Dare to be Simple…

‘Something to keep our Words afloat’… there’s nothing like a story and more to do just that! See that blue in the opening image? That color is very close to The Brand Color- so easily recognizable that it’s become known as- Tiffany Blue! The jeweler so famous that just a tiny Tiffany Blue box tied with white satin ribbon- portends an engagement ring! I worked for the fragrance division of @tiffanyandco – I often had to wear a suit of that same color with a Tiffany scarf and the rules were strict. Only white ribbon was to be used to adorn their packages with the exception of red ribbon during the holidays! Well, I once had a customer who bought the fragrance, I duly wrapped it per protocol- then he asked me if I would mind wrapping that package with a plain brown wrapper and twine because he wanted it to be a surprise!

Here’s the point, unless you have strong brand colors- famous in fact- natural wraps are your friend. I love natural wraps, they save time and money (you can use them all year round!) Yet, here’s the main reason- Natural wraps create nostalgia and we all know creating good memories of a simpler time is one of the best things you can do!

Think twine, muslin, brown paper bags and tags (stamped with a logo?) that’s a good starting point. I also love crisp cello wrap for almost anything. And honestly old fashioned wax paper uplevels even the simplest fare. That chocolate pecan pie? I wrapped it in parchment tied with natural twine. Somehow the pie seemed more homemade and more delightful!

Newsprint, paper doilies, shredded and tissue paper, butcher’s wrap and rolls of plain brown make a wonderful base or fillers. Spend your money on very nice ribbon- the contrast is often the perfect thing! As is a  well designed logo or label. A garden shop I worked for, very often wrapped plants or used folded down paper bags lined with a plastic bag to wrap everything from Forget Me Not’s to Orchids!

Create nostalgia. In fact, creativity and nostalgia are new tools. Yet now, when having an online presence is a necessity- these tools have become even more important! Remember that creativity has been called the newest and best business hack with nostalgia running a close second!

Natural wraps not only save you money, are sustainable and best of all? They’re something to keep your words, your brand and your products afloat in these uncertain times. Be courageous- Dare to be Simple, instead of overdone.

Love y’all, Brenda

*Some of these suggestions are in my free February planning guide (send me an email at- brenda@camelliascottage.com to get yours! And! So exciting! I’m working on a ‘Supplies List’ coming soon!

Add in some Merry Missions…

Whether you’re a shopper or a seller, this is the time when retailers back off large discounts, or if they are offering them, watch out for exclusions to that discount. As sellers you have a choice to do discounts or exclusions as well. I recommend it, because guaranteed holiday delivery is ending shortly and the big sales happen later. So, What Now? How to keep your customers coming back, checking into your site?

Several of my favorites have begun adding ‘merry missions’ or ‘holiday happiness’ in their online advertising. What are Merry Missions and how can they help with your holiday marketing efforts? These are amusing, easy and fun things that aren’t sales-y (which all of us are tired of by now!) Merry Missions make opening your notices fun! Alternate your site with activities that are sure to keep them coming back. Here’s a few I’ve come up with …

  1. What Christmas Ornament brings you the best holiday memories?
  2. Add extra marshmallows to your Hot Cocoa- just today! You deserve it!
  3. Wrap your packages by twinkle lights, it makes the task so much nicer..
  4. Name and sing your favorite holiday song or Christmas Carol. Sing as loud as you like! No one’s listening…
  5. Enjoy a candy cane while you write and mail a few love letters. If there ever was a year for it, this is it!
  6. Do a ‘hunt and gather’ walk, work your found treasures into your holiday decorating!
  7. Read your favorite Children’s Book- Velveteen Rabbit, Secret Garden or ‘Twas the night before Christmas…’  Children’s books are a sure way to amuse and charm.
  8. Make, bake and decorate a batch of cookies, even if they aren’t made from scratch or even perfect. Psst: Displayed by candlelight, no one will notice anyway!
  9. Get all Dolled Up even if you don’t have any place to go… watch a sweet holiday movie, it will make it seem like date night!
  10. Write your holiday wishes and tie them to the tree or better yet? Fulfill a few wishes!

Adding fun and Joy to your holiday advertising or even with your friends and family is sure to be a hit, especially this year. And! I’m sure you can come up with even better ones than I did to dole out one at a time…

And who knows? You might start a new tradition that will continue through the years… Merry Missions are way to build your audience and if it’s working for the big companies? Then I’m sure your customers will love you for it.. You’ll have to trust me on this!

Love y’all, Brenda

I’m wishing you much success! And PS Merry Missions work for product or service based businesses!

It’s the Little Things…

It’s the little special touches, in this case, the little extras we add to our packaging that creates the magic! It was my job for well over a decade to embellish high end goods in retail stores. Nothing made ‘shiny and new’ products more appealing than natural materials.

I still favor brown paper packaging ‘tied up with string’. Adding yellowed newsprint instead of tissue to ‘found objects’ creates charm and intrigue. Jars of handcrafted jams look even better topped with rustic fabric- I personally couldn’t live without burlap or drop cloth- yes, you read that right!

Seed pods and natural spices are amazing embellishments- add a bit of twinkle- just like adding a bit of whipped cream on a hot drink! And, if you style those goods and please include the unexpected element of the unrefined.

One of my favorite and practical ways to other a single ornament is to nest the most delicate ornament is in dry moss, excelsior in offer a single ornament is to nest the delicate ornament in dry moss, excelsior in a small paper box. The humble elevates the delicate and fine. The same goes for plain notecards… I stock up on inexpensive cards- then add varied bits of ribbon for 3 dimensional designs which take just minutes to do.

