THE BEST TIMES TO POST TO SOCIALS!

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Social media is the small business owner’s best friend. Social platforms can be a highly effective marketing tool, allowing even the little guys to achieve substantial reach at minimal cost. 

These days, social media platforms are more widely used than ever before, by both businesses and consumers. The big question for many companies is: how do you get your awesome posts in front of consumer eyes? The answer changes with every algorithm shift, however one approach is to post at specific times for optimum traffic. Below you’ll find our infographic with the major social channels and their general prime times for posting. Feel free to use and share! Keep in mind, the most you post, the more engagement and exposure you’ll get—so post regularly! 

5 GIFT IDEAS FOR THE ENTREPRENEUR

Entrepreneurs are a badass bunch, and when they want something, they tend to go get it or make it themselves. While this handmade hustle is great in the world of small business, it can sometimes mean these makers are hard to shop for—especially around the holidays. Fear not! We have compiled a list of 5 gift ideas for the handmade entrepreneur in your life.

1. COFFEE, HUSTLE, REPEAT

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Coffee is the fuel of choice for many entrepreneurs. Good beans, coffee-making apparatus, and inspirational mugs are sure to be well received by your favourite java-loving biz owner.

2. #BIZTECH

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The small biz life is busy and often relies on technology to keep things running. On-the-go tech, functional accessories, and big ticket items (here’s looking at you, new computer) all make great gifts that are sure to get lots of love for years to come.

3. RELAX

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While a foreign concept to many entrepreneurs, relaxation can be just as vital as the hustle. Pampering gifts such as handmade bath and body products, essential oils, cozy slippers, spa day gift certificates, and yummy treats are perfect to relax and reset.

4. INSPIRE

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Keep the inspiration alive with motivational jewelry, framed quotes, inspiring books, and small biz-worthy notebooks (for all those big ideas!). Inspirational totems such as crystals and feathers also make great gifts.

5. SMALL BIZ LOVE

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Finally, perhaps the best gift you can offer a handmade entrepreneur is YOU, whether that means supporting their work, sharing what they’re up to, or using your skills and time to further their #smallbizgoals. 

Whoever is on your list, remember to #ShopSmall this holiday and support small business. 

TEAMWORK MAKES THE #SMALLBIZ DREAM WORK

3 IDEAS TO INSPIRE YOUR NEXT COLLABORATION

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Creating a collaborative small biz community provides many opportunities for inspiration, resource sharing, cost saving, generating sales, and growing your all-important business network. Here are 3 ideas to jumpstart your next collab!

1. COLLABORATIVE RETAIL

For many small businesses, retail is out of reach. However, the recent trend of collaborative retail makes storefront space possible for the smallest of companies. The general idea is that a number of businesses go in on a storefront space together, making it less expensive and more manageable for everyone. Pop-up shops and artisan collectives are two examples, but there are many models out there. Storefront space makes in-person shopping possible, opening opportunities for walk-by traffic, a local pick-up option for your e-commerce site, and casual browsing. Having a physical space can also increase legitimacy for small businesses, giving them a company address and a touch point for customers which supports their understanding and connection to the brand. 

2. COLLABORATIVE PROMOTION

Traditional promotional avenues like print, television and even online ads can be prohibitively expensive for small businesses. Banding together with other businesses to access these avenues means that everyone involved gains publicity at a fraction of the cost. Not there yet? Co-promotion doesn’t have to be huge. Connect with other small businesses to cross-share content on social media or include one another in communications like newsletters. Finding ways to co-promote allows even the smallest of businesses to access new audiences and grow their network.

3. CO-BRANDING + COLLABORATIVE LINES

According to the dictionary, co-branding is when businesses connect to define a product or service with the brands of joint manufacturers or sponsors. This creates the opportunity for businesses to make something amazing together and co-promote it to their respective networks, gaining more exposure and interest than either company would have alone. 

Collaboration is a great way for small businesses to get their voice heard and access business resources that would otherwise be unavailable to them. 

HOW DOES YOUR #SMALLBIZ COLLABORATE? 

 

SMALL BIZ SATURDAY

Small Business Saturday is November 25, 2017!

WE'VE GOT 3 TIPS FOR YOU TO GET YOUR #SMALLBIZ READY!

Started in 2010, Small Business Saturday is less than a decade old but quickly building momentum. Last year, 112 million shoppers spent more than $15 billion! The small business’s answer to pre-holiday shopping events, Small Business Saturday is the perfect opportunity to grow sales, gain new customers and get your #smallbiz ready for the big X (mas)! Here are 3 tips to get your biz ready for November 25.

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Get people excited about shopping your #SmallBiz this month by creating a promotional event! Create a sale, a pop-up, a raffle, a social, or a party. Offer freebies, discounts, after-hours deals, or value-add items. Connect with other small businesses, charitable organizations and local groups to make it a community affair! Expert speakers and free services are also great draws. Get people excited about what you’re offering for Small Business Saturday and get them involved! 

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How does your online presence look? Does it accurately and consistently reflect you and your biz? Does it show potential customers where they can get what you’re offering? Does it clearly list contact information if they have questions? Are the hours listed correct? Now is a great time to give your website and social a tune-up. Then get promoting! American Express, founder of Small Business Saturday, offers free resources at here. Bust out those hashtags (#ShopSmall, #ShopLocal, #ShopCanadian, #ShopHandmade), offer incentives for subscriptions, tags, check-ins, mentions and shares, cross-promote in community groups, create social ads, show off your selling avenues and tell the world what’s happening. 

