Friday, September 23, 2016

The Glamorous Life of a Small Business Owner

Ha ha, glamorous, now that is funny! The most glamorous thing about running my business is wearing a necklace while I unpack tissue paper.

Friday I generally schedule in 'clean and tidy' in amongst 'dirtying and messying'. I do try and keep relatively tidy during the week and put things back in their place but things still get a tad untidy come the end of the week. I also work from home so it's basically just my weekly housey clean with the work room and office area included.

Today I've started with vacuuming as it is my most detested job of all. Hate vacuuming with a passion only surpassed by my hate of ummm nope nothing comes close to vacuuming hatred :-)

Next up is desk tidying, although I have to say I am pretty good at keeping my desk clean. I just stuff everything in a drawer or two ;-)

Final clean is the workroom. Time to track down all those rogue lollies that flung themselves off the bench and rolled away like a ninja turtle.

It's a good little workout (not sure if good is quite the right word) but a workout none the less. I do a full on 'spring' clean once every 6 weeks or so and by that I mean I move my furniture! The work room is the only one I do this a lot more regularly - gotta keep that place spick and span. It isn't quite so bad or important currently as I am not actually packing the lollies in there but I may again in the future so want to ensure its clean and tidy when I start back again.

My place is pretty small so it doesn't really take me long at all to get it clean, thank goodness, and I don't have any stairs. These are a nightmare to vacuum (hey dad!).

After everything is all shiny and new again I'll plonk myself down in front of my laptop with a cuppa and a choccie bikkie or some M&M's and blog about it ;-)

Glamorous life indeed!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Inspirational Paralympics

Who watched the Paralympics? I had the TV on most mornings. LOVED IT. They are amazing and certainly kept me in check the last few weeks. It made me DO things I would make excuses as to why I can't do them. I saw swimmers with no arms, a table tennis player with no arms and they were DOING IT. There were blind runners and bike riders. The word got used a lot during the paralympics but they are INSPIRING.

I hope I can keep this feeling of 'I CAN' long after the games have ended. It was nice having them on in the background. I used them as my own little cheer squad. I think I cried every day I watched them. They were all just so honest and had so much self belief, I wished I could absorb some of it!

Our paralympians did Australia and themselves PROUD. I only hope I can be half as strong and humble and caring and amazing as they are.

I'm glad that it was shown on television in a much larger way than it even has been. Ch7, Jo Griggs and the whole team did an outstanding job. They are the sort of people you dream about working with. Hard working, caring with a sense of being lucky and priviledged to be able to work on the Paralympics. 

Coooweeeeee to you all. I'm going to miss watching you and cannot wait until Tokyo! 

I've been having a horrible time with my business and have been really struggling with making it work. It's really getting close to not being a business any more and I worry constantly how I am going to pay my bills BUT after watching the Paralympics I know there IS a way. I just need to find it and believe in myself that I can do it. It's going to be hard, very hard and to be honest I am not sure if I am strong enough but I will keep reminding  myself of the athletes I watched and dig deep like they all did. They didn't give up, they pushed themselves and their bodies to do things most people would say, 'you can't do that'. I know everyone is different and not everyone could cope when faced with such loss and hard work and change BUT a lot of people can! 

Onwards and upwards, stronger, better, happier.

Friday, September 16, 2016

One Step Forward Two Steps Back

It's been one of those weeks, again. Every morning I get up and make myself think of good, happy cheery things. Think of what needs to be done and what things I should be focusing on to get Rainbow Designs making money again.

It starts well, with a coffee while my computer fires up and writing down any ideas I had overnight but then...............blah. The emails come in and in the 'orders' folder there's zero or one and in the 'customer enquiry' there's one. What will that 'one' be? Maybe them thanking me, for once, or maybe it's another one chasing up their parcel.

Why is it that couriers find it so hard to do their job properly?? Why why why?? To be honest, over the last few weeks I have had very few orders but I have had to still chase up parcels. It is so frustrating and disheartening. It makes me and my business look bad when I have done everything I can do. Process and send the order as soon as humanly possibly and then I get let down, again and again, by the couriers. My customer doesn't care who is to blame as they order with me, with Rainbow Designs. So in their mind 'we' have let them down and it's true, we have.

