Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Hiatus Continues...

So, my hiatus has lasted a lot longer than I thought it was going to.

Honestly, I thought the weather would be much nicer by now, and that my pain would be more manageable.

It's not, and it's not.

I'd like to sincerely apologize to those of you who have been eagerly awaiting my return.

After my Christmas sale, I'm happy to report that I sold every clutch I had in stock! I hadn't ordered new supplies (specifically my frames as well as both types of interfacing), as I knew it would be at least a few months before I'd be comfortably able to sew again. That, and the fact that I lost my job shortly after writing that post, left me unable (financially) to replenish my supplies.

Those of you who have been following my posts over on Ruffles, Roses, and Lace already know about the issues I've been dealing with over the last few months in my personal life. I'm not gonna lie, it's been a rough time, you guys. Seriously rough.

And now, I'm going through more stuff. I haven't really touched on it much over on my other blog because it's... well, I don't know how to really talk about it. But I'm in the middle of separating from my husband, and so things are a bit ... messy at the moment. I'm trying to save up first and last for my own apartment, trying to come up with items (and money) to also furnish it, and still work hard at my fulltime job and care for our son.

So while I don't say any of this to make you feel sorry for me, I thought you should know, as it does effect my return to Sara Hanna Originals. I'm hoping to get back on my machine after July 1st, when I will be moving into my own place.

But until then, the hiatus continues.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this difficult time, and I hope you all are having a great day. :)


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bonne Bell (Lip Gloss) Review

Vanilla Coke Lip Refresh Soothing Lip Sheer

It's been a while since I've written a review, hasn't it? Well, to be fair, I think that's a bit of an understatement.

After trying about a hundred different lip balms over the span of a few months, I think I got a bit sick of doing the reviews... and hunting for new balms that I liked. I was also trying so hard to stick with all natural and handmade products, but honestly there are only so many out there that I can try!

I've bought a couple of Lip Smackers over the last few months (just because I wanted to try them and see if they had changed at all), and have been mostly disappointed with all of them.

I did manage to find one that I didn't mind too much, and I even used it until it was gone; that was the Lip Smackers 100% Natural in Honeydew Melon. And funny enough, I got it at the Dollar Store for $1. The only other place I've seen it is in Shoppers Drug Mart for $3. I should say I do believe it is worth the $3 price tag, so I was happy to get a deal! There's nothing I hate more than paying big bucks for a new lip balm or lip gloss and feeling it was a waste of money when I don't like it!

Which brings me to the point of this review. I decided today (as I was having a very rough morning) that I was going to splurge and try this new lip gloss that I happened to spot in Shoppers when I was mailing a letter for work. Now, I haven't worn lip gloss in years. Like, literally years, long before Marshall was born!!!

So while I was worried that this stuff might suck, I was actually really hopeful that it wouldn't. And I was pleasantly surprised!

Lip Smackers lip gloss products have been terrible for the last 8 years or more. I have yet to find a single one that I like. Wait, scratch that... there are some squeezy ones I like, but the roller ball ones or the sponge on ones tend to have consistencies that make me cringe.

This one is absolutely dreamy! It's a nice thick coating (depending on your application habits too, of course!) that doesn't feel oily, and isn't sticky. It's soft, it's glossy, it's heaven in a tube!! It also smells and tastes extremely similar to those little coke-bottle gummies I used to get at 7-11! Oh man, just so good.

Another great thing about this gloss is that it tingles. What's that you say? It tingles? Why yes, it actually tingles! It feels refreshing and smells like pop, so it's almost like having bubbles on your lips (but in a good way, not a sticky-leftover-pop way). It's also got jojoba oil and vitamin E to help keep your lips smooth and supple (just the way mama likes em!).

Delicious and fabulous, I say go pick this up while you can! I can't find anything on the interwebs about this gloss though, which is weird... but I did manage to track down some info and reviews on what I believe is the same product, but was marketed and packaged differently.

Scent: 5/5
Consistency: 5/5
Price: $6.49 plus tax (Shoppers Drug Mart, downtown Kitchener)
Value: I wouldn't normally pay this much for a lip balm, or even a lip gloss. However, I've come to realize that in buying my lip balms online, and paying roughly on average $4 a tube plus at least $2.50 shipping, it's about the same cost in the end. My favourite gloss from back in my teen years was about $5 plus tax too, so I guess accounting for inflation, it's not too bad. If it lasts me at least a month, I'd happily buy it every single month! So in my opinion, this gloss is totally and absolutely worth every penny!

