Bella Lina Bath

Soap is on the mind

Category: Soap is on the Mind

2014 Road Trip

So here’s some pictures from our road trip!

IMG_1362

So this is Angie at our first pit stop in Daytona Beach. She had to take a picture with a “real” snowman. I let that one go and the fact that it was in front of bar because she just looked so cute.

We wanted to stop to have lunch and buy souvenirs. As many times as I’ve been to Daytona I have never done the tourist bit. Almost everything in the souvenir shop had something to do with weed. Either I picked the wrong souvenir shop, or I’ve lived under a rock and marijuana has been legalized.

IMG_1366

I thought this was absolutely gorgeous. I never took the chance to actually enjoy Daytona. For me it always seemed like a dirty tourist trap. Guess I was the dirty tourist that day 🙂

Although as we were walking out of the beach I did happen to read the sign that said the water was contaminated, no swimming. So there’s that.

IMG_1396

Daytona was absolutely beautiful.

IMG_1435

Our next stop was Delray Beach. When I say picturesque… that doesn’t even cover it! My mother lives here, we were on our way to the grocery store. Can you believe this is the view?!!! You know I had to stop!

IMG_1437

This was right off of the sidewalk. It was so beautiful I can’t even explain how full my heart was. The weather was perfect!!

IMG_1441

There was about 10 people on the beach. This was Christmas Day, a crisp 70 something almost 80.

10961940_10203673676150137_303532936_n

Best Christmas ever! I may not have been born on the beach but that’s where my heart is always content.

10965575_10203673675910131_168774355_n

So I’m not even going to say how many pictures we tried to take together. The pictures were coming out wrong and that’s when mom pointed out we were facing the sun, so we turned around and she took the iPad. Then she kept covering camera with her thumb and we both took a minute to figure that out. I don’t know what happens when were together. But I can guarantee it’s always an adventure!!

10965567_10203673675710126_1033328406_n

We bitter-sweetly left mom and headed for the west coast. But not before stopping in the Everglades!!

10967961_10203673674230089_300807828_nWe pulled over and this alligator was actually on the pavement! It was probably about 50 feet long! Just kidding maybe 4 or 5. Jeremy was like “DON’T GET OUT OF THE CAR!” Me being the awesome tourist said “I’ll just take a quick pic and jump back in”… Well the sun was shining and I couldn’t see what I was taking pictures of so I finally got a shot after he/she was already in the water, I have about 20 asphalt pics though 🙂

The air was so clean. It smelled different and all of my stress really seemed to just melt away. The Everglades seemed to just swallow up all of my problems and just made everything seem so small and insignificant. The kids had a great time too. I really do have some awesome kids. They sat in the car and enjoyed every minute.

10877981_10203673674310091_406348585_n10966579_10203673673590073_1078606301_n

10961793_10203673673430069_153244505_n

In this moment I felt just an overwhelming weight of gratitude. This trip was really spiritual for me and helped me mentally set my priorities. In this quiet place on the edge of the Everglades, I thanked God for blessing me with these amazing people to share my life with. I realized that I need to take more time to just tune everything and everyone else out and just spend more undivided quality time with these people.

10941697_10203673673310066_370255138_n

We stopped at the last gas station for like 140 miles to make sure that we filled up the tank, checked tires, and fluids. The last thing I wanted to be was gator bait. As we were leaving I happened to actually read an old beat up sign that said Seminole Museum with a beat up looking Native American pointing to the right. The opposite direction of the highway. But what the hey, we were on a road trip right? After 18 miles of two lane road and probably 3000 gators we happen upon this sign. I’m thinking inside that even if we wanted to make a u-turn we’d end up in a gator ditch and you know… I’m pretty delectable. So I kept my mouth shut.

