Archive for the ‘Business Stuff’ Category

I’ve just had the banner I have on Tea for Joy (see it on the right there?) revamped by Kerry at Hello Monkey.

Jolie, non?

PS. Kerry was very helpful, professional and affordable, and this was her first design, so it was an easy process! I’d definitely recommend her.


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I get asked this a lot.  And it’s a good question. People seem to think it’s hard to find ethical products, but it isn’t if you use a bit of initiative and are prepared to search. And actually, it’s a lot easier now than when Boutiko first launched. In the space of 18 months or so, ethical online stores have exploded in numbers, and now with all the ethical/eco/green directories popping up, both on and offline, it’s more straightforward than ever.

I have several methods, and I always have my ‘new product radar’ on, wherever I am, because sometimes you find things in the most unexpected of places. So if you’re planning to start your own online store, or just want to know how us professionals do it, read on. (Sorry, got carried away with the self-aggrandisement for a moment there. Ahem.)

1) Trade Shows – There are various well established trade shows throughout the year in the UK, such as Pulse and Top Drawer in London, and BCTF and Home and Gift in Harrogate, to name a few. I go to these to see what’s new, what my current suppliers are doing, and it’s good to get a general feel of what’s going on. (Also, it’s like shopping without the guilt factor, but we won’t dwell on such unprofessional thoughts.)

2) Tinterweb – I seem to be fairly unusual amongst my friends in that I can happily spend many hours hunched over my computer following links from site to site, checking out my favourite sites’ current offerings and finding new delights for Boutiko’s pages. It’s a bit naughty but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who checks out what my competitors are doing too. Actually, it’s kind of essential.

3) Fairs – These are great for not only meeting your customers face to face, always a pleasure when most of your business is done through the site, but also for finding new products and making new contacts. You will learn which fairs are worth doing/going to and which aren’t so successful for you. I find anything from September onwards is a good call because of it being the run up to Christmas.

4) Magazines – I’ve always enjoyed a good glossy, and now I can call it work! Hurrah. Shopping pages are great, and fashion spreads with accessories are good for sites like mine. Even better of course are those magazines that either have dedicated ethical product pages or are actually ethically minded as a whole.

5) Ethical Directories – A quick search on Google will throw up lots of these, and then it’s just a matter of making a cup of coffee, maybe cracking open a packet of biscuits, and trawling.

5) Actually, Google, or your personal search engine of choice, is your probably your best friend here (when is it not though, really). Chuck a bunch of phrases like ‘wholesale eco products’ at it, and it will duly reward you with something interesting.

6) High Street Shopping – I nearly forgot this! Hmm, too much time spent in front of a screen perhaps. Apart from being healthy (well, you know, walking), more and more shops, and in particular the independent sort, are stocking ethical skincare lines or fair trade toys for example.

7) Online Forums – It seems new forums (fora? forae?) are popping up every day, from those for the spiritually minded to pet lovers to vegans and vegetarians. Whatever the topic, these are great places to see what people are talking about and make good contacts. Yes they can get a bit silly (there’s some weird phenomenon at work which makes people bicker a lot it seems to me), but if you avoid the crap and learn to skim all will be well.  And there are lots which are useful to us ethical products peeps too; from anything ethically minded of course,  to wedding forums if you’re sourcing gifts, to crafts related forums. Which leads me to…

8 ) Folksy and Etsy – and the rest of the burgeoning crop of craft sites popping up. It’s official, craft is cool now (you knew this of course) (and if not, where have you BEEN?), and I’d say Folksy and Etsy are among your best bets for finding good quality, professional but accessible and affordable crafts of all kinds. Etsy of course is based in the US and operates in dollars, but if you are ordering something light like jewellery and can cover the importing costs, you’re guaranteed something really original. Folksy is based here in the UK, and although smaller, is growing daily. Go and have a look; I defy you not to find something you need to buy RIGHT NOW.

9) Newsletters – I sign up to newsletters all the time. You can unsubscribe whenever you like (usually, and if they don’t offer this I’m pretty sure it’s practically illegal) and they can draw your attention to all sorts of wonders without you having to do any more than open your inbox.

10) Blogs – This works in much the same way as the other internet methods; search and trawl. Most ethical/small businesses seem to have blogs now, as do crafters. Add the interesting ones to your feed and get out those biscuits again. (Don’t worry, you’ll be walking them off when you do your ‘outdoor research’.)

Of course there are bound to be a ton of other ways to source products that I have not covered here. Once you start, one thing will lead to another and you’ll find you have more choice than you know what to do with. It does become second nature after a while. Good luck. :o) And remember to take breaks for stretching and fridge raiding chores. Oh, and let me know if you have different/better ways to find your products. Spread the love.

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Left hand side, second row down! It’ll be interesting to see the response….

Juno is a family magazine whose ethos is “based on natural parenting, environmental sustainability, social justice, non violence and spiritual awareness.”

