Friday, 23 March 2018

Self-care Isn't a Dirty Word - by Abi Copley, Scribed by Abi

When was the last time you really took care of yourself?

I’m talking about truly doing something for yourself; without compromise or guilt. Without a little person hanging off your legs or jumping on you as you flow through your yoga practice (this happens to me...every day); without a deadline dragging you back on your peaceful stroll down the beach or a client’s messages pinging while you soak in the tub. 

A biennial survey carried out by the Southern Cross Health Society last year concluded, again, levels of stress amongst New Zealanders are rising. The survey found, what I’m sure you will know, those in small businesses are under immense pressure, and their workloads are leading to increased anxiety levels. Our work/life balance is currently the biggest cause of stress for those in all types of workplaces.

So, I’m just going to come right out and say it…
Self-care is not a dirty word!

While doing some research, I did what any good millennial does; I Googled. I found pages upon pages of information about why self-care is a vital part of our lives. Endless advice and tips on what to do and where to go. The self-care industry is huge. Some of you reading could even work within it.

But, we know we should look after ourselves. We can’t hope to be of any use to others if we don’t. As they say in the airplane briefings; put your own oxygen mask on first. 

What can I offer here that will make any difference to you?

What I have included here are some practical things that I’ve done to help me on my way to taking better care of myself. There’s also a few links (at the end) to research, advice and other support services in case you would like a better understanding of the whole field of, ‘emotional first-aid’ (Guy Winch).

*Step 1: Find your ‘thing’ 

Not everyone is into yoga or meditation. We can’t all find our happy place while exercising or painting. What works for your friend, might not work for you. In fact, you might not even want to be with friends. The first step to truly taking care of yourself is to, ‘find what feels good’ (Adriene Mishler).

Ask yourself...
What part of you really feels like it needs quality attention paying to it?

Do I want to be alone or in company?

*Step 2: Make time for it

We all know that in a busy day, things that aren’t planned for won’t happen. Find a time that you can dedicate to yourself.

Choose an activity you can achieve with the time you can make.

5 minutes or 5 hours, it’s the process of setting time for yourself that’s the most important.

Be realistic but give your ‘me-time’ the space and status it deserves

*Step 3: Change it up

Don’t let it become something else you are a slave to! If you don’t love doing it, stop.

Love it, keep it
Hate it, bin it

I’m no saint, and I feel somewhat hypocritical writing this; I know I should take better care of myself. It’s easy to make excuses and to let the guilt creep in. But honestly, when I give myself some ‘me time’, I’m a better wife, mother, friend, teacher, sister, writer...the list goes on for us all. Just remember, all those things we want to be for other people are so much easier, and enjoyable if you take some time off to just be one thing…


So don’t feel guilty when you hit that snooze button a few extra times, or for taking a nice long bath in the middle of the day. The house will not berate you for leaving the laundry and going for a nice long walk, or a spot of shopping. The world will not stop turning when you put yourself first and escape for a whole day!

Go on, live dangerously.

Would you like to keep reading? Check out these links.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

How To Up Your Visual Content - By Nikki Astwood

The Importance of Good Product Photography and How to up Your Visual Content Game

- Nikki Astwood, Revised Edition

This is such a relevant subject for ALL small businesses especially those of us who own online stores. As we all know the first impression of our business lasts and the way we present our business online is our 'shop window'. 
Instagram in particular has such a high standard of posts and the importance of making your photos and products look amazing is very real for us all!
A couple of months ago, I came across a very talented person, Nikki Astwood from Revised Edition.
Read on for some tips, ideas and guidance, not to mention some beautiful images of Nikki's work.
Thank you so much for this Nikki!
Becky x

The struggle is real… how do you keep on top of everyday business and life yet still find time to produce relevant, eye-catching images for your online store and social media?  

Here are a few things to consider when creating your product photography because you want to stand out, right?!


You can have the most well styled image in the world but if your lighting is bad your product will fade into the background.  I shoot with only natural light which looks great, the downside is that when it’s a cloudy day the images become gloomy with a lovely blueish tint that should be avoided.

Things to consider:
Set yourself up in a well-lit area of your house, I have doors with windows that go right to the floor which minimises shadows. 

Get yourself some light reflector screens, these are cheap and amazing at balancing light and reducing shadows. 

Get to know how the light works in your house, when it is most sunny, what time the light fades etc so that you always shoot in optimum light. 

Get familiar with your camera settings instead of shooting on auto, learn how to adjust the camera settings to work in different conditions. 

Choose a background that will best work with your product and the light source.


A key part in any image.  When choosing a background consider how it works with your product and keep it consistent.  It’s best to avoid highly saturated colours as they don’t photograph well and no amount of editing can bring out the true colour.  Pastels are great and work for a wide variety of products. Natural textures are also another favourite, marble, wood, brick, concrete, they add more depth, interest and texture to an image.  
Backgrounds are everywhere around the home, the kitchen bench, dining table, wooden floor, woolen rugs and throws, concrete floors or pathways just to name a few.  
Make the most of what you have available, you can also paint your own.  Wrapping paper and wallpaper are also great options to have on hand.