10952773_10203673667429919_1322224096_n

After passing some houses we ended up at a pretty awesome museum!! They had a video clip that explained how the Seminoles were never really from Florida because all of those Native American’s were wiped out and the Seminoles were actually from Tennessee and surrounding states. It went on for a bit and explained so much and I get super emotional with those kinds of things so I was totally trying to hide my tears. I would totally recommend this museum to anyone passing the Everglades! They also had a 3 mile nature walk that was kind of creepy. The first sign says to keep yourself and limbs on the actual walkway which is a few feet higher than the ground. Then they had different signs of tree species and insects. I come across a sign explaining poisonous spiders… then bobcats… then cougars. I look around and there’s a family behind us but I think that’s it. So after reading the cougar sign I’m yelling at the kids “Mush!!” Thinking OMG were back in a cheesy horror flick.

10968000_10203673672870055_519394074_n 10966917_10203673672590048_1741368717_n 10966557_10203673672470045_1356582092_n 10967059_10203673672350042_397168098_n 10965315_10203673672070035_471515800_n 10966848_10203673672030034_1328835483_n 10966775_10203673671870030_1984828518_n 10250918_10203673671630024_2084430656_n 10961683_10203673671510021_554887345_n

By the end I felt glad we were out of there and vaguely like I was in the Bog of eternal Stench in Labyrinth. Without the stench of course.

After that we spent a day with Jeremy’s mom on the West Coast of Florida but by that time I was missing home and ready to sleep in my bed. Taking this road trip was an amazing and spiritual experience. I know I came back a different person. Definitely stronger 🙂 I’m thinking Tennessee or Georgia next year.

The end of another chapter…

I want to start of by saying that one of my goals for 2014 was to take a family vacation. We have never had one because we just didn’t have the money, or if we did we decided that it wasn’t the right time or correct use of our money. Especially after the ups and downs of 2013. I’m just going to put it out there because I’m just bursting at the seams to tell you! Our trip was fully funded with Bella Lina Bath profits!! Can you believe it? My little ‘hobby’ has not only turned a profit but it’s turned a profit that pays a good portion of our monthly expenses and was able to fully fund a family vacation!!

This road trip was so liberating. It proved to me that I made the right decision for myself and my family. I don’t have to explain myself or allow myself to be less than anymore. I am good enough. I know a lot of you who know me are going to be like “what”?  “Girl, shut up, you know you’re fabulous.”

It’s so hard to explain, but I know we’ve all been there. I spent these last couple of years in constant “I need the money” status. I’ll do that market, or I’ll do that wholesale account even though they make me feel like they are so much better than me because I need the money.  I worked hard because I felt like I didn’t have the funds to work smart. I allowed people to treat me a certain way because I felt like if I told them how really felt then they wouldn’t buy my product.

But taking this trip and really just allowing myself to reflect I realized that I had things all wrong. My most loyal customers knew the “real” me. They appreciated me all the more for it. Those customers that I let talk to me in a certain way ended up being the ones that never bought anything. And of course those wholesale accounts that acted like the world revolved around them ended up costing me more money than they ever paid me. I realized I was letting these things happen to me. I was saying yes to everything because I needed the money and in the end taking a hit. We were already back on track in 2014 but it was hard for me to turn that kind of attitude off.

I realized that just because certain people are friendly, that doesn’t mean they’re your friend. I realized that I need to stop focusing on wholesale accounts and getting new customers. I need to focus on growing my business internally by having more stock and variety for my current loyal customers. I need to go back to the beginning when I listened, thanked, and stayed humbly grateful. I now know that my business didn’t grow through boutiques, international accounts, big box stores, or any of that hoopla. It grew from you, and you told your friend about me and your friend ended up bringing another friend and so on. So it’s to you I say thank you.

The Real Pay it Forward

I was packing up yesterday after a rainy day at the market, a man in business casual clothes, a work badge, and an old but cared for hat approached me. I was laughing with my other vendor friends and having a good time. He asked me how I was, I replied with a smile “Hi. I’m good, how are you?” That’s when I noticed his face. He had this look, he was educated, but desperate. He smiled, he had white teeth but his smile was empty.

