28 February 2007

Almost Famous?

Before you go thinking that the scent of our fresh lavender has gone to my head, let me assure you that the title of this blog is meant to be taken with a wink and a smile. But don't be fooled: it's almost embarassing to admit how excited we were this morning around here. We opened our mailbox, whipped the new issue of the Jackson-Belden Communicator out of it, slit the sticker holding those pages together, flipped to Page 2, and voila!
--there we were! Our first press! The Blissful Home had the opportunity to be the Member Focus for the March 2007 issue. We feel so thankful to be a part of the Jackson Township community. You can click the article to enlarge it.

26 February 2007

Lookie Here

Just wanted to give you a peek at a new addition to our Jewelry collection. What you see, above, is one of our new chunky initial bracelets. The designer says that his collection represents a collage of his great passions for travel, antiquing, fashion, fine art, and craft. Sounds like a guy after our own hearts, right ladies?

The chain and charm are a bronze-y, antiqued gold color and the charm is lightly etched with an initial. This is one piece both my mom and I adore and would wear. It's rare when that happens! These are heavy, well-fashioned bracelets and the tone of the metal complements a wide range of skin tones.

By the way, have you noticed that gold is back? It was all white gold, platinum, or sterling silver for a while there, wasn't it? For me, gold looks very refreshing and now. Understandably, it will take some people a while to adjust their eyes. (For an interesting commentary on the psychology behind this topic, visit the blog of this fledgling jewelry designer: http://theseflowersthismoon.blogspot.com/.) I have to remember that some people will only be wearing silver for the next five years. On that note, we are replenishing our collection of La Vie Parisienne bracelets and necklaces, in which many styles are available in antiqued gold or antiqued silver. Me? I switch between. The embellishments (beads, stones, etc.) are more important to me than the chain or the settings. But my switching-between does beg the question: when the engagement is imminent (way down the road, people!), do I go white gold or gold gold? Thoughts?

In addition to the chunky initial bracelets, we are also carrying some of this designer's pins (Not the pin-wearing type? Try one on your winter scarf!) and some bronze-y gold cuffs set in with enamel detailing. Very special and very feminine. They're so...well, you'll just have to see them.

24 February 2007

On Faith and Fearlessness, Part II

Where's the whip???

What follows here is Part 2 of a blog about taking risks, banking on your dreams, and creating a little entrepreneurial niche in the world just for yourself. Again (how many times can I stress this?), I am not an expert on how to start or run your own business. I'm a newbie to this whole retail thing in every sense of the word. But here I am doing it, living it, and loving it. I'm writing this one-on-one to YOU, because I know from a year of talking to customers how many of you harbor secret dreams of starting your own shop or turning your creative talent into a moneymaking venture (or at least not a moneylosing venture!). Just as I was questioning whether or not my thoughts on this subject were relevant or should be shared in the blog, two new customers, a mother and daughter, walked into my shop and told me they were sent in by a mutual friend because the two women have a dream of starting their own shop. Our mutual friend thought it would be inspirational and beneficial for them to see what my mom and I are doing. How cool is that? I took their visit as confirmation that I should keep on going with this blog.

So what follows here is not exactly advice or tips. My thoughts are just that--my thoughts--and I caution you that they may be far from practical. I guess I believe that wallowing in the safe harbor of practicality can lead to a staid, pedantic, predictable, humdrum, workaday life. And who wants one of those? At the end of the day, don't you want that little thrill of knowing that you contributed something extraordinary, however small, to even one person's experience of the world, if only for a moment? I do.

So I'm pretending that you and I are sitting in a really great coffee shop somewhere talking this whole thing over. And in front of us are two mugs of hot chocolate. With marshmallows. And whip. Lots of whip.

