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Archive for July, 2008

While at the fated Horsham Eco Fair on Sunday, I met a girl called Helen, who handed me her card and introduced me to her business, www.ecomyparty.co.uk.

She’s spent two years designing and manufacturing these brilliant party and picnic sets, and every single thing is eco friendly and biodegradable. My particular favourites are the organic and fair trade cotton bunting (below) in three colourways for £19.99, and the Beautiful Paper Butterflies (right), a bargain at £4.50 for 5 metres, and completely biodegradable!

There are also bamboo and biodegradable plates, bowls and cutlery, and complete sets which would make a great wedding present for eco minded couples. I will definitely be coming back to this lovely website when planning my next party.

Biodegradable Picnic Set

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I wasn’t going to post about the fiasco that was the Horsham Eco Fair on Sunday, especially after I’d hyped it up so much, but then I thought, this blog is supposed to be a behind the scenes look at a growing eco business, and that doesn’t mean just the good bits! I also thought, you learn far more from the mistakes and misjudgements than you do when everything’s going smoothly, so why not share what I learned and prove that something good can be found in everything.

Here is me at the beginning of the day, looking really quite cheerful and optimistic I think; sun shining, everything looking promising….

 There isn’t an after photo because I had a slight sense of humour failure at the end, and besides, the table looked exactly the same….

The main mistake I made was not researching the inhabitants of Horsham properly. My target market is ABC1, and without wishing to cast aspersions, the people in the park that day didn’t fall into this category on the whole. So my mistake for just assuming.

Secondly, as you will see behind me in the photo, I was one of the very few who didn’t have a ‘roof’ for my stall. This meant that we didn’t look as professional as some of the other stalls, and aside from the people who had gazebos which tended to try and blow away with every gust of wind (of which there were many), lots of people had sensibly bought proper market stall set ups, with scaffolding-type poles and canvas covers. My mum, who came to help on the day, did some research, asking other stallholders how they did things, and it turns out if you google ‘market stalls’ you can find some good ones. Worth it for the initial outlay if you do enough fairs.

Which leads me to another key lesson; from now on I will only be doing Christmas fairs. People simply aren’t looking to buy gifts in the summer generally speaking, and with the credit crunch in full swing, impulse buying is not high on the agenda. I do think people need gifts all year round, but placement is very important as is targeting the right customer.

I didn’t even take enough to pay for the table and chairs I hired (I don’t own my own table so had no option), but on the upside, I made a new friend in Shona, who owns the lovely www.howonearth.co.uk, and was offered a chance to do a Christmas fair, also in Horsham, which was apart from anything else a far more affordable opportunity. I also managed to give out a lot of flyers, and learned some important lessons about pricing.  And it didn’t rain!

I would also say, don’t be too near the organic bhaji stand, because apart from the smell, people tend to wander past eating them and dripping bhaji juice all over your products.

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Girls' Egg Cosies

We are so excited to announce the arrival of these new children’s (or adults’!) craft kits, handmade by Karen Lewis in the north of England. Each kit, which comes in a delightful ‘take-away’ box, contains everything you need, such as felt pieces, thread and buttons, along with an ‘instructions and ideas’ sheet to help you on the way.

Felt Flower Brooches

There are four kits to choose from: egg cosies for boys, egg cosies for girls, flower brooches and an adorable padded hanging heart. They have both sewing and gluing options, so are suitable for most ages, although we don’t advise them for under threes as they have small parts.

 

Hanging Heart

The kits are priced at £6.50 and are excellent value.

A beautiful gift that is fun to make and useful too!

Boys' Egg Cosies

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Sunday 20th July 2008 is the date of the Horsham Eco Fair, held, rather surprisingly, in Horsham, West Sussex. Boutiko will be there (stall number 23), and we’d love to see you! As I always say, it’s so nice to meet our customers and get instant feedback, and it looks like it’s going to be a fantastic day. Even the weather’s looking promising!

 

Here’s the info:

With an amazing array of stalls covering the whole green spectrum, EcoFair 2008 offers something for all the family. Creative junk modelling, puppet shows, face painting and a spaceball ride to amuse the children, leaving plenty of time to peruse the latest eco-house products, receive the best professional green building advice, watch the FairTrade fashion show, sample the delicious, local produce or even grab a beer and join the great green debate!

Set up by Ecotecture Ltd, with vital support from Horsham District Council, EcoFair 2008 will inspire and educate on the ethos of sustainability, taking place on Sunday 20th July 2008 at Horsham Park, Horsham, West Sussex, from 10.30a.m. – 5.00p.m. ADMISSION IS FREE!

Visit www.ecofair.org.uk for directions and further info.

If you’re in the area, do come! We’d love to see you.

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I am very pleased to report that the competition we ran in conjunction with Giftchooser attracted an unprecedented 1076 entries, and congratulations go to Emma Furniss who won the fantastic Balance Me Super Trio Gift Set.

If you didn’t win however, you have not missed out, as 1st August will see the start of our Big Boutiko Sale! All kinds of gorgeous gifts will be available at up to 50% off, so if you’ve had your eye on something, all next month you will be able to treat yourself to a bargain! We are making space for lots of lovely new stock in the coming months, so do take advantage of some amazing deals.

See you in August!

EDIT: Due to moving to a new home in a new city, our Sale has been postponed til mid August. We’ll keep you posted!

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Why is it that you always seem to end up with one or two things that got pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten about, and by the time you find them, you find yourself wondering what they actually were before they grew five types of mould. Well there is absolutely no excuse any more, now there is Love Food Hate Waste.

LoveFoodHateWaste is an excellent website dedicated to sharing ways to waste less food. In the UK on average we throw away around a third of the food we buy, and that then rots in landfill and emits methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, as well as producing a toxic liquid that seeps into the ground. Composting food leftovers is one option, but only really suitable for raw veg and fruit waste. A far better thing would be to use up what you have and waste less altogether. Enter LFHW: they offer some great ideas, such as recipes by chefs to use up leftovers, and a clever measuring tool to work out how much of a certain food to cook for a given number of people.  There’s a meal planner, tips on ways to save money and store food, food dates explained and case studies of people who have learned ways to waste less and use more.

I am not a great cook by any standards, or even much of a fan, but I love the look of this recipe, sent in by Jo Lazzari in Manchester:

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 450g mixed vegetables, such as tomatoes, peppers and mushrooms
  • garlic
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • A good drizzle of olive oil
  • Ground Black peppercorns
  • 160g Feta cheese

     Preheat the oven to 200° (400°F) mark 6.

  1. Prepare the vegetables and cut into chunks. Put them into a roasting dish with the quartered lemons and garlic. Season well and drizzle liberally with olive oil. Cook in the oven under the vegetables are tender about 30-35 minutes.
  2. Crumble the cheese and sprinkle amongst the vegetables. Serve warm with fresh bread.

Realistically quick and easy, and sounds so good I’m off to see what I can find in the fridge…..

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