Final Verdict:

I've had my ups and downs with Bonne Bell products over the years. Some products I've loved, others I wished I could love, and some I've downright hated.

I'm really glad I didn't spend $7.33 on something that I hated, because then I would have totally kicked myself (and it certainly wouldn't have helped my bad day!). But thankfully for me, this stuff rocks, and helped me feel just a wee bit better. So in the end, I'm very happy with my purchase, and recommend you grab yourself some too... since this is the first time I've ever seen it in stores, I have no idea how long it will be sticking around for!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Long and Painful Road...

So, I may have mentioned in one of my past blogs that I have Fibromyalgia (link is provided for those who may not know what this condition entails). This has been an ongoing issue for me for at least 12 years.

It started with pain in my back when I was 18. I would have these awful back spasms which would double me over and prevent me from standing up, walking, or even sitting properly. At one point, I even had to go to the hospital and was put in a wheelchair. At that point, they told me that nothing was wrong; all my xrays came back normal.

The next time I was hospitalized for it, they said that I had a slight case of scoliosis (curvature of the spine), which was likely causing my back problems. There was no real treatment offered, and I just had to "deal with it".

Next came the knees. I had trouble standing for long periods, sitting for long periods, walking, bending my knees, etc. It felt like my knees were breaking all the time. Of course, I had better days, and I had really bad days. I'd been to the clinic multiple times for one of my knees (which was the worst of the two) as I didn't have a family doctor. I was sent for many xrays, and every single time I was told that I was completely healthy, and there was nothing wrong with my knee(s). I was so sure it had to be arthritis, because I noticed that they hurt much more when it was wet or rainy or snowing.

Then, 4 years ago when I was living in Australia, I woke up with incredible pain in my left (?) shoulder. I use the question mark because I honestly can't remember which one it was, as I have pain in both of them now. After about 3 weeks of constant, aching, chilling pain, I went to see a doctor. They did an xray and an ultrasound, and couldn't find any source for my pain. (Bear in mind that throughout this, I was still experiencing pain in my back and my knee. One of my knees was always sore, and occasionally it would switch to the other knee).

 When I came back from Australia, I still had this unexplained pain in my shoulder. I'm sure I went to the clinic at least twice for it, both times having ultrasounds and xrays, both times being told there was nothing abnormal about my scans.

After my son was born, I started experiencing pain in both of my shoulders. I finally got my family doctor to send me for an MRI, as well as another xray and ultrasound. Once again, everything came back completely fine. I went for blood tests; everything came back normal.

So there I was, a new mother with a colicky baby, extreme and constant pain, and no answers. This was a very tough time for me; not just physically, but emotionally as well. Not only was I constantly in pain, but I was also constantly tired. Sure, a lot of it at first was because hey, I had a baby. They don't always sleep! But I've noticed even now that I can sleep 5 hours or 15 hours (that's an exaggeration of course... I think I've had one or two nights where I've gone to bed at 7:30pm and slept until 6:30am) and I'm just as exhausted when I wake up as I was when I went to bed.

Finally, I had a breakthrough on January 1st, 2012. I woke up at 5:30am and I literally could. not. move. I felt paralyzed with pain. I panicked. I woke my husband up, insistently tugging on his pant leg with the one hand I could move, and said, "I need to go to the hospital."

That seemed to wake him up in an instant. He liked to joke that I was a hypochondriac, because of all my health issues in the past, but I rarely asked to go to the Emergency Room.

"Why? What's wrong?"

I responded, "I don't really know, but I can't move. I can't move and I'm starting to panic. Everything hurts. Literally, everything. I can't even get out of bed!"

Now, I'm not exaggerating when I say everything hurt; my jaw, my ear, my neck, my shoulders, my entire back (upper, mid, and lower), my hips, my knees, my ankles, even my toes. Everything ached, throbbed, stabbed at me. I felt like someone had punched me in the side of the face, like my jaw and my ear just had  to be swollen and red (they weren't). Everything in me wanted to cry, to scream, to run away. But I couldn't.