Couriers take no responsibility with late deliveries, with damaged deliveries, with no deliveries, with incorrect deliveries. It is an absolute nightmare chasing things up with them and even if they do finally get back to you it's almost always too late and not good enough. No refund is ever offered. I think maybe once or possibly twice I have received an refund, well partial refund, over the last 12 years and I can tell you I have unfortunately had far more then two wrong deliveries made!

Delivery prices have gone up A LOT over the last few years and I have always absorbed these cost, now to the near detriment of my business. I honestly believe if I have any more orders that get stuffed up by courier companies and my customer requests a refund I will be out of business.

So pull your fingers out Fastway Couriers and Australia Post and do your friggen job. I am tired of having to deal with problems caused by you. I am tired of dealing with your so called customer service staff and their indifference. I am tired of having to wait WEEKS for anyway to even bother to look into an incorrect delivery! Do you think MY customer is happy waiting this long?? NO THEY ARE NOT. My deliveries are GIFTS which generally mean they are time sensitive so LATE or WRONG deliveries mean that the gift is no longer needed or wanted.

I am currently trying, unsuccessfully so far, to chase up an express parcel that was scanned by Australia Post as delivered but was never received. Why is this such a hard thing to do. It's not like they are new to the business of delivering parcels - surely they should have a better system in place for chasing up parcels. What's the point in tracking? What's the point in paying extra for express if it never gets there anyway?

So I am ending this week with a big fat loss, thank you Australia Post and thank you Fastways. Not only am I losing money I am most definitely losing customers. You don't think that my customers will ever order with me again when they have had so much trouble with their last order? It doesn't matter now what I do, they're not coming back and more than likely they'll tell many people, possibly even online, not to use Rainbow Designs.

Jacqui ~ disheartened Rainbow Designs owner

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Chocolate a Day

I started Rainbow Designs way back in 2004 with an idea of filling noodle boxes with lollies and/or chocolates and maybe eating some myself. Things have changed over the last 12 years but lollies and chocolates and me eating them still remain the same!

Currently I don't physically pack the gifts, giving my body a break from all the standing and bending, but I still eat chocolate and do everything else that comes with running Rainbow Designs. Processing orders, updating orders, tracking parcels, following up couriers, paying (many, many) bills, emailing, texting, online marketing, blogging etc. I'm currently focusing on Christmas. For the most part the gifts will be the same but will be updated with Christmassy loveliness.

Christmas Bubbles

Sometimes I do miss the day to day of filling boxes and packing orders but then my body gives me a little warning sign when I've pushed myself a bit too much and I am thankfully that I have some wonderful people doing all of that work for me :-) The noodle boxes may have gone but the theme and first idea of lolly and chocolate gifts is still there. I've tried to keep Rainbow Designs as close to how I pictured it way back when as I can. Times do change of course and gifts need to be tweaked here and there to keep up with peoples likes and expectations - I think I've been able to do that.

Little Sweetie

I still love to have some chocolate daily and for the most part you will always find some type of chocolate either on my desk or stashed at the back of the fridge. Don't want the 'kit kat' incident to happen again! Currently my stash consists of m&m's (of course, always a favourite), a mix of choc buds and the occasional block of cadbury.

Rainbow Designs may never have become a million dollar business or a household name but I do hope that it will continue to run and thrive and enable me to pay my bills and occasionally have some r&r, into the future. I don't know how I would cope if I didn't have Rainbow Designs in my life. Something I do know though is that I really need to focus on marketing, promotion and advertising. Even with basically no budget for this it NEEDS to be done. Online business really relies on being found and being found fast and easily. If you don't show up on page 1 or 2 in google you may as well not be in the search pages at all. Unfortunately Rainbow Designs isn't doing too well on that front and it is something I HAVE to work on if I want to stay in business (and pay my bills!).

It's all about the chocolate (and lollies!)

I have a lovely life but know it won't take much for it to change for the bad and end up with nothing or worse minus nothing so WORK WORK WORK is what I must do. I'm sure that sounds familiar to most of us! ;-)

Enough talking (writing) time for another coffee (or maybe tea, I've just started drinking tea and finding I quite like it. Not as heavy on the belly as coffee and doesn't give you coffee breath).

Wishing you a day, week, month of things going as you want, need and hope for! Here's to us :-)

Jacqui ~ chocoholic owner of Rainbow Designs

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Smooth Chocolate Festival

I have been looking forward to this weekend since last year! CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL, what's not to love?? I went in 2015 and as soon as it was announced it was on again in this year we booked our plane and hotel and counted down the weeks! It's a great event to use as 'research' while getting to enjoy the beautiful Sydney Harbour and chocolate in so many forms.

Lindt Chocolate

We arrived in Sydney on Friday morning to gorgeous blue skies, lucky as we had to walk from the station to our hotel. The Chocolate Festival starts on Saturday so we had Friday afternoon to get our bearings, make our plan, go to the TOP of Sydney Tower and get cream puffs!

Sydney Tower Skywalk

In April I was in Sydney with my gorgeous niece and we stumbled across a little hole in the wall in Chinatown selling these amazing cream puffs, needless to say we went back numerous times and planned to go back again next time we were in Sydney! They were as yummy as we remembered.

I surprised the kids, I say kids but they both tower over me, with a Sydney Tower Skywalk. It was amazing!! We all really enjoyed and got some fabulous photos. If you're in Sydney I recommend the Skywalk.

After our Skywalk we headed over to Chinatown with a pit stop at City Markets, a factory outlet place above Paddy's Markets. Chinatown was busy, busy, busy. I think that's while I like it, so full of energy and food! We went to the food court downstairs and it was BUSY. The food was delicious.

Chinatown Food Court

Next morning we woke with a plan EAT CHOCOLATE. Another gorgeous day greeted us, we were SO lucky with the weather as a few weeks earlier it was rainy and freezing in Sydney town. We caught a train from Museum Station, what a cool little station. Loved all the old posters on the walls.

The Chocolate Festival is held at The Rocks near Circular Quay and it was shaping up to be busy. We got there at about 10am, right when it opened and went in search of something to eat. Our first choice was chocolate dipped fruit, strawberries and watermelon. So good (and healthy!?). We did a walk around the whole festival to see what was on offer and made notes of where we wanted to head back to. The number one stop was the Lindt Tent where you could get your very own personalised chocolate bar, yes please!

I think my business, Rainbow Designs, sells one of the most POPULAR products ever, CHOCOLATE. Going by the crowds there are a LOT of chocoholics around, makes my heart sing and my mouth water. Where to head to next?? Maybe a donut or an icecream?? Icecream sounds like a plan - Gelato Messina and the 'Robert Browney Junior', chocolate, fudge, more chocolate, mmmmmmmmm. A glazed donut from The Donut Shop and lots of samples. Lindt balls, coconut and dark chocolate and Darrel Lea chocolates. To see how popular both of these areas were made me think I might need to add these brands to my hampers???

The very popular Lindt Lounge

For the rest of the day we did some touristy things and headed over to the Opera House to look for seals, didn't see any. After that we caught a ferry over to Luna Park. I hadn't been to Luna Park in a VERY long time but I don't think it's changed much at all, very 'back in the day' cool. I didn't venture onto any of the rides but the other two went on a 'vomit inducing' ride and the funky roller coaster. They loved it!! (and didn't throw up, bonus).

Luna Park

More chocolate was on our minds so we ferried it back over to Circular Quay and over to the festival to check out the stands again. What to have? So many choices! There was a very groovy container truck turned into pizza shop called 'Happy as Larry' that we just had to try. Margeritta pizza, so good that mr 14 went back and got another one for dinner! Miss 16 and I had some yummy satay chicken skewers. We were going to get another donut but they had sold out, like many of the stands. I think they underestimate how many they'll need. There will be some very late nights tonight making up more for Sunday! Zumbo's stand had sold out of two of their products - we didn't end up trying any but they looked amazing!

We trained it back to Museum Station and back to our hotel, after picking something up for dinner, and relaxed. It was a long but super fun day. Miss 15 was leaving early on Sunday back home while Mr 14 and I weren't leaving until Sunday afternoon so we had another day at the festival plus I had organised a jetboat ride for us!!

After getting up at the crack of dawn to walk miss 16 to the station, mr 14 and I watch a bit of the paralympics and slowly got ready for the day. After checking out of the hotel and leaving our bags for collection later in the day we headed to the train and circular quay. Chocolate Festival here we come. We made a pitstop at Starbucks for a coffee/ice chocolate and a bit of sustainance for the day ahead. While sitting enjoying our breakfast we realise we didn't check the fridge in our room before we left. Shock horror, mr 14 has left his chocolate in it! Luckily, after ringing the hotel, they were able to grab it for us so we could pick it up when we got our bags. Brekky down and first stop was the instagram photo machine to print out some fabulous photos, go and get our personliased Lindt chocolates and then over to the Jetboat wharf.

