Let’s Do This!

Well, we’ve made it through the first quarter of 2019, and what a super productive one we have had!

As you know, I like to do little updates throughout the year, just to let you know what has been happening behind the scenes at The Smile Parcel, and what’s new.

We started off the new year, by making lots of changes to the website in January. We wanted to make it a little more user-friendly, easier to navigate, and generally make it look tidier and more organised!

Also, in January, we introduced our first “The Smile Parcel Select” range parcels. These are one-off purchase parcels, with set contents and themes, so there’s no surprises with the “Select” range. Customers have been asking for one-off gift parcels since we launched back in 2017, so we have been putting them together, as and when they have been asked for, so it seemed to make sense to include a range that are already, ready-to-go.

We currently have around 15 parcels available, all with inspirational themes including: “Keep Going”, “Stepping Outside”, “Take A Break”, “Time To Relax” and “You Got This!”.

With the introduction of the “Select” range, we opened a Facebook Shop, which we’ve been told by customers, makes ordering very easy! Simply click on the blue button on the parcel listing you’d like, which takes you straight through to our Facebook Messenger, where we’ll send you our new direct PayPal link, for one-click payment, so not even an invoice is required.

We opened an Etsy Shop for this range too. We are very new to Etsy, so we are still learning our way around, and how to make the most out of it.

We decided at the beginning of the year, that 2019 needs to be all about marketing for us, and trying different ways to get our brand known and reach new audiences. The world of marketing and advertising for small businesses seems to change at  a very quick pace, and if you’re not a marketing whiz (like me!), it can take time to understand new ways, and learn what works for a particular business, what doesn’t work, and what to try next – it’s definitely a bit of a mind field, and something we are always looking to improve and learn about – but I admit, we do find it to be a mission full of trial and error!

As part of the above, I revamped the Instagram account for The Smile Parcel, as I’m hoping to get to grips with using this more as a platform, and I’m also trying harder with Pinterest – which isn’t really a social media platform, but more of a search engine, and (like a lot of people!) I naturally gravitate towards Pinterest when I’m looking for personal ideas, so why not get more involved as a business tool too?!

I’ve been fortunate to work with, or be introduced to several very motivational business peeps so far this year, all female entrepreneurs, who are incredibly clued up on running successful small businesses, and they love to support others to do the same.

I think it’s so important to have role models, in whatever profession you are in, and running a small business, especially from home, can sometimes be a lonely place, after all, you need to be a Jack-of-all-trades (and I’m definitely a master of none!). I’m hoping to work more with these talented women during this year, and hopefully gain just a fraction of their knowledge and skills, and put them into practice!

On a personal note, I have now been volunteering as a Crisis Counsellor for almost 4 months – it’s gone so quick! I initially spoke about this back in December, when I was doing my training.

I wanted to talk about it for 2 reasons, firstly, I wanted to encourage others to become volunteers. The charity I work for (details below), are always looking for more Crisis Counsellors, so if you might be interested, do take a look at their website for more information.

I can honestly say it has been one of the toughest, but best things, I have ever done.

The second reason is because I believe whenever we get the opportunity to talk openly about mental health, we should, and in turn, this helps to normalise talking to someone about how we’re feeling, including seeking therapy and having counselling, which is so important. It’s never a weakness to ask for help or talk about mental health, in fact, it’s the opposite, it takes strength and courage to talk about your story.

I posted a blog post on 7th December 2018, which gives you more details regarding the training needed and what is involved, but you can also find their website here: https://giveusashout.org/

Overall, the first quarter of this year, has been inspiring, motivating and educational – let’s see what the second quarter has to offer…

Karen x

Volunteer As A Crisis Counsellor

It’s time for another blog post, and this time I’m going to talk a little about a fabulous charity that I’m currently training with.

Shout Crisis Text Line UK is a charity which officially launches next year, but is currently training volunteers to become Crisis Counsellors (me included!).

‘Shout’ is a free 24/7 direct messaging service for anyone in crisis, at anytime. This service already exists in the USA as ‘Crisis Text Line’, but this is the first time this tried and tested technology has come to the UK.

‘Shout’ is powered by a team of volunteers who are at the heart of the service. They take people from crisis to calm every day of the week. There aren’t many places you can go if you’re struggling, day or night, and you need someone to help you in that moment.

Some people don’t feel comfortable talking in person, or find it difficult to speak on the phone, which can particularly be the case when they are going through a time of crisis, so having a text service aims to offer another option.

There are already some volunteers who have completed their training, and are now piloting the service via charity partners.

Training is a big commitment, and involves completing 34 hours of online training over 6 weeks, but once trained, volunteering consists of giving 2-4 hours a week, at a time to suit you, day or night.

The charity is always looking for volunteers to train as Crisis Counsellors. The training does involve topics such as suicide and self-harm, so it isn’t for everyone, but I’m now half way through my training, and I can tell you that it is incredibly rewarding, and I’m learning so much already.

If you’d like more information, or would like to apply to become a volunteer, take a look at their website here: https://giveusashout.org/

Karen x

 

Say Thank You…

Good Morning lovelies!

It’s Thursday, and it’s pouring down with rain outside my window, so it seems to be a perfect time for another positive mental health tip, and this time, it is to say, thank you.

It may be something we don’t do enough, but it can make a huge difference to the way we feel, and of course, to the person we are saying it to.

When we show our gratitude, it makes us feel fulfilled that we have made someone smile and shown them we appreciate them being there. It also shows we are respectful of them and can help build trust, which means we are more likely to help each other again in the future.

Handwritten thank you notes add a personal touch and show we have taken time to find a pen, and put our thoughts down on paper, as well as being a lovely memo for the recipient to keep.

One of the best things about saying thank you, is that it is free to do. It doesn’t cost anything to show someone we recognise what they’ve done, and this can help build loyal relationships too, whether personally or in business.

My thank you today goes to all of you reading this, as you have found time to visit our website, and keep in touch with us, which means a lot, as we wouldn’t be here at all, putting together happy parcels, if it wasn’t for you!

So, have a think, who would you like to say thank you to?…

Karen x

Last Blog Post Of 2017!

Okay, I have an apology… shockingly my last blog post was on 16th November! I’m not sure how that happened, other than, like everyone else, the lead up to Christmas and getting everything done in time has taken over, and so the blog has taken the hit!

I want to say a huge thank you to every single one of you who has supported us this year, and purchased our parcels. The Smile Parcel began, as a bit of a day dream, less than a year ago, and the response from you has been amazing, so we’re hoping to grow & grow next year, and send out many more Smile Parcels to anyone who could do with receiving a ‘pick-me-up’ and a smile, in the post.

I’m looking forward to gathering further ideas for posts to add on here to, that may help you through tough times, even if just a little, with tips, mindfulness exercises, and techniques that help me through too.

I haven’t decided yet whether to update the blog monthly or fortnightly next year, so I’ll wait and see how it goes. If you have any ideas that you’d like discussed than please do let me know.

Finally, I wish you a very merry and happy Christmas, and if it is a difficult time of year for you, remember it is just a day-and a bit, and 2018 will be a brand-new beginning, a new start, with everything else left behind – if 2017 hasn’t worked out to be the best for you, it’s time to turn the page, and start writing from a fresh.

Karen x