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People connect with stories, and every small business has one. Share your story and show your audience where you come from. Your roots matter! People shop stories as much as they shop products or services. Whether it’s your business origin, how a particular product was created or how your company name came to be, people love a relatable story. Sharing your roots is all about building a connection between your customers and your small biz, encouraging them to support what you’re all about.

SO...

Get your #smallbiz ready for Small Business Saturday and take advantage of this powerful opportunity! Use this occasion to kickstart your sales, whip your biz into shape for the holiday season, create a few business connections and connect with your local community. You’ll be glad you did!

What are you planning for #SmallBusinessSaturday?

SMALL BIZ #GOALS

WHAT ARE YOUR #SMALLBIZ GOALS?

Does something specific come to mind? Some of you out there will have a clear idea of what is next and where you’re heading. Others may not be able to see beyond the constant hustle of running a small business. We were curious about the goals of handmade entrepreneurs, so we polled our circle of makers, movers and shakers for some insight. Here is what 25 artisans and small business owners have to say about their #smallbiz goals. 

THE POLL

Nook 2 Nook polled The Nooks’ Makers Hub, a community of 106 artisans and handmade entrepreneurs at various stages of their #smallbiz journey. We asked, “What are your small biz #goals?” and put together a number of poll options with the opportunity to add others. Each person could only select one. Out of 106 makers and small business owners polled, 25 chose to participate. Here are the results…

 

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THE RESULTS

The main #smallbiz goal in this group of makers and entrepreneurs is to improve their retail presence. As they are all participants in the Nooks’ artisan retail spaces, this makes sense. Keeping retail on point and top of mind is vital, especially going into the holiday season. The next most popular choices are perhaps the most telling: improving branding and social media, followed by improving web presence. Forming a cohesive brand and message across all platforms is obviously a primary concern for small businesses that have a great product line but need to spread the word. “Create a new product” garnered one vote, and the only option that received no interest was “Improve an Existing Product”. This speaks to both the stage that these businesses are at and the need for promotion and sales over creation. It is important to keep things fresh, but clearly the priority lies in branding, selling and publicizing what is already happening. 

Where are you at in your #smallbiz journey? What are your #goals?

 

MAKER TUTORIALS

VINTAGE BABY HAT KNITTING RECIPE

With the colder weather finally here, keep your wee babes warm with this sweet, classic hat recipe by Terri of Sweet PotaToes. 

For a baby around 6-12 months.

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YOU'LL NEED: 

  • 50g of worsted weight yarn in a solid colour 
  • Approximately 25g of worsted weight yarn in a variegated colour 
  • 4mm dpn’s or a 16 inch circular needle  
  • Stitch marker to mark the beginning of the round. 

DIRECTIONS:

Cast on 72 stitches in the solid colour, join and knit every round for about 2 inches. Switch to the variegated colour and knit 1 round. Next round, *k1, k1below* all the way around. Switch back to the solid colour and knit 1 round then knit the next round *k1, k1below* all the way around. Switch back to the variegated colour and repeat the two alternating rounds (k1 round/next round *k1,k1below*) for a few more rounds. Switch back to the solid colour and repeat this pattern for a couple more rounds. Repeat this pattern as long as you like, making thick or thin bands of the two colours until your work measures 5.5 inches. Now begin your decreases in the solid colour. First round *k7, k2tog* all the way around; knit the next round. Then *k6, k2tog* around; knit the next round. Next, *k5, k2tog* around; knit the next round... continue decreasing in this manner until you have 8 stitches left. You can do all the decreasing in the solid colour or switch back to the variegated for the crown. Break your yarn and thread through the remaining stitches. Sew closed. Add a pompom if you like! This stitch works up beautifully on the inside too so you can make the hat reversible if you wish. 

Block for a professional finish. 

Get creative and switch the pattern up in different ways, like changing the rolled brim to a ribbed edge or using more colours! 

Find Sweet PotaToes at The Nooks, online, or on instagram

DEMYSTIFYING THE POP-UP

Pop-Up. Everyone from the big brands to micro-biz newbies are using it. It’s become a buzzword in the artisan business community.  What is a pop-up and why does it matter? 

Basically, “pop-up” denotes a business, storefront, market (etc.) that is intended to operate for a short period of time. Here today, gone tomorrow. The modern trend of pop-up, flash or temporary retail is said to have originated in Japan, where insatiable consumers would rush to purchase limited edition, rare, and freshly launched products. The concept was brought to the States in the late 1990s, and took off from there. 

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Today pop-ups are, well, popping up all over. These temporary shopping experiences generate the curiosity and excitement of something new and ephemeral, while giving business owners the chance to showcase their offerings in a low-cost, low-commitment retail environment. Pop-ups offer lots of potential benefits to businesses of any size, and can be a great way to sell, sample, and connect with your customers. In fact, there are lots of reasons why your business might consider a pop-up…

  • To generate interest/ excitement/ urgency 
  • To engage customers and influencers in an exclusive, interactive environment
  • To generate revenue
  • To generate social currency and brand awareness
  • As part of a marketing strategy
  • To launch/ test/ debut a new business or a new product or service
  • To test a product, location, market etc.
  • To try out your business in a retail environment
  • To capture seasonal attention and foot traffic
  • + more!

Pop-ups are a growing trend in the business world, and one that is accessible for ventures of all sizes. Whether you’re looking to generate sales, increase brand awareness, sample a new offering or engage with your customers, pop-ups are a low-cost, low-commitment option—the biggest bang for your buck. 