At the end of the last blog, I started to go point-by-point, laying out some Philosophical basics of business owning. Point #1 was something like, research your dream and others who are doing what you'd like to do. Get inspiration everywhere you can find it. Learn all you can through reading about, researching, asking questions of and witnessing others in action. True enough. But let's get away from points. Remember, we're drinking cocoa here. :)

In no particular order, here are some of my thoughts about being an entrepreneur:

You need to know your dream intimately. By this I mean whatever you dream of doing, be it opening a knitting boutique, becoming a freelance floral designer, or starting your own web design firm, your dream must grow flesh and teeth under your watchful imagination. Before you do anything in the practical realm, such as apply for a loan or look for a storefront, you need to be able to envision all the ins and outs of your dream in living color, and you doing it! It has to feel real to you before it even exists. If it's a shop you dream of owning, can you picture your well-appointed walkway, your window displays, the sign above your door? Can you see yourself sweeping the walk outside, making change behind the cash wrap, greeting customers on the sales floor? (By the way, what are you wearing in this daydream?) Can you picture yourself unpacking twenty boxes of new merchandise in your storage room, vacuuming up the nightmare of packing peanuts that fill those boxes, and creating displays out of nothing but tables, shelving, thin air, and your imagination? If so, you may be well on your way to making your dream a reality. Before you can make it happen, I think you have to experience what it will feel like before you can actually do it. This is how to become intimate with your dream. You need to visualize it, eat it, breathe it, sleep it. In fact, it just may keep you up at night (right, coughMomcough?).

You need to believe that there is a market out there for your idea/ creation/concept. This is so important. After all, I assume that one reason you might like to try having your own business is to make money, right? Or at least if this is not a primary concern, you hope it might be an end result. In order to do this, other people have to warm to your idea/creation/concept, so much so that they will plunk down their hard earned money to pay for your product or service. Wow. Sounds intimidating, right?

From a personal perspective, one of the most difficult things about being a shop owner is figuring out what will sell that still fits the look and aesthetic of your shop. In my opinion, you should rarely compromise the identity of your business just to make a buck. Could I sell a hundred fridge magnets a month? Probably, and my chances of doing so increase dramatically if I diversify and bring in every style of cute magnet I can find. People like to hang things on their fridge, it's true. However, you might have noticed we aren't a fridge magnet kind of shop. :) (No offense to those individuals or shops with their own prodigious collections.) We do, however, offer one line of magnets that are artfully done, fit the personality of our shop, and make everybody smile. This is not a concession on our part. This is the one kind of magnet I've found that makes sense at The Blissful Home. In fact, I think my customers would find it strange if I did bring in a counter spinner chock full of campy fridge magnets. They would know it's just not us. When my mom and I go to Market, finding stuff that's right for our shop can feel like a needle in a haystack. But when we find IT, we know it. That's how selective and thoughtful you have to be about defining and shaping the identity of your business.
From a shopping standpoint, I totally dig shops that have a cleverly and fairly narrowly defined niche. There is an awesome shop in Columbus called Collier West (www.collierwest.com) whose style I would describe as "chic, upscale, world-traveling urban cowboy." Clearly, theirs is a niche market. But even if your home does not fit the aesthetic of "chic, upscale, traveling urban cowboy," you would enjoy wandering through the two levels of this Short North shop. The style is so clearly, unapologetically defined. Collier West--the shop--knows who it is and doesn't--can't--pretend to be anything but.

So the larger point here is that in defining the brand or identity that is your handiwork, your shop, or your service, you need to be realistic about what people would be likely to buy or solicit from you, but you also need to know who you are, what your brand embodies or stands for, and more importantly, what ISN'T you. As an example, if you are a freelance journalist with a conservative Christian point of view, would you be likely to take on an assignment that is pro-Wicca in the schools? Some might argue that you should in order to stretch your own perspective, but I believe that in order to be at peace with yourself and the business you are creating, you need to be true to yourself and your vision, however narrow that might appear to others. After all, each one of us has her own unique gifts, and no one else can make the contribution that you can, quite as well as you can. Hold on to that.

Oh, and one more thing about finding a market: your market will find you. My mom and I learn and relearn this every day as new customers find us through word of mouth. Women tell us, "My sister-in-law said, I found a new little shop that is so YOU; you have to go! So here I am!" One of my favorite customers (hi, Melissa!) even called me once to say that while she was having lunch with her husband at Panera that day, she overheard a table of women talking about our shop! That was incredibly encouraging (not to mention flattering), because it showed me that if people enjoy an experience, they will want to share it with others. Yes, advertising is important and can't be overlooked (and believe me, we've got to do a lot more of it), but trust that if you create something of quality or offer quality services to people, those who get you and what you're all about will find you.

