Category Archives: business advice

Sep
04

The Next Crafting Generation

This entry was posted in bath and body, bath products, business advice, candle making, crafts as a hobby, crafts for extra income, creative, Natures Garden, Soap making supplies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on by .

excited_to_get_started[1] (1)The Next Crafting Generation

 

        Hey everyone! Are you bored just sitting around the house? Maybe just out of college searching for job opportunities? Looking for something to make some extra cash while you’re first starting your career? Sound like you? I thought it might. Ever thought about crafting? And yes, I mean like candles and soaps! The kinds of awesome things our products here at Nature’s Garden can create! Come on now, I know you’ve got a creative mind inside that head of yours. Let your creativity shine!

I know crafting may sound a little odd, but believe me. It is so much fun! And there are so many opportunities that go along with it. Oh, you didn’t think that crafting could lead to great opportunities? Well it can! I know the feeling of being bored out of your mind just sitting at home with nothing to do. Crafting is a great way to spend your time! Or maybe you’re a recent college grad who just can’t seem to find a job in your field. I know you’re probably overwhelmed with student loans right now and need a way to start paying them off. You could become an entrepreneur!

Now I know you remember making projects in Art class. Crafting is a way to keep the fun of art class in your life. There are so many possible things you can create just from our products. Put your creativity to use! We have so many great options. You can make candles, soaps, even your own cosmetics! I mean what woman wouldn’t love to be able their own makeup?! Turn off that TV, and let the fun begin! Your crafts could be awesome gifts for you to give the people you love or great additions to your own home. It is such a great hobby. Knowing you actually made that awesome candle or that delicious smelling soap will give you such a feeling of accomplishment. That isn’t a feeling you can get just from sitting around your house. Come on, I know you want the feeling. Just try it out!

Remember those college loans I mentioned? I know how overwhelmed you are trying to figure out where to start to pay them off. Take your crafting one step further and use it to help pay off those loans! Like I said, become an entrepreneur! Ah, see those opportunities people? Starting your own crafting company will be one of the easiest and most satisfying decisions you will ever make! Our products are sold to our customers with the intention for them to create the awesomeness. Sell your creations! You know what selling them means? You’re making money! And money means you can start to pay off those loans! Even if you don’t want to start a full-fledged company, sell your stuff anyway! Maybe you’re actually getting your career started, but selling your creativity will bring in all kinds of extra cash. And I know you will always have a need for or find a use for that. You’re literally helping yourself make more money using your creativity. It doesn’t get better than that!

Come on people! We are the next crafting generation! I know the feeling of not having any idea of what to do with your life. I’ve been there. Crafting is a great way to helping you figure it out along the way! And tell your friends! I’m sure some of them are in the same place you are! Here’s a start, check out our free classes and recipes in our free recipe box. And keep checking our blog for more Enlightened by Layla postings!

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Dec
28

How to Increase Sales

This entry was posted in bath products, business advice, candle making supplies, Fragrance Oils, how to increase sales, Natures Garden, Soap making supplies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on by .

business womanHiring Wholesale Distributors

Beginning your own wholesale distributor program can be a little scary at first, but well worth the opportunity of increased sales.  Regardless of whether you are trying to jump start your business, extend your client list, or just want to start selling at home parties; hiring wholesale distributors is one very smart move to start bringing in additional sales.

What is a Wholesale Distributor?

Wholesale Distributors are essentially the same thing as Sales Representatives.   However, wholesale distributors do not directly work for your company.  Instead, they are independent contractors.  As independent contractors, it is their responsibility to attain sales through various means.  Many wholesale distributors receive these sales by selling at home parties, craft bazaars, direct sales, etc.

Now, because your wholesale distributor is independently contracted, they are literally in charge of themselves.  This means they work their own schedules, find their own leads, close all of their sales, and file their own taxes accordingly.

How to Start a Wholesale Distributor Program

The first thing you need to establish before hiring any wholesale distributors is a starter kit.  A starter kit is an all encompassing kit that the wholesale distributors take with them to encourage sales everywhere they go.  These starter kits should contain samples of your best sellers, notable products, product lists, bags, business cards, etc. These starter kits are offered at an affordable set price for the wholesale distributors to purchase.

Generally speaking, most companies offer three different sized starter kits:  large, medium, and small.  Nine times out of ten, the majority of people will purchase the medium kit.  You will want to ensure that your medium starter kit contains all of the key products you want your wholesale distributor to highlight during their sales.

Regardless, all starter kits should include at least the following:  samples, receipt books, catalogs, post cards, and a carrying case.

What Does a Wholesale Distributor Need to Know

It is the responsibility of any new wholesale distributor to read and know your company’s policies and rules.  For example, if you are in the candle industry, you would especially want them to know why your candles are superior over the competition.  They would also need to know things like the wax you use, burn times, and even fragrance strength of the candles.  These are all great selling points for them to mention during their sales pitch.

Earnings

Something to establish with your wholesale distributor is their earnings scale.  This scale should be a win-win for both parties involved.  The more sales they are able to bring to you, the higher their earnings will be.  For example, when the wholesale distributor starts, they earn 25% of the total net sales before taxes.  But, a way that you can sweeten their deal is to give them a goal.  An example of this would be: when a wholesale distributor has acquired $5000 in sales of products, they are then able to earn 30% of the sales (instead of the 25%).  Having various goals established for your wholesale distributors will constantly give them new heights to strive for, therefore also an increase in sales for you as well as possible repeat customers.

How the Wholesale Distributor is Paid

For this example, we are going to use a home party.  Regardless of the form in which the sale was made, here is the breakdown of how the wholesale distributor is paid.

When the wholesale distributor books a home party, attends, and makes the sales, he/she adds together the total amount of sales from the party.  Next, the wholesale distributor would then subtract their earnings (the 25%).  The total of what is left is what is due to the company for the products sold.

Ideally, no tax is collected on the products that are sold to the wholesale distributor because they have a tax exemption certificate.  Remember once again, it is the responsibility of the sales rep to pay the sales tax since they are independently contracted.

Jul
11

How to Work Candy to Your Advantage

This entry was posted in bath and body, bath products, business advice, candle fragrance oils, candle molds, Fragrance Oils, handmade soap, Natures Garden and tagged , , , , , , , , , , on by .
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Natures Garden’s Bogeyman Fragrance Oil is a great candy scent to add to your line. How sweet your products can be has never smelled to good!

How to Work Candy to Your Advantage

Earlier this year in April, I took a blind leap into technology by upgrading my flip phone to an Android.  I know; I am little behind the times.  However, after weighing the pros and cons of a dreaded touch screen phone, I thought it was a move that I could benefit greatly from.  Overall, the fact that pushed me into the purchase was that I could have a mini, hand held computer; an endless source of knowledge and entertainment; taking it anywhere and everywhere, and you mean to tell me it works as a cell phone too.  How could this ever be a bad thing?

Luckily for me, I did not have to discover all of the possibilities and capabilities of my Android flying solo.  My youngest sister who is only 20 years old gave me a phenomenal crash course in phone technology.  An android is so yesterday for her, she lives in the realm of iPhone and iPad; often functioning from both at the same time.  This however, is a little too much for me!

For the first several weeks with my Android, our bonding was so very special, I was in love and memorized.  Every free second I had, I was discovering new and wonderful things.  For the first time I was finding the wonderful world of apps.  These amazing little square buttons on my screen that allowed me access to all my favorite websites.  All at my beckoning call with a simple touch of a finger.  It was not too much longer before one of these apps became my demise.

Usually, I am not one of the followers.  But, I had heard about this addicting game on the radio, and seen several commercials on television for the same game “Candy Crush Saga”.  I was intrigued.  So, I took the next logical step, and downloaded the free app.

Once I had my little kiddies tucked tight into their beds, I hung up my mom hat and decided that I would see what all of the fuss is about.  During the first several levels, I couldn’t grasp what was so addicting about this simple little game.  Match 3 candies… I could do this in my sleep.  But, this is where the game gets you.  It is a very simple logical game that gets progressively harder using innocent little candies as a front.  As the levels and challenges increase you find yourself saying, “I can do this, I can beat these candies,” but in actuality, the levels are endless and your free time is not.

