1. Ramon Todo - so I just stumbled across this gem of an artist online and was instantly transfixed. Its hard to put your finger on exactly what makes his glass-infused objects so attractive. Its true that they offering little practical use (aside from as a paper weight), but their aesthetic value is huge. Ramon Todo has done something magical, taking a simple object from nature and the book shelf, cutting it in two pieces and putting it back together again with an upgrade. I don't know if this appealing to everyone but I sure would love one of his pieces on my shelf. Glass sandwich anyone?
2. HomeStyler - this website lets you design your dream home digitally. Its free and you can work directly in the web browser. Its relatively easy to learn and I've been having a lot of fun remodelling my living room with it. You can even add furniture and all kinds of finer details to your projects so no more fiddling around with pen and paper to plan your redecorations. Give it a go at homestyler.com
3. BFI London Film Festival - London's annual film festival is back from October 4th and I'm excited to check out some films from around the world. This year we've picked a couple at random and I'm looking forward to seeing a German movie called 'Tiger Girl' this Sunday. You can still get some tickets but time is running out so visit their site.
4. Timothy Oulton - offering a stunning collection of handcrafted furniture and decorative items, this brand is 'inspired by the past, but reconceived from a modern perspective'. Their range of couches, chairs, tables, chandeliers, wall art and more charm with their refreshingly new take on British heritage. Highly sought after and unique, these statement pieces come with a price tag to match. If not now, maybe one day?
5. Foxdenton Gin - we don't usually drink much gin but we have a weakness for these exceptional flavoured gins. The thought of Rhubarb infused gin was not something that naturally appealed, but we stumbled across the Foxdenton stall at a market recently and were blown away by how tasty their drinks were. The man at the counter served us samples of every variety; Damson, Raspberry, Plum and Sloe gin and we left with a couple bottles of our own.... Perhaps inebriating your potential customers is a good sales strategy, but in any case these gins are truly spectacular and we'll be enjoying them for a long time to come.
Today, Friday the 22nd, is the September (Autumnal) Equinox ushering in the first day of fall. Ugh! You might say. As we bid farewell to summer and have colder, shorter days to look forward to, its natural to be less than excited.
That's exactly why the team at Saint Wools have put together their list of 10 things that you can look forward to as the seasons change. Aaahhh!
1. The colour of the trees and having leaves to kick
2. Epic sun sets (they will be better this time of year)
3. A good excuse for another drink
4. Hot drinks of all varieties
5. Snuggle up in that blanket
6. Making time for your favourite shows
7. An excuse to stay in
8. Pamper yourself
9. Our scarves are back!
10. You can wear those awesome sweaters and jackets again
The cunning consumer can make huge savings when they buy products at the right time, but when is the right time?
In short, finding the time of year when a particular product’s supply and demand is working in your favour. Don’t worry, this is not an economics article and you don’t need to be an economist to save loads of money on your purchases. A good dose of common sense is all you really need, so let’s dive straight into an example to illustrate some concepts.
Calendars are a very popular Christmas gift and for good reason, given that a new year is just around the corner and calendars are an easy gift they are most popular (and most expensive) just before Christmas. If you wait until January of February however, you can get a huge discount. Applying this logic to other common Christmas gifts that don’t have the inherent expiry date of a calendar can be a good way to save some money. If you wait until Santa is back in the North Pole, you will see massive reductions on Christmas cards and wrapping paper so why not stock up for next year?
This principle of seasonality can be used around other annual festivities (e.g. Valentine’s Day) but the same idea applies to more seasonal products and services as well. Getting married off-season (in the Winter), starting new gym memberships in the summer when people exercise outdoors or have given up on their New Year resolutions, buying winter sports gear in March and April and swim wear when it starts getting chilling outside are all examples of timing that make good financial sense. This strategy works for any non-perishable product that has seasonal demand. Surprisingly even Real Estate has an off-season. People who list their homes in winter are more likely to be desperate to close a deal quickly and less buyers are around to offer competitive bids. Keep that in mind next time you're in the market for a new home.
The opposite of this rule generally applies for food and drink. You want to buy these when they are in season in your location. Avoid buying imported fruits and vegetables and select the ones that have recently harvested in your area. Supply will be at their highest and as they are perishable their sellers can’t afford to wait for the best offer to come along. Take a trip to your local farmer's market or vineyard and you may leave with a bargain. Just remember to consider how much you can consume and how long you can reasonably store the produce.
Another trick is to time purchases around the introduction of new models. This works for mobile phones, cameras and other electronics, its also a sound strategy for fashion, bicycles, skis, cars, refrigerators, and to some extent pretty much anything else that is regularly updated from year to year.
