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.

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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.

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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

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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 πŸ™‚

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Personal Project: Noah’s 4th Birthday

Some of you will know that we have recently been working on a ‘secret’ project which we were unable to share with you all. This was a set of plaques for a very special little boy’s 4th birthday party.

This little boy is Noah… you will have seen him mentioned on our blog, he is the little boy behind www.hugsfornoah.co.uk – Noah and his family are a huge inspiration to us and with everything they go through each day, they always have a positive outlook on life. The phrase “dreams come true” definitely stands where this family are concerned.

When we were invited to Noah’s birthday party we knew that we wanted to do something special for him, so when his mummy told us that they were having a Toy Story themed party we knew exactly what we wanted to do πŸ™‚

As all of the items in this blog are Toy Story, therefore copywritten and Trademarked by Disney, we will be unable to reproduce these items for sale.

All of these Toy Story items were handcrafted by us as gifts for Noah’s birthday.

Firstly we designed, had laser cut and then we handpainted four different quotes, each painted in bright colours and finished with glitter accents:

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Then we also had designed and CNC cut, Noah’s name with the phrase “To Infinity And Beyond” which was handpainted in bright acrylic paints before we added small themed embellishments:

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Of course, as Noah’s birthday party was themed, we needed to handcraft a greeting card to suit, complete with a personalised insert with our message:

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And of course as anyone who knows Noah’s family will know, each time they host an event whether it be a Birthday, Easter, Christening or Gala Dinner they always have a little something for everyone to take home as a reminder of the special day, so to complete our gifts for Noah’s birthday, we handpainted laser cut number 4’s and cupcakes in nice bright colours before threading these using round beads and star/teddy shaped beads and attached to keyrings.

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We had a fab time at Noah’s 4th birthday party yesterday and these are just a few of the photos taken on the day πŸ™‚

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Noah had such a busy and exciting day yesterday alongside the fact that he isn’t very well so we didn’t get to see him open his presents as he had an early night, but we have just seen photos on Facebook of him opening his presents from us so here they are:

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And of course, no Noah event would be complete without the obligatory Boothpix selfies, so here is ours ❀

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As you can see everyone who attended Noah’s 4th birthday party had an amazing time and we would just like to thank Shelly, Rob, Noah and family for inviting us to be a part of Noah’s special day… it was a long day but worth every second.

Sending you all lots of love and hugs, and lots of get well soon hugs to Noah.

Hopefully we will see you again soon, and perhaps arrange a weekend visit over the summer.

xxx Lots of love, Laura and Dan xxx

Blogs I Follow – The Fat Cactus

I recently found a new blog to follow – this blog belongs to one of the lovely ladies who works in the craft shop I regularly use. The Craft Room at Garners is my favourite local craft shop as it stocks such a wide variety of crafting supplies and the ladies who work there are all fab, I can easily lose hours in this shop between browsing and chatting πŸ™‚

When I found Teresa’s blog I knew that I would be adding it to my “following” list and checking it out regularly as her work is amazing and she incorporates so many different techniques and it’s definitely a blog to follow if you’re looking for inspiration, on those days when the crafting mojo has gone walkabout.

While browsing this morning I came across this blog post “THE EAST WIND NEW RELEASE – TRANSFORMATION” and I instantly knew I could relate to the sentiment of this piece ‘It’s never too late to find out who you want to be’ as with all the life changes I have gone through in the past twelve months and personal challenges I continue to face, this is a really important sentiment and something we should all remember.

Teresa’s use of colour and patterns in the background are beautiful… the main image and sentiments are stamped perfectly and coloured in such pretty colours – she has a wonderful talent!!

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I would definitely recommend that you pop over to visit “The Fat Cactus” blog and take a look around for some amazing work and lots of inspiration πŸ™‚

Thank you for sharing your work for everyone to enjoy Teresa!

xx Love Laura xx

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Handmade Greetings Card – Sorry You’re Leaving

One of our lovely customers recently contacted me to place an order for a “Sorry You Are Leaving” card for one of her colleagues.

A regular theme for greetings cards ordered by this customer is of flowers and butterflies, however this time I was asked to create a card in colours which I haven’t used in her designs before.

I opted to use shades of blues with subtle highlights of other colours – I really like how this one has come out and it’s nice to be able to work with a popular design but in completely different colours from usual.

Our customer loves this card and is looking forward to her colleagues reaction when she sees it πŸ™‚

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Handcrafted greeting card by Cards And Candles For All Occasions

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Wordless Wednesday – Happy Birthday Greetings Cards

Happy 70th Birthday Easel Card

Happy Birthday Rococo Fairy Card

Happy Birthday Irish Chef

Handcrafted greetings cards by Cards And Candles For All Occasions

Silent Sunday: New Baby Grand-Daughter Exploding Box

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