Ready to try it out? Sell, sample and connect at the Nooks’ WKND POP-UP NOOK http://www.thenooks.ca/pop-up 

Plan a pop-up of your very own! Check out STUDIO by the Nooks, the perfect venue for your next pop-up http://www.thenooks.ca/studio 

SWEET CHARITY

WHY SMALL BUSINESSES SHOULD CONSIDER CHARITABLE PARTNERSHIPS AND HOW TO MAKE IT HAPPEN!

As a small business it’s important to create connections and support something beyond your company. Although may seem unrealistic or counterintuitive to partner with a charitable organization, such partnerships can be a great way to get your brand out there while strengthening your company’s ethos and community connections. There’s a reason why the Big Guys are doing it! Here are 4 reasons why your small business should consider aligning with a non-profit, cause or charitable organization and 4 ways to make it happen.

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WHY: SALES AND THE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY MOVEMENT

In the last few years we’ve seen a clear consumer shift toward social responsibility and authenticity in purchasing. Customers are shopping for a social value as well as a monetary one, and they’re willing to pay for it. Driven by millennials, this shift is the number one reason why we’re seeing more business-charity partnerships, and perhaps the most compelling reason to create charitable partnerships for your small business.

As a small business owner, you know the value of community support. What causes are important to you? What do you want to support?

MAKE IT HAPPEN: BRAND ALIGNMENT.

Partnering with a non-profit, cause or charitable organization that is close to your heart and aligned with your brand’s ethos is vital. The organization you choose to support will speak volumes about your business and its values. Look at local causes and charities for the most visible partnerships, and involve your team in the decision, if possible. Think about how your customers will perceive the social value offered by the partnership you choose, and how it reflects upon your company. This is an opportunity to hone in on your target market and learn more about what they value. On an ethics note, be as clear as possible with customers as to how their purchases will benefit your charitable partner, and don’t commit to more than you can deliver. A true, authentic, co-beneficial and aligned partnership will help your business gain sales, credibility and customer loyalty. 

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WHY: LIFTING EACH OTHER UP.

Many charitable organizations like to show a little appreciation for their partners. For instance, they might want to feature you at an event, or on their web presence. Make it work for both of you! Partnering with a charitable organization connects your business with them, furthering awareness for both parties. Charitable organizations often have extensive networks of members, donors, supporters and followers. Explore who is already connected to the your partner organization, find out where there are opportunities for co-promotion and co-production. Share each other up! Connecting with a charitable network and leveraging their infrastructure is great way for small businesses to gain brand awareness and boost marketing efforts.

MAKE IT HAPPEN: TELL THE WORLD.

Let your audience know about your partnership. Once you’ve chosen an organization that aligns with your brand, tell everyone! Share your partnership through all of your avenues, and ask your charitable organization to do the same. The more you co-share, the more visibility each of you gains. Look at how other companies are promoting their charitable connections, and learn from what works. Splash each other on social media, co-advertise, put a badge or a link on your websites and blogs, run an event together, create a line that donates a percentage to the charity and promote it together —make the most of your partnership!

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WHY: NETWORKING.

As mentioned above, charities, causes and community organizations often have extensive networks, and charitable events offer a great networking opportunity. Make connections! Attend functions and fundraisers, volunteer with the organization when possible, and be sure to introduce yourself and your business. Stay in touch with these new contacts and offer to include them in your small business communications. They could be your next big customer! 

MAKING IT HAPPEN: THE SMALL BIZ HUSTLE.

When you meet new contacts in the world of charitable networking, be sure to ask questions and exchange contact information. Find out what people in the sphere of your partner organization are up to, what they like, what their skills are and if they’d be interested in connecting with your business. You already have one value in common, maybe you have more to discuss? You can even offer discounts to parties connected with your cause, giving them incentive to connect with your business again. A charitable partner gives small businesses access to a whole new pool of potential business partners and potential customers.

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WHY: HELPING OTHERS, SUPPORTING GOOD WORK AND CONNECTING WITH YOUR VALUES.

Ultimately, the best reason to partner with a charitable organization is to support what they’re up to and help to make the world a better place. Small business is often quite personal, and connecting your story with an organization doing good work is a powerful thing. Whether you donate money, time, resources, a portion of sales or something else, your connection to the organization you choose is something valuable beyond monetary measure. When your small business dream supports your values, that is pure magic. 

MAKING IT HAPPEN: WHAT CAN YOU GIVE?

There are lots of ways to get involved with charitable organizations, and choosing the right contribution for your business is essential. Think about how your small business can contribute and what you have to offer. Time? Money? Publicity? Skills? Creativity? Here are some ideas:

  • Create a product or service specifically to support your cause. Send all or a percentage of sales from that product to your charity, or allow customers to choose what their purchase supports. 
  • Sponsor or volunteer at an event to support your charitable partner. 
  • Use your skills and share resources! Help to market your partnership, create a product, create signage, plan an event, gather donations—use what your small business does best to benefit your cause.
  • Volunteer your time. 

There are lots of ways to contribute to charitable organizations, and knowing what you have to offer is important when choosing a partnership.

In conclusion, small business has a lot to offer and a lot to gain when it comes to charitable partnerships. Do you research, decide what you can offer, and don’t be afraid to change things up. Connecting with a charitable organization could be the next step in unlocking your small business’s full potential! 

