Subtitle

A personal look at the trails and triumphs of creating a business from the ground up; of starting a business selling what you create.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A look back and a glance ahead

As 2015 is coming to a close we all naturally look back at the year we've had as well as look forward to the new year ahead. This year for me was very hyper-focused on moving ahead and moving on. I did something very scary and huge which was quit my job. I didn't have another job lined up and neither did I immediately go out looking for one.

My goal was to work on my businesses and myself. And I did. My family was very supportive in that and I found various new friends to support me online as well. This I am grateful for because after taking this plunge I was able to research and finally write a business plan for Excelsior Events. I was also able to drastically increase my sales for Scarlet Moon Creations. Not only those tangible changes occurred but I was able to improve my mindset and emotional state. So I am good and I have a positive outlook for my future.

With 2016 about to start I am nervous and excited to see what the future holds but I have a plan so that it is not completely unknown. More importantly I believe this plan is doable by none other than myself. For Scarlet Moon Creations, that plan is to continue promoting my products with a consistent social media schedule. Product-wise, I will first be bringing back some older products with better photos. I will try to work in some outdoor photos as well as more dynamic photos of my products in use. This will happen over time since I now have 70 products. Then, I plan to start pushing more gift sets for various purposes and to hopefully get two new product lines out there. The first being the long awaited handmade books. The second being Bath Magic, a line of intentional and mood altering bath and body products.

Meanwhile, my main focus next year is to launch my successful event services business, Excelsior Events. I've already been working on draft #2 of my business plan and cementing the image I want this business to have. I'll be buying the business license very soon maybe even before the year is out. From there its designing the logo, finishing the website and creating all the forms I will need. Then marketing myself and my business. I hope to have at least 8 clients next year.

That's a lot but I know now that I can do it. This will be my last post of the year. I figured I would give us all a break next week and come back with new stuff on the 4th. For me the holidays started already but no matter what your beliefs I wish you and yours a Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.

~Lashette
Scarlet Moon Creations

Monday, December 14, 2015

2016 Planathon

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in an online event for entrepreneurs called 2016 Planathon. All of us who joined got great tips, tricks and challenges for how to plan for our businesses in 2016. This morning I took some time to plan out the next few weeks for how I am going to implement some of what I learned so I can hit the ground running with a plan in 2016. I'll share my thoughts and my plans in a blog post soon so look out for that. 

Anyway, Planathon basically consisted of 25 videos created by various professionals with small businesses sharing their insights for ten minutes or less. Each video ended with a challenge. All of this took place over a period of five days in a facebook group set up specifically to host this event. The hostess of the planathon, Amber McCue, explained the overall concept and how the first days videos built the framework and from their we could pick and choose which videos we wanted to watch depending on our goals for the next year. 

The first five videos taught how to pick your focus for the next year and then your goals for the first 90 days. For me, my areas to focus on are image, systems, marketing and sales. I had planned to open Excelsior Events this year but had no plan for how to achieve that goal. Now I've moved it back to March 21st, 2016. Since that's roughly 90 days into 2016, I'll keep that date as my official launch date. 

A lot of the videos were focused on topics for people already in business. And I'll keep those in mind for my etsy business but I think I've got a good momentum going for that already. So I focused on what could help me launch a brand new business. Remember this entire event was set up to help one plan out their next year. One video was Plan to Launch by Farideh who happens to be a musician. Who knows better about launches? The most important thing to do for a launch, she said, was to schedule it and then talk about it. Tell people about it over and over. Have blogs and other sites talking about it and leading potential customers to you and whatever it is you are launching. So I'll be doing that for the next few months as well as actually getting ready to launch.

Another great video for me was How to Sell Your Products and Services by Yasmine Khater. It had three important points: 1. Understand what your clients want, 2. Price your solution to hit your income targets, and 3. Make sure to be in front of enough people to get leads. For me, I think it was the last two days that held the most helpful videos. With tips like tracking my time, creating written systems for how I do things, figuring out why I am doing this business, getting clear on my identity, image and voice and having that always in front of me. Also, how to take confident actions and make confident decisions.

All of these videos are fairly short; no longer then 15 minutes, and they are very straightforward. No one is giving you THE solution to all your problem but key tools to help you help yourself. And of course they are just enough that you might sign up for more with any or all of the experts involved. Which I can't fault them for, this is a perfect example for lead generation. 

These videos come at a great time for me while writing my 2nd business plan draft. At this time, I have been tracking how much time it takes me to do regular tasks so that I can schedule things better. I have also been doing some of challenges from the Take Confident Action by Rachel Luna and Grow Your Business and Life by Katie Den Ouden videos where it comes to scheduling my plan. Doing weekly check-ins and my top 3 daily priorities for each goal I have. I plan to next work on my vision board for my life and Excelsior Events. 

Taking things one day at a time rather than thinking about a 5 year or even 1 year plan is better for me. Its less overwhelming and therefore less anxiety and disappointment. And also less procrastination. 

If anyone is interested in learning more about the 2016 Planathon. Feel free to join the Facebook group here. All the videos and ongoing conversations will be available for a year the hostess assures us. 

Happy planning,

~Lashette

Monday, December 7, 2015

Winter is Coming

Woohoo! Welcome to December!! I don't know why I'm so excited. I hate the cold. But it is the holiday season and I love to spend it with my family and have a good time. So, I guess that is what I am excited for.

Anyway, December 21st is coming soon and since that is not only the Winter Solstice or Yule, but also the first day of winter, my Etsy shop is all prepped and ready for the winter season and the slow return of longer days. I figured I'd give you guys a glimpse of what is coming up since the Fall Favorites post was so popular. So without further ado, here is what's coming up during the coldest season of the year.

The Yule Incense and Oil are already available as individual items and in a Ritual Kit so order them quickly for the holiday. Then later this season, get a jump on the Imbolc Incense and Oil as well for your Pagan holiday and/or ritual needs.

I've already got some body butters out to help everyone combat that dry winter skin but I'll be introducing even more new ones: Cinnamon, Clove and Peppermint. All scents we love. Cinnamon and Clove to warm you up and Peppermint to cool you down. You might not think that's necessary but who else gets overheated in all their layers? I know I do.

