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Posts Tagged ‘Boutiko’

Christmas Fair Rundown

Phew! Six fairs may not sound like much but I tell you, I feel as if I’ve run a marathon, several times. Here are some photos from the fairs….

Michelham Priory – Two days of gale force winds in a draughty marquee!

Cabbages and Frocks in Marylebone High Street – Mulled wine and carol singers

Arundel Castle – Stunning venue, enormous quantity of customers!

Down Place – two days at the home of my friend’s lovely parents

West Hove Infant School

Cabbages and Frocks UCL Christmas Fair – students, crepes and cupcakes

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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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Yes, another one! This time, the prize is one of our gorgeous silk fair trade Daisy Bags in blue.

bluedaisybag

The competition is running on Daisy Green Magazine, and here’s what they say:

To celebrate Fairtrade fortnight, the lovely people at Boutiko.co.uk have given our readers the chance to win this pretty Daisy bag.

Boutiko are an online gift shop who supply beautiful and unusual handmade, recycled, organic and fair trade gifts.

Perfect for day or evening use, this embroidered silk bag is a lovely gift on its own, but matching jewellery rolls and coin purses are available. The bag is 35 x 45 cm, and this one has a brown satin lining and closes with a large popper.

The bags are designed by a company in the UK but they are made in Vietnam on a fairtrade basis.

The competition will run until the end of Fairtrade Fortnight on the 8 March 2009.

When you enter Daisy Green Magazine giveaways, you will automatically receive our monthly newsletter, which you can unsubscribe from should you wish.

If you want a chance to win this lovely  bag, ready for spring weddings or lunch with the girls or a night out or….

Head over to Daisy Green now! Good Luck!

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Yay, it’s time for a freebie! Hurry on over to Tea For Joy, where you will find a competition to win this lovely Fab Flock skinny notebook from Boutiko, designed and made in the UK by talented designer Sarah Hough from 100% recycled paper.

skinnyfabflock

All you have to do is a bit of window shopping at Boutiko, choose your favourite thing, then go back and post about it on Tea For Joy. But hurry, because the closing date is Sunday 8th February. International entries welcome.

We are also offering a 10% discount for Tea for Joy readers – just enter the code TeaForJoy at the checkout. This promotion will run until the end of February.

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Yes Christmas is on its way, and much as we’d all like to bury our heads in the sand, it really is time to start having a serious think about what Christmas gifts you need to get for friends, family and colleagues. Not only what gifts to buy, but now more than ever, there’s a lot more awareness of where what we buy comes from, and simply rushing round the shops grabbing armfuls of plastic-packaged, mass-produced presents just doesn’t feel right for a lot of people any more. We all want more reassurance that the things we buy for others are sustainably made, fairly traded and as ethical as possible.

Luckily – help is at hand! Boutiko, the luxury ethical on-line gift store with a personally selected beautiful range of individually and sustainably sourced handmade, ethical gifts, is the perfect solution not just for the coming festive season but any occasion you can think of, including birthdays, weddings, christenings, anniversaries and just about anything else that calls for something personal and special. You will find everything is pure luxury – not just what’s on offer but the whole shopping experience. No squeezing through crowds, sweating at the checkout, struggling with arms laden with bags… just a nice quiet browse in your favourite chair, with the perfect gifts just a click or two away!

Here at Boutiko we really are mad about the gift business – offering individual customer service and next day delivery wherever possible to ensure gift hunters a shopping experience as luxurious as their purchases! Not only that – but gift wrapping is free and gifts can be sent straight to the recipient. What could be easier!

We’ve got lots of gift ideas on the site, but for a dash of inspiration, here are a few of our new and most favourite ….Oh and by the way, the prices quoted are from October 1st – there is currently a Boutiko sale on, with many reductions including most of these showcased items, so take advantage of the last few days of the sale, get ahead of the game and order some special presents now!

Recycled Clocks/Clock & Thermometer:

Perfect for indoors or out – gardeners and homebodies will adore these weather-proof sturdy clocks, intriguingly made from recycled coffee cups and which look and feel very much like slate. Various styles from £24.95 to £26.95.