He said I know this is kind of an unorthodox question but I was wondering if I could help you pack your stuff into your car. I really don’t care how much you pay me, you could pay me a dollar if you want. As he was talking he must have noticed that I was studying his clothes, the fact that he was wearing a work badge, his nice but scuffed up shoes, his soft-spoken intellectual voice. He explained how he lost his full-time job, and then he lost his car, then he lost place. He explained how he sold everything he owned just to be able to eat and pay the $8 a day he needed to sleep in a shelter. He told me that he finally got another job but he just couldn’t get ahead. He explained that he had $13 for transportation for him to get to work this week, but he still needed $8 to stay in the shelter tonight.

He kept talking, but I said hold on a sec, went into my tent and took $10 out of my cash box and gave it to him. I told he didn’t need to keep explaining anything. I told him that he didn’t need to help me work, he’s worked hard enough just making his way to me. I told him there was a reason we met, I was meant to help him today. I gave him a bag and told him to get whatever he wanted from my stock, and to come back when he ran out. He started crying.

He told me that this has been the hardest year of his life. He told me that I wasn’t the first person that he tried to help, he told me that everyone before me gave him horrible looks, didn’t listen to a word he had to say, and told him to keep it moving. He told me that he knows how God is, but his faith has been shaken.

My heart really broke for him. I looked through his sad eyes, but all I could say was I’m sorry. I was angry, because his life can be anyone of ours. It wasn’t too long ago that we almost lost our house. If it wasn’t for family, I’d be in his same shoes. I was angry that anyone would think they were better than that. When I got home, I was angry that I didn’t give him more.

I was angry at myself for feeling accomplished in the “pay it forward” days at Starbucks. Really? Let me go ahead and pay for someone who can afford an expensive cup of coffee. When Mr. Rayquan needed $3 than that cup of coffee for a bed to sleep in.

As I type this, I have this knot in my throat because I expect more of myself. So if I see Rayquan again next week, I’ll buy him some fruits and vegetables, I’ll give him bottled waters, and my cooler, I’ll pay for his week at the shelter, and give him whatever he needs. Because it’s not up to us to figure out who’s telling the truth, it’s about helping when we can.

That’s what I consider paying it forward.

We don’t plan to stop using Palm Oil

I always knew a few things at the grocery store used Palm Oil in their ingredients. But I had no idea that up to 50% of the packaged everyday items include Palm Oil. From pizza dough, ice cream, lipstick, and detergent. After doing a bit of research it was pretty clear that Palm Oil used a lot of names that are impossible to pronounce. But if it starts with Palm, its palm oil.

Even with all that being said, we will continue to use Palm Oil. Because we use RSPO Red Palm Oil. By using Red Palm Oil we’re actually helping families provide for themselves. These families are no different from my own just trying to make a better life for their children. Because of this I don’t mind paying extra for this awesome oil. Yes, by using organic oils (I use organic coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil too) I make about .70 cents less per bar than other soapers because I haven’t raised my prices. But it’s worth it to me to help other families, and provide high quality products at a reasonable price.

sustainable red palm oil rspo

sustainable red palm oil rspo

I also add Bentonite Clay and Tussah Silk to all of my soaps too. Yes, not some..  all of them!

 

August Giveaway is Live!

August Giveaway, click on this link to enter.

Our Monthly Giveaway is live and ready for entries! 3 Winners are chosen each month. This month we are giving away any soap currently on our website. Good luck, hope to be emailing you at the end of the month!

Going back to Etsy

If you follow my website and Facebook page, you probably know that I’ve been running a monthly giveaway. I pick three winners every month, and I just love doing it. It’s attracted new customers, added new likes to my Facebook page, but most of all it’s allowed my customers to give me their input.

I’ve gotten more than one request for free shipping and lower shipping on one item. I checked through my website (weebly) and in order for me to run discounts or automatic deductions, it would cost me an additional $20 per month! Which would mean that I’d have pass those costs onto my products. I’m not willing to do that, so the easiest solution was to go back to selling on Etsy.