I cannot forget about the Zodiac Bath Soaks that will be renewed this season. Capricorn, Pisces and Aquarius bath soaks are coming back. To be honest, all twelve bath soaks are available all year round because they make great gifts.


Last year around this time I introduced the Vanilla n' Honey Facial Scrub which became very popular so I'm bringing that back. Some more items to help you cool down will be the Eucalyptus n' Spearmint Body Scrub and the Bath of Wintergreen. Both of these items are part of my original product lines but I haven't been able to update them in awhile so I am happy to be bringing them back. Both have great, refreshing scents that will keep you from feeling those winter blues. One other original item to help lift your spirits that is coming back is the Uplifting Scrub. It will be like a happy reunion in the shop with these items.

Next, I'll be introducing some more gift sets. The Chamomile, Lavender and Lemon gifts sets are waiting patiently to debut. But don't wait for me if you've got something in mind. I always take custom orders and you know I've got that gift wrap available in the shop. Don't you love how my business colors work so well with holiday colors? Or any season for that matter.

If you want to know exactly what is coming out when, hit the Subscribe to Newsletter button on your top right for up to the minute details.

~Lashette

Scarlet Moon Creations




Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Gift Wrap and Gift Sets

So it turns out that picking out gift wrapping for bath and body products is hard. Who knew?! Seriously though, if you don't have those handy plastic molds that will help your product(s) fit into a nice box, gift wrapping becomes a process. And googling spa gift wrapping or bath and body gift wrapping or any similar searches will just bring you basic homemade gift tags and tissue paper in a gift bag. Not the kind of thing I want when I need to mail most of my products out to people.

This meant I had to experiment. For shipping purposes I mostly use white boxes and red tissue paper since they go with my Scarlet Moon Creations image though sometimes I will use black or white tissue paper as well. I also include a handwritten note on specialty paper and my business card. Of course I include either bubble wrap or packing peanuts to keep each order safe in the box. I thought about gift wrapping the boxes but was told that ribbons or wrapping paper can get caught in the sorting machines so that's a no go. Gift bags were still on the table but stuffing them into a shipping box seems unprofessional.

What's funny is that back in September when I was first starting to think about this a friend, and former co-worker, asked me for a custom order which including mailing a gift wrapped 4oz bath soak to a separate address. So I got to try one experiment which was a gift box in the shipping box. It worked really well but so far I've only found inexpensive gift boxes up to a certain size. Which is to say that none are big enough for more than one product, like a gift set.

Gift sets are the other product line I've been working towards offering more of this year. They may one day become the focal point of my business, but more on that another day. I have more than enough products now and quite a few with similar scents that can be easily offered as a set. So, I looked around to see what other Etsy businesses were doing as far as packaging gift sets, but it looks like they all just send the set in the shipping box arranged nicely. No gift wrapping at all. Now, this is fine for those who order for themselves or for someone else and plan to then gift wrap the item themselves and bring it to the person. But what if they want the gift/gift set sent directly to the recipient like my friend did?

 For him, I added the gift wrap price to the order then put the jar of bath soak into a white gift box and tied it with a red and white ribbon and a white tag with a personalized message. The recipient loved it. So that is what I will do for individual orders of 4oz or bigger. For the oils and sample sized gifts, I decided that wrapping them in red or white tissue paper enclosed with matching washi tape and a red or white organza bag works beautifully. These can be used as stocking stuffers too. The tissue paper keeps the item a surprise and the organza bag keeps the tissue paper from easily tearing.

To be honest, I still don't know how to work in gift wrapping for a larger gift set. For a sample set I can wrap them the same as I would individually and just display them nicely in the shipping box. But the bigger jars are just too much for the tissue paper so I think this year I will forgo gift wrapping for larger gift sets and just add a special message card option.

If anyone out there has any suggestions let me know. Tata for now

~Lashette
Scarlet Moon Creations

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Blogging is Difficult

I am by no means a blogging expert. But, I have 6 blogs including this one, and am considering another one. You might be wondering why I am a crazy person but in all honesty, I like writing. Not like a novel or anything. I will not be joining NaNoWriMo anytime in the foreseeable future. However, one thing I do know is that blogging is hard. Just in general, but then add on the fact that you want (if this is in fact what you want) an engaged and consistent following makes it that much harder. I think the most important parts are knowing your blog voice and having a goal, or goals, for your blog.

I started this blog to get my voice out there even if I wind up talking to myself. Like I've said before, I really see no one talking about their path to becoming a business owner and the path of being a business owner. Not in detail anyway. There are lots of coaches who will tell you what to do, in general, and if you hire them they will walk you through it. No hate towards them since that is their business but it doesn't put you in the mind of a business owner. There are a few blogs by business owners themselves but most started once their business is in some way successful so you don't get too many details since these are busy people. And no startup or pre-startup blogging ever seems to happen. Or all those bloggers could be like me, with only a small, marginalized audience.

So blogging is hard. Actually, the more appropriate word would be difficult. And I think blogging for business purposes even more so. But its not impossible. First, like anything, you have to define your purpose. Why do you want to blog? and What do you want to accomplish with your blog? Once you have that simply keep it nearby you so that whenever you are unsure about what to post you can steer yourself back on track. For me this blog's purpose is two-fold. One, to get the words, my thoughts, out of my head so that I can focus. And two, to share the journey of a small business owner and a creative entrepreneur. So my blog is not really supposed to increase my sales, though that would be a nice happenstance it would be just that.

Experts, whoever they are, would tell me to blog about my products and all things related that would make people interested in buying. They would tell me to be speak confidently and knowledgeably about what I do. They would be right if that was what I wanted to do. Its not. I am far from an expert in the aromatherapy, body care and skin care industries. I am still learning and I'd rather share my journey of this learning process than, what I feel is, bluffing my way into sales with information I'm not 100% sure of. Plenty of people do that already in these industries. Let me be clear, I am not throwing shade on any blogger, just stating my values.

I value accurate information based on tested results. And while I will test things on myself and people who will gladly volunteer for me, I also use the previous knowledge shared and tested by experts in their fields. Obviously, I am an analytical and logically-minded person. However, I am an open-minded and spiritual person so I understand that not everything can be proven. Some things I take on belief and intent. This shows in which ingredients I choose and why. I try to marry these two sides of myself in my products since I know my customers are not one or the other. But I love my customers and would not want them hurt so I am careful about what claims I make that I can't in my own head feel justifiable about. I try to include these parts of myself when blogging as well.

