Thursday, January 30, 2014

Southern Snow Days...

How peculiar...in South Louisiana its rare we see snow, never mind a full blown ice storm.  But January has delivered us 3 snow days.  I know the rest of the world seems to function just fine in snow but we have no infrastructure to deal with this frozen precipitation.  And honestly, it was just a big icy mess for days.  We saw five beautiful minutes of soft snowy wisps...and then back to frozen rain, pelting the ground. 
And as snow days go; the shop must close.  I wouldn't imagine anyone would venture out in this icy muck...but it would be just my luck someone would try and wrap themselves around a pole, cursing my name!

So, nothing you can do about it, right?  I resounded to the fact that as much as I needed to be open, I just couldn't.  And honestly, it was the pause I needed to get back in the swing of things.  I know I haven't properly discussed it but it's been a really bad month.  Not so much in sales (they could be better, but its typical January par for the course).  With the exceptional Christmas season, we saw a record number of exchanges this month.  Not that it was too bad in general, but more than we ever see...and it's disappointing that someone wasn't satisfied for whatever the reason. 

Pretty standard in most boutiques, we have a 10 day exchange or merchandise credit only policy...during the holidays I do relax it a bit.  This year most people understood, except for one remarkable woman who was the spitting image of Paula Deen (when I say remarkable - I'm saying bitch in the nicest way I can). 
She was 30 days into an exchange and wanted cash - it's just not our policy, but as I dutifully explained I would accommodate her with an exchange past our normal 10 days.  She slams the merchandise down, turns her head and stares me down like Medusa, "this is what you get for shopping local!"  She made every effort to put me down, threaten my business, tell me I sell just plain crap no one would want.  I stood my ground and she pocketed a merchandise credit to use at a later date (oh goodie.) while she stomped out to her luxury SUV. 

I've felt really bad about it until the snow storm; not that I did anything wrong and I certainly was not ashamed for how I treated her - I was professional as I could be under the circumstances.  It's just how do you have your own business, not to mention, in the very building that you own too and someone feels entitled to be a bully and treat you in this manner.  So, it's been really hard to go in each day and wonder if someone else will follow her lead. 
Our snow days were my reflection time; birdwatching (did you know I'm a huge bird nerd?  I named my business Nest?!), bubble baths, hot chocolate, and naps...yes, glorious napsThat was a splurge that made me feel like a 16 year old again.  I didn't miss the store one bit...and that in itself worried me.

Today, my first day back, was magical again.  I helped a couple pick out the perfect necklace to be engraved, another lady shopped for her first great grand baby, and a bewildered husband looked for a gift for his wife, a fan of the store - and said he found the perfect thing.  All these things were possible because I decided to open my very unusual store in one of the most unusual towns today.

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Wing and a Prayer...

These are strange days in retail...almost ghostly quiet.  Everyone on the street is talking about it as we phone one another...between tidying up and restocking shelves.  Today, my most regular visitor, Mr. UPS, brought me a bundle of new boxes.  Oddly enough this was an order from last July at Market.  As much as I love selecting just the right goods for the shop, I equally loathe unpacking dirty, dirty boxes with dusty bags and foamy inserts that break off in tiny bits and find a home in my hair (that you only discover after a customer leaves).  I clean everything I open...that's just the way I am.  Today, nearly about to find a home for these beautiful vintage style vases, I spy a broken wing inside one of the vases.  Most likely a moth; yellow with brown trim.  I look at the label and saw it came from India.  Quite a long flight for such a little wing.
Tonight snow is predicted.  The kid in me is sooooo excited - it's been a few years, but this is Southern Louisiana and it will most likely be sneaux.  A nasty, sleety mess that is just a tease - never sticking to the ground but making roads dangerous and icy. 
I'm trying to keep the inside festive, as outside, the sky is pale gray and distinctly looks like snow (not that I'm an expert...but in my opinion).  I hurried last night and silk-screened a fresh batch of my Mardi Gras towels "live everyday like Fat Tuesday".  A perfect run of them; it always feels like such an accomplishment to see all your hard work neatly on a table ready for sale (just need some customers).  
https://www.etsy.com/listing/171143063/mardi-gras-live-everyday-like-fat
I know everything will be okay in the long run; it's just these pauses between seasons and events make you hold your breath (and make your friends and family think your little bit nuts for even going into retail).  So, since I'm a seasoned retailer - I'm being patient, keeping busy...preparing for what's next...ready for the next adventure. 