After spending 6 hours in Emerg with no doctor on staff, I had my blood taken (it was of course, normal and healthy) and was told by a Nurse Practitioner that it sounded to her like I had Fibro.

I had done my research at this point, because a friend of mine also has it. I didn't think that I did, though, because I didn't have the "typical" pain points.

2 weeks later, I was referred to a Rheumatologist who diagnosed me, once and for all, with Fibromyalgia.

There is no cure. I'm too sensitive to medications, so for me, there have been no treatment options. I can't afford to go to physiotherapy (and I did try while I was working in a rehabilitation clinic... but it caused me too much pain), to have accupuncture, or see a chiropractor. I've been exhausted, depressed, and in pain ever since.

The winter is always much worse, as the change in temperature always brings out the worst pain. Looking after my son for 12+ hours a day is almost impossible, yet I do it, because I have no choice. At the end of every day, I feel like crying because I'm just at the end of my rope.

But a silver lining has presented itself recently; I've been offered 2 months of free chiropractic care, by a compassionate doctor who interviewed me for a position that went to someone else. Today is my first appointment. I am so very grateful and eager to try this, as I welcome any relief I can get.

This entire post was not supposed to be this long, and if you've stuck around to read it all, hey... you're a champ! I applaud you. But the whole reason I was going to write today was to announce that I will not be sewing anything for the near future, while I work on trying to recover. I've noticed lately that whenever I sew, I pay for it for days afterwards. I'm in more pain than ever, and it becomes all I can do to survive the days following.

It really upsets me, because I have such a passion for sewing, and seeing my ideas come to life in my hands. But after a long and painful road, with much soulful contemplation and prayer, I feel like I need to take a break from it. I realize that I've only been doing it for a year, and I don't want it to hurt my chances at succeeding with my business down the road... but I need to do this for me.

To all my loyal and lovely customers and fans, I love you so much for supporting my dream! It means more to me than you'll ever know. I will of course keep you updated via my blog and Facebook with my therapy, and once I'm feeling more up to the task again, I will return to my passion.

Thank you so much, and I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hate Mail: A Way To Know You're Heading In The Right Direction

Seems like a strange title, doesn't it?

But it's true.

I don't remember where I've heard it before, but one of the things I've been told time and again is this: "You know you're becoming successful when people start to hate you for it."

Or something along those lines.

Hate mail comes into play in that, as well. I found this rad article today while searching for this phrase, and it's an awesome and inspiring article that you can read here.

Obviously, I've encountered this issue a few times over the last year or so. Sometimes they are worth posting about, others are not. I encountered this recently with my new Kobo case design, as many of you probably read in an earlier post.

Today is a different kind of hate mail ... the hate of the rejected.

I had proposed a trade with a seller on Etsy for one of her Kobo cases. This was, of course, before I'd actually created my own. Within a few days after hearing back from her that she indeed wanted to trade with me, I had sent her a couple of emails both on Etsy and Facebook that were never responded to. After creating my own case, I tried emailing her again to say that I had never heard back from her in regards to if the trade was actually still on, and that I would like to cancel the trade, as I had come up with my own pattern for a device case.

2 weeks later, her case arrived at my house.

I sent her an email explaining that I would be sending it back, as it appears she hadn't read my multiple emails.

Upon receiving her case back, this is what she sent to me today:

I received my cover in the mail today. Now that I have my item back I will proceed to tell you what I think of your little stunt. To be clear I never really wanted to swap with you in the first place. I lied when I said your items were "lovely". I would really only go as far as to say NICE. I think they are definately over priced and I would even go so far as to say customers think the same based on your ZERO sales since 2011. I never intended on keeping your item as I planned on giving it away as a christmas present to someone..anyone.. because I never really saw anthing in your shop that said "wow".

You should have communicated with me through Etsy if you were changing your mind about the swap and then I wouldn't have wasted my time in sending you something that you could make yourself. The good thing is I only wasted $2.10 on you and don't worry I'll sell the problem.