This is my thought process; my feelings. So when I look back to earlier this year when I clarified the purpose of this blog and sketched out ideas for future topics I realize now that some will take longer to appear than others. My goal this year were as follows: 1. to release a new blog post every week, 2. to increase the length of my posts to include more information and 3. to include links. And even though I fell off every once in awhile, I think I did pretty good job. That Blogging 101 course really helped with that. Earlier in July, I added 4. organizing my blogging process, so I looked into content calendars and how to create them. I started using one by HubSpot, which has been great. Its kept me on track since I can easily record any topic ideas as they occur to me and then write about whichever feels best when the moment comes to do so. I was also able to promote my blog posts consistently on various social networks thanks to the content calendar. My last goal for blogging this year, I started implementing this Fall I think, was 5. adding pinnable images to my blog posts. I love Pinterest and could spend all day there. But it is all about good images. I think adding images helps make each post more interesting and break up the blocks of texts in a way that makes it easier on the eye. I've been using mostly my own pictures that I took myself with a few stock photos I got from HubSpot. I came up with a overlay look that is consistent with how the blog looks and voila! I've been creating images for older posts as well.

For 2016, I'm already looking into what I want to do. These past few months I looked into creating a newsletter but I decided I'm going to wait on that. I need to do way more to build a list. Building an email list is difficult too. So I think I need to focus on that first next year and then start putting out a newsletter. For now, this blog will suffice to keep me clear and keep you informed about what it takes to be a creative business owner and what happens behind the scenes to the startup of a small business. One thing I will definitely be adding sometime next year, guest interviews. I, for one, am always curious and I have met many fabulous and interesting small business owners in various fields. So basically, I want to interrogate them about their businesses, lol. I'm torn between coming up with a set of questions I use for everyone or if I should come up with questions unique to each entrepreneur. I'll probably go with a combination of the two. I don't want these interviews to be fluff pieces; I want information that will help my blog followers and I want to help pimp out my fellow small business owners. I mean, why not? If they do great things why wouldn't I share?

This year, this blog has increased its viewers, likes, shares and comments so I'd call my many improvements a win. I hope to say the same this time next year no matter how difficult blogging can be.

~Lashette
Scarlet Moon Creations

Monday, November 2, 2015

New Product Line #1 - Body Butters

So, you guys already know I've been experimenting with body butters for two years now. I've finally got the basic formula that I want to use down and have created a few that have just been released. Honestly, I am quite excited. I am loving body butters. I have never used them before, not even store bought. The closest I've come is using lotions that say they contain shea butter and/or cocoa butter to moisturize. They never work like they say they do so I never bothered looking into body butters. I don't know about you but many of us black people have a dry skin problem when fall and winter comes around. One bad enough, in some cases, that regular lotion will not even put a dent in. Many of us have been using petroleum oil since that was the thing to do. But if you know better, petroleum by products are not really good for your health long term. And the skin doesn't really soak them up well.

Well TADA!! Body Butters. My parents have been my main guinea pigs throughout this entire process. They love whatever I come out with because it works better than anything they've tried before. I tried these out on a few other people as well over the years and I am happy with the feedback. I actually got the formula down pat last December but it seemed too late to roll out even one body butter then. Low and behold, in January I got a request for something for muscle aches after working out. I did some research and made a post about it here already. So, one of my body butters will be the Muscle Body Butter, as I call it. Shout out to Work Hard Train Harder for the influence.

Anyway, this is the first new product line I hinted at in my Fall Favorites post. This is also the first new product line since the Massage n' Bath Oils back in 2013. For those I did not make a big to do, but I am doing so now because I missed out. Right now I've got four body butters; Chocolate Mint, Muscle, Lavender and Lemon. I also do custom orders so if you've got a natural scent in mind feel free to contact me and we'll set it up. Plenty of my products have come about because someone asked me for it.

Also, I am planning on more as time goes by so look out for those. Want to know when they are coming out so you can be the first to get them? Sign up for Newsletter to get New Product Updates and more.

~Lashette
Scarlet Moon Creations


Monday, October 26, 2015

Astrology and the Zodiac Bath Soaks

Scorpio Bath Soak
I am personally very interested in astrology and astronomy. I'm a Scorpio Sun, Aquarius Moon and Gemini Rising (if anyone cares) which means I am constantly looking at and aware of the behind the scenes or underlying reasons of things and people. I like learning and understanding the bigger picture as well as the details to see how things work and influence each other. So my interest in the celestial bodies around us and their influences is no surprise. The average Jane only knows about their sun sign and their horoscope. To me Scorpio's have a bad reputation among the general populace. Most people think (if they care at all) if you're a Scorpio you're dark and scary and/or all about sex. This coupled with the fact that I could never find any connection with any horoscopes means I used to strongly dislike being a Scorpio. Then I learned that the Sun sign is only the beginning, just the tip of the iceberg that is astrology, and I was hooked. It is endlessly fascinating and a field I personally hope to master some day.

Your sign, also known as your sun sign, is where the sun was positioned in the sky the exact moment you were born. Obviously, it was not the only celestial body up there. We all know this thanks to astronomy (remember when Pluto got demoted? Yeah I was upset too!). The names of the planets, stars, moons, comets, etc and their positions in the sky all have various forms of folklore attached to them. Here in the USA we follow the Western Astrology which was officially created in Ancient Egypt. Thanks to our ancestors, each Zodiac sign has a constellation, animal, herb and more associated with it. The celestial bodies have the same as well. How they came up with these associations varies but its usually because they have something in common. Maybe this flower only blooms at night or this animal is only seen during a certain season when this planet is closest. That kind of thing. Also, as we know that our ancestors expressed their spirituality with many rituals for the deities for which they named the celestial bodies. Whether they deified the planets and stars or used them as archetypes we can never be sure but the connection remains. Thus, we have tons of stories and rituals to draw from as well.