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Well, strictly speaking, not Boutiko as it turned out, but the other night at the Rising Star Awards the fifty odd business owners attending were ALL winners. We all received a glass award and a certificate, and left with that nice warm feeling that accompanies having your efforts recognised. Apologies for the dreadful photos but glass is really quite hard to capture!



There were a number of speeches, including one by a man called David Williams, Chief Executive of Avanti Communications. He talked about entrepreneurialism and I felt quite inspired after that.

There was a quiz, and the prize was a basket of gifts from Boutiko, which meant that I had to go up and present it to the winner, who was very pleased as he said he never wins anything. (I hope he didn’t mind that it was rather a girly selection….)

I have to admit we didn’t stay for the networking afterwards; I had a long journey home and to be honest networking is not something that makes me jump for joy. Perhaps something I should look into….

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First of all, I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and are enjoying the holidays.

If you’re feeling at a slightly loose end now the festivities are over, you could pop over to Boutiko right now, where you will find lots of our gorgeous products reduced to within an inch of their lives. There is 50% off (or more) on many lines, and prices start from just 70p! We’ll be sad to see some things go, but we’re also very excited about the new products that will be coming in as space is made for them on our shelves!

This is the perfect time to stock up your present drawers and plan ahead for birthday gifts. So please, help yourselves to some bargains and take advantage of the discounts while they’re there! Don’t wait too long though, as gifts are flying out of the door very quickly!

To give you an idea, check out these bargains…..

Organic Cotton and Merino Wool Handknitted Pramcoat

WAS £30 NOW £15


Ari Suede Frames 5×7

WAS £26.95 NOW £13.50

(4×6 also available)


Handmade Soy Wax Candles in a variety of yummy fragrances

WERE £15 NOW £7.50


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I visited Our Eco Shop on Christmas Eve. I had been asked if I’d like to participate but I declined this year for a number of reasons. I was curious about how it had panned out though so I popped by for a quick nose.

The concept was thought up by Lisa Harland and Sarah Baulch, as

a collaboration by UK designers-makers and small green companies who have joined together to open a pop-up shop with a great selection of fair trade, ethical, organic, and eco-friendly products.”

This year it was situated in Westbourne Grove in London, in a lovely two storey shop which had already been decorated with the most fabulous bright fabric all over the walls. I spent some time chatting to Lisa, who said there were 42 companies participating and that it had gone very well, despite the early appearance of winter sales this year.

There were all kinds of gorgeous products on offer, from adult and children’s clothing, jewellery, teas, beauty products and ceramics, to vintage pieces, bags and belts, furniture and bedding, with prices to suit all pockets.  My personal faves were Nadia Sparham‘s ceramics…


Bea’s Beastliescrewphoto_edited

Catarina Vassalo‘s jewellery…


…and this gorgeous bedlinen for children by Luma.


Maybe next year Boutiko will be in there somewhere.

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The results are out, and Boutiko was the runner up in Best Fair Trade Company category! This is really exciting for Boutiko, as it is a public recognition of our efforts over the past year. Thank you so much to all who voted! Congratulations also to Kate at Only Fair, who won in this category!

Here’s what Green England said about it all:

Green England are pleased to announce this years winners. The response has been fabulous and its wonderful to see green and ethical companies getting the recognition they deserve!

In the category of Best Green Company – Deepdale Farm took the most votes. Deepdale is an eco friendly self catering hostel and campsite on the Norfolk Coast. They are delighted to have won the award and look forward to meeting new visitors in the course of the next few months. Runner up in this category is A1 Fruiterers in North Cornwall – suppliers of Fair Trade, Organic, vegan and vegetarian groceries and produce. They support local producers and have a range of Cornish products as well as Fair Trade products from around the world.

The Fair Trade category was won by Only Fair – making Fair Trade available to everyone online. Bags, gifts, soft furnishings, coffee and chocolate and more. Only Fair believes everyone can make a difference by making a small adjustment to their shopping habits. Close behind in the votes was Boutiko selling a range of Fair Trade gifts and accessories to suit all tastes and pockets.

The Go Green Company was the winner of the Best Newcomer category. They sell a range of products online, designed to help people reduce their carbon footprint. From laundry to household, toys and skincare they really is something for everbody. They also suggest tips for daily greener living. The Green Driving school was runner up in this category. Learn in a car with low emissions, and how to drive for eco efficiency as well as being confident that the company runs an eco friendly office. Based in Chingford in East London.

The Most Innovative Green Product was won by Bags of Change – eco bags that save you money in Fair Trade, organic and ethical shops. Beautiful and practical shopping bags that give you a discount each time you use them in a particpating store. Runner up was Great Elm Physick Garden – organic skin care – natural organic ingredients, for all your body’s needs.

Best Customer Service went to the Phone Coop – a telecoms supplier with a difference. Run ethically, owned by the customers and run in an enviromentally friendly way. Runner up was a great day out – Killhope – the North of England Lead Mining Museum. A great example of green tourism.

Congratulations to all the winners – and all those who took part. Wishing you a green and ethical 2009 to all.

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