December 04, 2014

An Interview with "In Your Face"

Editor's Note: When I tell people about April Miller of In Your Face Cookies & Ice Cream, I tell them she's my "blogging friend". We met one day for coffee and had a grand chat about our gifting philosophies (which are quite similar). You may have noticed that I've been gifting pints of April's handmade ice cream lately, complete with festive candles, for several birthday occasions. Let's meet April as she talks about gifting and a little bit about her business!







How have your customers been gifting your ice cream?
Customers have been gifting the ice cream for special occasions. I've had customers give Birthday Cake ice cream with the number for the age on top in sprinkles to kids. This is an awesome option for kids - parents are likely relieved not to have yet another toy in their home and this gift feels more personal. Some customers have ordered ice cream cakes or pies for loved ones, or pints in their spouses's favourite flavours. I've gifted the ice cream myself as well; I made my husband an ice cream cake for his birthday and one for my dad for Father's Day - it's always a popular gift! 

What's your gifting philosophy?
I've refined my gift giving philosophy and style over the last few years - I like gifts to be thoughtful, personal, and not burden the person. I really feel passionately that a gift should reflect the recipient, not the giver

I love giving the perfect gift for the person; I have a list for each person I gift to and whenever I hear them say something they really want or need, I put it on the list. It makes shopping a more pleasant experience since I'm looking for what they want, instead of being stressed about what I'm going to get them - it makes the experience about them, not me. Using lists for gift giving also makes me a better listener - I listen closely for gift ideas, which has the bonus of strengthening relationships since I 'm working on listening most of the time! 

I'm a professional organizer in my full-time gig so I am really passionate about not burdening people with 'stuff' - for that reason, I'm anti-gag gifts and mindless gifting (I also don't believe that because someone gives something to you that you should keep it forever out of guilt)!  Just this past year, a friend explained her philosophy of gifting - she loves to gift experiences instead of stuff. That's something I'd like to move towards. I recently read about a woman who didn't have kids so she took each of her nieces and nephews on a trip to a place of their choosing when they turned 13. The catch was that instead of giving them gifts for every occasion, she put money aside for the trip. I wish I had set that precedent with my nieces and nephews when they were little! 




Do you have any gifting tips for others?
My biggest gifting lesson I've learned over the past few years is that most people want the gift of your time - especially children.  But on a more practical note...Avoid shopping when the occasion is on top of you - that equals stress and thoughtless gifting. Start keeping a list (I like using an app because it's easily edited and shared) and start listening. Try giving gift certificates for experiences. Also, avoid gifting based on judgements - 'I think my daughter should cook more so I'll give her a slow cooker', for example. Give to the person, not to who you want them to be!

What's the best gift you've ever given or received!
This is a tough one - I feel like I should say my wedding ring or something ha ha! But it would have to be from "The Car Topper Surprise" Christmas as it's known in my family.

This one Christmas, after we had opened our gifts, our dad told us there was one more gift for everyone in the dining room. He'd moved our car topper (those things families store luggage in) in from the garage and the gifts were inside it. My dad passed out one gift at a time and we all watched each person open theirs. It was so surprising and suspenseful! My gift was a tv (my mom had said I couldn't have a tv in my room!), but it wasn't about the gift really. It was that Dad had gone out of his way to get something for each of us that we really wanted (my mom typically did the shopping) and the presentation was the best! I'll never forget the expression on my dad's face and how happy we all were. It's one of my favourite Christmas memories. 



Tell us a little bit about your business. How did you get started? What's does the "ice cream business" mean for you?


I started making ice cream on a fluke. I was roaming Costco and bought an ice cream machine on impulse. I became pretty obsessed with making ice cream but also with learning about all the artisan ice cream shops and market stalls that seem to have popped up all over the US and Canada. I love the idea of taking really simple ingredients and turning them into something people love!

I'm all about real ingredients - no preservatives or weird chemically stuff here! Just cream, milk, sugar, eggs, and whatever add-ins are needed for flavour. I've also been really inspired by paleta food truck culture for my freezies. Paletas are essentially popsicles made with fresh fruit and other quality ingredients. My most kid-frendly flavour is strawberry but I've made everything from Rhubarb Lemonade to Vietnamese Coffee. I eat more freezies more often than I should admit! I also make Vegan ice cream and have done flavours like Mexican Chocolate (my biggest Vegan seller), Fudge Chunk, Curried Peanut Butter, and German Chocolate Cake. 




How do you celebrate special occasions?


Usually just spending time with loved ones and good food! I've gotten more into doing things like lighthouse picnics for birthdays or anniversaries - more experiences than stuff. I don't think something has to be really expensive to be special. My husband and I take turns planning Valentine's Day and one year we did a $20 gift challenge and it was awesome! This past year, my friends went to Basho for dinner for my birthday and my husband made loot bags for everyone (kid-type ones, not adult) - I loved that.