And that is what I did starting with Libra. I'll be honest, I decided last year around this time to start making the Zodiac Bath Soaks on a whim.  As an herbalist you learn the history of herbs, spices, flowers, roots, barks, and other growing things. From a medical standpoint, that history includes ancient medical preparations and why they were used. I am not a doctor (nor do I play one on tv, as my friend is fond of saying) and I am not looking to cure people with my products. My aim was just to make you feel good and to make a unique product that could be used as a birthday gift.. That being said, the goal of the Zodiac Bath Soaks is to enhance the properties of each zodiac sign while taking a bath. I did extensive research for each bath soak on each of the 12 signs. Rereading herbals, history, folklore, mythology as well as the current usage and associations for tons of herbs, roots and resins. For each sign there are basic qualities associated such as an element, a planet, a duality, a house and a modality. Each of these have their own associations that I researched as well. 

Leo Bath Soak
In the end I decided on using only five ingredients in addition to the sea salt and epsom salt base that I use for every bath salt/soak that I make. The salts guarantee that the bath is still cleansing, detoxing and relaxing. Then I added the base oil which would, no matter which I chose, help keep the skin moisturized after bathing. I chose the oils based on their planetary association. Olive oil for example is associated with the Sun because it comes from the olive tree plant. The connection comes from many sources. Olive trees are native to the Mediterranean and need hot, dry climates to prosper. The Hebrew word for olive tree is related to the Hebrew word for Sun, there is also the Greek myth of Theseus who prayed to the Apollo, god of the sun for help and received a sacred olive branch, Homer coined the nickname liquid gold for olive oil, gold being associated with the sun as well. So I used olive oil as a base oil for the Leo Bath Soak since the sign Leo is ruled by the Sun in astrology. Make sense? 

From there I chose four more ingredients that had similar associations, but not the same since I wanted to create a balance. Some of the associated ingredients I picked were due to the traits they had in common with that sign. Then I mixed them all together. As I say in my description for each bath soak, each bath was created to enhance or bring out the traits of that sign in whoever uses it. We all have a little bit of Scorpio, Leo and the other ten signs in us, its just that some are more prominent than others. My original thought when making these was that they would make great birthday gifts. And they do, but I have since grown to acknowledge the fact that for those of us looking to be more in tune with the movements of the stars and planets and their affects on us could use these for magical and/or spiritual purposes. So please do so. Use it in your ritual bath to enhance your own energy, focus more on the current energy around your or to enhance your spells with a little extra oomph. 

Let me know in the comments if you have used it and how it worked out. Or if you haven't, how would you use it.

~Lashette

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

How I Got Started: Paganism and Witchcraft

This is part IV, the last of the How I Got Started series. Each part can be read on their own but if you want to read part Ipart II, or part III click the links.

An old altar set up of mine.
That Paganism would draw me into a field of work I never even thought of is kind of an amazing thing to look back on. And it hasn't even been that long.When I graduated from undergrad I had a stable job and decided that my next step would be to start exploring various Pagan religions to see if that way lay a place where my spirituality was comfortable. It was. In the process of learning I was drawn to nature-based religions. They teach that all around us in energy is various forms and that we can connect with those energies to enhance our own. Those that follow nature-based religions often venerate or worship nature in its various forms; the how and why differing from religion to religion. Because of that I some of the classes or lessons I took were about topics like herbalism and natural healing. I learned about common herbs, spices, oils, roots and resins and the various ways to use them.

I was taught that these and other elements of the earth each have their own natural energies as well as a history of associations that humans have created over the years. These things could be used individually, like essential oils in a diffuser, or combined, in an oil blend, to enhance my own or others personal energies and workings so that we can affect change. I also learned how lots of plants are the basis for our modern medicine and have healing and therapeutic properties. I became particularly interested in those that helped with allergies and those that could be used topically, or on the skin, our body's biggest organ. I will add this, as much as I learned then, I am still learning now and as a friend likes to say, I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV.

Not too long after these lessons started the natural hair movement for black women in the United States started gaining traction. I was interested in this and had been considering going natural for awhile since I didn't like the process of straightening my hair at all (in fact I hate having to go to a hair salon at all). After doing a bit of research I realized that I can use many of the natural ingredients that I had been learning about in my pagan lessons and using in my personal practice and take it one step further by using them to improve my health. Keeping my hair and skin healthy by no longer using products that had chemicals I was allergic too and starting to make my own hair and body care mixtures was so freeing. As I mentioned in my Allergies post, I am allergic to a lot of things and while this is more annoying than hazardous, it can be distracting and stressful after awhile. These natural ingredients helped take some of the load off. I wound up learning more about myself and my spiritual path.

As I mentioned previously, a friend (a witchy friend to be more specific) told me about Etsy where people can sell their handmade items. After I decided that this was a path I wanted to take another witchy friend agreed to be my business consultant. I talked in a previous post about the 'homework' she would give me. One such assignment was to think about myself and all the different facets and how I can use some or all of them to personalize my products. How can I make them stick out. She suggested I try to include my spirituality in some way. After looking around Etsy, I decided not to do that. There were tons of witches and other pagans selling their wares, spells, potions, etc. They all seemed more experienced and knowledgeable than me at the time. Nowadays things are different on Etsy due to some of their policy changes.

However, now after being a part of the Etsy and pagan communities online and in the real world I better understand finding your niche and selling something you love. As I continue to learn about herbs, skin care, aromatherapy and expanding my knowledge into related areas such as body care, self care, Reiki, chemistry, perfumery, aromachology and more, I see more connections with my spirituality. And vise-versa. I am inspired by my own spiritual journey as well as that of those around me. Right now as I am on the cusp of revealing two new product lines that have been years in the making, I keep jotting down new product ideas I want to explore. 

I had my first ever tarot card business reading recently and everything pointed to my including my spirituality in my business and using my business to clarify and expand my personal practice as nothing but a good thing. Now, I'm not one to believe in fate and having your whole life being predestined to the point where there is no choice. But I do believe in reading the signs, of weighing your options and choosing from the many possibilities. I feel we are both independent beings and connected to those around us. That every choice we make can lead us somewhere different. At this time I've made the choice to longer make such an effort to keep my businesses and my spirituality apart. I think they can only enhance each other as they have already. 

So that's how I got started. And its also how I plan to go on. 
~Lashette
Scarlet Moon Creations

Monday, October 5, 2015

How I Got Started: Creativity

This is part III of the How I Got Started series. Each part can be read on their own but if you want to read part I and part II, click the links.