Manufacturers in different industries tend to cluster the release of new models around the same times each year. Samsung typically releases its new mobile phones in March or April and Apply releases its new iPhones like clockwork in September. Product launch cycles can vary by country so do your own research to time your own shopping and remember when the new releases reach the market retailers will be trying to off-load last year’s models and when you can take advantage of the rush to liquidate last season’s stock. That is the right time!
Keep in mind that the larger the item, the more retailers will want to shift them. Larger products consume more of the valuable floor space that they want to dedicate to the next generation of products. Whether that space is in a shop or warehouse it will have higher cost implications for the business holding the inventory.
At Saint Wools our range of chunky knits are most in demand in the winter months and you can find the best prices in from May to August. So if you’re thinking of adding a beautiful Merino statement piece to your home or wardrobe don’t wait for peak season.
Shop now and use discount code SAINTKNITTER for 10% off until September.
To re-cap on what we’ve learned, there are two golden rules for unbelievable bargains:
Pronounced HUE-geh, this Danish word does not translate to English, although you can get close with the word “cosy” but not quite close enough to get the full meaning.
There are dozens of definitions out there especially since Hygge became a global craze and all sorts of experts and commentators appeared with their own twist on what Hygge is. The most common definition for this unique word is something along the lines of: “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being”.
In short, enjoying life’s simple pleasures such as friends, family, and nature while recognising something special in the moment.
I had never heard the word before 2016 and I suspect that’s true for most non-Nordic people. Yet that year Collins English Dictionary names Hygge the runner up for word of the year (after Brexit) and a plethora of books hit the shelves exclaiming the simple pleasures we were all missing.
Where did this excitement with an unpronounceable, difficult to articulate concept come from? Well, Denmark obviously. But why now? And how has it become so widespread and popular so quickly? Back in 1957 Hygge was mentioned by Robert Shaplin in a ‘Letter from Copenhagen’ for The New Yorker so the idea has crossed borders before and in Denmark Hygge it seems to be a cornerstone of society. And the appeal of Scandinavian cosiness is nothing new but this time, with the internet and social media, the initial spark of interest in Hygge went viral and spread like a wild fire (wild fires are very un-Hygge).
Hygge is back-to-basics-enjoy-life-and-get-the-most-out-of-this-moment and its popularity is proof that respite to the hustle and bustle of modern life is sorely needed (and that yoga, meditation, Pilates, and chocolate is not enough). The insincere relationships, wasteful consumerism and relentless drive to be better is a fact of many lives in the 21st century and the ideals contained within Hygge hit a collective nerve with people who realise a lack of authenticity and are yearning to connect with the more fundamental fulfilment that life offers. If it means something more to any of our readers, we'd love to know.
A whole array of Hygge products have hit the market, capitalising on its unexpected popularity. At the end of 2016 whenever I walked into a book shop I wouldn’t make it past the first few steps without seeing titles such as The Little Book of Hygge, Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness, The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Living Well or non-Hygge books that convey Hygge images such as Cabin Porn. There is a real desire to enjoy the simple things in life and apparently, we are so distant from this that we need books and blog posts (sorry) to do it.
Winter is the most Hygge season. Arguably, the reason Hygge and similar concepts (such as the Swedish Koselig) have made it into the Scandinavian lexicon is because the climate demands that people spend a lot of time indoors in the dark and cold months. Enjoying your home, in all its simple splendour, and relishing the loved-ones around you becomes a natural way to see you through those grim winter days. Some Hygge classics include: candles galore, comfy woollens, shearling slippers, a rustic wood fire, pastries and a warm cup of coffee to wrap cold hands around, cashmere socks, sheepskin rugs and calming music.
A lot of it is atmosphere and you can and should Hygge with loved ones, but you can just as easily Hygge alone in a chunky knit blanket (we recommend Saint Wools for that). It is worth remembering that Hygge does not require the dozens of objects that exemplify it and to give some focus to the mental and philosophical underpinnings of the concept.
Take the time to appreciate the practical things, be gracious for what you have, nurture your health and sprit with time outside every day and don’t log into your inbox or worries but rather share a laugh with your friends and family for a more Hyggelig life!
Enjoy your moments of Hygge.
In 2016 we started Saint Wools because of our love for quality hand-made products, our fascination with unspun merino wool, a strong desire to make customers happy with our woolly creations and perhaps most importantly, and the realisation that now is the best time to start.
Today we want to share our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned about starting a new business with you. So if you are thinking of starting your own enterprise or already sell a product or service, we hope you find these useful.