And finally, somehow, someway, you've got to overcome fear. I have to recuse myself from this point because somehow, someway, I began The Blissful Home without fear. This was the biggest gift of all. All I can say is, it is my belief that opening this shop was the next step for me. I believe it was something I was meant to do, part of God's plan for my life. That certainly doesn't mean it wouldn't and won't be without struggle, though! Everyday there are concerns, sure, about money, our merchandise mix, having enough customers, how much to buy for Christmas, etc., etc., etc. These concerns are common to just about every shop owner and I'm sure every business owner of any kind can relate. But glowing quietly and steadily behind all of that is the assurance I have, 100%, that I am in the right place doing the right thing at the right time.

So how do you overcome fear--fear of failure, of going broke, of your idea being rejected? I guess it comes down to faith. How can I say this without sounding totally pat and cliched? Think about all the things you take for granted in your life, ways in which you operate in faith without even realizing it. You have faith that the sun will come up (or, you know because science tells you it will; science is a kind of faith). You have faith that you will draw your next breath. You have faith that when you open your mouth to speak, your voice will come out. These are things you don't have to overly analyze in order for them to work. This is what I would suggest to any person wanting to start her own business: have faith in the seed that has been planted in you. The creativity burning inside your heart, your mind, and your fingers is a gift. Treat it as such. Nurture it, tend to it, let it have its practice, give it time to grow. Don't cast your pearls before swine. Protect your dream until it's time to let it shine. Take practical (yes, I said it!) and intuitive steps toward growing your vision into a reality. Above all, have faith that the time will come, your time will come, when you are sharing your talents with other people, your friends, your community, and even the world.

In the meantime, dream wildly.

21 February 2007

On Faith and Fearlessness, Part I

At least once a week a customer asks me a variation of this question: "Where did you get the inspiration/ idea/know-how to start the shop?" My answer is usually a variation of, "My mom and I wanted to pool our talents and work on something together./No, I've never been to France; this is just my French fantasy./I just wanted to bring together a collection of everything I love./I wanted to be self-employed in some creative way and this [gesturing widely] was it!" All of the above are true and none of the above is the full story. Today, I want to give a more detailed picture of how The Blissful Home came to be and the reason I want to share my story is because I hope that it will inspire your own dreams, goals, and aspirations, especially if you are considering taking a risk, starting something new, becoming self-employed, trying to market your own creative talents or handicrafts, etc. I am by no means an expert on the topic of starting your own business (typing those words even makes me laugh a little!), but I am one woman who did it and is doing it. If you dream of a similar enterprise, I hope that you will find a little kernel of inspiration in here to hold on to as you bring your own fantasies to life!

I guess I'll break this up into three parts, The Backstory, The Particulars, and The Philosophical Stuff.

First, The Backstory. Unlike many women, I never dreamed of owning a shop. It feels almost wrong to admit that, since I have one and am living out a dream that so many other people have held their whole lives. But no, this was not my lifelong dream. It has most certainly become my dream for the rest of my life, though. I picture myself doing this in twenty years. I picture myself doing this with a Baby Bjorn strapped to my chest. I picture myself doing this, silver-haired at 70, when I have grandkids. This shop is part of what will be my life's work, my contribution to this planet. But no, in the beginning, to enter the exciting, uncertain, colorful world of retail was never my dream, goal, or intention.