The Jetboat was FUN! We got drenched, luckily we were wearing a fetching purple poncho. What an amazing way to see Sydney Harbour - highly recommend!

Our weekend in Sydney was coming to a close so we did one last lap of the Smooth Chocolate Festival before making our way back to the hotel to collect our bags and then onto the station for our flight home. I had such a fun weekend. The weather was near on perfect and the company was pretty great too!

I highly suggest visiting the Choc Fest next year and in the mean time check out our chocolate filled hampers to help tied you over until then ;-)

nb: Unfortunately my camera card failed so most of my photo's didn't work. :-(

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Father's Day 2016 - Sept 4

I'm lucky enough to be relaxing on a deck chair in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with my wonderful dad on HIS day! We're currently heading back to Sydney after spending a few glorious days sailing around Papua New Guinea. Told you I was lucky!

Dad says he's not that great a fan of cruising but it didn't take much twisting of the arm to go on this, or the one last November :-) I think he's hooked, maybe not as much as my mum and I but I'm sure if any is!! If I won lotto I think I'd just travel the world on board a cruise ship, actually scrap that, I WOULD travel the world! What's not to love, food, views, new places, food, someone makes my bed, great company, food.....

I left my business in very capable hands and have know doubt that everything is running smoothly. Hopefully they've been run off their feet with Father's Day orders, a bonus is on their way if they have! We've got quite a few gorgeously yummy gift hampers I just know any and every dad would love to receive. My dad included and maybe he just will ;-) We've got a beer hamper I know he wouldn't mind finding under his cabin bed on Sunday - shame he can't drink the beer until we leave the ship but I'm sure one of the many bars on board will be able to help him out!

I've seen many Father's Day come and go since opening my online gift shop and it still makes me smile when orders come in and sometimes even brings a tear to my eye when I read some of the gift tag messages. Such a special privilege to be part of people's special occasions and events. Let me tell you it never gets old. So thank you from the bottom of my heart for entrusting us at Rainbow Designs to provide that special someone in your life with a very special gift just made for them.

Happy Father's Day, love you dad.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

It's What's Inside That Counts

We've used noodle boxes for our lolly and chocolate gifts since the very beginning, way back in 2004 in fact! Gosh, I feel old now :-) A few years back all our suppliers stopped stocking or making the extra large noodle boxes that we used for our kilo gifts so we switched to other tins or boxes. We've now also changed our half kilo gifts from noodle boxes to fabulous windowed satchels.

Just Chocolates

It's a bit of and end of an era I guess but it's also great to have a bit of change and spice things up a bit! I love our satchels and think they look really great (although I maybe a tad bias!) and having the window at the front means you can see all the yummy goodies inside! We have used these satchels before in a couple of other gifts we brought into our range a few years back. Unfortunately these gifts didn't prove popular enough for us to keep them on. If things don't sell fast enough we just end up eating everything! Whilst we don't mind doing this it isn't great for our bottom line or our bottoms ;-)

Just Lollies

Changes are always needed in any business. You need to improve and adapt and that's what I hope we are doing. 2016 has been a year of big changes not least of which is that our gifts are all lovingly packed and sent from Melbourne now. I've worked with these people for many, many years (feeling old again) and am happy and confident that they will continue producing and providing excellent gifts. The confectionery may vary slightly from what we have previously  used but I am always checking and getting feedback from customers on what is used and ensuring we are still making delicious lolly gifts. I can understand returning customers may find things a bit different to what they have previously order but we are confident and I am happy that the gifts are still just as good (if not better if that's possible!).

We at Rainbow Designs always strive to do our best and look after our wonderful customers so appreciate any feedback and constructive criticism or praise as this is the only way we can ensure we are providing products and service that our customers need, want and expect.

Medium Sweet Tooth Gift

Thank you to everyone who has ordered from us and who have sung our praises and who have given us feedback, we appreciate it and need it to continue. It's been a tough year, to be honest a tough few years but I am determined to make Rainbow Designs a success both in the happiness stakes and profit stakes :-)

Jacqui ~ determined and thankful Rainbow Designs boss lady who occasionally over indulges in M&M's.