And really? Forcing bulbs is such pleasant indoor gardening- a reclaimed jar with garden twine around the rim only adds to the sweet pleasure of giving.

I once bundled snips of fresh herbs, greenery tied to dried kindling shortly after Thanksgiving with instructions to set aside the bundle until the herbs and greenery had dried and toss the bundle into the Yuletide fire. The fragrance was a gentle holiday scent.When my daughter married, her hostess thank you gifts were white paper boxes filled with natural excelsior, a small pottery bird and a feather snipped from a white boa. A simple card read- ‘Thank you for Feathering Our Nest.’ I continue to do some version of that from time to time.

Natural or found materials are less expensive, twine and scraps of ribbon add an unexpected charm. High end or delicate products simply look amazing with a rustic touch.  The reverse is also true, if the packaging is sleek and shiny and holds a rustic gift, the look is amazing.

Remember this rule the experts use- ‘Add a touch of the unexpected every chance you get.’  *Visual images that mix the ‘humble with the fine.’ look amazing too. Here’s to easy and beautiful packaging this year!

Love y’all, Brenda

My 3 Favorite Ways to Market Your Business in 2020…

And so it begins… Holidays and Sales. Online shopping, small boutiques, open air markets or garden centers- and let’s not forget pop up shops! From what my research shows- this is where most 2020 holiday sales will occur. My top 3 tips for product based businesses-

  1. Collaborate. Whatever goods you sell- team up with an opposite type of product or business. For instance, fresh pumpkins and amazing cutlery team up for a fabulous holiday table. Rustic pottery and naturals alongside fine wine and delicate goblets on a buffet outdoors. Imagine the possibilities for whatever you sell. 
  2. Open Air Markets. These will prevalent and considered safer than indoor settings- perhaps even a limited Sidewalk Sale. So! Pay close attention to packaging- I love cello, closed canisters and baskets. Folks want to know what they are purchasing is clean, safe and beautiful- not to mention it’s already wrapped! Regardless of what you are selling, your visual content needs to be really good and appealing. For instance, if you sell spice rubs or blends- even baked goods- the single ingredients often will be a more appealing image than just the package. Simple tableware looks wonderful if embellished, even tagged. Think of teaming up with a florist- then, go ahead and set the table for an amazing image. Offer unexpected color combinations and while you’re at it- offer an inexpensive natural gift. (The possibilities are endless- think visual and virtual of whatever you offer!) Speaking of Offers- Free gift with purchase, exclusive access to new or loyal folks- even a mystery offer if 3 or more items are purchased. Offers are one of the best places to let your creativity shine! 
  3. Popup Shops  I have hosted these with my own baked or handcrafted goods and as an added bonus 1-2 local artists were invited to participate. For the location- often the host receives a very small percentage of their sales. Note: if space is limited, ask the artists to have an inventory of their wares- to save space, limit crowding and most important for ease of checkout.  *Please give buyers a quick and easy shopping experience, especially online- checkout without signup, remove anything that slows down the process. 

Please note: You must have an online presence! It’s the most cost effective way to share where you are and what you’re selling. And here’s a few more hints- Use simple styling, simple wraps- for instance, I love wax, brown or parchment paper. Tie with twine, baker’s cord or even satin ribbon. Wrap with a natural linen, burlap, baskets- for everything from baked goods to flowers and plants- these wraps look good and save money too. For your photography: use flatlay photography (coming up in another post!) Layer or carousel to virtually showcase your wares. Begin right now writing holiday copy for your site, brand or blog- this year make sure you’re upbeat with kind understanding, it’s a difficult time. 

So! there you have my 3 favorites- Collaborate. Popup Shops and Open Air Markets with a strong online presence. *Decide on a fun and fair way to double or triple your efforts as you collaborate with others. All the best! 

Love y’all, Brenda 

Patina…

Patina… that magical thing that happens with age. I find it fascinating- maybe because I have a bit of patina myself. Ok, more than a bit. Still. Patina was originally a word used for a thing that happens to copper when it’s exposed to – well, life. Gradually patina came to represent objects that had been around a while, traveled through more than one experience- looked at life’s inevitable hardships and instead of becoming bitter became more beautiful and interesting- simply because it has survived and continues to thrive.

Patina holds within it, stories we may never read- through doors that have been the silent listeners to a time we’ve never known. They may not be shiny and brand new- yet, they’ve figured out how to be old, determined and useful.

One of the things I enjoy while traveling is taking photographs of architectural elements- especially those with patina like that wrought iron fence in New Orleans (oh, how I miss that old girl this year!) Patina is a good historical teacher who isn’t the least bit hysterical- especially when it comes to aging.

Now, it’s important to me that you know- I love all of you with all of your amazing talents, yet what always surprises me are those of you, who have a bit of age on them, seem more stable, less stressed, more inspired and less complicated or competitive- more willing to try new things. The ones of you who’ve realized that the last thing you want to do- is wake up and realize you didn’t do the things you were meant to do.

If possible, age should never be the limiting factor on potential. Patina is proof of timelessness- of a life fully lived. Just know, when you see patina anywhere- even the lines on a face, a bit of exposed brick, rust or peeling paint- you’re looking at proof that getting out of your comfort zones, staying strong, rising to the challenges, weathering the storms – results in something real, valuable and beautiful. Patina. Admire it. Aspire to it. Appreciate it in yourself.

Patina is a design trick used by the finest stylists. Take a tip from them. Use items with patina for your props or backgrounds. If you’re traveling, even in your own town- try to find and photograph patina. It’s beautiful and, I think you’ll find it everywhere you look.

Love y’all, Brenda