Reboot, Remake, Rethink, Rebirth

As I work to edit my Etsy shop to comply with their new policies regarding herbal products, I’ve been going through a lot of feelings. At first, I was devastated. I thought this would destroy my business. Then I went through varying feelings of elation (from all the support I’ve been getting from all of you) and wild frustration.

It’s been exhausting editing my listings – and I have had to edit some of them three or four different times. And I’ll be going back and doing ANOTHER edit this week. There’s just so much conflicting information out there – many of us are not sure quite what to do and how to change things without losing the heart of our businesses.

There have been some real jaw-droppers, too, as I’ve learned more about this policy – things that have disheartened me a lot, including the fact that we are no longer allowed to share the feedback our customers have given us if that feedback contains medical words. I have a TON of feedback from people who have said that my products have helped them with acne issues or eczema or other such things and I am so proud of those comments. I used to feature them on my product pages, but this is now forbidden, considered a second-hand medical claim.

We are also not allowed to talk about the properties of herbs, even if those properties are factual. For instance, I sell carminative seeds as a natural breath freshener. I can no longer say that they also soothe gassy stomachs, even though carminatives are a class of herbs that…soothe gassy stomachs! We are no longer allowed to say that lavender is calming to the nervous system even though it is classified as a nervine! Not to make too big a deal out of this, but it does feel a little like a witch hunt. Heaven forbid we allow citizens of the US the option to explore alternative healing (which wasn’t so “alternative” once upon a time ago).

However, I’m determined to stay positive, keep Five Seed alive, and find every nugget of goodness that can possibly come out of this. Here are just a couple of those positives:

1. Community. After a year of doing business in a somewhat isolated mode (as is easy to do when you’re an online business and have another day job outside the home), I’ve been reconnecting with my teammates over at EcoEtsy and participating in some fascinating discussions with other herbal sellers all over Etsy. The support I have found through them has been a huge relief and it helps me remember something at the cornerstone of herbalism – community. That is where the strength of herbal healing lies – sharing with and supporting everyone and anyone interested in the Old Wisdom.

I’m sorry to say that I think this aspect of herbalism has gotten lost in our capitalistic system. I never realized this until recently, but there’s a respectful and slightly suspicious distance that some of us keep from one another. In fact, of all the business owners I have connected with, almost none of them have been bath and body sellers. There is this subtle sense of competition – it’s like we’re so protective of our niche (and it’s hard to find any niche in b&b that hasn’t already been filled) that we don’t want to connect with others and potentially get lost in the massive sea of herbal businesses.

And unfortunately, there are some herbal sellers who aren’t very ethical, who search through our shops looking for information on products to create. I’ve seen many herbal sellers struggle with copycats. And finally, there are those who consider themselves the “watchdogs” and who search through shops and blogs to see what people are doing and who drop in with nasty comments and threats.

Now I’m seeing the value of pushing past all that capitalistic-, ego-driven, fear-based crap. None of this information is new. None of our products are new. There’s not much we can do to prevent ourselves from being targeted by copycats or watchdogs. So why cut ourselves off from the chance of connecting and sharing information? I think if we want to consider ourselves true keepers of plant wisdom (in whatever form we come), then we need to keep community at the top of our priority lists.

2. Integrity. It is always, always necessary to keep checking ourselves. After we’ve been in business for a while and have built a customer base, we tend to get into a rut about how we present our products. We assume we know who we’re talking to and that they know us, because, hey, we’ve been around for a couple of years. But this is a trap of sneaky complacency – sneaky in that we don’t often realize it is even happening.

This change in policy has got me thinking a lot about how I present my products. Obviously, I believe in integrity above all else as a business – integrity toward the environment and integrity with my customers. I was proud as I went through my product pages, because I felt I had been fair in how I presented them – very clear that these products are potentially helpful in the healing of certain health issues. I’m also always very clear about the fact that I created almost everything in the line for myself and used it with success – and that my successes made me want to share with others who might be dealing with the same health issues.

One of the products I’m trying to rewrite to be super clear about what it is.

However…there were a handful of new products (my skincare line) that were written in a way that might have been too easily misinterpreted by others. First of all, I was super excited about these products – as I said, I’ve been using them for a while now with great success, and if you read my upcoming e-book on skincare, you’ll know why I feel so elated about finally finding a solution for my crazy skin! This elation definitely played a part – and pride. I was so very proud of myself for finding a system that worked for me and could not wait to share it with others.