As I mentioned in my last post about my business name, I like to create. While I do have a very logical and analytical mind I still love getting lost in the process of creating something. To me there is no difference between figuring out body butters and figuring out math problems. I think its the focus part of things. If something is interesting I will focus and block everything else out. And the reward when you finalize a project is addicting. But I bet you wouldn't be surprised that even after realizing this I didn't get around to making anything again for awhile. Things at first got busy again at work and then I lost my job out of the blue.

I wound up being unemployed for two and a half years. I had jobs here and there but nothing lasted and nothing made me happy so in my head it was one long dark period. I had some of the worst anxiety attacks I have ever experienced in my life and I got to experience depression for a good long time as well. IT was towards the end of this period of employment when some bits of desperation set in that a mentor suggested I try and sell some of the bath salts and body scrubs I had made at their up and coming street festival. I would get free table space in exchange for helping them plan the festival. This did not turn out well (believe me you do not want to know the details) but it did remind me that hey I have this other stuff I can do.

Sensual Massage n' Bath Oil
I got back into researching and spent time after that period mixing up new products (my massage n' bath oil line came out of that time) and remaking old ones. I tried selling at another craft fair that was a bust on the whole but the important part was I was making again. I had a friend tell me about Etsy, this online place where crafters can sell their wares. I thought this is perfect, I don't have the money for table space, let alone any of the other things I'd need to make my products enticing at a craft fair but I don't need that for an online shop.

Let me tell you I researched the hell out of Etsy and getting started with online selling. By this point in my 25 or so years of life I'd only sold used books online at half.com. I'd never even used Ebay (still haven't even though they own half.com, lol). The idea of opening an Etsy shop got me creating a business name, designing a logo, writing product description copy and even starting a blog!! It was crazy times but it got me through a lot. Focusing on this creating business was what helped me through the most boring dead-end job I have ever had, helped me reconnect with friends and family to get back on my feet; it gave me a focus and goals.

But ultimately, having a creative outlet was cathartic. I hadn't done much like this since college art and design classes. Don't get me wrong this is a business run by one woman so there is a lot of work. But there is also a lot of creating. I have a running list of products I want to offer and every year I have to tell myself to focus on one or two goals at a time and follow them through.

Even now, I plan to have two brand new product lines and a newsletter debut within the next six weeks but I've got two more product lines and one variation I am dying to try out RIGHT NOW. Add to this that I am actively working on a completely separate event planning business. I've come to terms with how much planning is a passion of mine. Even so, this year I  made the realization that even making social media content calendars feeds my always hungry creative stomach. :D No shame in my game, honestly. I have come a long way in recognizing that a balance of creativity, honesty, knowledge and planning are what keeps me happy. Scarlet Moon Creations and the upcoming Excelsior Events do that for me on a regular basis.

It is hard to believe this all started when I started looking for a better way to be spiritually fulfilled. You can read more about that in my next post in this series How I Got Started series, Paganism.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Labels, Logos and Super Blood Moons

Scarlet Moon Creations
logo on labels
In honor of last nights Super Blood Moon, as NASA is calling it, today's post is about labeling, my logo and business name for Scarlet Moon Creations.

Let me tell you, it took me two years to get all the info on my main product label to fit in a pleasing manner. It took me awhile to make things legible on my secondary product label. Fitting ingredients and instructions for each different product is a pain. I can't wait to reveal my handmade book line since that will only need one label. So for those other small business owners struggling with labels, you are not alone. 

If you've read my Aromatherapy Laws in the U.S.A. post, you know that for bath and body products there are so many label regulations.  I must include company name, product name, net weight, directions and a list of ingredients on all products. For the ingredients list I have to include INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) names or scientific names of all ingredients as well as list them in "descending order of predominance". That makes for a lot of text. Honestly, the ingredients need to have their own label.

So, I was very happy to be able to finally settle on a logo design for my labels earlier this year. As you may have guessed the drawing of a red circle is my official logo. I drew that myself in paint back when I had no other access to design software or professionals. I needed something quick for my Etsy shop at the time. Something to go with my business name. I am quite partial to this image so even though I have an updated version ready, I'll wait for a business anniversary to reveal it. I do have a design background but it's time consuming and I'd like to fiddle with the scarlet moon image I created a bit more.

Obviously, the logo was made to go with my shop name, Scarlet Moon Creations. I think I've explained the creations part pretty well in my updated About page. To me the moon represents emotion, water, the changing tides and the color red, passion and warmth. Red happens to be my favorite color. Scarlet or blood red being my favorite shade. My bedroom walls are that color and have been since the end of high school, so over a decade now and I've moved a few times. In the early mornings its like being in the womb again.

Lunar eclipse October 8 2014
California Alfredo Garcia Jr
from Wikipedia
As you probably know by now thanks to the media, the Blood Moon happens during a total lunar eclipse where the earth gets between the sun and the moon during a full moon phase and cast it shadow on said moon. The red tinge happens because little bits of sunlight peak through our atmosphere. The Super Moon is when the moon is closer to the earth than usual so it looks much bigger. The fact that these two things happened last night is rare. But we all got a good look at the moon. I'll leave it to the Farmer's Almanac to explain if you want more details.

The Blood Moon is also what folklore usually calls the first full moon in autumn or the full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox, which was on September 23rd here in the northern hemisphere. This is also sometimes called the Harvest Moon for obvious reasons. The full moon is considered a very powerful time and a lunar eclipse even more so since the moon is full yet appears new (or dark) for a time. New moons are a time of new beginnings but also a time of reflection. Now add in the fact that the moon is much closer to the earth, appears bigger and definitely has a greater affect on the earth and those of us on it and you have a very powerful celestial body in its prime. Super Blood Moon indeed.

These things are acknowledged in various cultural folklore's and in science. So adding these meaning to my own made for the best business name ever. Literally (okay being a little hokey but whatever)! This is what I put into each of my products, passion, emotions, warmth, caring and power. I create to serve those parts of me that are passionate and powerful. Every time I create something I am starting something new and when I offer it for sale, I am harvesting and reaping what I have sown. I put my all into this business all by myself; blood, sweat and tears (sometimes literally) go into every aspect of Scarlet Moon Creations. And when you purchase something created by me, you can rest easy knowing it was something made with care from the logo and label on the outside to whatever is on the inside.