Where can local customers find you?

Customers can find me at the St. John's Farmer's Market, Some Good Market at Cannonwood Hall, or contact me directly to purchase. This Fall I'll also be at Tombolo in Paradise and St. John's, as well as the NL Sports Centre Craft and Gift Fair.

You can find In Your Face Cookies and Ice Cream on Facebook and Twitter

December 01, 2014

Holiday WRAP! Giveaway



Looking for the perfect way to wrap your holiday gifts? 
This week I've got a wonderful GIVEAWAY featuring cards, gift tags, and other wrapping supplies from some of my favourite makers. 

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First up, gift tags and holiday envelopes from isavirtue. Be sure to check out her lovely holiday wrapping paper in the shop as well. 

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Say hello to these Frosty the Snowman greeting cards from Karen at ink & dirt designs. Perfect to send some holiday cheer by mail! 

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Need a unique way to wrap your present? Genevieve from Kitty's Curiosity sent over these glorious hand dyed yarns - so many great ways to use this - attach to gift cards or wrap a gift with a little extra handmade love, the creative possibilities are endless!

What are you waiting for!  Open to International readers.


November 28, 2014

Black Friday / Cyber Monday Online Sale

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4 day sale - Black Friday through Cyber Monday save 25% on all Petit Mail subscriptions.

Visit the Petit Mail shop to place your order today

Perfect for Holiday Gifting!

Don't forget to download and print your Petit Mail gift cards to accompany your gift.


All prices are in Canadian dollars and INCLUDE postage costs.


Canada (less than $6 per month, includes postage!)


3 months - $17.50

6 months - $35.00 
12 months - $70.00 

USA ($6.25 per month, includes postage!)

3 months - $18.75
6 months - $37.50 
12 months - $75.00 

International ($7.50 per month, includes postage!)


3 months - $22.50

6 months - $42.50 
12 months - $85.00

November 13, 2014

One to Wear (+) One to Read (+) One to Play vol. 2


You might remember last year I shared a similar inspiration list for thoughtful gifting.
One to Wear (+) One to Read (+) One to Play. This year's inspiration is perfect for preschoolers and young children. 

In a world full of "stuff", I love this simple philosophy for slow gifting. 

These are the gifts that we are giving our 3 and a half year old daughter NJ for Christmas, with a focus on handmade and supporting small business. 



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Wear: Purple thrummed mittens by Manda's Mittens
Read: Petit Mail - snail mail subscription
Play: custom handmade doll by humble toys




November 06, 2014

Handmade Marathon: Maeby's Mobiles

Editor's Note:
I found Maegan at a local artisan's market and loved her gorgeous hanging paper art. I purchased one made from vintage storybooks as a gift for a baby shower. I'm beyond pleased to be featuring a local maker in the Handmade Marathon series for the second time in 2014, so grab a cup of tea and settle in to learn more about Maeby's Mobiles. 

(+) Tell us about your business

Maeby's Mobiles focuses on home decor through hanging paper mobiles and garland.  These unique handmade creations combine whimsical paper patterns, reloved materials, and carefully cut silhouettes to add colour and movement to any space!  Packaged perfectly to send in the mail, include inside a greeting card, or gift alone, Maeby's Mobiles are great for all occasions. Although the focus is on mobiles and home decor, Maeby's Mobiles occasionally sells other trinkets like wooden keychains!




 (+) How did you get started?

I worked in a local shop, and my boss had a hanging decoration. He said he didn't know where it came from, but wished he had more... I thought "I could make that!", and went home and tried. I drew up multiple silhouettes until I was happy and traced it over and over onto cardstock in pencil. Then I carefully cut out the shapes with cuticle scissors. 

Once I made one, I just wanted to keep making them... I used to get calluses on my fingers from cutting everything out. I also used to use my Nan's old sewing machine, until it literally started smoking and I had to buy a new one!


I started out selling them in the shop but now I've branched out independently, and that's how Maeby's Mobiles got started!










 
(+) The gal behind the business - Tell us about yourself, how do you spend your Saturday mornings, a little glimpse into your life, your family etc.

I'm a 25 year old substitute teacher, who also works in an office part time. I live with my boyfriend (Andrew) and cat (Parton). I love walking around downtown, looking at shop windows, trying out new DIY projects, or curling up and watching something on Netflix. If you ask my friends about me, most of them would say that I tend to juggle multiple things at once but I always manage to get everything done! Some of my favourite things are Harry Potter, cats, tea, Pretty Little Liars, thrift shopping, and salsa (the food not the dance! I have two left feet).


(+) What inspires you? Where does your creativity come from?

