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  1. Two events in three days last week. We had a stall at the Walsall evening market. Got off to a slow start but picked up as the evening wore on and ended up still selling as we were trying to pack the stall up! A bit noisy as were only 50 yards or so from the live music stage but otherwise a good event and we will probably go back in October - watch out for it on our events diary page.

    Saturday saw us going to Warwick to join in with the Folk Festival atmosphere. We were in the grounds of St Johns Museum - popped inside for a few minutes. Really interesting but you know you are getting old when your childhood toys and teenage clothes appear as museum items! A steady stream of vistor to the stands with the cards being the stand out sellers on the day. Different again to Walsall where the driftwood and candles took centre stage although one customer bought three chillie and pumpkino decorations. The consistent thing about our sales are that they are inconsistent>

    Off Warwick way again this weekend when we are at Hampton Magna village fete. Only a short event (1-4pm) but hoping for a good turnout of villagers ...and some decent weather.

    Till the next time

    David

  2. Thats to us! Life has been a bit crazy for the last few months and the blog has taken a backward step. We've just  returned from a fab holiday in New York and Costa Rica full of new energy so watch this space!

    What have we done since our last post? We've been out at events most weekends and these have been very successful despite all the economic doom and gloom. Dried fruit has continued to sell well proving that it's not 'just for Christmas'. We are in the throes of launching our Christmas range but more about that in a few days. The driftwood has proved really popular and in fact we have struggled to get it listed on the website as it sells virtually as soon as its made. If you can't see what you want on the website feel free to email us and we will respond quickly. Alternatively check out our Facebook page (follow link on home page) as we sometimes post images there - better still like our facebook page and we can keep you updated.

    We've also launched a summer sale for the Pot Pourri recently so if you want some lovely colourful fragrant pot pourri check out the info on our shop pages.

    We have a large number of bigger and gazebo events booked up over the next few weeks. Why not check out our events page - we'd love to see you at an event.  

    We'll be posting blogs more regularly now so see you next time!

    David

  3. At last we've found a top quality Potpourri to add to our Home Fragrance range. Having investigated a number of different suppliers (and tested some very dubious aromas!), we decided to go for quality and have now launched a range of 6 gorgeous fragrances.  

    Also in stock are the corresponding refresher oils and just a few drops added to the potpourri every 4 weeks or so will keep the fragrance fresh.  They work well in oil burners and diffusers too.  

  4. Just got back from a few days in Pembrokeshire where we spent some time on a few beaches gathering lots of driftwood. Since getting back we have already been busy grading and cleaning it to make sure it really looks good. We have already started making some small mirrors, initially approx 8" square but I've also got some small hexagonal mirrors in production. I'm using an mdf base from which I've cut out a recess into which the mirror is set and then its finished with a driftwood surroundThese mirrors went well last year, as did the garlands, and although there are only one or two currently on the website more will appear soon. We are keeping them at a reasonable cost - £15 for the square ones and £12.50 for the hexagonal ones and its also free postage for orders over £25 on the website. I'm also busy making T light holders, garlands and other decorations. Although the intention is that our production will eventually be 100% handmade by ourselves, we are also selling some bought in hand made items, such as driftood Tea light holders, driftwood hearts, and driftwood bird feeders amongst others. Best to check out the website for availability because once they've gone they are gone!

    hex mirror

    Latest hand made driftwood mirror with approx 240mm square base with the mirror surface approx 150mm between parallel sides .

    It was SOLD at the Barnt Green guides spring fair the first time we offered it on the stand!!

     

  5. The diary is rapidly filling up with events for 2013.  Ranging from craft fairs to vintage gatherings and country shows, it's going to be another busy year.  Let's hope that the weather will be kinder this year for the outdoor events in the spring and summer.  Check them out on our Events  page and do come along and say hello if you're in the area.

  6. The dried fruit we use in our decorations will last for years if you follow some very simple advice.  So, to maintain a good appearance for as long as possible, we recommend that you:

    • Display the decoration indoors because otherwise the fruit will absorb damp and become soft.  However, should this happen, it is easily dried out again by putting it in a warm, dry environment such as an airing cupboard or over a radiator.
    • Keep it away from direct bright sunlight as this will fade the natural colour of the product.
    • The scent may be refreshed with good quality refresher oil.