But I did want to be self-employed. In college at Ohio State, I studied English and focused in Creative Writing because I thought reading and writing for four years sounded like fun. It was. I graduated and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I took temp jobs in offices that weren't very fulfilling but helped me make my car payment. Then, one day, while watching Fashion Emergency on E! (remember that show?), I watched an eighth grade teacher being made over before she accepted a national teaching award and I said glumly, "I wish I could be a teacher." Then, in the next breath, I said, "I can be a teacher!" And so I began to research graduate programs in teaching and landed at a very, very good one: Kent State's Master of Arts in Teaching program. One year of research, workshops, and an amazing student teaching experience at Coventry High School with the uber-talented Mark Jamison later, and I was a teacher! I moved back to Columbus, wanting a bigger-city experience, and I started my teaching career at a brand new high school in a large, ever-expanding district southwest of the city. I taught there for three years and learned so much about teenagers, how people learn, and most of all, myself. Like most teachers do, I had some high highs and some low lows. Then I took on the teaching assignment of a lifetime. I was lucky enough to be selected to join the staff of the Christopher Program, a humanities magnet program that drew juniors and seniors from 19 different districts. The students had to interview and be chosen to join the program, so they were highly motivated, excited about learning, and often deeply political or spiritual or artistic or intellectually gifted. I had two wonderful colleagues, Steve and Andrea, who enriched my experience on this earth. Beyond that, the students gave me the most priceless gift of all: the courage and practice of looking inside myself to see what was really there. And what I saw surprised me! Although I deeply loved my students and considered myself and was considered by others to be a passionate and effective teacher, I really did not want to be a teacher anymore. Always, in the back of my mind, I had known that teaching would be a short-term career for me. I knew that eventually, I would have my own business of some kind. And one day, after a cumulative of days of feeling not quite right about something and also feeling that something new had been planted in me, I sensed within myself that my time as a teacher was drawing to an end. But I still had no idea what the next move would be.

And then one day, the next idea showed up. (For a more detailed description of that day, including the egg rolls, see our very first blog.) Some friends of our family were taking over management of what once was a very hot retail space. They were inviting new vendors in to help them make the space a brand new thing. In the space of about an hour, my mom and I had decided that we should do what we had never thought of doing before: go into the home decor business for ourselves. Neither of us had a serious retail background. She loved home decorating but had only practiced on her own homes over the years. I, too, shared her passion but had a totally different style: more eclectic, less studied, more whimsical. I loved to manage and write policies and deal with people and come up with stories. Together, I knew we could do this. More than that, I knew that together, we should do this. We would do this. And the huge 'should' I felt was not the kind of should you feel when you feel guilty or obligated or coerced. This was a soul-resounding should, the kind of should I imagine you feel when your feet are in the stirrups and you're in the middle of a contraction and you say to yourself, "Self, you should push this baby out right now!" Sorry to be so graphic, but I'm trying to convey the soul-deep, urgent, natural agreement of everything inside and outside of me that came together to show me that this was the next step. It was that strong and that complete. Yes, I should own a boutique. So should you wait to feel that soul-resounding should before you start pursuing your new dream with gusto? I wish I could tell you for certain, but I don't know. All I know is, that for me, the timing was right and I was right for the timing. Things came together fairly naturally and very quickly. But that doesn't mean it will happen that way for you. Things might fall into place for you and your venture after years of dreaming, planning, and scheming. You'd probably be better off that way, actually! Real experts suggest you should plan for up to a year, certainly not less than six months, before launching your own business--especially a shop, which requires a sizeable financial investment up front before you even know if people like your idea!

Now, for The Particulars. We quickly threw our first shop together. It wasn't any more romantic than it sounds, either. Our initial set-up was accompanied by a month of migraines for me and followed on a month of my mom nursing a sick relative who needed 'round the clock care. She was sleep deprived and I was headache sick. But we knew it was what we should be doing, so we kept trudging ahead. We bought products we liked but we didn't have a clear vision for what the shop would look like when it was all put together. What was our retail concept? What was our design philosophy? What was our merchandise mix? Well, in those days it was whatever we thought it should be and wanted it to be, without regard to what would even sell. I didn't know enough back then to know what I didn't know (as Dr. Phil says). Nevertheless, we opened up and did a nice business for seven months. I have to tell you, though, that even in our very first week of business, I sensed that our little shop in that location was only a temporary gamble. We had grown feathers and jumped out of the nest. Now we were to start looking for a place to roost. A place to grow our dream, our vision, and our customer base. I started looking for new digs immediately.

