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Posts Tagged ‘sustainable gift’

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Photo courtesy of Chalk On Stone

I’m often asked by customers who are also small business owners for advice on running a small business.  With a big business background I guess I’ve brought a lot of those lessons and learnings with me into Queen B.  Whether you’re running a small business, you’re running a big business or you’re a small cog in a big business, what I’ve learned is universally applicable.

First amongst those things is that in order to survive, you need to stand for something (but always keep your mind open to evolving).  Over the years we’ve had literally hundreds of retailers selling Queen B candles and over the years I’ve seen many of them fail.  If I had to pick a trend or lesson, it is that the businesses that are very clear on what they stand for are the ones that are still standing (and growing and thriving).

One of our most successful retailers is a shop in Carlton (Melbourne) called Make Designed Objects.  Pat, who owns Make, is absolutely clear on stocking “the best designed product from around the world”.  Over the years we’ve seen the size of his store double, he’s set up stores for the National Gallery of Victoria and the Powerhouse Museum and his sales of Queen B candles have increased 7 fold since he first stocked our candles.  Anyone looking for a gift for someone who is hard to buy for or someone who has a design aesthetic knows exactly where to go.  We’re all busier than ever so we’ll go where our needs are most likely to be met.

Another success story is our retailer Biome.  In the eight or so years that Biome has stocked Queen B we’ve seen them grow from one store to four.  Again, they are absolutely clear on what they stand for.  When you go into a Biome store, you’re going to find a product that is organic, natural, recycled or fair trade.

At one stage, the business of the metal turner who makes our metal candleholders was on its last legs because all of the big mining and manufacturing companies thought they’d save a lot of money having their bits made in China.  He wasn’t prepared to compromise on the metals that he used and so he couldn’t compete on price, so he went back to TAFE and did night school.  But his previous clients soon learned that the cheaper bits failed, costing them more than they’d saved and now our metal turning friend is so busy we’re having to book our jobs in weeks in advance.

The story is the same for one of the local printing companies we use, for the foundry we use and even for us.  We’re all crystal clear on what we stand for and that makes us a known quantity.

The one caveat that I’d add is that whilst it is important not to compromise, it is essential to evolve.  I always thought our two most compelling features were that we were non-toxic to burn and Australian made but it was conversations with Make and Dinosaur Designs that made me realise that we’re also a design company and that is just as important.

More recently I had to look at our values as it related to packaging.  I had always been absolutely committed to packaging Queen B in beautiful, environmentally responsible packaging.  I wouldn’t do elaborate, tree felling packaging that was going to go in the bin as soon as the product was removed.  That precluded me from seeing the opportunity of Black Label for well over a decade.  When I started thinking about the Black Label range, I realised that I could still be absolutely committed to beautiful, environmentally responsible packaging by making the packaging so rigid that it would have many lifetimes once the candle was removed.  Sure, it means we have 12 cubic metres of Black Label packaging to house at the moment, but it allowed us to evolve.

The real ‘juice’ in any idea comes from the conversation.  I’d love you to add to the discussion.  What do you think?  What other brands or businesses have you come across who are absolutely clear on what they stand for and how does that make life easier for you in your decision making or in your commitment to their product?

Cate xx

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There’s something very satisfying as a parent watching your children grow up… the move from nappies to ‘big girl pants’ a monumental milestone.  So, it was with great excitement at the hive that the new packaging arrived this week for our Small Christmas Tree candles.

Ta da…

beeswax christmas tree candles, festive table decorations, candlelit christmas, christmas gift

Looking all smart and grown up

 

It’s enough to bring tears to your eyes.

Festive table decorations solved.

Small, emergency, christmas gifts solved.

Corporate staff or client gifts solved.

There’s nothing we can’t do in our big girl pants!

Cate xx

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I’ve been asking around a few of the special girls in my life in the past couple of weeks about what their favourite candles in our range were and all I can say is that I have a very diverse friendship base in terms of candles loved!!  So these are just a few of my faves and all 10% off until 1pm 06/12/14

Gift Guide for Special Women

 

1. Mini Marilyn Candleholders (RRP $29.95) – available in Nickel or Brass.  Add a pack of 10 Bee Lights to go in the holders (RRP $24.95)
2. Casablanca – available in 5 different sizes (from RRP $29.95)
3. Jam Jar Tealights (8 jars + 8 candles) RRP $24.95
4. Personalised candles – we’ve got 10% off the personalisation for 24 hours only
5. Dinosaur Designs – Atelier (3 different designs in 3 different sizes) (from RRP $29.95)
6. 45cm Tapers (RRP $24.95)

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The last time I moved I took an enormous bag full of unused gifts from various past employers to Vinnies.  Along with the 20 odd t-shirts and 11 caps were 2 (shoddily made) picnic hamper sets, 5 umbrella’s, (I kept another 4 – although why I really have no idea as I haven’t used any of them in 6 years), about 9 stress balls (what message does THAT send?!!), 4 plastic insulated coffee cups, a vinyl/faux leather notebook cover and desk set, 5 completely useless branded backpacks and about 15 plastic water bottles.  [What didn’t make it were the various bottles of wine which I had consumed having long since forgotten who they were from and the olive tapenade and stale crackers never eaten!]

I know I had cupboards full of what was essentially landfill but I felt too guilty to send it there given the consumption of precious resources taken to make it.  Sadly when I got to Vinnies they told me that they would throw the vast majority of it away as they were inundated with it.