I haven’t sold anything since last year, and to be honest my Etsy site looked pretty sad. After revamping it, I realized that my website just wasn’t my style either. So I ended up changing my whole website to a brighter and simpler style. I changed my product page to automatically go to my etsy site to make purchases. The website is still there, just better 🙂

So now shipping for one bar of soap is $3.00 and any order over $30 has free shipping with coupon code FREESHIPPING

How do you like my son as the banner?

Green Tea Eucalyptus

It’s been about a year since I’ve made Green Tea Eucalyptus, that won’t happen again! These bars are 100% Organic even the Green Tea leaves are organic. I love using tea in my bars because most of the benefits you get from drinking the tea you also get from using them as soap. Eucalyptus essential oil is almost a must during this time of year. I usually wake up with a stuffy nose and puffy eyes during the winter, so this bar really helps in a steam shower.

These bars are available on the website http://www.bellalinabath.com and every Saturday at the Riverside Arts Market from 10am to 4pm.

Making of Loofah Beer

I love the world of editing. Everything just looks so quick and easy. I can just edit out my panic attacks, my kids who always want to play hide and seek the minute I press record, and of course my mother who bursts in to discuss topics that shouldn’t be repeated.

I have a panic attack EVERYTIME I make a beer soap. Because beer moves so quickly, so to pour the soap into a loofah can be a bad situation if you don’t move fast! That’s why I don’t add any color to the soap or even really stick blend it.

I scented it with a blend of Frankincense and Myrrh, Sandalwood, and Patchouli. It’s a fragrance from Crafters Choice called Three Wise Men. I like to add extra Sandalwood essential oil just to add depth. I use Intuition Jon Boat beer, which is a local brewery. I replace the water and use 100% beer. The beer is really good, and comes in a cute blue and silver can.

I package these soaps in two coffee filters and use a 2 inch kraft label for the name and ingredients of the soap. Keeping things simple and low-cost when it comes to packaging allows me to use more expensive ingredients like organic coconut oil, sustainable red palm oil, and craft beers, and still keeping the soap prices down.

These bars are available online http://www.bellalinabath.com and every Saturday at the Riverside Arts Market under the Fuller Warren Bridge from 10am to 1pm until the last week in Feb. and then 10am to 4pm for the rest of the year.

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey

IMG_1060When I was younger my grandma would raid the fridge, grabbing milk, honey, and grinding up oatmeal to make a kind of porridge consistency and slather it on her face. I always told her she was a crazy old lady and she’d always respond in Spanish saying “I may be crazy, but I don’t look old”. I always followed her around and she’d slather these crazy concoctions on my eczema and face too. Turns out she was onto something!

Here’s a few pictures of some of the soaps I’ve been working on. I’ll work on making more videos too, now that my soap studio is presentable.

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey1660548_10201390921842706_1681163536_nThese pictures haven’t been edited at all. This is Oatmeal, Milk & Honey is a totally unscented bar made with colloidal oatmeal, milk, and organic local honey. Although it’s unscented it kind of smells like a snicker doodle. I love this soap when my eczema flares up, if my skin feels tight, or if I’m just feeling sensitive. I love using colloidal oatmeal because your skin absorbs the benefits better than regular oats. I use raw,  This bar is great for eczema, psoriasis, acne, insect bites, poison ivy, diaper rashes, and sunburns.

Raw, unheated, organic honey has antibacterial properties that speed the healing of infections and wounds, including acne. It also contains antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals to promote healthy skin. Honey also improves skin hydration, an important factor in the skin’s ability to maintain softness, suppleness and elasticity. -http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/food-nutrition/facts/the-benefits-of-honey.htm

The last healing ingredient is milk. Turns out even Cleopatra used milk on her skin! Milk helps to smooth, heal, nourish and soften your skin. It prevents premature aging which we can really use with the harsh sun in the summer and these polar ice fronts in the winter. Milk helps with irritations, removing stains on your skin, and helps to exfoliate dead skin cells.

