I've kind of laid low for 2016 so far....listening, planning and trying things out to see what direction to take the company in. As much as I love my shop in Winnipeg, I have come to realize that as the creator of our products, I do not want 50 shops across the nation. Managing meetings and organizing payroll and scheduling of hours, is not why I do what I do. I do what I do, because I love creating great products. I love the feedback from the thousands of happy customers we have and the wonderful support that they give me. It is amazing! I am so happy that you love what I create as much as I do.
I love the BUZZ of Holiday Markets, whether it's Mother's Day, Collective markets or Christmas Markets. There is definitely something special about them and this will be our 5th year of attending the Vancouver Christmas Market. Yes, it's stressful getting there and getting organized and it's hard work, but it is so rewarding. Meeting my customers in Vancouver, face to face, is just amazing and the Christmas spirit at that market is delightful beyond words. It is so much fun, in fact, that this year I am attending a Christmas Market in New York City as well, to see how the American population accepts my products. It's going to be scary and amazing, all at the same time. I am so looking forward to being at both markets this year!!
And you never know what opportunities can arise from meeting the movers and shakers in NYC. There's even some movers and shakers on the West Coast that I'm planning on making things happen with next year as well. That way, my products can be bought across Canada and the United States and become more accessible to people. I know that webpage shopping is difficult with scented products....it'll be nice to get past that and have them available in other shops for people to buy from, where it is easily accessible for you. Rest assured, I have heard you! These are our biggest complaints this year. - “We can't find you, we miss you and where can we get your products?” But as in all things, it takes time to process the direction that I wish to take. I now know that I'm ready for that next big step. So, as I create like crazy right now to supply my fantastic customers in Vancouver, Winnipeg and hopefully in NYC during the upcoming Christmas season.....know that I am excited to meet or see you again in person and I am working on creating great opportunities for The Hartmont Candle Company and you, next year. 2016 has been a great year so far and I have every expectation that it will continue to do so into our Christmas season. 2017 will be even better!
As always, thank you so much for your support! Your kind words and enthusiasm for spurring me on are greatly appreciated. And your sharing of your stories and thoughts have inspired me. Thanks for being patient for me while I figure out my direction too. I feel like we're all in this together and your feedback is providing me with the information I need to grow in the direction that will be the most successful, not just financially but spiritually as well. We've all got to be happy in the end.....I'm working on it! Stay tuned!
It's a New Year in so many ways! We had an excellent run in Vancouver for two years at Granville Island. So many great customers found us there and made the time spent in Vancouver very well worth it. The Vancouver Christmas Market was another rousing success and though a tough haul over 33 solid days, it always delivers and meets our expectations. We have so much positive support that in no way do I ever consider my time spent in Vancouver a folly. There are many connections made there that still will result in us bringing our line into Vancouver again in 2016 in new and exciting ways. I'm working on it!
However, I've said it on Facebook many a time, there is no place like home. You just sleep better, feel more rejuvinated and want to get back into super creative mode. Creature comforts like cooking from my own oven, having my own pet and my garage for my car become something that I really have missed and now treasure and appreciate. I'm looking forward to living through my first snow storm of 2016 and will be thrilled beyond words for my first thunderstorm of the year. Small little things that just get my braining buzzing!
I've still got my warehouse in Vancouver so it isn't like we have left completely....the door is still open if the right opportunity arises. And now comes the thrill of January planning. I'm going through the old and packing away what isn't needed in the near future and stocking and getting ready for the new. New markets, new products and a touch of new direction. It's all part of the growth of the business at the pace and way that I want it. Sometimes going a little too big takes away the sense of peace and creativity that I enjoy most. I make great products because I love making them. I love creating my own scents and designs and recipes. I think it's probably what I do best. When there is too much energy taken away from that for management and paperwork that is needed to support numerous locations, I feel that I suffer. And half the point is that I maintain my love of what I do. It's part of the recipe for making and doing great things.