Candy Crush Saga has absorbed the vast majority of my “me time”.  I think about it, dream of the little candies, and crave the passing of just one more level.  I know that I am not the only one who has become an addict and this does provide me some comfort in the situation.  In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported some 15.4 million users a day for “Candy Crush Saga”, and those numbers really got me thinking.

The result, turn the proverbial sour lemon candy into sweet delicious candy.  With 15.4 million users a day, candy is running through many consumers’ heads… so why not give the people what they want.

Here are some spectacularly sweet candy themed fragrance oils and items available at Natures Garden.  Use these fragrance oils and to sweeten the scent of your bath products, or maybe add some sweet embeds to your candles and soaps.  Just take the idea and run with it!

Black Licorice Fragrance Oil

Blue Cotton Candy Fragrance Oil

Bogeyman Fragrance Oil

Bubble Luscious Fragrance Oil

Bubblegum Fragrance Oil

Candied Apple Fragrance Oil

Candy Cane Fragrance Oil

Candy Corn Fragrance Oil

Cane Sugar Cookie Fragrance Oil

Caramel Fragrance Oil

Cotton Candy Fragrance Oil

Doodle Bug Fragrance Oil

Dreamsickle Fragrance Oil

Elf Sweat Fragrance Oil

Fluffy Pink Candy Fragrance Oil

Goodie Goodie Gumdrops Fragrance Oil

Green Apple Candy Fragrance Oil

Jelly Bean Fragrance Oil

Monkey Farts Fragrance Oil

Sea Salt Caramels Fragrance Oil

Sour Watermelon Candy Fragrance Oil

Toffee Apple Crunch Fragrance Oil

Tooth Fairy Taffy Fragrance Oil

Tricks or Treats Fragrance Oil

Watermelon Taffy Fragrance Oil

Embed Mold- Swirl Wafers

Silicone Soap Molds- 24 Retro Flowers

 

Fragrance & Fun for Everyone

Inspire, Create, and Dominate!

Sparkles!!! Nicole

(Corporate Manager of Natures Garden Candle Supplies)

www.naturesgardencandles.com

 

Jun
23

What are Fragrance Oils Made Of

This entry was posted in bath and body, bath products, business advice, Fragrance Oils, fun fragrance oils, Natures Garden Fragrance Oils, wholesale fragrance oils and tagged , , , , , on by .

fragrance oilWhat are fragrance oils made of?

Fragrance oils are a mixture composed of essential oils, synthetic aroma chemicals, and aromatic resins.  In order to achieve the scent that a perfumist is trying to achieve, the perfumist has more than 3000 different fragrance ingredients that he may use (natural and synthetic).  These ingredients come in the form of liquid, powder, or crystalline.  In order for a perfumist to be able to dissolve the powder and/or crystalline ingredients into liquid oil, he must use solvents.  A common solvent that has been used for over 50 years is DEP (Di Ethyl Phthalate).  While this solvent has been declared as safe by even the most intense worldwide standards, many companies, such as Natures Garden, decided years ago to only add fragrance oils to our line that were phthalate-free (at the request of many customers).  Additionally, 99% of our old fragrance oils were reformulated phthalate-free years ago; our perfumist used alternative solvents that were phthalate-free.

Although solvents are a necessary component in fragrance oil production, some companies may sell fragrance oils that contain diluents:  cutting agents that ultimately reduce the strength of a fragrance oil.  A common diluent is DPG (Di Propylene Glycol).  Important note to anyone who is using fragrance oils for candle making or soap making:  Never use fragrance oils that contain DPG for these applications.  DPG prevents a candle from burning correctly, and is one of the main reasons that Cold Process Soap seizes.  Natures Garden sells concentrated fragrance oils, and we never dilute our fragrance oils.   Although diluents should not be used for candle making or soap making, they are a necessary ingredient to use when making incense/potpourri (cones, sticks, and liquid).  Another example of the need to use diluents is when making candles with essential oils.  Some essential oils may need to be thinned out with a diluent so that they can properly travel up the wick and burn correctly.  Typical diluents added to essential oils for this purpose are:  iso Propyl Myristate, or di-Octyl Adipate.  Neither of these diluents are natural, but are effective for this purpose.  According to our perfumist, in order to create natural candles, fractionated coconut oil may be used as a diluent for essential oils; however, we have not personally tested this.  As stated above:  Never add DPG to essential oils for candle making or soap making.   All of the essential oils sold at Natures Garden are 100% pure and unadulterated.  Therefore, it is up to you to add diluents to them when making candles.