*Please note: It is important to seek professional legal guidance when creating a charitable partnership to ensure your business understands and is following the law.*

 

 

5 REASONS WHY HAND-MADE IS WORTH IT'S PRICE TAG

Every handmade small business has heard it before. Muttered under a customer’s breath, whispered between shoppers, boldly stated as fact, offered up as a suggestion…

"WHY SO EXPENSIVE"?

These three words or any version of them can be enough to tear down even the most confident, prepared business owner. In the world of small biz, it’s hard enough to believe in yourself and value what you’re doing without someone questioning if you’re worth it. These passing comments hit entrepreneurs right in the soft spot where all insecurities live, each one sticking around longer than it should. 

So, for those who’ve made these comments (perhaps not realizing) and for those who’ve taken them personally, we’ll examine the reasons why handmade is worth every cent.

1. MAKERS GOTTA MAKE (A LIVING)

The reality of handmade is that for many entrepreneurs, their small business is their job. That means that their life and the lives of those they’re responsible for depend on the income from their business. Once the actual costs of creating and selling a product are covered it’s not always possible for makers to cover their time, knowing that the market can only bear so much. Handmade products have a living wage (and sometimes not even) built into the price, something that we’re not always accustomed to in the land of throwaway fashion and sweatshop convenience.

2. HAND-MADE ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS HARDDD

There’s a reason why not everyone decides to make their own soap, spin their own yarn or sew their own clothes. Making stuff is not easy, and it takes time, dedication, energy and skill. For the few that hone their craft and decide to make a business out of it, it’s even harder. There’s time, research, sourcing, spending, making, building, pricing, listing, posting, promoting, selling, shipping and numerous other minutia that go into each and every product. And that’s just the physical process! Be assured that the handmade product you are buying has hours of emotional and physical energy behind it, and that whomever you’re buying it from genuinely appreciates your support.

3. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR

Believe it! Handmade is almost always better. Makers put a lot of time and care into their offerings, and by the time they feel confident enough to start selling, they’re usually putting out a pretty solid product. When you purchase something from a maker, remember that you’re not only buying a great, unique and likely amazing product. You’re also buying into a vision, a process, a set of ethics, standards, relationships and decisions that have gone into creating the product you’ve chosen. If you want to know more about what you’re buying into, don’t hesitate to ask questions or take literature. Many makers are more than happy to discuss their materials, process and products at length!

4. MATERIAL MATTERS

Although it’s not always the case, many makers spend a lot of time and energy choosing materials. Whether they’re local, ethical, natural, upcycled or otherwise, you can bet that your maker paid for that value. It’s expensive to buy decent materials, and even more expensive when you’re a small business that maybe can’t afford or rationalize a minimum bulk order of 10,000 units. You’re not buying some mass-produced thing made with the cheapest ingredients possible and sold in huge quantities to a retailer. You’re buying an artisanal, small-batch thing likely sold to you at the most reasonable price the maker could offer.

5. SUPPORTING THE DREAM

Starting a small business is in no way an easy path, and it’s certainly not for everyone. Entrepreneurs are a special breed, and you better believe that whoever made the products you’re purchasing has probably put their whole heart and soul into their business. When you buy something from a maker, you are helping to support their life, dreams, goals, plans, families, communities, causes… and, you are helping to affirm their belief in themselves. When you buy something from a maker, you can feel good about what you’re buying into, because you’re supporting a real person’s dream. 

These are but a few of the many reasons handmade comes with its price tag. There’s a lot that goes in to making handmade happen! Why do you #choosehandmade? 

Want to shop local artisans? Check out The Nooks’ locations here! Are you a maker? #findyournook here!  

MAKER TUTORIALS

CROCHET AN EASY HAT BY ANDROMETTA

With holidays and chilly weather fast approaching (maybe… at some point…) it’s the perfect time to pick up a craft. Crocheting is wonderful because you can create cozy goodies for you and your friends—super gratifying! Hats are my favorite project as they work up fairly quickly and make great gifts. The hat tutorial below is very simple, and any stitches or processes you’re unfamiliar with can be easily learned via YouTube. Use any yarn you like and any size hook to play with different proportions and styles—don’t get too caught up in perfection and have fun. Get hookin’!

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#MAKEIT

STEP 1

Choose your yarn. This is the first step and definitely my favorite! Yarn shopping is pure joy. Whether you decide to check out your LYS (local yarn shop) or go to a big box, you’ll want to think about your end product first. Do you want to make something cozy and classic? Chunky and substantial? Delicate and subtle? I always suggest worsted weight or chunkier for beginners so that your stitches are easier to see, however the yarn you love is always the best one!

STEP 2:

Decide on your hook size. Most yarns come with a suggested hook and needle size (ex. for worsted weight you’ll typically use 5-6mm), which varies depending on the individual crocheter and project.  For a looser/ tighter stitch you can go smaller or larger. The example yarn I chose is wool, slightly heavier than a worsted weight. I used a 6mm (J) hook.

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STEP 3:

This project is worked in the round. Chain 4, slip stitch into first chain to create a circle. 

STEP 4:

Chain 3 (counts as first double crochet here and throughout). In the circle of chains you’ve just created, put 11 double crochets. Slip stitch in top chain of beginning chains. 

Next come the increase rounds, which determine how big your finished hat will be. The number of increase rounds you’ll need will depend on the size of the head you’re making it for and the weight of your yarn. You can try and judge based on the size of the circle or check out guides online for more accurate results. Once you have the hang of it, knowing how much to increase will be a snap!

STEP 5:

Chain 3. Double crochet in same space. Put 2 double crochets in each stitch around, slip stitch in top of beginning chains.