I am not one to rest when I know I'm not in the right place. I get restless and direct all my attention to seeking the future. When we first found this location in Jackson Township, I knew it was supposed to be for us. On a busy corner where two major thoroughfares intersect, the space I had my eye on hadn't managed to retain a business for more than several months in a long time. I firmly believed it was because the space was meant for us. But mind you, it was no beaut when we first laid eyes on it. It was too small, smelly, the carpet was ripped and stained, and the walls and ceilings were terrible. But I knew that knocking out the wall between this space and the space next to it would give us just the right amount of square footage. I knew we could tuck a small office in the back and that we could work with a slightly undersized storage room in order to maximize our sales floor. I liked the natural light that came in through the windows. It felt right, even though my friend's ex-boyfriend told me the space was a "feng shui nightmare" and I needed to "reclaim" a certain corner of the sidewalk in order for the energies to flow properly. Well, reclaim that corner I did, but not the way he suggested. :) My mom was by no means immediately convinced that we had found our location; she's a a processor, a muller, a weigher. I'm not. Could you have guessed? So we continued to look at other properties, including an absolute fantasy of a mint green Victorian house with a wraparound front porch. I toyed with the notion of buying this house, restoring it, living on the second floor, and making the first floor into our shop with a coffee shop off the porch. But a more thorough inspection of the house, plus its out of the way location, made me think better of it. And then it hit me: I knew how disappointed I'd be if we were to lose the Fulton space. It was supposed to be ours. And the rest of the story, you can catch up on by reading my past blogs. Or, you can experience it in person at 4605 Fulton Drive!

So here we are at The Philosophical Stuff, which is what you're reading for anyway if you're a person considering starting your own business, et al. I don't feel quite comfortable being in the position of giving advice, although surprisingly, I'm occasionally sought out for it by others who see what my mom and I are doing and are wondering how they could do the same thing. I say 'surprisingly' because we haven't been at this very long and have a LOT to learn. In fact, I wonder if some of you out there who have been in business for yourself for longer than I have are reading this, clucking your tongue, and saying, "What was she thinking? She should have done X and Y before she did Z." And you know what? I'm sure you're right!

Which brings me to point #1 (oh, so now I'm doing points??): There is no one 'right' way to approach going into business for yourself. There is no one-size-fits-all business model or one right way to write a business plan (yeah, still don't have one of those...getting to it, though!). There aren't certain steps you have to take in order to start this whole process. But there are steps you probably should take before you just plunge in and start investing in materials or buying product. What are those steps? I wish I would have known! I'm not kidding. All I know is, it pays to do research. The best research is research that makes sense for the kind of business you're interested in, whether that be visiting shops you like, seeking out the proprietors and asking them a few questions (you may want to send an e-mail or make a phone call first; shop owners are usually pulled in thirty different directions at once when the shop is open!), studying the websites of artists who do work similar to your own, reading magazine articles about other women who are living your dream and being successful at it. From the moment I knew we would start a shop, I made learning as much about having a boutique as I could my second job. I'd come home from my day of teaching and surf the internet until midnight or one AM every night, reading up on the marketing strategies of My Favorite Shop, studying the websites of other small shops to see their merchandise mix, reviewing back issues of magazines for stories about small shops. I bought books that broke boutique owning and running down into practical tips and gave advice from women who were doing it. I quickly became an "expert"--well, as expert as you can get without ever actually doing it--on my new field. Lacking actual hands-on experience, I at least wanted to sound like I knew what I was talking about.

So I guess the gist of Point #1 is to read about and seek out other successful entrepreneurs and start getting a feel for what it takes in terms of time, production, marketing, money, and other resources. After all, we don't dream in a vacuum, do we? We are all inspired by someone else or something else. Be thirsty for inspiration and hungry to learn from other people. Don't hesitate to ask questions--lots of questions! Studying what someone else does well and trying to figure out why other people respond to it doesn't mean you'll end up imitating them. If you're going to successfully market your own ideas, you have to know from a marketable idea!

In the next blog, I'll delve into more of the philosophical stuff. And not the stuff you could get out of the tip books. I'll try to aim more for the heart and soul of this whole entrepreneurial thing. Stay tuned!