It’s available for purchase on my website http://www.bellalinabath.com, at Salon 5 located 14333  #28 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250, and at the Riverside Arts Market every Saturday under the Fuller Warren Bridge from 10am-1pm during the off-season and 10am-4pm after March.

 

 

So many changes this past year, all for the better!

This past year has truly been an amazing one for me, my family, and my thriving small business. In January my husband lost his job of 13 years. This was a big hit financially and emotionally to husband and I, I was always the “free spirit” the person that jumped from project to project, worked part-time to have a little play money, but never really took anything seriously when it came to working. My husband was always the unmoving rock so to speak, I just fluttered around him 🙂  Luckily, we had a little savings for a rainy day (it was pouring) so we cashed it out and decided that Orlando, FL wasn’t where we wanted to raise our children. We wanted to be in an area that we could slow down and enjoy the scenery… and by scenery, I of course meant beach. So what better place than Jacksonville Beach, my mother had lived here for a few years and had nothing but good things to say about it.

So in March, I quit my full-time job, yes I said full-time. It was supposed to be a part-time job that I could just be Jessica, not mom, or maid, or doormat… just Jessica. I wanted a simple job that by the time I walked out of the door, I forgot I worked that day. After 4.5 years, I had moved into quasi management, took on full-time hours, and a super stressful workload. So when opportunity hit (and the frustration of getting a 7 cent raise) I “went to lunch” and never looked back! This past Black Friday was the first Black Friday I haven’t worked in a looong time! It felt fantabulous to sleep in.

After we moved, my husband and I had the discussion. This year was going to be the year that Bella Lina Bath was either going to sink or swim. I had gone to farmers markets and selling online for a little over year, but I never put everything I had into it. After my two kids, college, husband, and a full-time job there wasn’t much left. In May I started at the Riverside Arts Market (RAM). After looking far and wide RAM seemed to be the only market that people talked about.

This place was AMAZING! There’s so many vendors selling all kinds of things. My first thought after going a couple of weeks and then touring with the newbie group was “I don’t belong here”. I thought about how I’m only one person with two hands. But what really stuck was the sinking feeling that “I’m not good enough”. I was shaking out of my flip-flops terrified.

When I got home, I sat in my soap studio and said to myself “this is it”. I come from a long line of business women, I’m strong I can do this too. I was still scared the first show, but I was on fake it to make it status! Although it was raining the first day, I met wonderful customers that have stuck with me and really helped me build my business confidence.

After a couple of months of just really putting myself out there, I had a following! People who came back telling me about how their skin had changed and how I had miracle products!! I knew that my products had always worked for me and my family, but that leap of faith when it comes to sharing something so close to your heart with others really puts you in a vulnerable place. I can’t even begin to explain the joy and contentment I feel when people come back with a clear face when they had acne, or eczema before.

Not only has my business grown this past year in a new town that has embraced me in a way that I could never have imagined, but I have grown as a person because of it. By putting my dream out there, without holding anything back and getting all the positive feedback… really just makes me teary eyed every time I think about it.

As I sit here writing this balling my eyes out (with joy), I think about where I was last year. I was sad, frustrated, cluttered, claustrophobic, 20 lbs heavier, aggravated, unfulfilled, and so much more. This time last year I wanted to just walk away from life with whatever fit in my car.

Well I did! One year later, I’m happy, ecstatic, fulfilled, in love, organized (for the most part), living greener, actually making good friends, and just basically enjoying living. I’m no longer existing… and it really took writing this to see how far I’ve come in just one year.

If my husband never lost his job, I don’t know if I’d be sitting here as happy and content as I am now. I might still be at a dead-end job, making money but losing my humanity (I know it sounds dramatic, I’m dramatic), living in a small cluttered space, without real human interaction. One door closes, and the world opens up I guess. 🙂

%d bloggers like this: