This box is the problem….

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When Mr P presented me with this box at the weekend and asked if I could use it for anything it struck me that this box epitomises the very problem with high end packaging and is exactly what I was meaning in my blog post about resentful packaging.

It’s beautiful, it’s made out of solid board, covered elegantly with bright red glossy paper for the base and a slight flock feel fabric paper for the lid. It oozes quality, it feels special. So special in fact that you keep the box long after the products have been used and their packaging discarded.

You want to use this box for something that matches its quality and timeless elegance so you put it away while you think what that purpose could be…. Fast forward 4 years and the box has been on a shelf gathering dust in Mr P’s office as he doesn’t want to throw it away. It’s too nice to throw away oh and the real kicker is that if you did throw it in the recycling, it’s not recyclable as many of the gloss finished papers can’t be recycled in the usual way so even if I were to put it in the green bin, the people who sort the recycling would have to put it to landfill. The box doesn’t seem so special now…

Whilst I do personally love beautiful, elegant packaging, I can’t feel comfortable about the cost it has not just in terms of the price of the product but also the environment. Lubylu® packaging is designed to be elegant and stylish but not wasteful and resentful. It’s made from recycled materials and can be recycled. My aim is for my customers to be able to enjoy high quality, handmade home fragrance products with a hint of fun and a sprinkling of glitter that don’t cost the earth in more ways than one.

Who’s with me on trying to increase our purchases of Ethical Luxury goods…?

 

Lucy Pimblott

Owner

Lubylu® Ltd

www.lubylu.com

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11 of the best natural fragrances to lift your spirits

With National Aromatherapy Awareness week just around the corner I thought it would be an ideal time to share with you 11 of the best natural fragrances which either on their own or when blended create emotionally and mentally uplifting aromas which put a spring in your step and a smile on your face…

I’ve made a point of choosing oils that are easy to get hold of and ones that don’t cost a fortune to buy!

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  1. Basil – A beautifully deep green leafy plant that not only makes your pasta sauce taste amazing it’s also excellent at relieving mental fatigue. The woody notes create emotional clearing that helps the mind clarify its concerns and re-organise and file away issues creating an awakening sensation.
  1. Bergamot – secretly one of my favourite scents, Bergamot is uplifting and refreshing, slightly citrusy but with a light floral touch. By creating a cheerful, happy feeling it can be used to help relieve anxiety and lift any black clouds which may be hanging over your mood.
  1. black-pepper-83086_640Black Pepper – with its deep spicy notes Black Pepper is a wonderfully warming essential oil that aids tension relief and boosts mental and emotional confidence. As a stimulant for muscles, which the heart and brain both are it has energising properties and is also warming to the soul. Lubylu’s Amaryllis & Black Pepper fragrance harnesses the spicy notes whilst blending beautifully with light, white florals.
  1. Fennel – With strong aniseed notes the traditional emotional use for Fennel is to increase courage and mental strength. It’s more often used for digestive complaints and by alleviating issues within that area, your whole body feels revived and uplifted.
  1. Geranium – as one of the most versatile essential oils, Geranium blends exceptionally well with many other oils. Its uplifting and greenly floral notes give it a grounding and homely feel. Mental calmness and a feeling of serenity follows a feeling of being grounded which is why Geranium can be seen as uplifting even though these two emotions may appear to be contradictory.
  1. Lime – As with all citrus fragrances, they can’t help but make you smile, apparently lime-2256555_640it’s scientifically proven, it’s the kind of science I like. Lime is a clean and fresh, light and spiritually uplifting scent which is slightly sweeter and greener than lemon making it feel a little less harsh at times. The Lubylu cheeky fragrance of Mojito is a great zesty blend of sparkling limes, fizzy bubbles and a hint of refreshing peppermint
  1. Marjoram – The ability of Marjoram to help relieve headaches and focus the mind allows it to create a feeling of stress relief. Once head fog has cleared you can get on with your and free your soul to be uplifted.
  1. Peppermint – As a very strong natural fragrance, Peppermint is best used sparingly. When blended with others it has a tendency to take over and completely envelope the other aromas. It aids concentration by its ability to cleanse the mind and the body. By being cooling and refreshing it facilitates mental focus and concentration.
  1. Petitgrain – A beautifully woody fragrance with de-stressing and re-balancing properties. It’s an important base note of many mainstream perfumes with very similar, less refined tones to Neroli but at about ten times less expensive!
  1. Sweet Orange – This is a very versatile essential oil as it works well in summer and oranges-428073_1280in winter depending on what you blend it with. Its warming deep fruity notes blend beautifully with winter spices to create soul heartening aromas yet the fresh, sweet and zesty notes welcome you to drift away to warm and sunny Mediterranean shores. One of the happiest essential oils in the spectrum.
  1. Ylang Ylang – A second favourite of mine due to its deep woody tones and ability to make you feel so good about yourself and all things around you. It’s likened to a euphoric state by some and is well documents to create emotional uplift.