I'm mostly inspired by things that surround me everyday; Newfoundland, books, nature, animals, maps, and clouds, but also geometric shapes, unusual colour combinations, shadows, and the way light falls just so. My sister also inspires me, because we've always said "I can make that" instead of just buying something. I think everyone has creativity that comes from within; the difficult part is finding a way to express it and externalize it!





(+) What's one thing you would like to improve about your business?

There are always new things to learn and improve on when you are trying to run your own business! I'd love to learn how to take better product pictures. Right now, I play around with my camera and take some okay pictures, but I don't actually know anything about lighting, aperture, or exposure. I find people enjoy seeing different ways you can decorate and use my mobiles and garland in your home, so I'm trying to include more pictures that show that! After I improve my photography, I hope to open an etsy store to branch out and share my products with more people! Also, while completing this interview I realized I don't have a logo so maybe that's something else I can work on next.




(+) What is the best gift you have ever given or received?

This is a tough question! One of the best gifts I've ever received was a vintage typewriter, and I think the best gift I've ever given was an avocado green Easy-Bake Oven from 1971 (and it still worked!). I've been known to give some handmade gifts as well, like I personalized an ironing board cover for one of my friends recently!


(+) How do you celebrate special occasions?

Celebrating special occasions in my family is usually pretty low key. We like to be around family and friends and we like to eat good food! We eat until we're too full, it doesn't really matter if it's a home cooked meal or in a restaurant, and then we sit around together and talk. Everyone is always so busy and usually have so many things to do that it's nice to relax and spend time together. One thing that is kinda special is that when Andrew and I celebrate something it almost ALWAYS includes nachos!


(+) What do you do when you make time for yourself (you and only you)

I'm a pretty low key person. I enjoy going for walks, drinking tea, and watching shows on Netflix. I browse Pinterest and blogs for fashion, home decor, and diy inspiration. I like being lazy! Sometimes I'll try creating something new or I shop my own closet and try to come up with new outfits. I also really enjoy going to thrift stores or secondhand shops when I have "me" time because they are usually quiet but it still gets me out of the house. I find it therapeutic browsing through, looking for hidden treasures and one of a kind objects and letting my mind wander.





(+) where can local shoppers find Maeby's mobiles?

Maeby's Mobiles are currently sold directly through me! Local shoppers can check out my Facebook page and message me there or send me an email to purchase mobiles or create a custom order. When you visit my page you can also LIKE it so you will know if I will be appearing at any local craft fairs or markets. I have a table at my first ever Some Good Market this Fall, so I am excited to meet new people and share my creations with whoever drops by. Mobiles are also available at Busy Hands Arts and Crafts Store in Carbonear. You can also check them out and like their page here: https://www.facebook.com/busyhandsartsandcrafts.

You can find more Maeby's Mobiles here:

(+) Facebook (+) Twitter (+) Instagram 




October 30, 2014

Petit Mail Update vol. 3

It has been a busy few months for Petit Mail and I'm back to share a look at the stories for November and December 2014.

Olivia's Acts of Kindness and Oliver Bakes Cookies




Subscriptions for Children


Gift Subscription for Children
Planning to order a Petit Mail subscription as a holiday gift?
Get a head-start on your shopping and simply let me know "January start" when you check out in the shop. Don't forget you can download & print a free gift card to accompany your gift.


As you know, I love when readers/subscriptions share photos of their Petit Mail subscriptions.  Cody was the winner of the Petit Mail 6 month anniversary giveaway - thanks for sharing Cody & keep those photos coming subscribers! 







In other exciting news for local shoppers, Petit Mail individual cards are now available at Urchin (197 Water Street. St. John's, NL).


Individual Petit Mail cards are full-colour, double-sided stories featuring the adventures of Oliver and Olivia and include a bright, fun envelope. 

Give Petit Mail as a gift for reading/play (stocking stuffer, birthday gift) OR add a stamp to the envelope and send happy mail to someone special. 

Perfect for preschoolers, early readers and pretend play (post office or play mail). You can also find them in the online shop







Snail Mail for Children
Subscriptions for Children



Happy Gifting!

Alison

October 23, 2014

Snail Mail Care Packages

Sometimes.
Sometimes you want to show you care, but you aren't sure how.
Sometimes you want to give a little something to someone who lives far away.
Sometimes a little effort + a beautiful presentation can really brighten someone's day.

So I put together some snail mail care packages with little notes and a gift card.

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I used beautiful envelopes and paper, most of which were sent to me by Joy via Marisa when I told some of my online friends about this project.

"this is a text msg" envelopes from isavirtue - I just love her creative cleverness, don't you?


Feel inspired?
Take the time to send someone beautiful snail mail. I promise it will make their day.

xo

Alison