But I totally get why people want stock and supply! I am without soap in my own house. Do you know how much I miss my Honey Oatmeal Moisture Bar?!?!?! I really want to get my soap selection and creativity going as well as adding new designs and scents. It's only been a few days that I've been “off” from actually making product and I am definitely getting the itch to get going...figuratively and literally. Just wanted to touch base with all of our fans and friends and say, “Don't worry. It's all good!”
2016 is going to be an INCREDIBLE year! A new webpage layout is coming down the pipes, new photos, more skin care products which I've always wanted to do and just a whole lot of wow coming your way. Thank you all soooooo much for your support and love and kind words, posts and emails. You are all amazing and my inspiration to do even better!
I have to admit that BC is not being the lady that I expected her to be for the summer time. Gosh darn, (and that's the toned down version) it's HOT here. I'm not whining because it's uncomfortable to live in but because it makes the production of my products next to impossible. Today, again, I was thwarted from my candle making endeavours as we try to figure out how to get the heat down back in our pouring area in the warehouse. We have it clocked at 31 degrees C without factoring in the humidex. Soy wax is a beast to work with at the best of times and then throw excessive heat into the mix and it just makes for outright misery. A process that should take 5 hours (from absolute start to finish and varies depending on the amount of candles being made) suddenly becomes double that and even then I'm getting uneven finishes on the top of the wax that have to be buffed out when finishing and packaging. The heat really throws a wrench into how everything sets and makes the complete process which is temperature sensitive in the first place an even tougher thing to figure out and work with.
When we landed here there was no air conditioning anywhere and folks said it only gets hot for a few days at a time in the summer. You know, it's the West Coast where the ocean tempers the heat. Well, last summer was really hot for about 2 months solid and this year is even hotter. And I mean hotter than Manitoba but at least in MB there is a basic understanding and appreciation of air conditioning. And the heat and humidity here is constant from sun rise to sun set....completely different than what I'm used to where it's usually a slow, steady rise and then capped off by a quick cooling down of a thunderstorm at night.
I blog this entry for more of a time capsule for myself to look back on years from now and think, “What ho! Good times!” but as all reminiscents of olden days, it is usually better in hindsight than actually having to live through it. It is so hot that this year we have had mice trying to come in to get cool (as we have started adding portable air conditioners to the warehouse) and even had gnats try to take up home in the reprive of an air conditioned office. Yup....it's so hot, the bugs and rodents are trying to move in with us. We have kept them at bay because let's not forget that a Prairie gal knows how to deal with the critters but a part of me just thinks, “Sorry guys, I wish it was cooler outside for you to run and fly and play in.” Back on the farm, the critters only tried to come in after things were freezing in the Fall....never to escape the heat from a summer's day. It was confusing at first. We couldn't figure out why our oasis, that is the warehouse, was suddenly the place for nature to want to come and hide out in.
And so Vancouver has brought along it's challenges. They are forecasting rain for the weekend and a bit next week. I hope they are right. The grass is dead here now as grass got on the farm after a long summer drought and it's not even the middle of July. For a city that is so green, it's just strange to see the brown. When it does rain, you can all visualize me doing a happy dance!
And so it goes from the city where “It rains all the time” and "It's so depressing because it's just constantly raining." I say, “HA!” and hogwash to those sentiments. Bring on the rain!
I had the soul affirming discussion with someone this week about exactly this topic. They were comparing what they thought was the same product made by someone else to my candles. At first I was really insulted but then I decided to take from the conversation it's intent. It may not have been their intent but it was definitely the universe's intent. The type of wax and the burn time and the price was their only criteria. So soy wax, wood wick, burn time and price. “ It's the same as your candles is it not? “, is what they said to me.
NO....it's not. My soy wax is my special blend of soy that only I have. I perfected it years ago for burn time, quality of burn and scent throw. I think without exaggeration it took me about a year of testing to finally come up with my soy wax. You could take my same oils and put them in someone else's wax and it would work differently....the scent would not be exactly the same and the scent throw would definitely not match. Scent throw is the smell that the candle releases and how many square feet it releases the scent into where you can notice it. I tested over an extended period of time (and still do test burns) to ensure that when I say my candle covers 500 sq ft with scent that it does indeed carry through that amount of space in a way that is not overpowering but noticable in a beautiful way. (ie. my tealight covers 100 sq ft, my small Aurora covers 200 sq ft, my medium Aurora covers 500 sq ft and my large Aurora covers 800 sq ft).