So, how does a perfumist create a fragrance oil?  We know that fragrance oils are a mix of essential oils, synthetic aromatic chemicals, and resins.  We know that a perfumist must use the proper solvents to dissolve powder and crystalline ingredients into the fragrance oil.  A perfumist can either duplicate an aroma by use of gas chromatographic (GC)-mass spectrometric (GC-MS) (which shows him the ingredients contained in a fragrance), or he can create a unique fragrance oil by combining the right combinations of top, middle, and base notes.

Top notes are the fragrance aromas that you smell when you first open the bottle.  This is because they tend to evaporate the quickest of other notes used in fragrance manufacturing.  Perfumists typically use between 15-25% of top notes in fragrance production.  Common examples of top notes are: Lemon, Orange, Mandarin, Grapefruit, Basil, Bergamot, Cardamom, Clary Sage, Coriander, Eucalyptus, Juniper, Neroli, Peppermint, Pine, Tea Tree, Thyme, and Lavender.

Middle notes provide the body of the fragrance, and are smelled after the top notes have faded. Perfumists typically use 30-40% middle notes when creating a fragrance oil.  Examples of middle notes are:  Chamomile, Cedar, Cinnamon, Clove, Frankincense, Geranium, Rose, Ylang Ylang, Palma Rosa, Jasmine, and Marjoram.

Base notes are the notes that tend to linger in the air, and are smelled last.  Base notes, such as musk, are the ingredients that give a fragrance “staying power”.  Without the use of base notes, fragrance notes will evaporate very quickly and not provide ample scent throw.  A perfumist typically uses 40-55% base notes in the formulation of a fragrance.  Base notes, such as musk, are one of the most expensive components in fragrance production.  Without the proper use of these ingredients, fragrance will not last very long.  Examples of base notes are:  Musk, Benzoin, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Vanilla, and Vetiver. The main perfume house that Natures Garden works with also owns multiple musk-manufacturing companies.  The partnership that we have with this perfumist allows us to keep our prices lower than most of our competition.  In fact, the majority of fragrance manufacturers rely on our perfumist to supply them with the musk components they need to manufacturer their scents.

It is important to understand that even though a perfumist has high-tech machinery at his disposal to analyze the components of a “smell”, perfumery is an art, reserved for individuals with the talent of blending fragrance notes to create beautiful fragrance accords. Perfumery is a science and a real art. Fragrance oils are protected under the “trade secret” clause of the FDA, therefore, perfumists never disclose a full ingredient list of the “art” that they created.  When selling a product in the US that is governed by the FDA, one must simply state the word “fragrance” on the label.  Ingredients of your product must be listed in descending order according to weight; which usually (but not always) means that fragrance is listed as one of the last ingredients on your label.

The alternative to fragrance oils is essential oils.  Although essential oils are natural and may provide therapeutic benefits, there are several drawbacks to using essential oils that should be mentioned:  1.  The cost of essential oils are typically much higher than fragrance oils, 2.  Essential oil prices can fluctuate based on weather, crops, and the trade relationships between countries, 3.  Essential oils are not as sustainable as fragrance oils, 4.  Essential oils do not provide the variety of scents that fragrance oils provide.  You will never get a vanilla essential oil, a blueberry muffin essential oil, or a strawberry essential oil; only fragrance oils can provide these scents, 5.  Essential oils can cause just as many allergic reactions as fragrance oils (perhaps even more).  In fact, if the EU is successful at preventing known allergens from being contained in perfumes, many of the most well-known perfumes will need to be reformulated without essential oils.  The majority of the 26 known allergens on the EU list are from natural sources; 16 are essential oil constituents and two are absolutes.   While the debate continues on whether you should use fragrance oils or essential oils in your finished products, Natures Garden carries both fragrance oils and essential oils (for those who want all-natural scents).  Regardless of whether you choose fragrance oil or essential oil, scent sells products.  Not only do scents allow people to smell nice, scents also have the ability to create memories.  What happy memories do you have with certain scents?  I’m certain you have many.