 

These are just 11 of the vast number of essential oils that are widely available on the market, I hope it gives you a good starting point of what you can use to uplift your spirits at times when you need a little emotional, mental or soulful boost.

It’s crucial when choosing the essential oils that you read the descriptions and ensure that they are of the highest quality, naturally distilled not chemically extracted and it is also advised that if you have any medical conditions, or if you’re pregnant that you seek professional medical advice before using essential oils.

Lucy Pimblott, Owner at Lubylu

www.lubylu.com

 

Just get up half an hour earlier…!

I used think that ‘Mum’ prenuer groups, Mum targeted business networks were unnecessary and frankly quite limiting in terms of who they targeted and attracted. I saw them as counter intuitive as it shouldn’t matter who we are in business in terms of our status, family situation and gender, just that we’re in business and trying to achieve our goals. But then I was in a meeting with a chap who is possibly young enough to be my son 😮 and I realised that we’re not all the same…

In this meeting we were talking about ways to be more productive. I mentioned that I’d started listening to Podcasts (Janet Murray ones are particularly good as well as the ones from Shopify callled TGIM) while I run. I don’t run far or fast but it is my little bit of calorie burning head space so I want it to be productive as well as then I can feel like I’m doing 2 things at once. It was mentioned in this meeting that listening to podcasts on double speed is a great way to get more listening done in half the time, not tried that yet and I guess you have to tune your brain into the concept, but I will try it.

I happened to say that it’s all well and good reading and listening to books about how to be more productive but that while you’re absorbing this information you may not actually be being productive and that somehow you have to get that time back. It was suggested to me by this very young chap that I get up half an hour earlier each morning so that I can read for that time and that way I get more out of my day….!

Those of you with children will understand and picture the look he got when he suggested this! We were in a friendly meeting and I wanted to keep it that way so I refrained from saying any of the things I’m going to say now.

If I got up half an hour earlier every morning I’d be waking at 5:30am, I would not be productive in that half hour, I would not wake and instantly think ‘oh how I’d love to read a business book about how to be more productive or how to build my business plan’ I’d be thinking, ‘for the love of all things decent I want more sleep, I need coffee, lots of it’. The moment I am awake I am ‘on duty’ for other people. I sneakily use the 10 minutes before everyone knows I’m awake to catch up on social media and work out who I need to contact with what message that day. To check through my emails and remove all the spam telling me I’ve won a lottery I didn’t enter and that they can get my website ranked at the very top of Google.

Pretty much from the time my eyes open to the time I leave the school car park after drop off, my time belongs to other people, child, husband, dog. This isn’t a problem and I’m not complaining about it all, it’s just the way it is and it’s the life I chose, one that I’m very happy with but not one where you can find 30 mins spare on a morning. If I so much as think about sitting down to get something work related done a little voice will say ‘muuuuummmm, I’ve got to take 24 buns in today for a bake sale, can we make them now!’ This could be at 7:30am so after swearing, sometimes under my breath, sometimes not so much, I get the eggs, flour, butter and sugar out and we bake 24 buns, decorate them and try to find a suitable container for them (that’s usually the really tricky part). The little voice has also been known to tell me at 8:30am that she wants to be a pack up not a school dinner that day or that she has some violin practice to do (that’s never pleasant but before alcohol has been consumed it’s particularly ear drum shattering), or that it’s PE and she can’t find her PE kit. All the while the dog is following me around wanting to be wherever we are and then wanting whatever food we have, to be cuddled, let out, play sock pull – I’m sure she’s trying to ‘do me in’ so she can have my side of the bed! The husband has taken himself off to his office at this point so at least he’s out of the way.