    A wreath has been hanging in my kitchen for over 18 months and still looks as good as new!  Just a quick flick with a feather duster every so often is all it needs.

  7. Can't believe I last posted at the end of November!

    The Christmas season was really good - we did some lovely events the Warwick and Bewdley Christmas light switch ons were fabulous, lots of atmosphere, 000's of people and lots of good sales. We had an interesting day at Upton on (in) Severn Christmas extravaganza, strating off in dry weather during the morning, watching it start raining at lunchtime and being told to pack up 3 hours early at 4pm as the roads were flooding. As we left the town over the bridge the water was backing up through the drain covers giving a spectacular fountain effect. We also drove back through Kempsey without any mishap although we woke the next morning to hear that its flood defences had failed. Overall we had an eventful time and really enjoyable as our daughter Laura was back from the Far East as helped out a lot. She did find the temperature about 30 degrees different to what she was used to though! All in all we encountered a number of events which we really enjoyed and certainly will be looking to go back to this year.

    Our website really came into its own at Christmas and we had a pleasing level of sales, particularly of the dried fruit decorations. The level of trade sales was particularly pleasing with a number of enquiries that we had during the year actually coming to fruition. An exciting prospect for this year is that we have received enquiries about providing decorations for weddings. Hopefully this is another line we can develop as the year progresses.

    So now its 2013 (and January is almost over!). We have booked a new event as Upton has a monthly indoor craft market and we will try a few of these as we enjoyed our last visit there - first one is on Saturday 9th February at the Memorial Hall. So far this year, apart from website sales, we have mainly been developing new products. We now have the full range of handmade candles on the website and we are developing products with the driftwood we collect when we are in Pembrokeshire. We already have a 40cm mobile and an 8" square mirror and when we have a few more produced we will list them on the website - in the meantime we will probably put them on our Facebook page - by the way if you haven't done so already we'd love you to like us (panachegifts).

    Apart from sorting us out with Facebook Laura also set us up with a twitter account. This is a learning curve but our 'tag' is @panachegifts so the more followers we have the better apparently.

    Well thanks for looking and now I've caught up we will make sure that the blog is posted regularly.

  8. The events are coming and going with amazing speed at the moment.

    After Coventry Frankie did a coffee morning for the Redditch Inner Wheel and as last year her goods were very well received and she was able to make a healthy donation to their charity account. That was on the Tuesday morning and on Thursday we went to King Eds 5 Ways school concert. This is a bit of a manic evening. We set up and sell about 45 minutes before the Christmas concert starts. Then there is a lull for the same time while the first half is in progress amd then we have another manic 45 minutes during the interval then while the second half is on we pack up and have gone by the time the concert finishes. We always do well here and this year was no exception. The only difference was the rain as it was torrential the whole evening. Fortunately we were able to park close to the building and the stock stayed dry.

    The following night Frankie and Laura went to St Josephs First School Christmas fair in Droitwich. Again a repeat of last years event and well worth doing but its a bit unfortunate that its sandwiched between two very busy days.

    The second busy days being the Christmas Extravaganza at Upton on Severn (and nearly Upton in Severn!). The torrential rain from Thursday had continued but had stopped by Saturday morning. In fact before leaving we had to scrape the ice off the windscreen. Got to Upton for set up at 8am and the Fair opened at 10am. All went well for the first couple of hours with a steady flow of buyers on a cold and grey, but dry morning. Carols were being sung and although some of the other events had been cancelled (the donkey and nativity tour for instance) all seemed well. Unfortunately at about midday the rain started and came down with a vengeance. There were still a fair number of visitors that braved the weather but these were measured in their '00's rather than the '000's expected. We kept a brave face and ended up with one of our best days ever but about 4pm the organisers came round and said that some of the roads out of Upton could be closing. That obviously made everyones mind up and the event effectively ended then. Shame really as although we had a good day we were still left with a feeling of what might have been. As we drove out of Upton we could see the river shooting up 6-9" high out of the drains and although we didn't see any floods in Kempsey it didn't surprise us when we heard the next day there was extensive flooding in the area.