I never saw your emails recanting the offer. It was NOT a desperate act on my part to trick you into completing the deal. You clearly HIGHLY value your work and think there is no other like it and you must think that some people are willing to use trickery to elicit deals with you to obtain these highly priced items of yours. Please .... It's just a shame others don't look upon your work the same way you do.

And finally, don't lecture me on good customer service practices when you clearly are lacking based on your blog. ah hummm!!. If I remember correctly one of your recent blogs was an opportunity for you to rant and rave about how unfair some people have been to you about critisizing your work and your "original" pattern openly on facebook. work is not know the can put lip stick on a pig but it still makes it a pig. Your Design..has been seen before. Do a little more research before you so fiercely defend your work and proceed to tear others down publicly.

This email may be a slightly over borad on it's delivery but I felt it was justified based on how rude you were to me. I hope this will be the last time I hear from you. You will be earsed from my emails, facebook and any place else you might be lerking. Don't contact me again as you have already had your pound of flesh and now it was clearly my turn to defend myself against your allegation.

For the record, I know I shouldn't take emails like this personally. Honestly, I laughed when I first read it. Then it made my blood boil, which I assume is what this person was going for. She didn't get what she wanted out of me, so she decided to insult me instead.

Sure, this is an incredibly childish way to react. Sure, it ticks me off that she makes all these outrageous claims about my work, having never actually seen it, and assumes I've made no sales.

As a matter of fact, I've had about 50 sales since starting my business less than a year ago. All of my designs are, in fact, original designs. You know the phrase, "There is nothing original, everything already exists in some form"? (Again, I'm likely paraphrasing). Sure, there are literally thousands of clutch purses out there. There are also thousands of device cases. And yes, some of those items may look similar to mine in one way or another.

But there are a lot of people out there who, like me, are very picky about how they want their purse/clutch to look (or device case). Some people like a boxy shaped clutch. Some prefer rectangular, or even triangular shapes. And some may like my designs better.

I'm not in this *just* to make money (although, you have to agree, making money is always nice!). I create my designs because it's something I love doing, something I'm really good at, and something I love sharing with others.

I won't lower my prices to undercut my "competition", simply because I'm trying to steal their business. I've posted already on Facebook that my prices are what they are, because I charge what I deserve for my time (only $2 an hour more than I make at my real, fulltime job), and I charge exactly what my supplies cost to make each item. No more, no less. My art and my passion are worth what I charge. If she doesn't think so, then that's her problem, and I wouldn't want her for a customer anyways.

However, I have many loyal friends, family members, and customers, who do see the value in what I make. My items are sturdy and well made, and will last for years. I could rant and rail on here about the quality and price of her merchandise, but I'm not going to stoop to that level. She claims that she doesn't want my items anyways, but to me, this screams "I didn't get what I wanted so instead I'm going to throw a tantrum about it!". My toddler has this mentality. I didn't expect I'd have to endure it from a fully grown adult.

Haters are always going to hate on those they see as a threat. As I've said in the past, I hold no ill will towards anyone else who makes clutches or device cases, or anything else for that matter. I want everyone to love what they do and succeed at it. Spewing anger and hatred towards others may feel good while you're doing it (maybe in an attempt to assuage your own feelings of inadequacy), but it's not constructive and will inevitably make you feel worse inside.

Maybe someday, people will learn this. Maybe not.

But until then, I'll continue creating my designs, safe and warm in the knowledge that those who appreciate true beauty and quality will continue to support me in my endeavors. Big hugs and love to my lovely and supportive friends, family members, fans, and customers. For every hater out there, I've got hundreds of you. And I love you for it. :)


Friday, November 16, 2012

Another Milestone - 5,000 Pageviews!!!

Wow, you guys are awesome! I can't believe my blog has reached that many pageviews in only a few short months!

To celebrate, I'm going to offer 50% off my current stock in my Etsy shop! You can find the little mini-shop ad on the right hand side of my blog, or here.

Use coupon code SAVEFIFTY on your order, and be sure to stock up for Christmas!! :D


Saturday, November 10, 2012

I Love When Things Go My Way

So, I was laying in bed last night, trying to get to sleep. You know how it is, you've had a long day, you're totally exhausted and looking forward to sleeping... but you can't shut your mind off.

Whether it's going over what you did that day, or what you need to do the next day, sometimes it's hard to just shut everything down when you really want to sleep.