My oils are something that I source and the more established I get, the more that I mix and blend and make my own unique scents that cannot be replicated by others as they are uniquely my own mixes. Put that in combination with my unique wax and we've got a winning combination that cannot be duplicated and is a Hartmont Candle.
My coloring designs are hand painted onto my glass and the design is again the combination of my way of pouring the wax into the container as well as my special wax. The technique will not work with just any glass, wax or container. I know that. Now you do too. It is our brand and incredibly difficult to replicate.
Woodwicks are available in other candle brands in the marketplace as are soy. That is not all that goes into making a Hartmont Candle. My scents, my soy and my craftsmanship go into every candle (hence the insult when this person tried to compare me to someone else). Yes, we are not dollar store candles and yes there may be soy and woodwick candles out there that are cheaper than ours but NONE of them will burn and smell and perform like ours do. You may love another brand and that is fine. But my goal is to have you try mine and experience the difference. It's exactly that difference that has built a grassroots following of fans all over the world who love us and it is that difference that earned us a spot on Granville Island. We are not your ordinary candle company. I hope you get to experience us and decide for yourself.
And what I gained from the conversation was the re-affirmation that it's not just about wax and wicks and scent....it's about me and how exactly I do it that makes us who we are. My best analogy is to think about a Granny who makes the most incredible breads and buns. You can take that exact same recipe and she can show you how to do it but you cannot replicate her incredible results. You may come close but she just has that special touch. That's Hartmont Candles! Our incredible results are an inspiring way for me to look at what I do and hopefully it inspires you to try us or if you already love us, to tell your friends about us so they try us too.
Let's be honest, the countdown to Christmas is ongoing for me 364 days of the year but.... the summer season is hitting and along with it the panic of Christmas a coming around the corner. Yup, it's time to ramp up production and get things made en masse for that season when the cool is in the air, the dark is enveloping us more and more as the days get shorter and the joy of a glowing candle becomes a wonderful comfort at the end of a long day. I get it. I love candles too!
So in looking forward to that season, I'm getting into our new Christmas scents. One we've been working on and test selling at our Granville Island shop is Forest Musk. It's a deeper, damper forest version of our Woodland Whisper. For the musk lovers out there, you'll love this one. It's a more masculine type of scent but us girls like it too! It's performing really well and will be headed out to Winnipeg in June to see how it does there. All signs point to it being as beloved on the Prairies as it is on the Coast! If you're ordering on line, just add it to one of your 5 free samples while we get it loaded up for sale online (if you can't wait).
We WILL be at the Vancouver Christmas Market again this year from November 21st to December 24th, 2015! It's always a magical time and we're on our 4th year there. It's become such a tradition for me that it doesn't feel like Christmas until we are setting up our booth at the Christmas market. http://vancouverchristmasmarket.com/vendors/?gridcat=christmas-gifts
I'm waiting for applications for any other markets that we decide to do over the upcoming holiday season. Of course I have my “dream” list but all things in due time and as I can handle it too....since it's still just me and my elf still making candles. In any event, it's going to be a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to it! Oh, the things we can accomplish with just a little bit of coffee!
Hey All! I was looking for blog inspiration this week while still stuck in the trenches of facebook, instagram, twitter and basic computer connection/information overload. There was something about this picture that a friend tweeted or re-tweeted (for correct terminology about how exactly I came across the pic) that just reminded me of my approach to all things internetty...interwebby....or insta/net/webby. I basically now feel like I'm spewing words that don't even exist and English is no longer involved in this post.
But here I am...I do now check twitter more frequently than never. I do post a few pics via Instagram but am by no means at the internet saavy point of once a day-5 times a week intervals as well....I have things to do, a world to conquer, shops to run, products to make and I like sleeping. Perhaps, as I evolve on this journey of being out there and connecting with the world via technology, I will become more organized and be able to time manage it all. Right now, it's a bit overwhelming and we all know that when things make our brains hurt, we tend not to get into the habit of doing them too quickly. I'm working on it though. Someday, it will be calm again....just not right now. Because who are we kidding.....calm is NOT an option.