    Anyway onward and upward. Sunday was spent making up a nice order of 8 wreaths off the website and listing a few types on ebay. We've had a sale from the latter within 48 hours of listing.

    We are now getting ready for the Warwick Victorian Fare on Thursday when the town switches its Christmas lights on - but not sure about the Victorian dressing up bit though. Saturday we are at Bewdleys Christmas lights festival and Sunday we are Redditch's Victorian market at the Bordesley Abbey and Needle Museum visitor centre. We almost sold out at that event last year I just hope we have enough stock for these three events. 

    Where did the year go to?

     

  9. Coventry Transport Museum event turned out to be a really good weekend. On Saturday it tied in with an event remembering the Coventry blitz. Very atmospheric with sanbags all over the place, staff all dressed up in WWII uniforms and lots of 2nd World War music. Mind you this latter wore a bit thin towards the late afternoon as it was very loud and there is only so much of Vera Lynn. George Formby etc one can take. Especially as it was interspersed with full blown air raid sirens going off every now and then. Didn't put the sales off and we were very pleased with what was achieved. It was our first time there and every one else told us Sunday would be quieter. Well it was noise wise but sales were even better than the saturday. This time they had an event featuring Vespa's and VW campervans and that brought in a lot of people as well. Overall it was a good weekend with a wide selection of sales across the board.

    We now have a very busy period but firstly it seems that the website and emarketing is beginning to pay off. We have our daughter home and her tinkering with the website and Facebook (panachegifts) pages has coincided with a rise in sales and interest from those quarters. She has also set us up with a twitter account (@Panache Gifts) and although we have a number of followers already its difficult finding the time keeping all these pages up to date.

    We are also listing some of the wreaths on ebay as that was successful for us last year and it seems to be having positive results already.

    Frankie was out today doing a stall at the local Inner Wheel coffee moring with the table fee (a % of the sales) going towards its charity. Then Thursday we are at King Edwards Five Ways christmas concert. Both of these event are repeats of last year so we know what to expect but on Saturday we are at Upton on Severn's Christmas Extravaganza. Forecast is for a cold sunny day but as long as it keeps dry we are hopeful of a good day. It'll be a long one from 10am- 6pm but we've just had the stand info through and we seem to be in a good position in New Street, just off the High Street.

    A new development at Coventry was our first sale with the izettle. This is an attachment to my phone which allows us to take credit cards, particularly Mastercard. It certainly got us at least one sale we might otherwise have lost and got an increased level of sale on another occasion. Be interesting to see how it goes.

    Lots of stock to make this week as we don't know what to expect at Upton on Saturday - might be a mega sale might be a total washout but if it is the latter we have Warwick Victorian Fair the following Thursday and we have been told to expct 000's of people to attend that one.

    Don't forget to check our website, like us on Facebook and follow us on twitter!

  10. Just getting over a busy weekend. Friday evening we went to the witches cauldron at Badsey and although the event had a fairly light footfall we had a good response with the dried fruit christmas decorations really taking off. The Pot Pourri was very well received on its first outing.

    Got home at about 10.30pm and left the house again at 7.30am to go to the Pumpkin Day at Bewdley. We took two cars this time as we wanted to take the spare stock in anticipation of the Christmas period starting. Lovely spot on Severnside North by the river but unfortunately the closeness of the buildings meant that we were in the shade for most of the day and it was VERY cold! A north wind coming off the river didnt help but fortunately our gazebo held its own and acted as a good wind break. Good response from the local populace and although we were pleased to pack up at 4pm it was a very good day with sales of the Pot Pourri really beginning to gather pace. We even had someone wanting to buy as we were loading the car as she had seen someone else walking round the town carrying one of our wreaths.

    We were also pleased with the way the new hand made scented candles were proving popular. We actually buy these in from a social project that employs people with learning and physical disabilities. I was actually at the factory last week and met some of the workers and we feel that the candles are not only unusual and attractive in themselves but we are helping this project as well. These will be listed on the website over the next few days as we feel they will go well for Christmas.

    Well we're having a couple of weeks now without events as next weekend seems to be more firework events than anything else and the following week we are off to a family wedding. We return back to the business the following week with a two day event at Coventry Motor Museum. Its the first time we have been there but everyone tells us its always very good so we are looking forward to it.