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 aren’t 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!

It’s Time to Plan February…

I can’t believe that January is more than halfway through, before we know it February will be here. And guess which of the Winter months is the best for selling goods and services? February starts of with Groundhog Day when we’re hoping for an earlier start to Spring…so, anything pertaining to gardening (early bloomers anyone?) or even weather related is a natural and fun sales day. Warm, hot mugs of anything – tea, coffee, hot chocolate and.. maybe some fresh baked cookies? This is the month for you!

February’s also Heart Health Month- tailor made for coaches, mentors – anything that improves health- physical and emotional well being- this is a welcome time for you! (Remember, internationally, Blue Monday is January 18 when moods are said to be low) Its a wonderful time to lift spirits, from now throughout February. Super Bowl Sunday is a fun time to promote Fitness, Food and Fun. 🏈

There are various holidays to celebrate Love, including love for family, friends and even pets! Valentine’s Day is, of course, the big one, isn’t it? Did you know that it’s a multi-billion dollar business retail day? In the US and UK the average shopper spent an average of $200 spanning across those special gifts to children, friends and special loved ones. That includes gifts, cards, special meals and flowers- not just for that special someone. And, it doesn’t have to be flowers and chocolates- though I’ll take both!

Later on in February- don’t forget to ‘let the good times roll’ for Mardi Gras- another fun and food day!

So, what’s all this about? I have a gift for you! My February Planning Guide is ready! Let’s get February started with filling in the calendar, you’ll find the multiple dates will help with content creation and you’ll also find marketing tips- time savers and even suggestions for ordering supplies! ALL are included in my February Planning Guide. And hopefully, help you save time.

The planning guide is *Free* again this month and like January’s ‘it’s chock full of information.’ As those who’ve gotten it have told me time and time again! How to get it? Email me – brenda@camelliascottage.com and we will get it out to you. It’s a 3 page pdf that’s easily printable.

Why? I made a New Year’s resolution to help as many as I could in the first few months of what might be a difficult time financially for cottage industries, small businesses and more. The tips in February’s guide apply to product sales, service providers, mentors, course creators and coaches. You won’t want to miss this one.

February looks like an amazing month! Get a head start planning and creating content. I cannot close without saying Thank You to all who’ve gotten their January Guide, it’s been amazing connecting with you! Ready to get started with February planning…and don’t forget I

Love y’all, Brenda

*don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for even more inspiration @brendawyatt_

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