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

Cards And Candles For All Occasions website

Cards And Candles For All Occasions on Facebook

Cards And Candles For All Occasions on Twitter

It’s A Miracle – We’ve Done It!!!!

As many of you will know, those who follow us on Twitter and Facebook will hear us mention it quite regularly, our office has been like a bombsite for some time, in desperate need of sorting out!!

I decided to bite the bullet at the weekend and start sorting through everything, put the boxes we least use into the cupboard and sort out all the surfaces – I’ve managed to get the office looking relatively organised so that I now know where things are, I have clear surface space for putting work in progress pieces while I wait for glue and/or paint to dry and I feel really satisfied with how things are now. I feel like I’ve achieved lots over the past three days!!

I am so lucky in that Cards And Candles For All Occasions on Facebook is based in an office within my partners industrial unit – I have an office with masses of storage and I know that many people would be envious of this, as there are so many full-time crafters who work from their dining table or a corner of their bedroom. I really do appreciate the space that I have and am very lucky that my work space is completely independent of my home space.

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Some people say that I have a stationery addiction, but I disagree… I just love notebooks, business planners, order books, blog planners, etc… do you think I’m obsessed? πŸ˜‰

Without my notebooks and lists I would be lost – I have various notebooks for various things and they do so well at keeping me organised. With having Fibromyalgia, I do have a lot of memory problems so I need to write things down as soon as I think of them or remember them or I will completely forget which is a nightmare. I can honestly say that I love my stationery collection ❀

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To go with my collection of notebooks and stationery, I also have a huge collection of coloured pens and pencils which include:

BIC fibre tip pens
Crayola fibre tip pens
Papermania watercolour pens
Papermania metallic pens
Sakura pens
Art Therapy pencils
Art Therapy Fine Line pens
Art Therapy markers
Sharpie pens
Spectrum Noir pens
Spectrum Sparkle pens
Promarker pens
Aqua Marker pens
Metallic Promarker pens
Posca pens
Selection of fine line and gel pens

I do use my pens a lot in my cardmaking, particulary for colouring digital stamps and images so go through a lot of these, I am a little addicted to coloured pens though, I will admit that πŸ˜‰

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After I have done all of this, I decide that the back of the wardrobe which I use for storage (the back side of it faces my desk) needed a little decorating to make it look less like a hardboard wardrobe, so I added a few completed ‘adult colouring sheets’ and I intend to fill that surface with the various designs. So far I have used colouring sheets by Voodoo Dolls and Zombie Friends, Shell’s Cards, Colouring and Crafts and PixieRah Designs.

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On the side of the wardrobe space, I painted myself an mdf laser cut plaque in memory of my late Mum, who is a massive inspiration to me. The plaque reads “Your wings were ready but my heart was not” – this was painted in a selection of metallic and pearlised acrylic paints and then mounted using double side foam tape.

Below this I have a magnet which my Dad bought me, which reads “Be Reasonable, Do It My Way” then a Fibromyalgia related badge, reading “I may be a spoonie but you’re a twat”, a Winnie the Pooh magnet then finally a very special #HugsForNoah sticker πŸ™‚

Eventually I would like to cover the entire cupboard in artwork, colouring sheets and little niknaks but we shall see!!

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Now the biggest question is… how long can I stay tidy and organised? Will it last long or will it be back as bad as ever in the near future? Would love to hear your thoughts in our comments.

Don’t forget you can follow our work on Pinterest and YouTube as well as the links mentioned throughout our blog πŸ™‚

Thanks for reading, love Laura xxxx

Happy Birthday – Cookie Monster Style

We were recently asked to create a birthday card for our clients husband.

The theme we were asked for was “Cookie Monster” so here is what we came up with… we hope you like it as much as they did!

We used a Cookie Monster digi-image which we coloured with Promarkers before mounting on patterned backing paper, and we mounted the sentiment onto a cookie themed sketch.

This is the first request we have had for this character and I hope that you will agree that it looks rather good πŸ™‚

If you would like to discuss ideas for your own unique greeting or keepsake card please email us at admin@cardsandcandlesforalloccasions.co.uk

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