Fabulous Feedback!

I wanted to do a quick post this morning, containing some of the fabulous feedback we’ve received since The Smile Parcel launched.

Receiving and hearing your feedback may seem like a small thing, but it really does make a huge difference to our business, and even more, it means so much to us.

To hear how our parcels make you feel, and how they can brighten your day, is so lovely, and when we’re having a tough day (as all small businesses sometimes do!), we re-read them, and it gives us the little boost we need, to keep going, packing those parcels!

A big thank you to all of you who have given us feedback or left a review, we really do appreciate it.

If you have purchased from us at any point over the last 2 years, we’d love to hear your feedback, or read your review if you’d prefer to leave it on our Facebook page, or over on our Google profile.

“Just wanted to say thanks for the parcel which I ordered to be delivered to my daughter. I’m away on holiday and I ordered it last minute, so had no idea of contents etc – well she received the parcel this morning, and loved it, thank you. She’s suffering from postnatal depression, and the parcel told her to keep going, and gave her something to focus on for the next few days.

Thank you again x x x”

Sarah McGaw, Milton Keynes

“I ordered one of the new Select range parcels. I wanted to be a bit awkward and had a few questions and items to add. Karen was nothing but helpful and friendly, providing me with the perfect parcel. It is exactly what I wanted and all presented in a nice way. I’m very happy with the brilliant service and lovely products, thank you”.

Helen O’Dell-Fitchew, Norfolk

“My friend loves her Smile Parcel! I’ve seen it too and it’s great! It arrived today, it’s her birthday today too, so great timing!!”

Glenda Creasey, Leicestershire

“I cannot tell you how much I love this month’s parcel, it’s almost as if my best friend has chosen the items! It’s just the most beautiful and thoughtful gift, the personalised bracelet brought a tear to my eye!! The bedside book as well was a lovely touch, it’s like you know me! It really touched me and totally lifted my mood xx”

Claire Farrelly, Cambridgeshire

Karen x

Autumnal Thank You…

Good Morning!

It’s about time I gave a big shout out to another two lovely crafters who have contributed to our parcels – we are so grateful and lucky to work with the best handmade businesses!

In this post, I’m going to showcase ‘JaJo Gifts’ and ‘Sarah’s Crafty House’.

We asked the business owners to write a short description and tell us a little about why they started and what their small business means to them.

Amanda Gilchrist from ‘JaJo Gifts’ –

‘JaJo Gifts started in 2013 while I was on maternity leave with my second child. I’ve always enjoyed making things and needed a hobby while away from the 9-5.  I started making a few items and people asked me to make them for them too, so my little business was born.

It is named after my children Jasmine and Joseph, and the products on offer have changed over the years, but have always had a handmade, self-designed element at their heart.

Starting at my dining table while working another job, things have moved on, I have a designated work area and we are currently a team of 4, and it is what I now do full time.

It gives me time with my family and the flexibility to work around them, and it brings me great joy doing something I love’.

You can find Amanda’s products here: http://www.jajogifts.com

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Sarah Williams from ‘Sarah’s Crafty House’ –

‘Sarah’s Crafty House started 3 years ago now, I’ve always been quite crafty and creative, making gifts for family and friends, so picking a name was easy, as that’s how my house is!

While in my previous job, we’d always have a giggle making light of things not going to plan, or at colleagues and their funny ways, and most days ‘that should be on a plaque’ would get said, so I did put them on a plaque as gifts, and everyone loved them. After about a year of doing stalls and orders for friends, I decided to do it full time, so now I get to do what I love, and get to spend more time with my kids.

Plaques are my best sellers by far, but I also make jewellery, some pyrography, printed bags, candles, the list goes on, I’m basically a craft addict!

I’ve been delighted to have my plaques included in the brilliant Smile Parcel, and hope they added an extra touch to everyone’s Halloween décor’.

You can find Sarah’s products here: https://www.facebook.com/sarahscraftyhouse

Karen x

Quarterly Update!

Good Morning! Well, Autumn has finally arrived, although, as I look out of the window writing this, it definitely looks very ‘spring-like’ outside, apparently, it’s 24 degrees – but with orange leaves on the ground!

I mentioned earlier in the year, that I wanted to do quarterly update blog posts, just to let you know what has been going on at The Smile Parcel over the previous 3 months, so as we are now three-quarter way through the year, that’s what I’m going to do today!