STEP 6:

Chain 3. [2 double crochets in next stitch, 1 double crochet in next stitch, 2 double crochets in next stitch] to end of row. Slip stitch in top of beginning chains.

STEP 7:

Chain 3. Double crochet in next stitch. [2 double crochets in next stitch, 1 double crochet in next 2 stitches, 2 double crochets in next stitch] to end of row. Slip stitch in top of beginning chains.

STEP 8:

Chain 3. Put 1 double crochet in next 2 stitches. [2 double crochets in next stitch, 1 double crochet in next 3 stitches, 2 double crochets in next stitch] to end of row. Slip stitch in top of beginning chains.

STEP 9:

Chain 3. Put 1 double crochet in next 3 stitches. [2 double crochets in next stitch, 1 double crochet in next 4 stitches, 2 double crochets in next stitch] to end of row. Slip stitch in top of beginning chains.

At this point you can see a circle forming. Check the size against whichever measure you’re using. If it’s too large, you can take it back a row or two. If it’s too small, continue increasing in this pattern until it’s as big as you’d like. Once your circle is the correct size, continue on to the next step.

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STEP 10:

Chain 3. Double crochet in each stitch around. Slip stitch in top of beginning chains. Repeat until hat is one row shorter than you’d like it to be.

STEP 11:

Chain 3. Single crochet in each stitch around and slip stitch in top of first stitch.

STEP 12:

Chain 3. Single crochet in each stitch around and slip stitch in top of first stitch. Cut your yarn leaving a six inch tail. Feed the tail through your working loop and pull to finish off your hat. Weave in ends with a yarn needle.

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STEP 13:

Decorate, customize and admire! 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial and that your hat turned out amazing! Like, share & tag Nook2Nook and the Nooks Toronto—we’d love to see your project pics! Stay crafty!

Want more DIY? Check out our last N2N Maker Tutorial here (link to https://www.nook2nook.ca/blog/2017/8/14/n2n-maker-tutorials

 

SAYING THANK YOU

SMALL BIZ + THE ART OF GRATITUDE

Canada’s Thanksgiving weekend is coming up, which has us meditating on gratitude and what it means to be thankful as a small business. The entrepreneurial life is a busy one full of highs and lows. Especially in the low times, it can be difficult to find the gratitude. However, even in those dark moments, sometimes all it takes is one sale, one good review, one affirming comment to make it all feel worth it. So we ask,

As a small business, how do you thank your customers? 

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Customers are the essence of any business, and it is important to give back to the people who invest in you, build you up and help make your dreams a reality. Here are a few ideas to show your customers some appreciation. 

  • The Loyal Treatment- Show your appreciation for customer loyalty! Reward frequent spenders with special discounts and promotions, givebacks, value-adds, loyalty points and exclusive events. 
  • Celebrate Good Times- Mark milestones, holidays and accomplishments with the people that helped you to get where you are today. Hold a party, celebration, promotion (etc.) to connect with your customers and show them some love. 
  • Connect and Give Back- Your customer community are invested in you and your business. Show them you’re invested in them! Volunteer in your community, donate products or services to local shelters, schools and community organizations, and get out to meet your customers! Send personal thank you notes, address communications by first name, and check in for more than just business. Connect sincerely and with purpose, whether online or in person. People love to know who and what they’re supporting!

As you’re counting your blessings this Thanksgiving holiday, be sure to count your customers among them. After all, gratitude is the attitude that gives you latitude!

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

HELLO FALL!

AUTUMN + YOUR BUSINESS

Though this season we’re not feeling that characteristic chill in the air, fall is nonetheless upon us. September 23 marks the beginning of autumn 2017, so it’s time to leave summer behind and focus on the bounty fall can bring.

As the leaves begin to change so too should your business strategy. For many small businesses, summer season marketing is focussed on fun, bright colours, outdoor venues, #cottagelife and all things warm weather. Are you ready for an autumn shift? Those who make the rapid shift from summer to holiday are missing out on the season of Pumpkin Spice and everything nice. 

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Even with the warmer weather of late, lovers of fall still want to get cozy. Customers who are missing #sweaterweather will appreciate your small business’s nod to the change of season, and there are lots of great fall holidays and themes to inspire and launch your promotions. 

What comes to mind when you think of fall? Colourful leaves, pumpkins, harvest, warm spices, rich tones... Use the visual and sensory concepts of fall to build your products and promotions. Pumpkin spiced EVERYTHING, anyone? 

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Halloween and Thanksgiving are the standout holidays in autumn, each with their own common associations, symbols and festive traditions. Ideas for Thanksgiving might be a centrepiece, hostess gift or food product that will become part of somebody’s family celebration. You could offer a give-back of your own, a little thank-you to existing customers. Halloween can be spooky, fun, and an opportunity to “treat” your customers to something sweet. Team up to host a local trick-or-treating event, offer a free “treat” with purchase, create a Halloween-themed promotion. Get creative and have fun with it!

Go local this fall! There are likely lots of fall-themed events happening in your community. Harvest festivals, markets, community thanksgiving dinners, neighbourhood parties… join in and get to know what your community is looking for. Fall is also a great time to connect with local schools and organizations. Sponsor a team, help run an event, and get involved. 

Whatever your business aspirations for autumn, be sure to let people know what you’re up to! Promote, run a fall-themed social campaign, spruce up your current advertising with something seasonal. Get people excited about what you’re doing by getting them into the spirit of fall fun!

What are you planning for fall?