Thankfully for me, while tossing and turning, I had an "AHA!" moment. I finally figured out the best way to sew my new cases together! Instead of sewing both halves, and then putting one half inside the other (like I do with my clutches), I thought, "Why don't I sew the front halves together along the middle, then the lining, and leave a gap to turn them through? Then I can sew the front and back together, all across the top, thus eliminating the little whoopie-thing in the center!!!" (No one is going to have any idea what any of this means, but that's literally how my brain works. I can visualize it, yet I can't make it coherent enough for anyone to understand!).

Wait, here's a better idea... I'll show you what I mean (and pardon the photos, these were just taken with my little point-and-shoot camera):

Do you see how the fabric dips down in the middle in the first photo? Yeah I figured out to sew it so that wouldn't happen!!! HAPPY ME!! :D

So of course, I just had to run out today to get some more fabric to make another case (I have one order that I plan on doing tomorrow, but I didn't want to test my theory out on a customer's item in case I botched it!). My husband, God bless him, was such a sport and took me all over the city to pick up everything I needed: Walmart for rotary blades (and groceries!), Creative Sisters in Kitchener for Pellon Fusible Fleece, and Fabricland (which is literally on the other side of the city, since we live in North Waterloo and it's located out by Fairview in Kitchener!) for my heavy duty fusible interfacing, elastic, and a fancy schmancy button!

I just randomly happened to find the PERFECT fabric at the quilt shop, it jumped out at me and caught my eye (I had already bought some at Walmart but wasn't 100% loving it), and I'm totally excited to show you my newest case! It's almost entirely perfect (I'm always my own worst critic), and for once, I'm pretty darn happy with it. This is my 5th case, and I've now perfected my method! Awesome. :)

Without further adieu, here's my newest Kobo Glo case! :)



Thursday, November 8, 2012

Slander and Rudeness

Well, this is not a post I especially relish writing. However, it has come to my attention that there are people out there who are badmouthing me, my business, and my newest E-Reader Case designs. They claim that I've copied Dixie's designs exactly (you can find links to her shop in my previous post about my first case) and that I'm a bad business owner and person for doing so (among other things).

Their comments have been deleted both here and on Facebook, as I don't feel that such negativity is productive or helpful, and can be particularly detrimental.

I would like to copy and paste my response to them on Facebook here, and will add in other things afterwards:

"It has the label because that is the name of my business. The designs I created for my purses were also based on a pattern from another seller on Etsy. I bought her pattern, she is fully aware that I'm using it. The extra additions I've created for those were also conceptualized from other ideas I've found on Etsy, however there are also some that are my own personal design.

These cases are based in part on one of Dixie's designs. I have emailed her to let her know that as well. I'm not sure who you are, and why you feel the need to try to slander my business, but I think you need to look around at the other people who make purses and cases and see that everyone gets ideas from everyone else. I may not have bought a pattern for Dixie's style of cases, but neither did I copy every single one of her cases, either. I took part of one design that I really liked, and I came up with my own pattern for my case (meaning I spent hours doing my own math, calculations, and drawings in order to create a case that I liked based off of photos. That takes skill and talent). There are distinct similarities, of course, but there are also differences. And each case I make will be slightly different.

You do not have to buy my products. If you have an issue with the fact that I came up with a pattern using my own skills and talent, and yes, some ideas from another shop... then feel free to buy her products and not mine. I would rather have loyal customers and fans who appreciate the amount of hard work I put into all of my designs.

To add to that, there are also other cases out there that are similar to Dixie's. I based my designs off of them as well. I happened to like the curved pockets of Dixie's, and I also liked the row of contrasting material that goes across the case. I also liked the off-center placement of the button, as opposed to the center of the case. However, mine aren't as close to the top of the case as hers are. I also use elastic for the corners of my cases, rather than fabric as she does. The ideas I liked in her designs can be found on other cases as well, not just hers. There are a few other things I could point out but I'm sure you get the picture.

I don't duplicate her fabric choices. I don't duplicate the myriad other designs that she has. Many others might be flattered at the fact that I've used (their) work as an inspiration in my own. I know other business owners who also make clutches, and I have even offered to teach them how to make my designs. We should not be competitors, but rather champions of love and encouragement and inspiration for and to each other. I know some people will buy their designs, I know some people will buy mine. That is life, and why fight about it?"