If this is the situation with one child, I can only imagine (in a comedy sketch kind of a way) what’s like for parents (I do include dads here, it’s not just mums in my opinion) who have two, three, four or even more children to sort out, organise and generally shepherd out of the door each morning – for them to find the time to go to the loo let alone anything more time consuming must be so hard so the idea that they can find time to read books on how to be more productive is a little insulting.

I’m sure the young chap didn’t mean to be insulting, condescending or patronising (he really did irk me) but it made me realise how little about a life where you and your business cannot be your sole priority, some people understand. It made me realise that the Mums groups work because the members all ‘get’ the fact that whilst business and deadlines are important, when your child needs you, your business has to take second or even third place. Parents business groups are populated by people who have other priorities in life and we all, as parents, understand that. We know that when ‘that call’ comes from school you have to drop everything and be there for your child. We also completely buy into the fact that whilst it is good for children to see their parents working hard to achieve their dreams for them and their family, it’s crucial that the children know that they’re are more important than any business meeting.

On that note, I’m off to join lots of Parent networking groups now and apologise for my previous flippant lack of understanding!

 

Lucy Pimblott

Owner of Lubylu® Ltd

www.lubylu.com

lucy@lubylu.com

You don’t have to go and live in an organic hand knitted Yurt to do your bit for the environment!

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We all want to do our bit for the environment, we care about the future of the planet and what kind of a world we are leaving for our kids. For some of us it bothers us that we seem to take our endless supplies of material goods for granted. We buy new clothes instead of mending old ones but then the clothes we buy aren’t made to last. We waste food because it’s Friday and the label says best before Wednesday, we even buy new electrical items and furniture because the broken TV can’t be fixed and the skills to mend a chair leg haven’t been passed down through the generations….

The problem is that when we try to do ‘our bit’ it sometimes feels like our small efforts are going to waste and will have no impact at all. When you see lorries churning out great plumes of fumes as they trundle through our cities you wonder why you’ve made the effort to get public transport, when you imagine the amount of electricity used to power the lighting at a major sporting event you wonder why you bothered switching to low energy light bulbs in your home. It reminds me a sketch by comedian Sean Lock who talks about rinsing out his Marmite jar before taking it to the recycling depot being akin to turning up the aftermath of a volcanic eruption offering to help clean up the ash with a dust pan and brush… it seems too little too late.

The other side of this though is that if everyone took the time and the effort to make small changes in their daily routines, their actions would soon amount to a very large difference. If everyone recycled all their glassware, used low energy light bulbs and tried to make the most of all the food they bought, the positive impact would soon be felt. The same goes for our choices of packaging materials.

If we all made the effort to buy products that come in recycled and recyclable packaging and resisted buying the fancy products in glossy hardboard boxes with plastic wrapping not only would this have an immediate positive impact but it would also start to make the companies that sell products in none environmentally friendly packaging think long and hard about what consumers actually want. It’s one of those things that seems hard to do at first, a bit like when the carrier bag charge was introduced at the supermarkets; we all though it’d be a hassle making sure we had our carrier bags with us and for a while, yes, we did take them and then leave them in the car, but it’s now become habit and it’s sparked a whole new range of reusable shopping bags. It’s almost looked down upon now to answer ‘yes’ when the person on the checkout asks if you need any bags! The same can happen with product packaging that clogs up your cupboards and landfill sites.

As consumers, if we make positive, ethical choices about which products we buy based on what’s important to us, at some point those issues will become important to the manufacturers and notice will be taken. Increasing numbers of products are now available with recycled, recyclable or even re-useable packaging. This is one of the reasons I have focused one of the main elements of the Lubylu brand to be ‘ethical luxury’. We can still have the nice things in life, the treats and the luxury goods but we can now look for ones that have a positive impact on our ‘world’. Lubylu handmade home fragrance products come in packaging that is either recycled, recyclable or re-usable or all three. It’s important to me that my customers feel good about their choices and you don’t have to live in an organic, hand knitted yurt, to have a positive impact on the world around you, just buy your luxury soy wax candle from Lubylu!!

Lucy Pimblott, Owner, Lubylu Ltd

www.lubylu.com

Why analytics is ruining your small business.