MAKERS STORIES

KRISTA HILLIS + STEPHEN BULL OF AMONG THE PINES

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TELL US ABOUT YOU AND WHAT ROLE 'HAND-MADE' PLAYS IN YOUR LIFE...

Steve and I are ALWAYS crafting up something new. My background is actually in psychology and neuroscience — which lead me to my writing career. Based on the flexibility of my hours, we were able to kickstart our small, Canadian business. Steve is an all-round handy man, originally working as a gas engineer in England. After moving to Canada, he began building custom homes with my old man, appreciating the natural beauty and versatility of wood.

Today, Canadian culture and our appreciation for the great outdoors is what drives Among the Pines. Everything we do, from start to finish, is done by us. From conception to completion, we do it all. ‘Handmade’ to us, means creating quality goods through skill and passion. We’re very proud of our ever-growing collection, as we the great outdoors into the homes of Canadians — and those beyond the Great White North.

WHAT IS SOMETHING FUN/INTERESTING/PERSONAL ABOUT YOU + YOUR BUSINESS?

As mentioned, everything we make is inspired by nature. Whether it's the materials we source, the methods we use, or the initial concept that inspires us to create, it all relates back to the natural world. We often forage materials, using reclaimed, natural pieces to create new, one-of-a-kind goods.

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HOW DID YOU GET INTERESTED IN BECOMING A MAKER? WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT IT?

Creating is something that comes naturally to both Steve and I — Among the Pines is 100% a labour of love. There’s nothing more enjoyable than sitting down with a journal and a head full of ideas. As these ideas develop, they come to life. It’s a rewarding process, especially in terms of creativity and personal growth.

WHAT IS IT THAT YOU SPECIALIZE IN WITHIN THE CRAFTING/HANDMADE GOODS WORLD?

We literally create new items every week, but we mainly focus on home decor and unique gifts. Although we mainly work with sustainable wood, we offer all kinds of goodies. From our homebrew soap (which is made with the beer we brew + whole leaf hops), to our funky fire-starter kit, we create without boundaries. In that sense, we specialize in creating goods that evoke our experiences with nature.

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DESCRIBE YOUR ARTISTIC COMMUNITY AND HOW YOU THINK PEOPLE IN THAT COMMUNITY SEE YOU...

Although we specialize in woodworking, our core values are in-tune with a wide variety of artists and makers. From jewellery designers to visual artists, we gravitate towards those who understand their role to both create and educate. We will continue to shed light on current environmental issues that are affecting Canadians, in the hopes that we can collectively move towards a brighter, healthier future. In terms of the local ‘maker’ community — the journey has been an exciting one. There are so many like-minded, talented folks within our local communities, that we’ve met some amazing people along the way. Many business relationships have turned into friendships, and we think that’s pretty sweet!

WHAT STORIES DO YOU HAVE OR STRUGGLES HAVE YOU OVERCOME THAT WILL ENCOURAGE THE DEVELOPMENT + STRENGTHEN THE IDENTITY OF THE CANADIAN-CRAFTED INDUSTRY?

No need to sugarcoat it, business is tough. Not everyone is going to like what you're doing, and that's okay. As long as you stay true to yourself and take care of your target market, you're certainly on the right track.

In terms of strengthening our identity within the Canadian-crafted industry, we're just getting out there. In business, you can't expect success to come to you, you have to go out and get it — which is exactly what we're doing. We're hustling, and it's paying off.

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BACK TO BUSINESS

5 TIPS TO GET YOUR BUSINESS BACK-TO-SCHOOL READY

The back-to-school season rivals only the big holidays in terms of selling potential. With hoardes of parents, students and teachers hitting the shops, now is the time to shine. Here are five tips for getting your back-to-school business game on point!

 

1. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

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Who are you targeting when it comes to back-to-class? Parents? Kids? College students? Teachers? Decide who your audience is and tailor your offerings to what they’re looking for. When is your target market shopping? Where (online, in person)? Different demographics shop at various places and points throughout the back-to-school season. Knowing when to target your shopper and where they’re looking is invaluable in directing your efforts.

 

2. BACK TO CLASS ESSENTIALS

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Obvious? Perhaps. But when you’re deciding on your September product line, remember what students, educators and parents are looking for. Stumped? Check out the latest trends online, or contact a local school and find out what’s on their list this year. Many schools have specifications regarding supplies, uniforms and other student products. Find out what they want and need for success!

 

3. SCHOLARLY INCENTIVES

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Reward good shopping behavior! Encourage savvy back-to-school shoppers with loyalty perks and rewards, discounts on back-to-school essentials, special offers, promotions focussed on students, teachers and parents (ex before and after school discounts), even give-backs for spending a certain amount! Make it easy for them to stock up for success.

 

4. MARKETING 101

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Marketing 101: make yourself known to your customer. If they don’t know what you’re offering, it doesn’t matter how great it is. Today, many shoppers are buying online. Even those who prefer to shop in person often check hours, deals and offerings online before they ever step into a store. Get online and get social! Focus on your online presence and social media channels, making them as engaging and customer friendly as possible! Offer discounts for following, tagging you in pictures of purchases, showing a certain post or code, or reposting. Make it worthwhile for them to engage with your accounts and stay in touch for the long term!

 

5. TEAM WORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK

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Join forces with neighbourhood schools, organizations and businesses to co-promote and lift one another up and create new opportunities. Team up for promotions, discounts, package deals, fundraising opportunities, and even back-to-school events! Together you’ll engage new customers, create opportunities that are twice as awesome and engage with your community network, building some #locallove.