My small victory for the day is that I even figured out how to copy and save and post this picture onto this blog. Hey, you gotta celebrate the baby steps too!
This is my way of cheating at sitting down and actually writing a blog. Trust me, it almost took me as long to do a video where I wasn't rambling on, where I was making my key points and where I was actually speaking English instead of blurg, gawp, doop. If you've ever tried to do a video, you know what I mean. The words are in the head but don't come out as such on the video. Hence the take 1, 2, 3 and so on. I believe I was on take 32 when I finally got it close to correct, threw my hands up in the air and said (I quote), "Close enough!". And then of course learning how to upload, embed, video perfect, etc took me some time to accomplish as well. So after much ado about technology and a wee bit of a headache on my part, the video is here for you to view. Enjoy!
I like to think I have the candle making thing down. I still test like crazy to be sure but I think I'm probably 95% there. I've got it covered. So I start out with stars in my eyes, sell at markets, open some shops and I'm golden, right? Wrong. There's this thing called social media for mass marketing and reaching out to your customers. Okay, no problem, I can set up a Facebook account, link it to Twitter and we are done. Nope. Turns out that people can respond to you and tweet at you. Really. I didn't fully comprehend this concept until just today. So....if you have ever @ tweeted me or however you say it, then......I deeply apologize but I had no idea that you could and that I could respond. When you are sending love my way via Twitter, I had no idea that I had to log onto my account to see it. I really didn't. I don't know exactly what I thought other than to say I really didn't have a thought process at all. (insert long pause and palm of hand to the forehead here)
What can I say but I really am quite decent at the whole scent making, putting candles and soaps together thing but when it comes to social media, I fear that I'm still stuck at dial up and You've Got Mail. Now that I have confessed my inadequacy I am hoping that it will spur me on to grow and be better at communicating with you. Please understand that I didn't grow up with all this new fangled technology and though not 100 years old, I sometimes feel like it. Please also say a prayer for me as I have to learn Instagram next. I'm looking forward to reading this posting a year or two from now and chuckling at myself. Sometimes it hurts to be me. :)
LOTS of new things happening at The Hartmont Candle Company this week! We have new promos, new videos, new wholesalers and just lots of general excitement. Things are hopping!
Our biggest announcement is the unveiling of our Referral program. Our online sales have really started to pick up and this is our way of saying, "thank you" to all of our fans who have steered their friends, acquaintances, family and fellow lovers of great scents, onto our webpage. Those who refer someone to us earn discounts that they can use when they order online as well. The referral program applies to first time orders only but one person can refer many people and keep earning 20% of the first time purchases for each new online customer that we get. That's a pretty sweet rate that can make someone get really excited about ordering online. Just remember to type in the name and email address of the person who gave you the referral in the box at the bottom of our shopping cart. We will then be sending that person their discount code to be used the next time that they shop online. They can use more than one discount code at a time and earn free products but the referral program cannot be used in conjunction with the spend over $100 free shipping program. That is unless, the online shopper actually buys $100 of product, qualifies for free shipping and then uses their discount codes on the purchase of more products.
But we all know the hardest thing with purchasing scented products online is that you cannot smell what the product is like. Unless you've been in our shop, it's really hard to know exactly what you are getting. To make online shopping easier for you, we are now also offering free samples of 5 scents of your choice with every online order. So if you're staying awake at night and wondering, "What does Grandpa's Den smell like exactly?" we can send you a sample with your order plus you get to choose another 4 scents along with it. So now Night In Paris, Grandma's Kitchen, Cedar Sage Blackberry, Root Beer or any of our scents of your choice no longer have to be a mystery to you. You can sample them and know exactly what you are getting the next time that you order. You just type in the name of your scents that you would like in the box at the bottom of your shopping cart. It's that easy. These little samples are great for sniffing, and if you have a melter/burner, they can be used in those as well. We're just trying to make online shopping as easy and convenient as possible for you.