But I realized that a person’s tone is hard to identify on the internet. How are new customers supposed to know who I am or what I stand for or even what I mean by certain words if they are visiting for the first time via a product page (as opposed to my About page or storefront). Suddenly, I realized that my words in some of these listings could be easily taken out of context. Long story short (or long story long), I realized I need to remember to see myself from the perspective of that first-time customer dropping in on a product page, having no idea who I am. I need to be very clear and careful with the words I use. I thought I was doing that, of course – but this was a great way to open my eyes to the holes in my system.

I have more to say about this, but alas, I’m too busy editing my shop to write for the blog! Actually, I have some other fun projects in store, too, from my upcoming e-book to a new line of truly unique lip balms. There is lots to do, so I’d best be on my way for now.

Once more, thank you all for your support – it has truly kept me afloat through this challenging time!

Good Seed: Lolailo

Since the Christmas shopping season has starting sparking up, I wanted to feature some small businesses here on Five Seed so you can find what you want while supporting small, sustainable businesses who offer handmade, green items. One such business is Lolailo owned by one of my Eco Etsy teammates, Gloria.

Here’s what she has to say about green business, creativity, beauty and natural remedies (yes, we covered it all!):

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

When I am not unemployed, I am a winemaker. But I have been a craftster for much, much longer. I grew up in Spain. My mom is a very creative person, and I’ve been crafting since I was able to hold a pair of scissors, pretty much. I live near the Napa Valley, I am married to a winemaker, and I must say we drink quite well at our house. In my newly found spare time I have reconnected with my crafts, which is something that had been falling by the wayside little by little. I also take classes at the community college by my house and practice kickboxing.

Gloria, owner of Lolailo

Tell me a little bit about your business. What green elements of your business make you proud?

My love for corks came through my job. I was fascinated by the typography and design that each producer used. I was dismayed at these very interesting and diverse corks ending up in the garbage after a tasting, so I started hoarding them. I investigated what to do with them, and of all the many crafts you can use corks for, the bulletin board was my favorite. I am a pragmatic person, so I like things that have a function. I go to thrift stores and garage sales and look for frames suited to become cork boards.


What makes your business unique? How do you keep your creative juices flowing?

Corks are a very irrelevant thing. Not all that many people drink wine on a regular basis. When you do, you open the bottle, drink it up, and the cork goes into the trash. I bring the cork into center stage for all those who never figured it could have a second, and useful, life.

I get a lot of inspiration from the frames themselves. There is nothing standard about creating something out of a “found object”, so when I’m ready to tackle a new project, I just throw some corks into the frame and start playing with them, forming a design, changing it, and eventually I come up with a plan.


What makes someone truly beautiful, in your opinion?

Tolerance, flexibility and quiet confidence.

What makes you feel truly beautiful (beyond makeup and hair care) and what does “true beauty” mean to you?

I am never more beautiful than when I come home after a good workout. I don’t exercise just to look good. I want to have the best health possible, and the strength and the reassurance I get from working on this goal is what is reflected in my face.

True beauty is a combination of qualities. Like I mentioned before, a kind view of those that are not like you, an ability to listen to those you may not agree with, and the strength to know who you are all come into play.


What do you think about beauty in today’s society?

We are a superficial bunch with collective ADHD and don’t have the time to reflect on what is artifice and what is real.


What are your favorite natural remedies?

During allergy season, my eyes get really puffy, so I save used tea bags in the fridge and put them over my eyes for 5 or 10 minutes when I feel like scratching my eyes out.

I have a glass cooktop, and the best thing to remove stubborn, burnt spots is to put a bit of baking soda on them, plus a few drops of water. Make a little slurry, walk away, come back in 10, wipe off with no effort.

Thank you so much, Gloria!

Look for more of Lolailo on Facebook, Twitter and Kaboodle!

Photos used with permission.

Good Seed: Sempster Handmade Clothing

I am completely in love with these simple, classic dresses made by Amy Lou at Sempster Handmade Clothing. I can imagine throwing them on in the summertime – fashion without fuss. Pair them with tights and a belt in autumn. Wear them as tunics (belted or not) over jeans in the winter with a little cardigan. Heaven. A dress that can carry you through every season.

Photos used with permission.