As a small business owner we’re constantly told that we can look at the stats for pretty much everything we do and how insightful and useful they will be to us. Well, possibly controversially, I have to tell you it’s not true!

There is a fantastic amount of data out there readily available to us. The insights provided on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pintrest, not forgetting of course Google Analytics, is mind blowing, seriously, even if you’ve ever looked at the information available I would bet that you’ve not experienced the full plethora of data and have only really scratched the surface.

We’re constantly told by all the social media gurus and the marketing experts (whose adverts conveniently pop upon Facebook when we have just looked at our stats) that we should, no we must use all the analytics and insights available to us in order to have a successful business and to drive our market influence to a point where people come to us. We are coerced into looking at graphs, economic, social, geographical, heck even psycho-graphic demographics, and are made to feel slightly inferior if we haven’t analysed our analysis to a point of exhaustion. If you don’t know the exact time of day that your best customers (and you know who they are through extensive analysis of your customer base) are on your pages and website you’re domed to fail. You’re expected to know which channel they prefer to buy your services from, what other business they like to interact with, what they had for breakfast, what newspaper they read and that their dog is called Fred. And that’s the problem.

There is so much information out there that it’s easy to get bogged down in the numbers, the graphs, the analytics, the collection and presentation of the information. Don’t get me wrong, I love these sorts of numbers, the power they have to help consumers find the exact right product, at the right price, in the right place at the right time for them is incredible. The ability for businesses to be able to use information to target their products and the marketing of them to an audience who not only wants them but has a need for them is overwhelmingly exciting for me. The power of data is phenomenal and with my history as a database marketer it’s no surprise that I love this sort of information but it used to be my full time job to collect, analyse and present and make decisions on this sort of data, now it’s a small part of all the other jobs I have to do in order to run my own small business.

I’ve done it myself, I’ve thought I’ll have a look at my Google Analytics, see where my website traffic is coming from and who they are. Or maybe even looked at my Facebook page analysis to verify who interacts with Lubylu on there. Whilst it’s important to keep a check on the high level information, I’ve been known to think I’ll just create a spreadsheet for the data so I can analyse the trends going forward. I’ll just colour code those columns and cells in the spreadsheet and then maybe even add a conditional format and throw in a pivot table to aid with my analysis later on. The problem is at this point I’ve probably wasted half a day, time I should have been either making candles, ordering new supplies or actually contacting customers and maybe even trying to actually grow my customer base. Analytics can be used as distraction technique, one which you can pretend to yourself isn’t actually a waste of time and in fact it’s something you practically have to do in order to survive the bear pit of a market place out there. I call this ‘Procrastination Analysis’!

It reminds me of when I was studying for my ‘A’ levels and the lengths I would go to to create the most beautiful revision timetable. This was in the days before computers took over everything graphic so it was all hand done, multi-coloured pens were used to co-ordinate topics and subjects, stickers, drawings, plans were made, themes were introduced and be called revision. It wasn’t of course, it was a delaying tactic to try and put off the studying of the Tudors and the Stewarts and the European Wars of Religion and other such subjects that were never going to be as interesting as who was doing what with whom in the 6th form common room!

As small business owners we have a finite amount of time to get everything done. The team running the business is often very limited and the number of tasks that need to be done very large. Whilst data is your friend and it is necessary that you have an understanding of what is available to you, how to use it and a high level knowledge of some of the key insights, it’s not necessary for small business owners to spend their very valuable time and effort trying to get to grips with data that wont help them make their day to day decisions.

The key element for me is to ask ‘What decision will I make from this information?’ If the data available to you is really just of interest and it’s not going to impact how you market your product, the strategy of your business or even your product design going forward then I would suggest that spending time on them is ruining your business.

Lucy Pimblott,

Owner of Lubylu Ltd ethical home fragrance products and previously a data geek!

 

Be proud of your prices

We all know in our hearts that in general, you get what you pay for and so the cheapest isn’t always the best yet we find ourselves falling into the price trap with our products and services, we undersell ourselves.

As the owner of a small business it’s easy to think that you have to be the cheapest at whatever it is you do in order to get sales. In these days where the media are constantly telling us that even though we’re out of latest economic crisis we still need to hold onto our spare cash, it makes us as small businesses owners feel so obliged to every single customer that we then feel the need to add an extra discount or to offer additional products for the same price. Whilst exceptional customer service is a great way forward, losing margin and therefore profit, is not a viable way to run any business.