We hope that you agree that these are great incentives to get online and shop for some Hartmont candles....but I saved the best for last.....
I know that you are thinking there can't possibly be more but there is. We now have our virtual shopping tour online on our webpage. What we're going for is that you are having the same experience virtually that you might have if you came into the shop and found me there. It's Shopping with Lana 101. Just go to our Hartmont home page (hartmont.com) and you'll find me there. It's mostly just your basic stuff but hopefully some informative little tidbits along the way. You can see me light a candle (under Hear the Woodwick Crackle at the end of the first segment of your virtual shopping experience), have me explain what makes us different and what makes each candle different. Over the next few weeks we will also be adding videos showing the candle burning, what to look for in a properly wicked candle and what they look like at their last burn. Tons of information that you never even knew to ask about, is coming your way. Hey, it may not be overly polished and we will not be garnering any Academy Awards but it's us, up close and personal. We hope you love it! And tell your friends!
It's the time of year when the tax man comes a knocking and we reflect on how we did last year. Reflecting is good. It allows you to see what you did that was right and what you did that was not such a good idea. The thing about creating your own product is that there is noone to tell you what a good idea might be and what will be a huge success. And it's more like the success just builds over time if you've done everything right anyways. Last year was a BIG year for us. Lots of changes, new shop in Vancouver and new warehouse while trying to figure out how to maintain the old when I'm far, far away. I'm going to be honest. It's a tough juggle. This year, 2015, is trying to figure out how to maintain better while trying to increase revenue streams. As much as one can bury their head in the sand and decide they want things to be their decided way, you have to listen to what is working in the marketplace and then go about figuring out how to make that work for the business. It's not always easy figuring that out. That's why this time of year is so great! Numbers don't lie. This is my opportunity to see exactly where the business is growing successfully and where it is not. I then have to weed out the bad and focus on the good.
What this past year has reaffirmed and taught me:
#1 In person sales at targeted markets are golden. I've always known this as that's where I started...any type of market (Farmer's or Christmas) is always a success when I'm there.
#2 Internet is King. And this is not a news flash for anyone but it's been hard to figure out how to make it work for this company and really hasn't been that strong for sales until this past year. We are now seeing how we aren't tapping into a huge revenue stream by not taking advantage of engaging our customers on the internet. Stay tuned for how we plan to fix that in the weeks ahead.
#3 The presence of the person who creates and loves the product is key.
Our web page isn't perfect but we are now actively starting on working on it all the time. It has been sidelined while I've been distracted with expansion last year but this year will be the year that I pay attention and figure out creative ways to make online shopping easier, more cost effective for you and more interactive. We've been waiting for the right time, the right circumstance and the time to have the cash to be really professional about our website creativity. And it occurred to me that if I put that kind of restraint on our product development, nothing would ever get done. We very much go by the just do it philosophy when making new items or designs or scents. That philosophy is now being used on our webpage. So yes, it may not be perfect. It may be a bit campy in it's feel. It may not be a polished site like a big corporation would have. But that's exactly what Hartmont is about. We love to be friendly, creative, fun and think outside that box. I almost feel that if we were too polished that our Hartmontiness would be lost. Kind of like our soy candles are amazing but they are each one of a kind and amazing beyond what a big machine could put out there. Too polished makes them look like every other cookie cutter attempt at making a candle out there. We want to be different and have people fall in love with us just because we are our amazing selves. Not because of an endorsement or press, but because we are great at just being us with our great designs and amazing, out of this world, magical scents!
Now hopefully you are intrigued and because I have put it in writing, I am now committed to making sure it gets done. Our new web page is almost done (videos are being made now) to make it truly interactive and hopefully you find the charm in it rather than the not perfect lighting or perfectly scripted chat. It's raw and it's us just like you would find if I was in any of my venues. We are trying to create a “let's go shopping with Lana” atmosphere via the internet. Oh, and trust me, we will be changing and updating it constantly so the Lana you get at the beginning might not be the same as the Lana you get at the end but that's okay...it's all part of the growth and development process. Hope you enjoy the ride!