1. It isn’t easy (and you only get what you put in)
If you think about it, why would starting a business be easy? You are creating a new product or service and must answer a myriad of strategic and operational questions. Who is your target market? Who are your competitors? Where do you fit into the market, what are your substitute and complimentary products or services? What is your sales strategy? How will customers find you? Do you make your own website or hire someone? How much inventory do you need? Is the product good enough? There are so many things to figure out that and it is so daunting that most people never end up taking the leap into entrepreneurship.
And then after you’ve answered these questions (or think you have), you need to manage the company. Order and control inventory effectively, make the product, handle customer queries, update social media, develop new products, and list goes on. And at the end of the day you need to be profitable and understand how every decision is impacting your bottom line.
Our advice, is plan upfront but don’t be too rigid. You need to be flexible enough to adjust to customer demand and new trends. Keep your inventory lean as this improves working capital, reduces risk and lets you change your offering if you need to. At first it is better to pay a little more for smaller quantities of raw materials than to buy too much and find out that your product is not going to sell. Always keep an eye on a couple of key metrics (what gets measured gets managed) and set targets for your business to achieve.
Top tip: don’t let your to-do list overwhelm you, be patient and realistic, but make sure there is some progress every day (however modest it may be). There are no 9-5s as an entrepreneur so be prepared to make sacrifices.
2. Customer service is crucial
Seek contact with your customers. Be courteous and professional and be willing to go the extra mile, at least when you’re just starting out. The benefits of this approach are quickly apparent. Firstly, you will receive positive reviews which can attract more customers, and avoid bad reviews which can harm sales significantly. Secondly, happy customers are much more likely to refer you to their friends and family, and much more likely to come back for repeat purchases.
Sometimes you will have a nightmare customer. Perhaps they demand a refund and do not want to ship the product back to you. Maybe they’ve claimed a defect with the product but share a picture that doesn’t show anything wrong with it. Whatever it is, stand firm by your terms and conditions but do accept returns and do be reasonable, even if it costs you a little bit.
Top tip: never lose your temper and act unprofessionally with anyone, least of all your customers. Remember you are your brand and the way you behave impacts directly on your business.
3. Business is emotional (when it’s yours)
Yes, business is emotional. Things will happen that will mentally and physically exhaust you. There will be days that feel like hell and meetings that make you want to cry. You may start to panic and your mind will come up with all sorts of confidence-destroying theories about why you're not good enough.
Don’t listen, remain analytical and turn that emotional spew into a structured hypothesis statement to test. Then figure out what the problem is and deal with it. Have a look at destructively versus constructively dealing with disheartening business issues below:
So business is tough (duh!), and so must you be. The people you compete against aren’t perfect, even if they seem that way. I guarantee there are days when they consider throwing in the towel. Power through that sinking feeling and stay hungry to learn and improve!
Top tip: practise emotional intelligence in business. Choose the right way to frame your issues and then tackle them systematically.
4. Content, content, content
Content is crucial. Think about it, if you don’t have good product pictures then what do you have? If you don’t have a compelling ROI or well-articulated benefits to your service, who’s going to even consider hiring you?
For us at Saint Wools product pictures are essential. Our first batch was good (or so we thought), a month later our second batch was much better, but today when we look back at those we cringe. I’m sure in a year or two when we look back at the pictures we use today we'll laugh about how amateur we were. The moral of this story, is keep on developing content, keep taking those pictures and videos, revamp your product descriptions, experiment on social media, write blog posts, etc. You will learn so much along the way and get better and better until no one can differentiate your photos from a professional photographer’s or your writing from a full-time blogger’s.
Right now we recognise that video content and written content are areas where we can develop and are working on it. At the same time, we know we must keep refreshing our product photos, content for social media, website and basically everything. So, it’s a never-ending story and we accept that. After all our social media, our website, Etsy shop, product listings – these are all the customer sees and this has to be as good as it can be.
Top tip: just keep going... keep writing, keep snapping photos, upgrade your equipment and collaborate with a professional when you can.
5. Focus on one thing at a time
There is a simple formula - do one thing well (damn well!) and then start the next thing, and once that’s very good start the next.
If you build a website start with a basic one (e.g. the 2-4 pages you absolutely need) but make it awesome. The blog, customer reviews, gallery and all the other nice-to-haves can come when you are ready.
When it comes to your product or service offering, do not try to be everything to everyone. You should know your target customer, offer one product that is very good and once that’s established offer an up-sell or complementary product.
The same principle applies to your sales strategy. Do not try to go direct-to-customer and at the same time try to sell to retail on day one. Tackle one sales route first and once you’re an established player in that sphere you can consider taking on the next. You will not have the energy and resources to take on both unless you are starting with a few experienced employees and are a well-funded start-up.