GIVEAWAY: Foulard Threads

I’m thrilled to announce a giveaway – for something other than my own products! I recently stumbled upon a beautiful store on Etsy called Foulard Threads. The designer, Kristin, is very talented and creative – her “ecouture” scarves are beautiful works of art! She very kindly offered to do a giveaway on 5 Seed, and I’m so excited. This is extra special, as she is giving away ANY ITEM IN HER SHOP that you like. That’s right – any scarf you want, or a t-shirt! Winner’s choice! Now that’s amazing!

Here’s what Kristin has to say about herself and Foulard Threads:

I’ve loved to create new and beautiful things out of discarded and unloved items for as long as I can remember. I spent my childhood in the country with a family of boys, a stay at home mom, and a dad who owned a small carpentry business. So needless to say, rather than making beaded jewelry or fuzzy key chains from store bought kits like my friends, I spent much of my time creating with whatever I could find. Whether it be pottery from clay I dug up from the creek running through our woods, little creatures constructed from glued together pieces of my dad’s scrap wood, or doll clothes made with my mom’s vintage fabrics, I was always looking for ways to fulfill my creative drive.

The years of creating from limited resources has made me the artist I am today. I love to find someone’s “trash” and see how many different and beautiful things I can create from it. It’s so much fun to stretch myself and force my mind to be as creative as I know how to be!

Foulardthreads is my newest creative venture; a way to share my creativity and to put it to work for me (after all, I am a 21 year old poor college student!) I hope that you feel beautiful whenever you throw one of these eco-friendly, handmade scarves on, as well as inspired to look for beauty in the old and discarded!

How do you enter to win one of these fabulous creations? Here’s the how-to:

1. Go to Foulard Threads, come back here and leave a comment about which item you’d like to win. (This statement does not commit you to an item. You may change your mind if you are picked as the winner. Please realize that the item you’ve chosen for this giveaway may sell out by the time the giveaway ends.)

2. If you tweet about this giveaway on your Twitter account, you will be eligible for a second entry. (Tweet the following so I can see it: #Giveaway @5Seed: Foulard Threads scarves & t-shirts. http://bit.ly/9c3QJh) Remember, you must add a SECOND comment after tweeting in order to be counted as a second entry.

3. You may blog about this giveaway for a third entry. Come back and add another comment to this post with a link back to your blog – to the page where you posted about the giveaway.

TERMS:

1. You must be a resident of the United States or Canada.

2. Any entry without a valid email address will not be counted.

3. Each comment counts as ONE entry. Each person is limited to three entries.

4. Entries that don’t follow the instructions will not be counted.

5. Comments must be made on THIS post, here at this blog. Not on Facebook.

This giveaway will end on Wednesday, May 12, 2010, at 6 p.m., PST. The winner will be contacted via email, at which time he/she may choose his/her prize from Foulard Thread‘s inventory.

Thanks, Kristin! And good luck, readers!

Good Seed: Teeny Bunny

I recently found this amazing shop on Etsy. Teeny Bunny store owner, Angela, creates the most beautiful vintage designs for babies and children. They are positively adorable.

And check out this organic cotton flower girl dress for those summer weddings!

Look for more of Teeny Bunny on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Photos used with permission.

Ecouture: Moutain Girl Clothing’s Upcycled Designs

Etsy is a great place to go to find completely unique designs that you won’t find in the stores. Best of all, many of the designers create their clothing from upcycled and repurposed materials.

I recently stumbled upon Mountain Girl Clothing and am completely and totally in love with Margaret’s designs. Check them out:

Does this gal have style or what?

Photos used with permission.

Good Seed: The Faerie Market

Some time ago, I stumbled upon The Faerie Market over on Etsy. I was completely enchanted by Betsie Withey’s designs. They are so whimsical, and earth-inspired. There’s just no better, or more fun way to jazz up an outfit than by putting a flower in your hair.

Check out these beautiful designs:

Photos used with permission.

Good Seeds

We’re so in love with Etsy. What a great way to put our dollars into items that are handmade, rather than items from huge corporations! Every now and then, we’ll feature some of our favorite items. Here are some we’ve recently chosen:

Clockwise from top left:

Tranquility by HJM Art

Tweet Heart Maple Wood Pendant by Zephyr Woods

Original Philip Crow Sterling Silver Talisman Pendant – Chrysoprase by Greenman13

Winter Oak Tree Wall Plaque by Turner Studio

And our favorite…

Gold Dust Earrings by Chickadee Gems

*Please note that the copyright for these pictures belongs to the Etsy sellers listed here.