UNPLUG TO RECHARGE

HOW TAKING A BREAK...

CAN HELP YOU GET YOUR HUSTLE BACK

 

It’s easy to forget, you are human. 

 

Even with all of the responsibilities, the deadlines, the making and posting and emailing to be done-- you have limits. While there’s definitely those who advocate the “coffee, hustle, repeat” model of entrepreneurship, it seems that more and more evidence supports a more balanced approach.

 

Would you put your goals and dreams on autopilot? That’s exactly what happens when you push through without awareness of your limits, bypassing your body’s many cries for respite. While pounding a coffee and carrying on with a 20 hour workday might seem like a strategy for success, science is proving otherwise. Pushing harder can make you forgetful, foggy, more likely to make mistakes and less efficient, while dedicated downtime can make you happier, more focused and even increase productivity

 

Evidence increasingly supports the idea that much of your most important, inspired work is done during downtime, when your brain is at rest. Not composing your next communication, not checking social media-- unplugged and relaxed. When you give yourself a brain break, you’re actually recharging your mind, giving it the time it needs to recoup processes, make connections, draw on inspiration, clarify, retain and sort information, etc.  In other words, letting your mind wander can lead to your next epiphany!

 

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As Elizabeth Gilbert said, “A life has been entrusted to you. That life is your own. Please treat it with tenderness.” In the busy bustle of everyday, it’s easy to forget that you are a living being in need of care and consideration. Your precious life is whatever you make of it, so make it a priority to practice self-care. It’s important to take time for what you value, be it family, friends, travel, adventure, relaxation… but most vitally, to create space to realign and remember who you are. 

 

So plan your next getaway, take an impromptu day off, or just give yourself permission to be with yourself in nature. You’ll thank yourself for it!

COLOURING PERCEPTIONS

HOW COLOURS INFLUENCE YOUR CUSTOMERS!

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When deciding on colours for your small business, colour may be more important than you think. Different colours elicit different psychological responses in people, making colour a potent tool for influencing perceptions and even driving sales.

RED

Red is a power colour. It creates a sense of urgency, evokes feelings of desire, passion, and excitement, and is associated with the root chakra. It stimulates the body, sparking appetite, heightening blood pressure and heart rate. Red is the most popular colour in marketing. Look at any shelf in a grocery store, and the predominant colour will most likely be red. Use this colour for sale items, impulse buys, and anytime you want to get people excited about what you’re offering.

ORANGE

Orange is all about energy! Associated with the sacral chakra, this colour connects with that “fire in the belly” and “gut feeling”-- attention, impulse, risk, innovation. As such this colour can denote warmth and optimism, but also caution and anxiety. Used correctly, it’s a great colour to drive excitement about a new product or sale, create urgency, and show that your company is on the cutting edge.

YELLOW

Yellow is a classic, generally cheerful colour associated with playfulness, attention, confidence and optimism but also danger and anxiety. It’s connected to the solar plexus chakra, which is all about the dualities of fire and sunshine. Use yellow to draw customers in with a sense of curiosity and urgency.

GREEN

Green is connected with nature and the earth, health, wealth, warmth, goodwill, groundedness, the heart chakra, and harmony. It has a relaxing quality, stimulating harmony in the brain and encouraging decisiveness. It is often used in marketing to promote relaxation and environmental values. Use this colour for “eco” and health-related products, charity ventures and spa environments.

BLUE

Blue is a calming colour, connected with water, peace, security, ease, communication, the throat chakra, and trustworthiness. Often preferred by men, it reduces appetite and stimulates productivity. This colour is favoured by conservative brands and businesses looking to build trust, such as insurance companies.

PURPLE

Purple is connected with the crown chakra, stimulating problem solving and creativity.  It is the colour of royalty and wealth, often connected with wisdom, respect, class, beauty and creativity. Purple denotes quality, elegance and luxury. Use this colour in health and beauty products, high end offerings and endeavours involving art, creativity and academics.


Colour is a subconscious language that is universal, and a valuable tool for small business. What do your colours say about your business?

N2N MAKER TUTORIALS

HELLO KITTY CHARM TUTORIAL

with Tiara Chutkhan of Crafty Crab Creations

Create adorable little Hello Kitty charms out of polymer clay with this DIY tutorial! Learn how with Nook 2 Nook feature artist Tiara of Crafty Crab Creations.

#makeit:

STEP 1: For this tutorial you will need Premo polymer clay in the colour Frost White Glitter. Roll two medium size balls of the glitter clay. Mix one with a colour of your choice. Here I’m using pink to create a glittery pink colour. 

STEP 2: Roll your white glitter ball into an oval and the coloured ball into a cone shape. These will make up the head and body. 

STEP 3: Attach the two pieces to create the base of your Hello Kitty. 

STEP 4: Taking a small piece of white glitter clay, roll it into a cylinder shape and cut in half. 

STEP 5: Pinch the tips a little to create Hello Kitty’s ears and place them on the head. Use a needle tool to blend the ears on. 

STEP 6: Taking a small ball of your coloured glitter clay, split it into two pieces and roll each into a teardrop or cone shape. Add them to the sides of the body to make the sleeves of Hello Kitty’s outfit. 

STEP 7: Roll four tiny balls of white glitter clay. Use two for her hands and two for her feet. When attaching them to the body, press them on so they flatten. 

STEP 8: Using a needle tool, make two indents on the face where the eyes will go. Roll two tiny balls of black clay into oval shapes and place them in the indents. 