~Lashette

Check out my Etsy shop, Scarlet Moon Creates to see what's available now. 


Monday, September 21, 2015

How I Got Started: Gifts

This is part II of the How I Got Started series. Each part can be read on their own but if you want to read part I, here it is.

I started out focusing on myself. I have a lot of allergies and decided to look for some solutions that didn't include constantly popping pills because been there done that. But one holiday season I came up short on ideas of what to get anybody. I was truly wracking my brains and coming up empty on gift ideas. This year too I wanted to include my coworkers who had become close friends (ones I have to this day even though I no longer have that job). Unfortunately, I had spent lots of money on a truly wonderful vacation in Las Vegas that August, so extra money was not in my bank account.

New Gift Packaging
So I googled (my google-fu is strong) gift ideas, gift ideas for coworkers and inexpensive gifts. Thanks to the mommy bloggers (who are awesome ladies) I became aware that due to the economy that homemade and crafty gifts were the in thing. This was back in 2009 so DIY was getting big and lots of bloggers were happy to craft ideas for inexpensive gifts. One of the popular ideas was homemade bath and body products, even gift baskets for females.

And what do you know, I already make stuff like that for myself and have tons of ingredients around. However, I have intimate knowledge of my own skin but not of others. So this took some more research into the worlds of all natural skincare, aromatherapy and herbology to get a better idea of what would and wouldn't work as gifts.

I'll be honest and say that I am a naturally curious person who enjoys learning new things. However, these were just gifts to friends and family. I wanted to know enough to give them good smelling, from-the-heart gifts without giving them a nasty rash or infection. I had to be sure that what was good for me was good for my grandmother and also good for my pregnant co-worker (its not by the way).

So, in this way, I learned more. I got some great books on the various subjects covered under skincare products and some not so great ones. I also learned about packaging, which sticks with me to this day. And ultimately, what people like  in their skincare products. But this was just the beginning for me. I would have a lot to learn still, just from practice.

Original Lemon Bath Set
My first body scrubs were so oily. So much that the salt or sugar separated from the oils not too long after mixing. I used to include table salt in my bath salts just because. But those first 6 or 7 mixes are what led me here today. The Lemon Body Scrub is still my mom's and some others  favorite.

All this learning, making, mixing, designing and packaging just for a few holiday gifts was enjoyable. At that point in time my life was very practical and analytical. This was an unexpected  creative outlet. I didn't realize how much stress it helped relieve until well into January.
It made me wonder what more I could do creatively?

Find out more in my next How I Got Started post, Creativity.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Fall Favorites

September is here!!! Though its not quite Autumn yet (I'm currently sweltering in a cool 91 degrees), I thought it was time to get my Etsy shop ready for Fall. Check out some of what will soon be available in the shop this Autumn season.

Last year, pumpkin spice season didn't start until the day after Labor Day. This year I saw Halloween decorations and pumpkin spice peanut butter (I need to investigate that personally) in the last week of August. I don't want to be behind the times, so be prepared this week for the return of the Pumpkin n' Clove Body Scrub.

Later this season I will also be bringing back the Pomegranate Body Scrub. So far its the only scrub I have made with Himalayan Sea Salt and it has to be the healthiest scrub I have. I can't forget to add the return of the Sweet Facial Scrub and the Sweet n' Spicy Body Scrub. Both made with brown sugar the softest exfoliant for those with sensitive or delicate skin. Or if you just want to smell really, really good.

Other than scrubs, the Autumn bath soaks are returning as well. Virgo (already available), Libra and Scorpio Bath Soaks make perfect birthday presents for those born in September, October and November. Psst! I'm a Scorpio if anybody is thinking of me. For those who follow pagan and Wiccan holidays, you can already purchase the Mabon Ritual Oil as well as the brand new matching Mabon Incense. Coming later this Fall will be the Samhain Ritual Oil and Samhain Incense. 


And finally, what's new!! I am so ready for apple picking again this year. Hopefully it doesn't rain this time. But in homage of the time-honored Autumn tradition, I will be bringing you the Apple Cinnamon Body Scrub this October!!!

I also have two new product lines that I cannot wait to debut this year. They have been waiting at the starting line for awhile but I wanted to get them just right. Finally, they are a go. If you follow my blog, I've mentioned them before so its not a complete surprise. If you want to know exactly what is coming out when, hit the Subscribe to Newsletter button on your top right for up to the minute details.

Have a Great Day!!
~Lashette



Monday, September 7, 2015

When One Door Closes, A Window Opens

Just learned some disturbing news about a friend. My mental response was flat out shock. She is extremely talented, very focused and driven, good at her job and compassionate. How could this happen? Why did this happen? You do all the right things, take all the right steps and still things can go wrong. You can be wrenched out of your reality, your comfort zone. I am feeling for her because I’ve been there and was lost because of it. I didn’t have a contingency plan and following the rules got me nowhere.
This got me thinking about how as much as I know about planning and organizing, I hardly apply those techniques to my life. I’ve thought this before and am trying to rectify that but its still true. Back up plans, emergency plans, contingency plans, worst-case scenario plans; we need them for every aspect in life and then we can be relaxed when something goes wrong. I’m an advocate of planning. I’m not saying this would have saved my friend from this situation. It literally just happened so she deserves a moment to readjust. I just think planning could have helped me more when it happened to me. Also, listening to my instincts, my gut at the time was telling me to get out, to move on but I didn’t because I was comfortable. And I wasn't for along time. But when one door closes, a window opens.
At the end of the day (and the beginning) I have to tell myself that I am 31 (almost, I have less than two months so I have to start practicing ) but it’s not the end of the world. I can still do this. All of it. And I will if I plan. People are living longer lives. I’m not automatically destitute spinster if I don’t have it altogether at this age. That whole 20-45 years at one job with full benefits to retire at 65 is not the reality anymore. Its not impossible but it is improbable in today’s times.
Plus variety is the spice of life. Its why I love event planning. I can start my business in the social events. Start as an officiant, start as a wedding planner. Make money, go back to school for meeting planning while getting certifications. Offer event marketing to small businesses and work my way up to conferences and the like. I think my blog can evolve the same way and I am already working on those steps with my etsy shop. Start small, keep my eye on the next milestone while working hard on the current steps.
I wrote this post as soon as I heard the news. This wasn’t my planned post for this week. I had one that was supposed to come out last week but the images have been giving me such a hard time I had to delay it. But this, the feelings behind working for what you want no matter what your chosen field are just as important as the work you put in. I knew I had to share this publicly. I know I am not the only one feeling this way and I know that my friend and I are not the only ones who have gone through this in their lives. Others deserve to know that they are not alone.
To my friend, you should know I still find you to be an amazing person. I know you will rise from the ashes once again. You inspire me in many ways. This post being just one of them. I can only hope that between the two of us we inspire many others.