One-off Handmade Jewellery & Cufflinks:

Made with silver and recycled glass beads, Boutiko’s one-off jewellery designs are exquisitely made and come in a fair trade organza bag. Includes earrings from £13, and bracelets from £35. For men, there are stunning handcrafted silver & hardwood cufflinks for men at £50, which also come in a fair trade pouch and a handcrafted box. (left)

The prettiest embroidered washbags you’ve ever seen – handmade by a family business in Vietnam, these exquisite bags are lined with water resistant fabric, £20. (right)

Children will love tidying their toys away – and so will their parents! – with our Toy Pockets – handmade by the same family as the washbags – which hang neatly on the back of a door or wardrobe, £30.

Winter and Christmas is a great time for candles – our handmade, soy wax candles from a family run business in Cornwall also come in biodegradeable, recycled packaging. The Country Range has three fragrances: Redcurrant & Thyme, Lavender & Rose, Raspberry & Vine Tomato – perfect for those long winter evenings, £12. (left)

Recycled Leather Address Books, Journals & Mini London A-Zs – all handmade by Undercover – in a variety of cover colours (aqua, lipstick, mauve and petrol) – the perfect gift for just about anyone! From £10-£15. (below)

Last but not least – handmade and fairly traded from India, beaded Christmas decorations including hearts, fairies and trees – guaranteed to make every tree sparkle! £3.50 each. Or a set of fine porcelain tealights spelling NOEL, handmade in Britain from recycled offcuts of porcelain, £40, perfect for creating a magical glow this Christmas. (below)

Oh – and if you do need to pop to the shops at the last minute – take along one of Boutiko’s ingenious One Less Plastic Bags – handmade from Indian saris with every single bag unique in its design! These bags fold away to a tiny pocket size but can carry up to 2kg – plus are machine washable, £10.

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We are running a fantastic competition on Giftchooser to win a Balance Me Super Oil gift set, worth £25.

The set includes three fantastic skin products from Balance Me, a superb range of aromatherapy skincare that only contains pure, natural essential oils, and is free from animal testing, petroleum and mineral oil, artificial fragrances and colours.

The set includes:

Super Wash 250ml
This invigorating body wash consists of Juniper to cleanse and refresh, Geranium to balance and Lavender and Bergamot to stimulate your skin. This sulphate detergent free wash is designed to tone skin and uplift your mind.

Super Oil 200ml
Jojoba, Sweet Almond Oil and Wheatgerm are combined with Bergamot, Geranium, Lavender and Juniper to tone, improve circulation and energise your skin. This oil is the perfect complement to the Super Body Wash. For best results massage into the skin after washing with Super Wash or exfoliating.

Rose Salve 15ml
A delicious lip salve containing Rose Otto and Shea Butter to rehydrate and moisturise your lips. Makes lips soft, glossy and utterly kissable.

It’s free to enter so go ahead, you have nothing to lose!

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Hello world!

Well I ummed and ahhed about it, took advice, read other blogs, and decided I definitely wouldn’t give in to this strange and narcissistic compulsion to share one’s all important views with a probably indifferent world.

Then I spent the last hour setting it up. This blog is to run concurrently with my website, www.boutiko.co.uk, which as you will see (from mid-November) is a place to find beautiful and unusual gifts which are also ethically sound.

There is a person behind this business who believes passionately in what she’s doing.  This blog is partly to fill you in on what goes on behind the scenes of setting up a business on your own from scratch. Who knows, maybe it’ll inspire those of you who dream of becoming your own boss. Please feel free to ask me about it, and I’ll always do my best to help.

Once the website is up and running, you will also be able to find out about new products and news in general from the world of Boutiko, or from the world at large. I will post links to sites of relevance and interest too. I’m not here to preach; take from it what you will. All contributions are welcomed, and I hope you find something to interest you from time to time.

So Welcome! I hope we meet again sometime soon.

Giftgirl

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