for you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving.

To discount or not to discount?

It’s speeding towards the holiday shopping season faster every year it seems and many B&B makers like myself are hustling their bustle like dervishes to get everything at a state of readiness for the big sales days ahead.  It’s usually their busiest time of the year so lots of stock has to be ready and waiting for the Go Shopping button to light up.

Shoppers also like a great deal, discount, sales, bargains from every direction.  Coupons can fall like confetti at a ticker tape parade.  It can get hairy, to say the least.  This time of year is stressful for both sides of the sales counter.  We worry about stock being plentiful enough; did we make the right things in sufficient quantity to cover every potential scenario?

Makers worry too that prices are not on point.  ‘Point’ being that level that will make it possible to continue to be a maker and sell an insured product to the buying public.  Taxes inevitably follow, but for now that worry is after the first of the year.  One issue at a time is about all this maker can take.  It’s more a focus of covering the shelves with a diverse selection that is affordable in today’s market environment.

I recently read something about discounts being a cut into your product’s value and how others see that value as well.  I cannot and will not undervalue my product.  I have worked too hard to make it something wonderfully beneficial, safe and available to all to undermine its value at this point.  With that in mind, for good or for bad, I removed the discount codes from my site.  All except for one.  Its only remaining code is for the 5% discount on the Pre-Order soaps (EARLYBIRD5) to encourage sales to lock in an order for those wanting a particular batch’s bar guaranteed to be there when it’s ready for shipping day.  It also serves as an indicator of scents that are customer favorites.

Time will tell if that was a good idea or not, but there it is for now.  Let’s see what happens.

Here’s a link to my site for you to browse through for your shopping this year….

Neecy’s Necessities