And oh, for those of you who read the previous blog, you can sigh in relief along with me that our ceilings were promptly and expertly repaired by Tommy and Al from our A+ property management agency. Thank you to everyone who made us a top priority in the midst of rampant ice and water damage!

And oh, lest I forget, here's what's new in the shop: April Cornell luxe honeycomb tea towels and hemstitch napkins in fresh spring colors; French tea towels in soothing, muted shades (very Giada DeLaurentiis-esque); a new collection of French perfumes and bubble baths (all at really great price points!); colorful door mats; velveteen rabbits for Easter, and a limited number of one-of-a-kind Spring floral arrangements in interesting vessels. Still waiting for beaucoup merch from our trip to market. Why does it have to take so long? Come in and have a look!

15 February 2007

A Wintry WAAAAH!

Yesterday was one of those days. You know, one of those days. We decided to open even though the roads were still mildly hellish. My brother came in to assemble a heavy industrial shelf I desperately needed for my storage room. At about noon, he was working on that, my mom was assisting him, and I was gaily checking in a delivery of French perfumes and bubble baths that had just arrived when I looked up at the ceiling over our Apothecary area and said, "Oh my God!" "What?" cried my mom. "Look our our ceiling!" I moaned. Near to twenty ceiling tiles, as you can see, were brown with water stains and slightly bulging. Something nasty had happened over night, and the ceiling tiles were evidence of the havoc that had been wreaked. My dad came to inspect. Upon popping one tile out, we were treated to a brisk, steady drip of cold water. Nice. Happy freakin' Valentine's Day.

Remember that blog I wrote the other day extolling the joys of snowfall--nay, of blizzards? Would you mind if I ever so delicately ate my words???

But don't worry. We're open, we're smiling, and those tiles (and the roof above them) will be replaced and repaired as soon as they can be. Which hopefully is VERY soon. Because I still really love winter, and I'd like to hold onto that feeling.

So come and see us. Just don't look up. :)

13 February 2007

The Blissful Home Online

Guess WHAT? I have some exciting news that I've been itching to share with all of you, and now is finally the time. After some months of thinking and planning, I've decided to create a website for The Blissful Home! And if all goes smoothly, we will be up and running online in just about a month, honey. I am designing this website with my customers in mind, really thinking about what you might like to see when you visit www.theblissfulhome.com (bookmark that URL for future visits). We will put up lots of photos, perhaps some homestyling tips and techniques, a guestbook you can sign. And the icing on this soon-to-be-baked cake? Online shopping! We will offer a selection of our goods for sale online and get this: we'll be able to ship them anywhere you'd like! How exciting is that??

This website will be my own personal project for the next few weeks. This will be a new adventure for me, having no website design experience to speak of. Fortunately, I'm a fairly quick study when it comes to software, and I have a site creation program that promises to hold my hand every step of the way. Still, I won't publish the site until it at least half resembles what I'm envisioning in my head. (Which probably would cost me $2,500 in design fees.)

And now, I'm inviting your feedback into this new project. You, as a shopper, probably have some fantastic ideas that I haven't thought of. What would YOU like to see on The Blissful Home website? What ideas could you suggest? What online features would enhance your experience of our shop? Please feel free to post a response to this blog. I will carefully and gratefully consider all of your input. As always, thanks for reading and we look forward to seeing you soon.

A Wintry Whoo-Hoo!

I am a roofer's daughter. This means that by nature or by nurture, I am mildly obsessed with weather patterns. I sometimes even watch the Weather Channel. For fun. In college, my roommates would walk into the room, stop short, and say, "Why are you watching the Weather Channel?" Why not? I'd think. Didn't anyone but me wonder what it was going to do outside?

I have previously mentioned on this blog about how much I love snow. And boy, are we getting some snow today, so much so that I wonder if we will be able to stay open until 5 o'clock. It might be a good idea to call first (330-492-2500) if you are planning to stop by today or tomorrow. If I don't answer or call you back within ten minutes, chances are we have closed early due to inclement weather.

