Wrap-up: The Handmade Market

Handmade Market Banner

In April this year I headed to Raleigh for The Handmade Market.  I had such a great time, we decided to try their holiday show as well.  Both markets are put on by the Handmaidens – a group of wonderfully talented women who strive to bring attention to handmade artists. I know putting on a market like this is no small undertaking and I salute them. Continue reading

Giveaway: What are you thankful for?

Belle Terre Soap & Lip Balm Gift Set

It is a tradition that I imagine many families have at Thanksgiving dinner – everyone says one or two things in their life they are thankful for.  We’d like to re-produce that experience here….with our Belle Terre family.  And {of course} we will tie in a giveaway!

In no purposeful order, we are thankful for…

…each other

…our dogs

…our little soap business that could

…our bees

…our land

…our family and friends

What are you thankful for?  Please comment below before Sunday Nov 27th at 5pm EST and one thankful responder will receive a soap and lip balm gift set.

This is why we love our Prius

We’ve been attending a ton of festivals and markets lately.  While we love going, it requires a bit of planning and a lot of stuff – often tables, table cloths, display pieces and (of course) all our product.   I am fascinated each time by the sheer quantity of stuff we can fit into the Prius.  Check out Wayne’s action shots below.

The Prius – it begins.

The Prius - Begin

Step 2 – Adding tables (we typically take three to each show)

Prius Step Two - Adding Tables

Step 3 – Add soap.  We searched for stackable boxes that fit well in the car and keep the soap dry in the event of rain (a lesson learned rather painfully)
Prius Step 3 - Add Product

Step 4 – Add More Stuff.  We carry our taller items like laundry detergent in large plastic tubs.  (Hmmm…something doesn’t seem to belong…?)

Prius Step 4 - Add More Stuff

Step 5 – Add bags, boxes, and liquid soap

Prius Step 4 - Bags and Boxes

Step 6 – Add display pieces and carts.  After our first or second festival it became clear that I would not be carrying product in and out of venues unless I wanted to develop a bad back rather quickly.  After some trial and error, I was lucky enough to find the perfect cart at Sams.  It’s red, has huge Tonka-inspired wheels, and holds quite a bit.  It even folds up somewhat flat to fit in the car.

Prius Step 6 - Display Pieces & Carts

Step 7 – Add the leftovers and try to shut the door.  We add all the small things at the end including our galvanized trays for display, and whatever items we need for the trip.

Step 7 - Add the leftovers and try to shut the door

All that, and we still get 47 mpg.  This, my friends, is why we love our Prius.  🙂

Re-thinking the Plan

So, I recently had a bit of a panic.  This is not new in my life (it happens at least several times a week) but this one was pretty major.   An explanation:

Since we announced our plan for the house online, we’d had friends and family act totally amazed.  We kept hearing “there’s no way you can live in 500 sqft!”  (Never mind that people are doing it in cities all over the world).  When I would argue back, the discussion would eventually return itself to the business.  Basically the general consensus is that we may be able to live in 500 sqft, but we can’t live and run a business in that sized space. Continue reading

Etsy-versary: Oh the Places We’ve Been

Our first non-family member Etsy sale took place on October 30th, 2010.  I remember how exciting it was – a stranger wanted to buy our products!

Over the last year we’ve sold just over 700 items.  It’s not quite a quit your day job worthy number, but it’s impressive all the same (at least to us).  Throughout that time, I’ve been routinely fascinated by the power of Etsy.  The site is incredibly far-reaching.  As an Etsy seller, that means that our customer base is huge, basically world-wide.  That also means that competition is greatly increased, but I think the trade-off is definitely worth it.

I was curious as to just how far and how many places our products have been, so I created a google map to find out.  (You must click to appreciate it….really).

Map of our Etsy Orders

Pretty impressive, huh?  We’ve sold to many places we’ve been (Cary, NC), many places I’d like to see (Hawaii anyone?)  and even one or two that I had never heard of (Twead Heads?).

For those who argue that our green living philosophy doesn’t allow for international shipping: we made the decision early on that Belle Terre was to be a sustainable business.  Sustainable means many things, but one part of that focus for us is the reality that the business  needs to sustain itself by making a modest profit.  Cutting off a large customer base was just not an option.  So, we’re shipping goods.  All over the world.  Literally.

I hope to be able to add to this map after another year of business on Etsy to see just how far we can go.

As always, many many thanks to our wonderful customers (both on and offline) who made this first year of business so amazing for us.  With your support, we are building the business we dreamed about and we are forever grateful.

PS: After all the time spent adding cities, I found out that Google limits the number of pins on a map.  Ooops.  So sorry to our friends in the Ukraine who didn’t quite make it and anyone else we may have unknowingly missed.

For the Dogs

It seemed so crazy that we have four dogs (yep, four!), and yet we were still buying shampoo for them from the store.  We make soap.  Almost daily.  Makes no sense, right?   So, not too long ago we decided to give dog soap a go.  The result has been quite fun.  We have created two bars so far: a Doggie Fresh bar with a refreshing blend of clove, lemon, and peppermint and a Don’t Bug Me bar that includes a blend of lemon, citronella, and rosemary.  Yum. Continue reading

(Not So) Local Eats: The Atlanta Underground Market

A few weeks ago we visited Atlanta with my parents so my dad could dive with the sharks at the aquarium.  It was his birthday wish and we were more than happy to oblige.

Before leaving I happened to get an email that the Atlanta Underground Market was the same weekend.  What luck!  I had attended once before, but Wayne had never been, so I signed him up and we were on our way. Continue reading