This one is slightly trickier but the best advice I can give is choose items that relate to your product and help tell your brand’s story.  Try to avoid items that are too big or brightly coloured as they can overpower the hero of the image. Don’t overcrowd an image with lots of extra props, if in doubt flowers, foliage and plants work with almost anything!


You can introduce colour to your image in a number of forms, through the background, the props or the product itself.  I find that coloured backgrounds are a great way to keep a consistent look running through your imagery.  Perhaps paint some backgrounds in your brand colours and work with that.  Colourful props can be a subtle way of bringing a colourful edge to your images and food is a great colourful addition along with flowers, stationery and art supplies.  If colour is your brand’s middle name then of course a coloured background with suitable colourful props can also produce a stunning look.  If your product is already colourful then I suggest choosing complementary colours or neutrals for your background and props.

Finally, we all know what a flat lay is by now and with good reason, they are a great way to show your product in a real situation.  If this is not your strong suit experiment, watch tutorials and develop your own unique style, this is bound to get people’s attention!

If you would like to read more and find out about how Nikki can help you with your visual content, here are her details:


Thursday, 1 March 2018

Dandelion Date in a Box

I have been married to my husband Andrew for 15 years!
When I came across Odette's business Dandelion Date in a Box, I wholeheartedly believed in what she is providing straight away.
Amongst the busyness of life, children, work, family activities etc etc it can be hard to be able to spend quality time with our partners. You know the time when it is the two of you without TV, phones, interruptions....
I love how Odette has thought through every one of her date boxes and has run with themes for different interests couples may have. 
Enjoy your read,
Becky x  

Tell us a little bit about yourself 

I own and operate Dandelion Date in a Box, and I’m married to the person that I chose to tolerate for the rest of my life. 😉 My incredible husbands’ name is John, and he’s a real pillar of support in every aspect of my life. 
I’m originally from sunny South-Africa, currently living the dream in New-Zealand, seriously I’m here for the astounding coffee culture. 😉 
My motto in life is to do as much of what I love and to follow my dreams because if I don’t, I'll never know how amazing they might have been. 

Mellow Out Date

When did you start your business? 

At the end of 2016, I found out that we were immigrating to New-Zealand. My husband was going to work odd hours, entirely different than what we are used to, at that stage. We had just gotten married after a 4-year relationship, and already we were going on another amazing adventure. One thing that has always been extremely important to us is to spend quality time together, to catch up every week and this was going to be quite the challenge with all the changes. I started thinking about how we would incorporate regular date nights into our new lifestyle, and I was fully aware of the concept of date night box companies from around the world. I began rumbling through the internet to find something similar in New-Zealand that we could use. And I came back blank, there was no current business, offering a similar service. I then decided I’ll just do it myself, I’ll make date night boxes we could use whenever, and I could choose absolutely anything we liked. We began making jokes that I should sell them. Clearly, there’s a market and who doesn’t like date nights, right? It stayed an inside joke until one night, out of the blue, my husband announced that I should just go for it. I thought about it, and it is something that is right up my alley, I like making/arranging special things for others. I delved into more research and got my ducks in a row and officially launched Dandelion Date in a Box in September 2017, after many months of joking about it. 

Mystery Movie Date

How did you name your business? 

From the very start, I knew I wanted a name that meant something to me. So, I got out my trusty notepad and started scribbling down ideas. I wanted people to know what I offer straight away, so Date in a Box was evident; but it was too commercial like for my taste, and it needed character. 
After really thinking it through I decided to add Dandelion to the name because of the whimsical, wishes do come true characteristic it has. Plus, it brings back so many fond memories of when I was a little girl blowing dandelion wishes with my mom. 
And after all, I wanted to make couples date night wishes come true, so it was the perfect match. 

Adventure Awaits Date

What is your favourite product within your range? 

Without a doubt, it has to be the very first box I launched which is the ‘Coffee Lovers Date’. 
I run on coffee, literally, and tasting new coffees is one of my favourite things. 

What is one thing you do daily to make your business work? 

I tell my husband that I love him and I thank God for what I have. 
Without my husband, nothing of this would even be possible. He is my biggest inspiration, and without that inspiration, my business won’t be the success it is. 

Sweet Cake Pop Mini Date

Where to from here with your business? 

I’ve been utterly amazed by the amount of support, encouragement and feedback I’ve received over the past couple of months and I’m continually improving, business wise. 
I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying: “By supporting a small business, you’re supporting a dream.” Well let’s just say, I’ve got some pretty big dreams. The opportunities are absolutely endless. 
I’m busy working on a couple of new boxes, and I’ve also got some exciting products launching this year that’s not entirely date night boxes, but unquestionably love related. 

Create & Paint Mini Date

How can we buy a Date Box?

My products are available on my website. I also have a couple listed on The Hive, where people can also support various different small businesses from across NZ. 


Special requests are ALWAYS welcome. 😊

01 09 10