If I was trying to be sneaky and claim that I had come up with the design all on my own, I wouldn't have written a blog post that specifically links to not only Dixie's shop, but also to the specific case I had gotten my inspiration from. I also wouldn't have written two posts explaining my methods, my trials, and my tribulations in coming up with the final design for my cases.

Every single case out there has the same basis for their design. Every single one out there has at least one pocket on the inside. Some of them have multiple pockets, some have pockets that face a different way, and some have back pockets. I went through hundreds of designs in coming up with mine. I can link you to several right now:

cielorosa case - Many, many cases have these same corners on them to hold your device in place. To be honest, I wasn't sure how big I'd need to make them, and so I opted to use nice elastic instead, thinking that it won't get stretched out as easily over time as cotton fabric would. I also liked the closure on it, but didn't have any velcro at home... so I was looking for other ideas for closures. I didn't want to use snaps, because I didn't want the pressure that is exerted when closing them to cause any damage to my Kobo, and I didn't want to use a magnetic closure because I wasn't sure if that could/would cause damage to my Kobo as well.

MommaBearsApronsMore case - She had more pockets to her case, but I wasn't sure I needed that many. Also if you super size the photo that most easily shows the corners, I don't like how they look, and again, wasn't sure how to make mine better (if I were to use the fabric corners).

PurplePansyDesigns case - This case also has several pockets and the corners that I didn't know how to make (and didn't really like). I had of course already decided to use elastic. But I really liked the closure she used!

dobeeubags case - I LOVED the fabric choices for this one! I also liked the rounded closure. However, again, I had no velcro and didn't feel that velcro would be secure enough anyways. Still couldn't figure out how to make those corners (though I had started wishing I could), and thought that the horizontal pockets would not be a good idea. I liked the pocket that opened to the center of the case, because then if you put something in it, it wouldn't fall out... whereas the pockets that opened towards the top of the case would be more likely to have something fall out of them if the case was held the wrong way.

elsiegeneva case - I really loved the contrasting band across the top of this case! Thought I should totally do something like that with my case. I didn't really like her closure, though. Looked too much like a pocket book or a wallet or something. 

Dixie's Window case - The pockets intrigued me because they were a different shape, but I wasn't sure if I could manage my own to be quite so curvy. I also disliked the top-opening pockets for practicality reasons. I didn't care for the front of the case, or even the closure of it. Dixie was the only one I can think of who used different curved shapes for pockets, so that's where the closest similarities are to my design. Once I saw them, I couldn't imagine why no one else had made curved pockets before!

Then I happened to find a case that of course, has the same basic idea as every other case I've listed here, but with all of the things I liked:

Dixie's Window (inspiration case) - I liked the curved pockets that opened to the side. I liked the back pocket that was curved. I even liked the contrasting band (which I had found in other people's designs too) and that the closure was one I would use and matched the fabric strip.

So I took the things that I liked and added them into what I was already designing and taking from other cases I've listed here. I could continue to list other cases that are all similar to the ones I've already posted, but there you have it. This was my process for designing my own cases. The pockets are the only real thing that would make you think I stole the idea from Dixie... when in reality, I used her pocket idea and incorporated it into the design I was already coming up with from other ideas. And yes, I got the idea to try ruffling my fabric from her too, but there are lots of people who use ruffled fabric for these cases as well as for clutches. It's not a new concept.

In the same vein, I know it's only a matter of time before someone else decides to capitalize on my idea and design of adding handles to clutches, as I've done for my Bonnie Clutch. Will I send nasty emails and write nasty things on their Facebook pages/blogs? No, I won't. Because I am an artist. I know I came up with the idea first, and I'm happy to know that other people see the beauty and value in my ideas.

In the future, I would appreciate it if the people who are slandering (yes, I use the word "slander" because it is categorized as such when you make false claims against someone that can be detrimental to their reputation and their business, such as claiming that I'm a thief {stealing other people's designs} or a liar) and badmouthing me on the internet would kindly do some research and think about what they're saying before they say it.

Thank you for reading, and big love to all my loyal friends and fans. :)