~Lashette

Monday, August 24, 2015

How I Got Started: Allergies

Today we start a new series. This one is all about what led me to starting Scarlet Moon Creations. It will be 4 parts so look out for the other posts in the upcoming weeks. Today we'll talk about my allergies.

Image By Evan-Amos via Wikipedia Facial Tissue
 I am a walking allergic reaction waiting to happen, or at least I feel that way. I grew up always having allergies to what seems like everything. Luckily, I've only found one thing to be deadly and its been easily avoidable since that very close call. However, if you watch allergy medication commercials they'll have you thinking that people only get allergies during certain seasons or that you can only have one category of allergies. For me that has never been the case. I have indoor allergies, outdoor allergies, allergies during pollen season, allergies during weed season, even allergies during the summer and winter. I have a couple of food allergies and I'm allergic to dogs, cats, dust, mold, some insects, many cleaning supplies, and synthetic fragrances which are in our soaps, shampoos, lotions, deodorants and cosmetics. Add to that my nose is very sensitive so things like cigarette smoke and too much perfume in an enclosed space set me off as well. Even just walking past Sephora is overwhelming.

The outcomes of all this is usually sneezing, running eyes and nose but can lead to a sore throat, headache, dizziness and the absolute worst is a sinus infection which has flue-like symptoms. I get allergies 10 times more often than I've ever gotten a cold. The trade off for these mostly mild, yet annoying (and often gross), symptoms is I hardly ever get really sick. I think I get the flu once every couple of years or so and that's about it.

Which is good, but try heading to a job interview sniffling and dripping all over the place because you stood upwind from someone too liberal with their cologne on the way there? Or failing a finals test because everyone wanted the windows open to let in some "fresh air"? Or having people wonder why you have a bag full of restaurant napkins and tissues because YOU NEVER KNOW? Or being unable to breathe because you tried that glass of wine? Or taking a shower to clean up and coming out covered in hives (sneezing in the shower is not fun by the way)? Or almost dying because your event host forgot to tell you that "oops, we put walnuts in the brownies"? Or questions people's food before you eat it because you don't want to die? Or how about not remember a good time with family and friends because you were too busy blowing your brains out? Yeah, its not fun. 

A couple of years ago I had an opportunity to learn about herbs and oils (I'll go into more details about that in another post). I had up until this point just tried my best to avoid the things I could and just carried allergy medication and a ton of tissues for those I couldn't (hard to avoid the air outside when you still need to breathe). But after this one class on herbalism I talked to a few people and started doing some research on certain herbs online and that led me to finding out about all natural movement online and the fact that I can make a lot of the stuff I use at home with natural products myself. 

The internet is a rabbit hole but in this instance it was very beneficial. I had up to this point never gone to a spa for fear of having a reaction that would embarrass me and them. I had only bought one set of skin care products for my face which I only used twice, shame on me since I broke out both times using it. But now I could try making a "fancy" bath soak or a moisturizing body scrub using decadent scents that might not annoy me. I did tons of research down in that rabbit hole. I bought a few basic ingredients that I could use for other things as well if they didn't get along with my skin or nose. 

Image By NIAID via Flickr
Essential oils turned out to be a godsend. I love scent and this is something that my allergies have taken from me up until this point. But now I can use them to clean and/or scent a room as well as care for my skin and even help relieve my allergic reactions. I cannot tell you how many times I have run home to sniff some tea tree oil since I discovered its existence.

And herbs, spices, roots and resins; these items that come from trees and other plants, I have in my kitchen as well as my work room. They add great color, scent and flavor to my meals as well as my homemade bath and body products. They help heal as well as reduce inflammation. A good chamomile compress relaxes my sinus headaches while other herbs reduce the look of the dark circles I get from rubbing my eyes. What I also love is that the scents never get overwhelming like a lot of chemical fragrances. No headaches or dizziness. 

How could I not share this with others? I couldn't, so I didn't. Read more about this in next weeks post; How I Got Started: Gifts.


Monday, August 17, 2015

NYC Small Business Initiatives Part III - NYC Business Solutions.

Hey ho! I am back. I seem to have lost the month of July somewhere. I'll probably find it behind the bed someday when I m no longer looking for it.

Today's post is in continuation of NYC Small Business Initiatives series. This series is about my personal experiences with several of the Federal, State, City and local initiatives and programs for the small business owner and for those who want to be a small business owner in NYC. So this is Part III and it can be read alone.Click to read parts I and II.

Today, I am going to talk about NYC Business Solutions. So far, I have had the best experience with this initiative run by the city. But again that is my personal experience. NYC Business Solutions is an initiative that offers free assistance with starting your business, growing your business and running your business. They offer free online and in-person business courses on topics ranging from Business Plan Basics to Selling to the Government. Their other services include recruitment assistance, management and mentorship, Financial and legal assistance, M/WBE certification and much more.

I myself have taken quite a few classes to help me get a more concrete picture of what my goals are as far as my businesses are concerned. Thanks to NYC Business Solutions I have been able to write a great business plan and meet so many new friends and contacts. Everyone I have met at the various locations are knowledgeable, professional and friendly. I have shared my dreams with no better people than those that have worked for NYC Business Solutions. They have given me practical yet positive advice and solutions. These people know what they are doing and I, for one, am grateful for NYC Business Solutions. I plan to work with them more in the future to help grow my business and become a successful M/WBE certified Event Planner.