But first, tomorrow (10th October) is World Mental Health Day – mental health issues can affect anyone, at anytime, but tomorrow is a day to show support for better mental health, and start taking care of our own well-being.
If you, or someone you know is struggling, we have a ‘Get Help’ page on our website, where you can find useful contact details for organisations who can offer support and information.
This year, the focus for World Mental Health Day is mental health in the workplace, and how to look after ourselves, and each other, when in the work environment – there’s lots of information on the Mind website regarding boosting staff well-being, and how to mark the day in your workplace, if you want to find out a little more.

When we launched The Smile Parcel just over 18 months ago, it was our intention to eventually create an individual parcel to enable us to donate a percentage from each and every parcel to support a mental health related charity.
This has now become a reality, as at the end of June, we were accepted to list on the new uOpen platform.
These parcels are ‘The Smile Parcel Plus’ and they are a ‘Plus’ in 2 ways, they still contain all the lovely monthly goodies you are used to, but also include a beautiful handmade soy candle, with a different scent each month, made by Charlotte over at ‘Crafts Uniquey’, along with a 10% donation to the UK’s first, free messaging service, which officially launches next year, and aims to give help and support to anyone in crisis, at any time.

These are available to order now as a recurring monthly subscription, and you can find them over on this link: https://www.uopen.com/subscription-box/the-smile-parcel-plus

Charlotte has a lovely shop on Etsy, and you can find her here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/CraftsUniquey

We also started taking pre-orders for our Christmas gift parcels a few weeks ago, and will officially open the website for these on 1st November. If you’d like to know more about these, and how to order, I published a separate blog post on 19th September with all the details here: https://www.thesmileparcel.co.uk/pre-order-christmas-parcels-open/

In September, the website had an update, and also had a security boost, to ensure all pages are fully padlocked!

As you know, all payments are (and have always been) taken securely through PayPal, and this hasn’t changed, but we do understand that for your peace of mind, customers like to see the little padlock visible at the top of the screen.

We have added some information to the website regarding the option to pay for subscriptions as a lump-sum payment, rather than as monthly instalments. I know some of you prefer to pay this way, and it’s especially useful when purchasing subscriptions as gifts, so you know they are all paid for, in full, and you don’t have to think about them every month.

And finally, we moved into our brand-new office HQ! We now have a purpose-built office, and therefore somewhere that’s shiny, bright and new, to cover in cardboard boxes, bubble wrap and sticky tape!! 😉

Karen x

Pre-Order Christmas Parcels – Open!

It’s that time of the year again…we need to talk Christmas!

Last year, we completely sold out of Christmas parcels and closed early, and unfortunately some of our lovely customers missed out, so this time, we’re doing it a little bit different!

As you know, we usually take orders for the following month, so we will officially open on 1st November for the December Christmas parcels on the website, but, this year we are also taking pre-orders, from now – this way, those of you who are super organised, can get your orders placed now, and your parcels will be reserved.

Our Christmas parcels will be super festive, but will still contain our usual inspirational gifts, decorations, handmade items, and maybe, treats to eat!

We can post parcels, for free, to any address within the UK, and as we know lots of these will be given as gifts, we won’t spoil the surprise and won’t show off the contents until after Christmas.

As with all our parcels, we can also add a personal note inside from you too, if you wish.

The website will be taking orders for October and November parcels first, so to reserve your Christmas parcels, pop us an email, or contact us using one of the options listed on our ‘Contact Us’ page, and we will send you a PayPal invoice.

Three- & six-month subscriptions were popular as gifts last year, so you can pay for these as a one-off lump-sum payment if you wish, so they are paid for, in full, rather than via monthly instalments.

All Christmas parcels, as always, will be posted during the first week of December.

There’s no limit to how many one-off parcels you can order.

If you have any questions or queries, feel free to pop us an email, we’d love to hear from you x

Calendars & Bunny Prints!

At the beginning of the year, I mentioned wanting to include some details from our lovely contributors in this blog. We have had the pleasure of working with some amazingly talented crafters and creators, and in this post, I’m going to showcase two of them – ‘Katie’s Cabin’ and ‘The Leaf Press’.

We asked the business owners to write a short description and tell us a little about why they started and what their small business means to them.

Katie Houghton from ‘Katie’s Cabin’ …

‘I have always loved to create and spent most of my childhood drawing, writing and making, so I’ve always had it in me naturally to be creative.

Katie’s Cabin started as, although I had always done various craft projects, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and suffered from other health conditions, meaning I couldn’t work the regular 9-5 and so, I decided to use my creativity to make some extra money, and from there I have built my products and my etsy shop, and continue to build on this daily.

Creativity is part of who I am and I wouldn’t be me without it, so it makes me happy doing something I love, and I always get a buzz coming up with new ideas. It’s my anxiety buster and gives me a focus that I need in my life, and it’s a bonus when people seem to love my items as much as I love to make them’.