So drive safely out there if drive you must. Watch out for the other guy. Cook up something good for dinner. At my house, it's going to be Parmesan-Dijon Chicken with Bruschetta. Yum.

Wintry days like this one are made for nesting. Enjoy yours.

07 February 2007

You Get Us! You Really Get Us!

My boyfriend and I recently became groupies of the ABC show “The Office.” We were a little late—two and a half seasons late, actually—to join the legions of Americans who are officially in love with this show. In fact, although we didn’t know each other two years ago when the show debuted, we each had vowed NOT to become watchers. Why? He, being a business owner himself, simply didn’t have the time to become addicted to another TV show. I, on the other hand, staunchly refused to follow the crowd. All of America is wild about it? I couldn’t have cared less. This is how it often goes with me. For instance, back in the day when I was an intellectually precocious college undergrad majoring in English (focus in Creative Writing), I would walk right past the Hot New Chick Lit table in the front of the store, bypassing even the table featuring the New York Times Bestsellers, and head straight to the Classics section. Ah, what I was missing! These days, I won’t miss a new Jennifer Weiner novel, and am proud of it!

But I digress. The point here is that while "The Office" may not be the most sophisticated show on TV, it sure is entertaining, and it’s one of those things about which people say, you either get it, or you don’t. And unlike in my younger days, I don’t think I’m too good to really, really like something that everybody gets.

Now on to shop talk. I’ll admit it: my mom and I love it when you “get” our shop. Have you ever noticed how small boutiques each have their own identity, the imprint of the owner indelibly on every display, in each object? It’s not like shopping at Target (nothing against our beloved Tar-jhay, though). Big box department stores definitely have a brand of their own—from the logo to the in-store signage to the employees’ uniforms, you see it in every detail. But the idea of a store having a soul—a living, breathing, colorful, identifiable SOUL—outside of its employees, this is something that just can’t be found at your big box retailer. In any case, The Blissful Home definitely has a soul, carefully and lovingly shaped and nurtured and tended to by my mom and I, and nothing makes us happier than when we know you “get” it.

Here are a few things about our shop that we’re so happy you “get”:

1) You get that just because St. Valentine’s Day is impending, that doesn’t mean every wall of the place will be festooned with pink and red hearts and Cupids. You get that there’s a less commercial-ly way to do seasonal decorating, and that’s what we’re about most of the time. Not that you won’t see a few bunnies in our shop at Easter time, but it won’t look like an Easter egg dye factory exploded in here, either.

2) You get that ‘imperfect’ doesn’t always mean ‘flawed.’ Especially when it’s meant to look that way. We have a great vendor from whom we buy a lot of antiques and reproductions, and their credo is something like “if you are a fussy, persnickety person who irons your sheets and dusts the top of your refrigerator, then our finds are probably not for you.” Here, here! Granted, there are some items that need to be in A+ condition to function well for you, but a salvaged, distressed side chair? I don’t know about you, but we live to cherish every chipped edge and cracking rung.

3) You get that not every object you invite into your life has to have a practical use. Can’t something just be in your world to look pretty and bring a smile to people’s faces? I think so. Sure, we have your kitchen linens, your cookbooks, your candles, and your lotions, but we also have an irresistible rustic deer’s head with chippy paint and lots of personality. We have retro lady’s head vases that look fabulous with three big, mismatched fresh flowers in them. And we have paper parasols. Parasols!

So this is a thank you to all of you out there—and you know who you are—who get us. We hope we get you, too. We try to be a shop where you can find things you won’t see anywhere else, used in ways you might not have imagined, that inspire you to live a life that makes a whole lot of whimsical sense to you.

01 February 2007

Headline: French Look Into Allowing Naps at Work

No kidding! This was the headline on my Yahoo homepage this morning. Do they have the right idea or what? If you like this idea, I have a bed for you. :)
Thinking of redoing your bedroom? We offer a fantastic line of luxury bedding called Bella Notte. We'd love to write a custom order for you in your dream color palette. With so many colors, textures, and prints to choose from, there are many, many looks you can achieve, starting with our swatches. Did I mention this is the softest stuff in the world?
P.S. It's all machine washable!