I see so many people who are competing on price when looking to gain new business and it’s simply not a sustainable way to generate value in your business. If you don’t hold your business in high enough esteem to charge a proper price for your products or services, how can you expect other people to?

I’ve heard it say for those in the service industry that if one in ten people don’t tell you you’re too expensive then you’re too cheap. I actually think it should be more like 1 in 5 but the point is that in order for you be able to create value for someone else they have to see what you do as valuable.

Those of us who make products to sell have no way of manufacturing in this country, let alone hand making items, at a price point that can compete with the pound shops and value emporiums, and that’s not a bad thing. A recent predictions report from Positive Luxury claims that the central pillars of luxury brands are consistent in that consumers expect a high level of quality, the craftsmanship has to be exquisite and the provenance, the story behind the brand and the products must be authentic. It’s this story though that I see as the pivotal change when it comes to UK handmade creations and the place where we can add value and in so doing, charge what we are worth.

Increasing numbers of consumers want the story behind the products to be an ethical one, they want their purchases to support the UK marketplace more than ever and are prepared to pay a little bit more to have those products. If your work is too cheap there is a danger that consumers won’t believe that it is actually your work, you’ll have priced yourself out of the market in a completely different way!

There are various formulas that are banded about regarding how to calculate your prices, your worth so to speak and yes, there are costs that need to be covered to ensure you can stay in business but it’s not a simple formula to accurately value your products at a price that consumers will pay and that you are happy to receive. There is time and effort involved along with measuring, assessing and analysing what pricing structures work for you and your business and don’t forget it is an evolving process, one which you need to be on top of. It’s not a quick win and there is no perfect solution for all, what I will say though is, it’s always easier to reduce a price or run an offer than it is to increase a price….

Lucy Pimblott, Owner and Chief Glitter Sprinkler at Lubylu Ltd

lucy@lubylu.com www.lubylu.com

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How to survive a really crap week…!

Last week was just that, a really crap week! I can’t put my finger on exactly why but for a variety of different reasons I didn’t achieve what I’d hoped to, I didn’t have that ‘wow’ passionate feeling about my business choices all week, I know I focused far too much on what other people were doing and how they seemed to be achieving goal after goal as if they were lined up at a net without a keeper. But do you know what, it’s OK?!

It really is, and I’d have to say that my one success of the week is that I have come out of it knowing that whilst it was a crap week, I know it’s just one week out of my journey and one week will not define the experience or my success.

I don’t want you to think I’m doing the dramatic ‘aww poor me’ attention seeking thing that so many people do, I want to explain why having a bad day, week or even month is OK, in fact, it’s probably a good thing. Sounds daft I know but allowing yourself to experience periods when you’re not so buoyantly enthusiastic about everything means that you value it all the more when you are and when you genuinely feel it.

If next week is just as bad or worse, I will have to look at why and investigate what I’m doing that I could change. Notice I’ve placed the emphasis on me and making a change not what I’m doing wrong. It’s important that we recognise that as small business one of our main superpowers is that we have ultimate decision making capacity, we are in charge of our own destiny. Each decision doesn’t have to be scrutinised by middle management in different departments only to be lost on a senior manager’s desk for sign off, no, we can make a decision and make it happen!

Also, I said ‘change’ not ‘what I’m doing wrong’ as I don’t believe that it is healthy or beneficial to small businesses to view things that aren’t going exactly to plan as things that they have done wrong, beating yourself up about situations that have occurred even though you used your best judgement at the time will simply leave a negative trace on your emotions about your business. It’s best to accept that they are just not working for the business at that point in time and it’s time to work out what needs changing and to implement that change with the minimum of fuss. On the Entrepreneurial Spark programme and according to the principals in “The Lean Start-up” by Eric Rees, it’s called pivoting. Whatever you call it, it’s crucial to be constantly analysing your small business to see what’s working for you and for your customers and being open to changing what isn’t.

We have the power to fix a situation, to make a decision and implement it quickly so let’s use it! Have a great week…

Lucy

Lubylu Ltd www.lubylu.com