You can find Katie’s products here: Www.etsy.com/shop/katiescabinhandmade

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Suzy Dobson from ‘The Leaf Press’ …

‘The Leaf Press was thrilled to contribute a Quotes calendar to the January 2018 edition of the brilliant Smile Parcel.  It was my best-selling calendar for 2018 and I hope everyone who received it in their Smile Parcel liked it too!

The Leaf Press is run by myself – Suzy – from a garden studio in Suffolk, UK.  I’ve been creating both wedding stationery and gifts since 2010.  In the gifts range, as well as calendars there are personalised notebooks (for all sorts of occasions and hobbies), hand-bound journals, bespoke prints and quirky note cards.

Each gift and piece of wedding stationery is designed by me.  The majority – like the Quotes calendar – are printed and hand finished in-house.  I love having control of the whole process and chatting with customers along the way!

Designing makes me happy, and I like to think that my designs are fun and bring people joy – as well as having a functional purpose.  I hope the Quotes calendar made those who received it smile and I look forward to working with the Smile Parcel again soon!’

You can find Suzy’s products here: www.theleafpress.co.uk

Karen x

When Can I Order From The Smile Parcel?

We’ve had this question a few times this week, so I thought it would be a good starting topic for a post.

You can place an order from The Smile Parcel anytime during the month, to receive a parcel next month, i.e. orders placed anytime between 1st April and 30th April 2017, will receive their first parcel (or one-off parcel), in May 2017.

All parcels are posted during the first week of each month, and they usually take 3-5 working days to be delivered, so should arrive with you during the second week of the month.
Each month, the parcels have a different theme, and the contents are kept secret until they are received – love that bit!

We also love being able to buy from fellow small businesses and hard working crafters, to support cottage industries and families, where we can too.

We try to connect the parcel theme to the month, our March parcel was ‘Dreams & Goals’ – to help refresh our goals we set at the beginning of the year, or maybe, start all over and think about what we’d like to achieve.

The theme for April was ‘Growing’, as it was all about yellow packaging and the beginning of springtime. It also contained sunflower seeds, along with a plant pot and compost, so everyone had everything they needed to plant and watch them grow.

Our May parcel, will be all about tea, and the theme will be ‘Make Time For Tea’ – which is very important! Along with drinking tea, it’s a great excuse to get with friends and family, or even someone you don’t know well, and have a natter and a cuppa – good things happen when there’s tea involved …and we drink lots of it at The Smile Parcel HQ!

Karen x

So, Why The Smile Parcel?

This is where the personal story comes in, briefly mentioned in my previous blog post.

I was diagnosed with anxiety in 2013, and sadly, had to leave my office admin job, the same place where I’d worked since I was 18 years old (I’m now 36!).

It was a huge change for me, I’d been leaving the house, successfully, everyday and going to work, since I was 17, and suddenly, leaving the house, to go anywhere, became the most difficult thing I could imagine doing.

Of course, it wasn’t sudden, not really, I’d been struggling to get outside my own front door for years (yes, years!), a feeling of panic, nausea, and like I was going to pass out, everyday, but then once I was at work, after 20 minutes or so, I was fine.

Until, June 2013, when the panic didn’t stop when I arrived, and I struggled to get to the top of the office stairs, to even get to my desk. My line manager sent me home, and of course, I felt better when I was back home, back in my safe place, so I felt silly, as I was Ok!

I wasn’t really Ok, after being signed off work for months by my doctor, I decided the best thing for me, would be to leave, and start something new.

I started an online business, Paw Prints in the Sand, in 2014, selling home accessories and gifts, which I loved, but then last year, I made the decision to close that business, to do something where I could turn my mental health experience into a positive.

The idea that customers could order parcels full of lovely products, surprise contents, to have something to expect each month, which spreads a little positivity, and that would make them smile. Something they could order for themselves or for a friend or relative, to make their day a little brighter.

Anxiety affects my life every day, it’s always with me, and I know it’s likely that it always will be. I’ve learned techniques after visiting several therapists, which helps me to manage my anxiety – but not always, I’ll share some of these soon, on this blog.

I hate that there is still a taboo around talking about mental health. I believe the only way we can completely battle the taboo, is to talk about it as much as possible. When I started discussing my anxiety with other people I know, I found out lots of them had experienced similar issues, and
didn’t discuss it.

1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health issue at some point in our lives, so it’s likely we all know someone who has, we just need to talk more openly about it, and so we become more comfortable around it.

Karen x