Thank you for relying on Natures Garden for your fragrance oils and essential oils!  Natures Garden has more than 16 years of experience in the fragrance industry, and we are the largest distributor of fragrance oils in the US.  Our fragrance oils and essential oils are truly priced at wholesale prices; allowing our customers to make quality products, and earn a higher profit margin themselves.

See all of Natures Garden’s Fragrance Oils

Mar
28

Business Advice Unemployment Claims

This entry was posted in business advice, candle making supplies, Fragrance Oils, Soap making supplies, unemployment claims and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , on by .

business woman

How Am I Supposed to Keep Unemployment Insurance Costs Down When the State Awards Benefits to People Who Can’t Even Show Up For Work? Argh!

One of the most frustrating aspects of managing a small business that seems to happen to the best of bosses is when that one former employee who was terminated for excessive absences or tardiness is granted unemployment benefits. We all know how chronic absenteeism can increase labor costs, hurt morale and lower productivity. Many small businesses have adopted a “No Fault Points System” as an effective way to deal with attendance problems. A well-crafted point system can be used to both reward workers for positive attendance habits, and to identify negative attendance trends and guide progressive disciplinary action for problem employees.

A “No Fault Points System” like this is intended to eliminate the uncomfortable questioning of the reason for the absence and/or tardiness. You don’t want to invade anyone’s privacy. It also serves to eliminate accusations of subjectivity and favoritism. Under a “No Fault” system, the employee receives a certain number of points for their absences as outlined in the policy, regardless of the reason for the absence. As employees accrue more points, they receive increasingly severe levels of discipline. And after a certain period of time of improvement, the points are expunged from an employee’s attendance record for disciplinary purposes.

In some cases employers have crafted the policy to be that once an employee accumulates the maximum number of points allowed as outlined in the policy the employee is terminated.

Unemployment Insurance is For Employees Who Lose Their Job Through No Fault of Their Own

Since unemployment insurance is intended to provide workers whose jobs have been terminated through no fault of their own, an employee who was terminated under the “No Fault” points system who knew about the policy should be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits, right?

You would think so, but not necessarily. When you terminate an employee for excessive absenteeism and/or tardiness, the employee is not automatically disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. This is the frustrating part. Although a violation may be grounds for termination, it may not be a reason for a denial of unemployment benefits. No-fault attendance policies by their definition do not require showing that a violation was in an employee’s control; you may have to convince an unemployment hearing judge that each violation leading up to the termination was an intentional act of misconduct before unemployment benefits will be denied.

There is a minimum amount of proof you must provide to the state unemployment office. You must prove the employee’s absences and/or tardiness were willful misconduct and this can sometimes be very difficult to do because what YOU consider to be willful misconduct and what the state considers to be willful misconduct are often two different things.

You must show that the employee willfully disregarded your business interests and you must present specific information on the final incident, the straw that broke the camel’s back so to speak. It needs to be focused and identify how that incident was willful and most importantly how the employee knew his or her actions would result in termination.

A common employer’s mistake is to state that the company has a no-fault attendance policy and believes that an attendance points’ violation is enough to result in a denial of unemployment benefits when it is not. The legal standard of willful or intentional misconduct is tougher than a policy violation.

The Difference Between Being Sick and Willful Misconduct

“Misconduct” under the law of unemployment compensation is basically something that the claimant did or failed to do that

  1. Caused a problem for the company, (certainly not showing up for work causes your company problems)
  2. Was in violation of a rule, a policy, or a law, (assuming all small businesses have an attendance policy, this is a slam dunk too ) and
  3. Was within the claimant’s power to control or avoid. (This is where it gets sticky.) Being sick isn’t their own fault. Since unemployment insurance is for employees who lose their job through no fault of their own, being sick isn’t misconduct and they may be awarded benefits. However, when the employee fails to follow policies that indicate the steps they must take when they are going to be absent, (most of the time this is in their control) they could be denied benefits. Make more sense now?

