A New Year, A New Plan… Moving Our Business Forward

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We are back!!!

Happy New Year, I Hope you all had a wonderful festive period with your loved ones and are having a great start to 2017.

Today we re-open Cards And Candles For All Occasions after our extended, one month, Christmas break and along with those closest to me we have decided that I need to make some changes to the way I run the business.

As much as I love the handcrafted work I do and dealing with so many amazing people, both customers and suppliers, over the past few months I have been forced to stop and look at my own health too. Since launching Cards And Candles For All Occasions in April 2010, I have been working full time hours every day of every week, some times working straight through the night to meet customer deadlines or get things all done and the realisation has now come to me that I cannot continue in this way.

At thirty six years old, I have been suffering with Fibromyalgia, Depression and Anxiety for a number of years and especially over the past eighteen months my health has been deteriorating, there are days where I feel unable to function but I sit at my desk doing the best that I can to fulfill all of my commitments to our business and customers.

The end part of 2016 was particularly difficult for me as my health was not in a good place due to the hours I was working, I was taking on more orders than I could handle as I did not want to disappoint anyone and in turn this was adding to the need for working excessive hours and stress levels were rising. It was getting to the stage whereby I could barely function effectively as I was so exhausted, in huge amounts of pain and I constantly felt stressed. Something needed to change.

I took the decision to have an extended break over the Christmas period to give myself some time to recharge (I slept most of Christmas, only really waking up for my pain medication), re-evaluate the future of Cards And Candles For All Occasions and plan the best way to move forward with my business. The thought of closing the business was considered and discussed, but this is the last thing I want to do. I know what I want to do, I just have to put those plans into action.

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Over the last couple of weeks we have made a lot of decisions about the future of Cards And Candles For All Occasions and how we plan to move the business forward… in order for me to be able to continue with the handcrafted business which I love, the biggest change I have to make is to reduce the hours in my working week.

Until now I have pretty much been working seven days a week, every hour possible and it is having a detrimental effect on my health – the increasing pain, the insomnia and exhaustion, the mental effects of Fibromyalgia, they all contribute to making me miserable and the thing I have found hardest of all is accepting that I cannot keep up with the lifestyle and working life I held before Fibromyalgia took over.

I never thought I would end up in a wheelchair with a chronic illness at just thirty five years old!! But here I am, this is the life I have and now I have to move forward with a plan to make the most of what I have, make things so that they are manageable and in the bigger picture remember to look after myself too.

I need to find a suitable “Work + Life = Balance” otherwise, as a friend stated this morning:

You need to stick to the plan sweetheart or you will be permanently closed. Invest in you xx

The last thing that I want to do is to be forced by my health to close my business, but I can totally agree with the above comment as the way I was going before Christmas I was heading for a serious burn out and I cannot afford either physically, mentally or financially to risk this in the long-term.

Today is a big day for Cards And Candles For All Occasions as not only are we re-opening for 2017, but today is also the day we are implementing the changes which have been decided upon which will allow me to continue to work with you, our wonderful customers, on the unique, handcrafted and personalised products we all love.

working_hours

As I have said above, the biggest change we are making to Cards And Candles For All Occasions is our business working hours, with immediate effect our working hours are as follows:

Monday – open from 11:00am until 5:00pm

Tuesday – open from 12:00noon until 6:00pm

Wednesday – CLOSED

Thursday – open from 11:00am until 5:00pm

Friday – open from 11:00am until 5:00pm

Saturday – CLOSED

Sunday CLOSED

We hope that you will understand our reasons for reducing our working hours and in time, once we adjust to our new schedule we are hoping that it will make us more efficient in dealing with your enquiries and processing/handcrafting your orders. My hope is that by reducing my working hours it will help to improve my mental and physical health allowing me to be more productive when I am working, therefore if all goes to plan there should be minimal disruption to our customers.

about-your-online-order

The second change that we are making to Cards And Candles For All Occasions to help in moving forward more efficiently is lead times for our orders, with immediate effect we have listed below the minimum amount of notice we will require for each product we sell to allow us to source materials, design and handcraft your product ready for dispatch:

Standard Greeting Cards
Minimum 10 days notice

Keepsake Cards (eg. Bookatrix, Easel Drawer, Handbag)
Minimum 14 days notice

Exploding Box Keepsake
Minimum 21 days notice

Ecosoy Candles
Minimum 14 days notice

Wooden Gifts (eg. Themed Frames, Plaques, Candle Holders)
Minimum 21 days

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support and look forward to working with you throughout 2017 and beyond.

xxx Love Laura xxx

Cards And Candles For All Occasions website

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Customer Commissioned Orders – 8×8 Birthday Cards

One of our regular customers recently contacted us for a selection of handcrafted birthday cards which were to be eight inch square in size, each with a very specific theme.

Each card has an personal message on the insert and has been designed and crafted to our customers requirements.

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We hope you like these designs and if you are interested in looking at more of our work, or would like to discuss the design of a greetings or keepsake card to your requirements then we would love to hear from you 🙂

You can find us on Facebook

Or visit our Website

Silent Sunday – Happy Birthday Keepsake

http://www.cardsandcandlesforalloccasions.co.uk

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So Excited – Create And Craft TV #Excited

This morning I was watching Dawn Wheeler and Dean Wilson on Create And Craft TV… they were demonstrating the Spellbinders Grand Calibur diecutting machine and as I had bought one of these fab machines then I thought I would email the show with some support and a few of my recent makes.