Top tip: do not bite more than you can chew, master one domain at a time and remember that slow and steady wins the day.
A typical dictionary definition of love looks like this.
1. A strong feeling of affection.
‘babies fill parents with intense feelings of love’
‘their love for their country’
2. A great interest and pleasure in something.
‘his love for football’
‘we share a love of music’
As Valentine’s approached we wanted to know how different people define love and asked our Instagram followers what love meant to them by completing this sentence, “love is…”
With so many of our chunky knit blankets and other items being bought as gifts for loved ones, we often see people sharing their love for others through our shop. We’ve seen lovers buying for their beloved and mothers buying for their children all over the world. This inspired us to ask our followers what love means to them.
Its difficult to find a definition of love or even a phrase that really captures its essence, not to mention the differing opinions and ideas that everyone has about love. Based on the responses we received on Instagram, here are our favourites:
3. Love is empathy (@annajulia72) / Love is selfless (@closetpixie)
2. Love is a disease you don’t want to be treated for (@elliscroch)
1. Love is when your differences make no difference (@elliebelleinteriors)
Congratulations to @elliebelleinteriors, we enjoyed your unique definition of love and it made us think about how love turns our differences into strengths and makes everything else seem so petty. We hope you absolutely love your new chunky knit surprise!
We’ve listed all the responses below. What’s your favourite and how do you define love?
thepopulariser Love is indescribable
ladylawstudent Love is letting them watch whatever they want on Netflix 😂
aabo_847 Love is....knowing what to get me for Valentine's day…😂❤
squid_102 Love is worth 7 in Scrabble, but giving him the triple word score.
chloegi73 Love is pure xx
chloegi73 Love is invincible xx
chloegi73 Love is everything xx
chloegi73 Love is eternal xx
cinnamoncashmere love is gross
cinnamoncashmere love is eating a whole tub of ice cream and still thinking you're cute after
meghan_winsor Love is forever!
marnieamber Love is having someone or something that you feel you can't live without! 😊 I would love to wrap all my family and friends up together in one of your chunky blankets!
annajulia72 LOVE IS EMPATHY !!!
elliscroch Love is a disease you don't want to be treated for ♥️😂
earthroze Love is this throw on my bed ☺️Happy Valentine's Day to you 💞
closetpixie Love is selfless ❤️
elliebelleinteriors Love is when your differences make no difference ❤
annikajtaylor Love is leaving the last taste of peanut butter in the jar ☺️
mia6973 Love is All ❤
pastel.daisys Love is accepting you self and others
annamuubear Love is not caring about S.Valentine's Day, because every day is like S.Valentine's Day.
annamuubear Love is where your heart feels at home. ❤️🏠
kadazzler_kaknits Love is the dearest feeling of happiness and togetherness. It's the intimacy and endearment we all search for to feel complete💕
isthabraq Love is Knitting!
fannyherbecque Love is all you need... ah no sorry, all you actually need is the comfiest, loveliest, snuggiest Saint Wools blanket 😍🐏
carolinejonesjewellery Love is.....life x❤️x
ritaguedesdecarvalho Love is the coziest, warmest, happiest, deepest feeling ever. Family, friendship or sexual love... Love hugs every kind of people or condition.
mineisthine Love is easy because when it's genuine and selfless and honest there's just no alternative imaginable.
marnieamber Love is anything complete and utter happiness. 💖✨💖
aluges Love is holding your newborn baby in your arms for the first time and seeing the gift your love created 💜
knittingmuchado Love is. . . Your little brother picking the prettiest weeds ('flowers') he could find to make you feel better after having your wisdom teeth extracted, and then his telling you silly stories to try to make you laugh and forget the pain. 💕
little_wool_cart Love is what you make it :) for me that's family, a new ball of wool or a cosy night in by the fire!! Love is flowers, hot chocolate, a special person, the laugh of a toddler. Love is different for everyone :):) it's something that evee
little_wool_cart *everyone deserves
little_wool_cart Love could also be that rather fabulous blanket!!
snuggly.hook Love is this beautiful squishy blanket 😍😍😍Especially if you are sharing it with someone special. For me that would be my amazing little boy 💙
madelonhaantjes Love is... being comfortable and happy, to not know hurt or heartbreak but to be blissfully happy and feeling like your world has become complete. Love is pure, love is true, love is surrounding us.
aysha_tutty Love is being surrounded by family and friends that mean the world to me ❤️
Ramzi writes about home décor, design and much more. He wants to share interesting things from around the world.
Lana is the creative energy behind Saint Wools. She writes about her love of wool and passion for making the best chunky knit pieces.