STEP 9: Use a tiny ball of yellow clay for the nose. Roll into an oval and place onto the face. 

STEP 10: For the bow, I made my coloured glitter clay a little darker than the body. Using a small piece, roll it into a ball and then split it into two equal halves. Press them down into two flat circles. 

STEP 11: Take a third smaller piece of the clay and place it in the middle of the two. Use a dotting tool to indent both the sides of your bow. 

STEP 12: Place the bow securely on the head. Roll two small balls of white glitter clay, one for the tail and one for the neck. 

STEP 13: Place one ball on the back of your Hello Kitty and flatten it. That will be the tail. 

STEP 14: Take the other ball and flatten it into an oval shape. Use a blade to cut it in half and place the piece just below the head. 

STEP 15: If your clay is a little dirty, take a Q-tip and some nail polish to clean off any dust. 

STEP 16: Add an eyepin and bake according to your packages instructions. Finish with some glaze, and you’ve got your very own Hello Kitty glitter charm! 

Share and Enjoy!

This DIY Tutorial brought to you by Nook 2 Nook Canada and Crafty Crab Creations

Check out Crafty Crab Creations on Etsy!

BRANDING SMALL BIZ

Small businesses often think of branding as being strictly for big business, or as something that a company grows into. However, as a small business, understanding branding and establishing a strong, distinct brand is an important step.

WHAT IS BRANDING?

Branding is the process of defining and differentiating your company’s image, reputation and purpose. Your brand is comprised of visual and message consistency (ex. logo, consistent design and language across all platforms and medias), but more importantly it is your business’s overall personality. Your brand is how your customer experiences and interacts with the company you’ve created, so it should be reflective of what you want to tell them and project a persona which evokes a particular emotional and intellectual response from your target audience.

YOUR BRAND

Your brand should connect to the goals and purpose of your company. Think about any major company or franchise. What does their name conjure up? What do you know about them right away? A strong brand creates a clear picture of what a company is all about. When a customer sees your card, visits your website, interacts with your social media, talks to you or an employee—what do you want them to understand and experience, to know and believe about your business? This is what your branding should project across the board, from your logo and text through digital mediums, print, products and services, pricing, quality, customer interactions with staff, choice of partnerships and business alliances, and anything else your target audience will associate with you.

Your brand tells the world everything they need to know, feel and believe about your company. Consistent, effective branding can help you build your reputation, attract and retain devoted customers, gain referrals, frame your future business goals and plans, and so much more. Branding is a powerful tool, and one every small business should harness. Are you ready to #buildyourbrand?

Need help with branding? The Nooks provides affordable branding, media and design services to small businesses at the Nooks. We can help with small things like business card design and logo help to full execution of your social media and website.

20 QUOTES EVERY SMALL BIZ OWNER CAN RELATE TO

2. “When you find an idea that you just can’t stop thinking about, that’s probably a good one to pursue.” Josh James

3“Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” Henry Van Dyke

4. “Small business isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s for the brave, the patient and the persistent. It’s for the overcomer.” Unknown

5. “To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart.” Thomas Watson, Sr.

6. “If your dreams don't scare you, they aren’t big enough.” Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

7. “Don’t downgrade your dream just to fit your reality. Upgrade your conviction to match your destiny.” Stuart Scott

8. “I make a conscious effort to keep things in perspective when I get burned out. It is easy to get stuck in the daily grind, but if you think about all the distance you have covered, and what lies ahead, it is much easier to feel motivated and optimistic.” Alex Litoff

9. “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” Robert Collier

10. “Timing, perseverance, and 10 years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” Biz Stone

11. “I’m tough, ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.” Madonna

12. “Don’t be afraid to assert yourself, have confidence in your abilities and don’t let the bastards get you down.” Michael Bloomberg

14“If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.” Dhirubhai Ambani

15. “Why help make big companies bigger when you can get the same thing from the little guy and actually help someone accomplish their dream?” Trevor D. Richardson

16“Dream big while you sleep, and even bigger when you’re awake.” Jared Leto

17. “The road to success is always under construction.” Lily Tomlin

18. “Start each day knowing you are amazing and with a heart full of gratitude.” Samantha Ormiston

19. “Negativity is the enemy of creativity.” David Lynch

20. “Empower yourself and realize the importance of contributing to the world by living your talent. Work on what you love. You are responsible for the talent that has been entrusted to you.” Catharina Bruns

MAKER STORIES: SUDSY SUCCESS!

HOW I CREATED A SUCCESSFUL SIDE-BUSINESS TEACHING AT THE NOOKS

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Hello! My name is Margo Stinson, Chief Soap Maker and owner of Carberry Soap.

I have managed to create another business teaching soap making classes at the Nooks.  The revenue earned from these workshops has been equal and in some months better than my main business, which is making and selling soaps. Every Sunday I teach an average of 35 students who pay $25.00 each, which earns me $875 for a 2 hour class. I do have an assistant I need to pay, but I have managed to keep my cost down to $5.00 per student, supplies included.

Teaching classes is a great way to earn additional income alongside your business. And the best part?  You get to choose your hours, decide how much to charge and how many classes to teach. Starting an education side-business can be as flexible as you like. You can start small (maybe one class a month) and grow as you feel comfortable. The supportive team at the Nooks have been instrumental in helping me make my secondary business a success.

If your small business isn't pulling in the income you desire, why not teach some classes to create some extra revenue? Sharing your knowledge is such a fun, rewarding experience.

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