Good Reasons To Miss Work?

The law of unemployment compensation says you are guilty of misconduct if you are absent or tardy from work, only when you both FAIL TO GIVE ADEQUATE NOTICE for the absence AND you did NOT HAVE A GOOD REASON for the absence or tardiness.

Some examples of such good reasons include:

  • Illness
  • Accident
  • Lack of child care
  • Serious illness
  • Death of Close relative

So as you can see, the above would result in points but under the law of unemployment compensation, they would not be considered “misconduct.” Those aren’t incidents where you can assign fault to the employee.

However, incidents of absenteeism or tardiness could involve misconduct if the employee violated a part of the policy within his/her control, and you can show documentation of progressive discipline proving the employee knew that if they did it again, they would be terminated. For example, if the employee claims he was ill, but fails to call in advance as instructed but COULD have, AND fails to furnish required medical documentation as outlined in your policy, that’s misconduct. You’d still need to show that you gave the employee a final warning that knew the employee knew his or her failure to do what he could control would result in termination.

Having a Well-crafted “No Fault Points System” for Managing Attendance Can Be a Wonderful Tool But

You still need to do the hard work, the face-to-face progressive discipline for misconduct if you want to avoid paying unemployment claims when discharging someone for poor attendance. Simply assigning points until they hit a magic number may not count as progressive discipline that can justify termination in the eyes of the state unemployment office. Just make sure you outline in your policy what is considered willful or intentional misconduct. The difference is in what the employee could control. Absent due to illness, they can’t control. Failing to call (providing they’re physically able) and provide medical documentation IS within their control and is misconduct.

Make sure you give a final written warning for misconduct prior to discharge and don’t let time lapse between final incident of misconduct and the termination.

There are some additional risks. If you have 15 or more employees, you must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) If you have 50+ you must comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA),

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA), was amended effective Jan. 1, 2009, under which most absences due to any type of physical or mental impairment are now covered by the ADA. In the past they were not serious enough to constitute a “disability” under the ADA. Thus, many more plaintiffs than previously can now claim that they were terminated because of their “disability,” because of absences due to their disability. They will argue that a no-fault attendance policy does not meet employers’ obligations to reasonably accommodate their disability.

Pitfalls to Avoid:

The most common mistakes employers make that cause difficulty in unemployment claims based upon a discharge are:

  • Failing to give a final warning prior to discharge;
  • Inconsistent discipline between two similarly-situated employees;
  • Failing to follow the stated disciplinary policy;
  • Telling the Unemployment Office official that the employee was terminated for an “accumulation” of incidents, instead of a specific final incident;
  • Letting too much time pass between the final incident and the discharge;
  • Telling the Unemployment Office that the claimant was “unable” to satisfy performance standards
  • Allowing the impression that the termination was really based upon a personality dispute; and
  • Failing to present firsthand witnesses and proper documentation when needed.

Keeping the number of unemployment insurance claims filed by former employees to a minimum can produce significant payroll tax savings.

Also, you should monitor all unemployment insurance claims made against your account and should be prepared to contest any claims you believe to be improper. While contesting an unfavorable claim against your business requires more of your time, particularity if you have to drive some distance to appear, don’t hesitate to ask the hearing judge if you can appear by telephone. Make sure you have your witnesses with you. Any employer who participates in the claims process has a better chance of keeping unwarranted claims and charges against the account at bay.

Last but not least be picky when hiring. Your employees count on you to be picky so they don’t have to pick up the slack of someone who just really doesn’t want to work. And they also count on you to be understanding and fair when something happens that’s not within their control. And your customers count on you to be picky when you hire too!

The better the employee you hire, the better your customer service, the better your employee morale, the greater likelihood your workplace is safe, and the lower the chance is that you will have to let someone go and ultimately wind up paying unemployment insurance. The liability process begins from the day you hire. If an employee starts having attendance problems early, in the introductory or probationary period, address the problem immediately.

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About the Author:  Beryl Coder, of Eco Musings,  has over twenty years human resources executive experience in large multi-state corporations with over 5k employees as well as small family owned businesses with less than 15. She now owns her own small business. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be relied on as legal advice.