At this point, I am not sure what other government-run business initiatives I will work with. This is NYC so there are plenty more but there are also so many non-government initiatives and programs out there that I would like to try working with. This is not just for the sake of sampling but to learn and grow as a business woman. I do know that I will be keeping tabs on WE to see how that can benefit me in the future. So expect an update on them as well. But I think I will turn to writing about more private organizations soon.


Monday, June 15, 2015

NYC Small Business Initiatives Part II - WE NYC

We are back with Part II of my experiences with local initiatives for small businesses here in NYC. This is part of a series and though each post is written to stand alone, you may want to read Part I to learn about some of the acronyms I will mention here.

So, as you know my first foray out into the world of small business initiatives didn't go so well. My next one however, was definitely promising. I regularly check the websites for the SBA, SBDC, and SBS for updates and help for whatever new step I am on in my path to business ownership. One day, or night, the work never stops, I came across a promotion on the SBS site about a new initiative called WE NYC. WE NYC stands for Women Entrepreneurs New York City. This new initiative was created by the first lady of NYC, the Commissioner of SBS, and many others, to focus on giving more support to women entrepreneurs here in NYC.

I, as a woman in NYC looking to start my own business, thought this was a lovely idea. Now this is a brand new initiative so they haven't gotten off the ground quite yet. But, they did hold forums to ask local women entrepreneurs questions about what kind of support they need. I attended the forum held in the Bronx at Startup Box a South Bronx-based organization co-founded by Majora Carter, a local celebrity business  woman. Or at least that's how I think of her. 

Anyway, the forum went great. They asked us lots of questions about how we feel, what our experiences with starting our businesses were, and what we would want out of this new initiative. It was nice to be listened to for once; to be asked about my wants and needs as an entrepreneur. The workshop was also a great networking event as well. It was nice to meet and hear from other local women entrepreneurs; to see what we had in common and what made each of us different. Also in attendance were several partners of SBS. They shared their client feedback and experiences during the workshop and afterwards were glad to talk to those entrepreneurs in attendance that were looking for the types of assistance they provided. 

Overall, I had a good time at the WE NYC workshop. Even though the initiative didn't give me anything concrete they helped by letting me interact with others in a similar situations and they let me be apart of brainstorming ideas for future programs that will be to my benefit. Also, I believe that many of the people met may become beneficial relationships in the future. If nothing else, I got a confidence boost because I know that I am not the only one doing this and that there are people out there ready and willing to help us all succeed.

Look out for next week's post about the NYC Business Solutions and the classes I have taken with them.

Monday, June 1, 2015

My Favorite Time of the Year is Coming Soon!

In honor of my favorite Witches Holiday, Litha, also known as Midsummer and the Summer Solstice, I want to pimp my ever growing Pinterest board for it. Isn't it lovely? Everything that this holiday means to me goes on this board. It also helped me create the ritual oil and incense for my Etsy shop. The oil is currently on sale with the loose incense will be available this week. Get them in time for the holiday on June 21st!!

In the meantime follow my pinterest board and see all the pretty pictures. Happy Monday guys!!!

Follow Scarlet Moon Creations's board Litha/Midsummer/Summer Solstice on Pinterest.

Monday, May 25, 2015

NYC Small Business Initiatives Part I - SCORE

Hello world! I wanted to share my experiences so far with several small business initiatives available here in New York City (NYC). I plan to stretch this out into several posts; at least three but maybe more.

As a New Yorker, I have several options and many overlap; there's the US Small Business Administration (SBA), then there is the NYS Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and lastly, NYC Small Business Services. These are the main government programs at the federal, state and city levels available to small businesses. They each have many branches and several partnerships with private companies and I have been specifically looking into those geared towards pre-startup and startup small business assistance. It can get a little confusing at first but they all seem to work together is some way, shape or form since NYC encourages small business ownership and entrepreneurship.

Up until several months ago I did my business research strictly online; I had a job that kept me very busy during the day and my commute was 1.5 hours each way mostly on the subway, so this was the only way that I knew of. Also, I am known for my internet research skills and am good at separating the wheat from the chaff and it seems my findings online held up in the real world. However, becoming a business owner on my own leaves for some lonely times and times when doubts can become pervasive. So, to verify my sources (and make myself feel better), I decided it was time to go out and talk to people in person. Find out what the people at these various initiatives have to say. I was definitely looking for mentoring. Someone with experience letting me know whether or not I am on the right track.

My first foray was to sign up for SCORE mentoring. SCORE is an SBA resource partner. Its "...a national network of more than 12,000 entrepreneurs, business leaders and executives who volunteer as mentors to America’s small businesses." It is basically a national small business mentoring program. They have local chapters for face-to-face mentoring, online mentoring, as well as workshops for both. This seemed perfect for me. So, I looked up my local SCORE office, which was not far from my home and went down there. Located in the Bronx County courthouse they share an office with some other initiatives. Not surprising since that's just part of living and working in this city; sharing space. I went down and made an appointment to see a mentor and was supremely disappointed. I had not looked at their website beforehand since my goal was to move my research out of the virtual world. If I had, I would have saved myself some frustration.

I was not paired up with a mentor specific to my needs, though I didn't expect that right off the bat. I thought there would be some sort of intake interview first. But the gentleman I got as my "mentor" was sort of flippant and very general in most of his answers to my questions. I admit to not asking as many questions about how SCORE works because I was thrown off by his attitude. He was also somewhat dismissive of my financing concerns. I was told "you could pay for most of that with one of your credit cards." Just FYI, I don't have any credit cards, so no I can't; he just assumed I did. While he did confirm most of what I'd learned online and did give me a couple of nuggets of new online resources, for the most part he was not at all mentor-like and after being dismissive of how much previous work experience I have had in this field, I didn't want to share my hopes and dreams with him. I was looking for someone to trust and he wasn't it. At the end of out 15-20 minute talk, he then told me the SCORE mentors only work out of this office on Thursdays and they rotate so you may get a different person each time. That led me to thinking that this was not as well run an operation as I had thought. I left feeling that I wasted my time. I have since gone to the SCORE.org website and filled out a mentoring intake form so that I can be matched up with a mentor. Hopefully, things will work out better that way.

Look for Part II soon. Things start to look up as a join a forum for NYC's newest small business initiative WE NYC!