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Color Me Rad...

By now, surely, you've heard all the hype about Pantone choosing Radiant Orchid as the Color of the Year.  Me, a skeptic, was, well skeptical...then I opened my closet and nearly half of my wardrobe is Radiant Orchid. 
image from Pantone
It's literally all around me and yes - I love it; especially paired with turquoise or a neutral gray.  Lately, I'm trending towards all color in bright, bright tones.   
Not that you can tell, but I'm wearing one of the FOUR purple sweaters I own - plus I've got my new iPhone in green - its adorable (and partially why I can't put it down in a restaurant - sorry, addicted!)
http://shopnestinteriors.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=8_40&products_id=531
Slowly, I'm embracing color at the shop.  These just came in and I thought they were the coolest!  Color flame birthday candles.  The flame matches the candle color - awe. some.
https://www.etsy.com/shop/cottagenestinteriors?section_id=6068732
Also, for the shop - this weekend I cranked out these seriously cute crayon wallets!  I started making these a few months back to meet a need for a small and thoughtful toddler/child gift.  Again, I love promoting color and creativity!  It always makes me a little sad when I see kids at a restaurant mesmerized by their parents phone (kids don't do what I do!).  Also, I would have never thought of this but I was told by a customer mom that she loves these because she doesn't have to share restaurant crayons (that might also be sharing cold and flu slobber).  I've got a small quantity listed over in my Etsy shop and available within the brick and mortar shop. 
https://www.etsy.com/listing/129385259/sale-unicorn-believer-rainbow-heart
And lastly, for your color viewing pleasure...and oldie but goodie!  My Rainbow Unicorn cross stitch pattern is on sale right now!  What a fun way to bring color into your new year (I even spy a little Radiant Orchid...damn, Pantone was right ~ it's everywhere!)

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Flying the Coop...

Last month, in the midst of our busy Christmas season at the shop, C went on a job interview and nailed it...I'm pretty sure it looked just like this (tired of this meme, yet?  me neither!)
She received an acceptance shortly afterwards, but through the weeks, it's been hurdle after hurdle with background & credit checks, drug tests, a physical...geez.  Thankfully, all is settled and she started this week.  It's such a great job with the exception of being nearly an hour away (bonus is she has a lovely view of the Mississippi River from her desk).  But that leaves me alone in the Nest to handle it all...did I mention I don't much care for change?  So, it's an adjustment process for us both and I hope I will be back to creating and making new products for the shop very soon.
A number of people have been asking if I would sell a completed cross stitch of the my Down with Downton Abbey pattern.  The answer is yes; one is in the works -- it's been since November, ugh!  Slowly, every other night I pick it up and do a little more.  Unfortunately, at this pace, I'm not certain when I will finish and how much it will be (it changes nightly from $200 to $5000).  The pattern is always downloadable and a very limited amount of kits are available too.
http://shopnestinteriors.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=3&products_id=530
Even though I've slowed down producing for the shop, we are still filling up with great goods from other vendors.  These melted Ball canning jars were a special request I made of one of our clay artisans...don't you just love that vintage blue?!  These are listed in the main shop.
http://shopnestinteriors.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=5
Plus, I've been on a bit of a glutton for bath products -- and I hope everyone else will be too!  I personally have been cranking out cold-process soaps each week (C says my naming process for each soap reminds her of  that scene in Pineapple Express - but no, none of my soaps will be name snicklefritz), and we had a huge restock of Musee fizzing bath balms.  Best yet, tho, we have started to carry Deep Steep.  I adored this line a few years ago, when a friend of mine carried it in her store...she closed and though she gave me all the info to open up...it took me while (as with everything).  The bubble bath is a dream; I also carry the body lotion and body butter - and oh my, the body butter arrived just in time for my poor, sad winter skin!  Deep Steep is a natural, made in the USA brand that most importantly is cruelty free.
http://shopnestinteriors.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=8_29_33&products_id=528
And one last thing...I could not pass up these adorable State Love Louisiana Pendant Necklaces.  They came in last week, too...along with a really adorable purple and gold Louisiana State scarf

Even more is on the way; plus a few new sensational vintage items are being added to the Etsy shop daily!