Guess what… two of my keepsake cards were shown live on television this morning. I was so excited and still can’t believe that something I have made was shown on television 🙂

http://www.cardsandcandlesforalloccasions.co.uk

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Handcrafted 21st Birthday ‘Make Up Bag’ Card

We were contacted by a customer looking for a unique greeting card for a 21st birthday… we were asked if we would be able to create a make-up bag themed card, this was something we hadn’t done before but we are always happy to accept a challenge from our customers. The colour scheme was to be black and silver with coloured accents.

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We started with an eight inch square card and use black pearlised card to create the base for the make-up bag which was to be the card front, this was then matted and layered using silver pearlised cardstock. The top part of the make-up bag closes with a velcro fastening, when this is lifted it reveals a silver mirri card ‘mirror’ as would be in a girls cosmetic bag.

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We used the Cricut Plantin Schoolbook cartridge to cut the “21” in black and silver cardstock, as well as “Charlotte” in black cardstock. The “21” was then layered to give a three dimensional effect. “Charlotte” was added to the closing part of the make-up bag. We added a Happy Birthday Sentiment to the front.

Inside the make-up bag we used diecuts from the Lea’bilities cosmetics cutting dies… these were cut from metallic red and silver cardstock before being affixed inside the card.

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The completed card folds flat with velcro fastening on the front so can be sent in a standard eight inch square envelope, it is a standard ‘open and close’ card design with plenty of space for the sender to write their own message or greeting.

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I have been assured that Charlotte loved her card and the unique-ness of it, our customer who ordered this card also loved it so much so we received a card in the post, full or praise and positive feedback.

Feedback like this makes me very happy now as this is why I love my job – I can make customers smile and that makes me smile 🙂

xxx Love Laura xxx

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Facing Reality – Life With Fibromyalgia And True Friends

Thinking

Yesterday was spent chilling at home, making plans for year five of our business, www.cardsandcandlesforalloccasions.co.uk, and chatting with customers… thinking about lots of ideas and new products that I would like to work on over the coming months and building new contacts to grow our business is a must.

I had a Fibro tantrum in the afternoon but it will not keep me down… I have heat pads for my hip pain, magnesium spray for my cramping legs and prescription medications to manage it all. It is true what they say “I may have Fibromyalgia but Fibromyalgia does not have me” – I will not let this drag me down, I refuse to let an illness rule my life.

Fibro slows me down

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in February 2014 after many years of symptoms, it is something which I always thought that I was too young to have. I always assumed that doctors would diagnose my problem and provide a cure. Sadly I was wrong, Fibromyalgia has no cure. This illness is something which is managed by long term medications and exercise, changes in diet can also help.

I dont look sick

What are the symptoms of Fibromyalgia? Symptoms can vary from person to person, some people have more symptoms than others where other people have an extended list of symptoms which also affect existing illnesses. The symptoms I suffer from include:

* Headaches
* Pain and pins/needles/numbness in hands and fingers
* Pain in shoulders, arms and wrists
* Restless Leg Syndrome – especially at night
* Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
* Insomnia – disturbed and restless sleep
* Back pain
* Hip pain
* Knee pain – knees regularly ‘give’ way
* Ankle pain – ankles regularly ‘give’ way
* Brain fog – memory problems, issues forming sentences, general ‘fuzziness’
* Depression
* Anxiety

There are days where I need to rest and use my stick to get around, but I’m starting to realise that if I take it easy for a day or two then the Fibro flares don’t last as long and I can get back to normality sooner.

Real Woman

Just lately I have done a lot of thinking, I have been looking at the people who surround me… I have so many wonderful friends who I value and know that they are always there for me when I need support, need someone to talk to or just need a friend.

I have realised just who I can and cannot trust… friendships and relationships come and go but in time we realise just who really matters in our lives.
I have had many friendships over the years which have ended for various reasons, not all of these were genuine friendships, in that people were only interested in what they could gain or how I could help them… I now know that I do not need this sort of person in my life.

You will only get the chance to walk all over me once – people need to realise that I am not just here for their personal gain and I won’t keep letting you come back to do it again.

True Friends

I have some very important, special and valued people in my life who know me, support me and understand my illness and other aspects of my life and past… those are the people who matter to me.

I have friends who have similar backgrounds to myself, friends with the same health issues as me, friends whose lives are polar opposite to me but at the end of the day we are always there for each other and will always help each other where we can.

Life is about living for the present, not living in the past… follow your dreams and reach for the stars, never let someone else bring you down. Stay positive and remember that true friends are always there for you.

Destiny

A Premature Baby Is Born – A Time To Celebrate

Preemie parent

Often when a baby is born prematurely there is a lot of stress, worry and concern for parents and family, however we should never forget that any baby’s birth is a time of celebration. A new life entering the world.

Looking around on Google for a suitable quote or poem to include in this post, I found so many but none of them really grabbed my attention or seemed to be quite right, until I found this one:

The journey of a premature baby is often
one step forward and two steps back
watch them breathe, watch them sleep
and nourish them with liquid gold
when strong enough they will
take three leaps forward
and never look back!

Cards And Candles For All Occasions have a range of handcrafted greetings cards which have been designed with sentiments, especially written to celebrate the birth of your little miracle who has entered the world sooner than expected.

Preemie Boy (1)

Preemie Boy (2)

Preemie Boy (3)

Preemie Girl (1)

Preemie Girl (3)

Preemie Girl (SOLD)

When you are going through those difficult times, when your little one is facing a fight or your hope is dwindling, remember this Dr Seuss quote and stay positive that your little miracle will carry on fighting:

Don’t give up, I believe in you all.
A person’s a person no matter how small.