So, why then write a post about more “stuff”.  Well because we’re heading into giving season and if you’re going to give stuff then it would be remiss of me not to tell you about gifts that are useful, beautiful and sustainable.  A gift that keeps on giving – to our farmers & beekeepers, to the jobs it creates at our hive, to our local packaging manufacturers and suppliers.  A gift that recognises that your staff work hard and they also need to relax hard.

A few months ago we were tasked by long term client, Buzz Strategic Concepts, to put together a little ‘just because’ gift for their clients.  Not for Christmas.  Not for any particular reason.  Just a random act of kindness and gratitude gift.  They sent us personalised cards to go with each gift and we did all the logistics for them.  Bravo!

Sustainable, australian made corporate gift

 

And to make sure the gift went the extra mile, we put their brand on the candle – subtle but effective.  Every time their client looks at or fires up this little beauty (and if you know your Queen B candles you’ll know that that will be a whole lot of times over a whole long period of time!) lovely, sweet, positive, appreciative thoughts flying your way!

logo corporate gift, australian made, sustainble, eco, hamper

 

Of course we also do larger gifts and hampers

corporate gift hamper, australian made, eco sustainable gift

 

 

And we do smaller gifts too… this one coming in under $15.

meaningful corporate gift, sustainable, eco

 

If you’re looking for ideas, send us an email or give us a buzz, we’d be only too happy to help you out.

Cate xx

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Seems we’re at the pointy end of the year from a gift giving point of view… and so a little, gentle, oh-so-sweet reminder that we’d love to solve all your gift giving woes for you!  We cater for both the complete control freaks who arrive with lists (with whom I have immediate affinity :-0) and for our many male customers who send us a list of the people they want gifts for (+ essential details) and a budget and we pick, pack & wrap.  Whether you’re looking for a gift for a special teacher, a little something meaningful in the stocking, a kris kringle gift or a sustainable, Australian made gift for all of your staff and clients we’ve got it covered.

Kris Kringle gift ideas, Australian made sustainable eco gift, corporate gift idea

Kris Kringle Sustainable Gift Giving Tree

As I write this, I’m ponder the words and philosophy of another blog I read, Whole Larder Love.  Rohan speaks a lot about the impact on the planet of consumerism and, on many levels I agree.  I reconcile what I do (selling beeswax candles and other, beautiful, Australian made products) because I know that what we do does actually make a difference to many lives and many businesses.

When you buy a Queen B candle you are supporting Australian beekeepers and the regional communities they live in as well as our staff and our many Australian suppliers.  Don’t let that just wash over you as being marketing spin (it isn’t).  Think about it for a moment.  Our beekeepers (and their hard working bees) put food on our plates, flowers in our gardens, herbs and veggies in our patches and the caramelised sunlight that we call honey in just about anything tasty.  They’re worth fighting for. They’re worth supporting and hopefully we bring you a product that makes it easy and affordable for you to show that support.  The fact that you also get to bathe in the natural wonder that is bee-created light is a bonus.  And, oh, what a bonus.  Even after a decade of making beeswax candles, the flame of a Bee Light candle can still stop me, as it grabs me by the eye-balls and demands that I get into the moment NOW.  Right now.

Conjoined Bee Lights... a happy production error.  An even more visible halo...

Conjoined Bee Lights… a happy production error. An even more visible halo…

If you’ve never noticed the aura/halo that that surrounds the flame of a pure beeswax candle (versus the paraffin tealight candle on the right), take a look the next time you light a beeswax candle.  It truly is extraordinary.

Notice the size of the flame on the beeswax candle and the "halo" around the flame

Beeswax flame versus Paraffin flame – Notice the size of the flame on the beeswax candle and the “halo” around the flame

I’ll leave it at that.  The literature says that the answer to getting people to read your blog (or newsletters) is to do short posts!  I find that next to impossible because there is so much thought behind everything that we do… and I just like a good chat.

As an aside, because it’s lovely to share a little of the magic that goes on at Queen B… you may know if you’ve followed us for a while that our continued survival is due, in some part, to ‘angels’ who turn up weekly as volunteers to package the candles.  It wasn’t something that I dreamed up, but someone, somewhere realised I needed help and it arrived.  Many of the angels who have helped have had terminal cancer and so their numbers have dwindled over the years.  At the same time Queen B has been growing.  We’re now very reliant on the couple of remaining angels (and mum and dad are being called in with alarming regularity to get me through a fix)!  About a week ago I said to Sarah (the same Sarah who writes the beautiful notes on your invoices) we desperately need more angels but I have no idea how you go about finding angels!

Fast forward a week.  A woman (we’ll call her Robin) calls yesterday morning.  She’s local.  Googled for beeswax candles.  Popped in to the hive.  We had a lovely chat and off she went with bags full of beeswax candles (and some of the DIVINE Dinosaur Designs stuff we’ve got in store).  A few hours later she was back.  This time I was upstairs and she was looked after by Sarah.  Now it may have had something to do with the fact that I was supposed to be doing MYOB, but I could hear their conversation and I hear  Robin say ‘if you’re ever looking for a volunteer… a spare set of hands… someone to help out, I’d love to come and just spend time here and help you’.  I seriously almost vaulted off the mezzanine level.  Certainly not many of the stairs were touched as I flew down them.  I could have (and I think I may have) hugged her!  All the while saying a silent word of thanks to the powers that bee.  Amazing… and nothing really to do with kris kringle or stocking stuffers or teachers gifts – but my favourite part of this post!

If you did make it to the end – thank you!

Cate xx

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Queen B beeswax candles are made with 100% pure Australian beeswax a pure cotton wick and copious amounts of hand made love. We stock beautiful and stylish candle holderspersonalised candlesvotive candles and pillar candles that nourish the human spirit and our environment.

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