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Twelfth Night...

Tonight is the Epiphany and the beginning of the Mardi Gras season - a chilly start that is, as we dip into the 20's with this miserable arctic blast.  A few mini parades always mark the occasion tonight in New Orleans, but I'll stay home sipping hot chocolate with my King Cake.
https://www.etsy.com/listing/173506242/mardi-gras-live-everyday-like-fat
But those that know Mardi Gras know it is more than one day, one season...it's truly a way of life.  This season I'm introducing new design "Live Everyday Like Fat Tuesday" this season to celebrate this unique way of life.   
I silk-screened a small run of towels right before Christmas and put them out just to see if there was any interest...I sold out!  I hope to reorder the blanks this week. 
http://www.cafepress.com/nestinteriors
And in an effort to get my design out there on a number of products, I am utilizing CafePress.  From t-shirts, bags, mugs, and hats...even doggie tees (gah!), they provide an extensive inventory of fun items.  To purchase these directly and see a few more items go directly to my CafePress Shop.

Mardi Gras is officially March 4th this year...here's to a long and fun Carnival Season!

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Friday, January 3, 2014

Fresh Start - Part Deux...

Yesterday I shared a few new items that had slipped in during the Christmas rush...here's Part Deux...

https://www.etsy.com/listing/174505951/vintage-style-french-papillions
Today I set upon inventorying and photographing all of our new designs of Cavallini decorative papers.  Gosh - they are all so pretty; not sure which is my favorite yet.
https://www.etsy.com/listing/174493158/vintage-style-blue-bird-and-french-text
These work perfectly as posters; you can even find frames online here.  But they are inexpensive enough to use for scrapbooking or as my friend, Marie, likes to do - line a cabinet or drawer!
https://www.etsy.com/listing/174505391/vintage-style-pastel-paris-map
Oui!  Oui!  I love this souvenir style Paris map!  It's a bit different from the more red and navy one I stock.  Perfect for that softer interior setting with pale pinks, greens, and aquas.
https://www.etsy.com/listing/174493532/vintage-style-french-abc-flash-card
Ok, this actually might be my favorite...a vintage reproduction of French ABC's - each with a charming illustration, the letter and the word in French script.  Just adorable!
https://www.etsy.com/listing/174493532/vintage-style-french-abc-flash-card
You can see why I'm partial to this one, right?

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Fresh Start...

I don't know about you, but this cold weather is for the birds!  A freeze is forecast for tonight and I'm already hauling out the Spring goodies in store and online

https://www.etsy.com/listing/174396446/tinsel-garland-ribbon-in-spring-trio
This came in last week on Christmas Eve!  Isn't it lovely???  If you like vintage style tinsel ribbon -- then this is just for you.  A trio pack of pink, blue, and yellow - each color contains 8 feet. 

https://www.etsy.com/listing/174411737/cavallini-love-theme-mini-rubber-stamp
Are you feeling the love?  This super sweet Cavallini Love mini stamp set is just in time for Valentine's - I'll probably use mine all year round for weddings and special correspondence - it's just precious.

Do you love washi tape like moi?  Gosh it's the best!  Just arrived is Cavallini's washi style paper tape in these lush botanical designs.  A set of 5 rolls with a generous 16 yards on EACH roll - wow!  (yes, I helped myself to one as well - ahem, it's called product testing).  Also, to match is a nice Flora and Fauna Stamp Set with 10 stamps that include an owl, deer, mushrooms, and ferns - all that lovely woodland imagery!

More to come!  Plus several new handmade goods from moi!!

--Lisa LeBlanc

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