Sunday, February 21, 2010

Frances Elizabeth Originals Trunk Show

Join us Wednesday, Feb 24th through Saturday, February 27th for our Frances Elizabeth Originals Trunk Show , featuring their new Spring and Summer children's clothing line for 2010. For those of you who shopped with us last spring, you will remember the adorable handmade children's clothes that we carried, featuring the highest of quality and designer fabrics. This year we are pleased to be able to offer their entire line to our customers for custom ordering. You will be able to view all of the 160 pieces of their children's clothing line, try them on your child and select the styles, sizes and fabrics to create unique and adorable outfits for your little ones. The clothing is available in sizes from 12 months to size 14 and they are also introducing a boy's clothing line this season. Plan to visit our store anytime during our normal store hours on these four days to take advantage of this great trunk show. We are the ONLY store in Virginia that will be having this show, so please bring a friend and let others know who may not live in our immediate area.

Frances Elizabeth Originals Trunk Show

Wed, Feb 24th 11-6
Thurs, Feb 25th 11-7
Fri, Feb 26th 11-6
Sat, Feb 27th 10-6

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The "True" Cost of Wedding Invitations

As everyone is becoming much more "budget conscious", including the brides of today, we often get asked about what wedding invitations typically cost. This question comes with a very complex answer that is sometimes hard to communicate effectively to brides. There are so many factors that come in to play when selecting the invitation that meets the needs of the bride, that it is difficult to attach a single dollar amount. We work with hundreds of brides each year, and have always been able to meet their budget requirements, even if it took some extra creativity!

I recently read a very good article on this issue on the blog of Los Angeles based wedding coordinator, Amber Gustafson of Amber Events. It offered a wonderful explanation of things that brides should take into consideration when planning the budget for their wedding invitations and stationery. If it helps even one bride to get a better perspective on this all important first impression of their wedding, then we as experts have done our jobs.

Enjoy & let us know how we can help you find the perfect invitation to represent your big day, within your budget of course. Visit the brides page on our website for more information about our services.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

An Easy "Go Green" First Step

I must admit that I have not been the first person to jump on the "go green" bandwagon and I have recently started to feel more and more guilty about not doing my part to save our precious planet. While searching for new products to carry in our boutique store, which is a never-ending job, I have begun to come across an increasing number of eco-friendly items that I must say are very "trendy" and not so "earthy". I decided to feature a new product that we are now selling in our store, and selling very well I might add.

snackTAXIs (formerly known as Happy Sacks) are reusable bags for snacks and sandwiches. Use them as you would plastic sandwich bags, they're food movers for a happy planet! They come in an infinite number of fabric patterns and designs, are completely washable, with an easy-to-wipe clean inside, and may be reused over and over again. Owner and inventor, Erin Kelly-Dill, invented snackTAXIs way back in 2003 as a way to stem the tide of plastic ziplock bags that flowed from her house to the landfill when her 3 kids started school! She pack over 500 lunches every year, and had definitely fallen prey to the easy appeal of the ziplock bag. They are made in Erin's home-based workshop by talented (and fun!) local sewers. Better yet, Erin is committed to keeping our business local, and will never outsource her labor. What a novel idea.

We have both the snack and sandwich size snackTAXIs for sale in our store in various patterns and will continue to re-stock them as fast as they move off our shelves. My son loves his new "sandwich holder" for his lunch! Let your kids show off being "green", save you lots of money and our earth in the process. They're even stylish enough for mom's lunch too!

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Unique Surprise Gift!

Today was pretty much a regular Monday and I was having a fine day, not bad, not great, just regular day...until our awesome UPS delivery driver Michael showed up with our daily deliveries. Being the type of store that we are, we receive daily shipments of special order gifts, wedding invitation orders and new inventory. It is always somewhat of a surprise to see "what came today". I reviewed the return addresses on all of the boxes determining which would get the priority of being opened first, and I was surprised to see a box from someone called Elenis. I didn't recognize the name at all, and noticed that the box had a cute pink design on the outside...hmmm...seemed interesting.

I quickly decided to open it first and was so surprised by the beautiful packaging! I knew it must be something really good and being unexpected made it even better. I have included a picture below of the adorable packaging.

Turns out that it was custom cookies from the folks at NYIGF (which translates into the New York International Gift Show) as a thank you gift for my attendance and participation. What a "sweet" gift, literally! This has got to be one of the coolest, most unique thank you gifts I have ever received. I mean these weren't just cookies, like in a tin that you get as a holiday vendor thank you, these were cookies, artfully packaged as a gift and printed with the NYIGF logo on the icing on top of the cookie! I mean how much more unique can you get. This gift expert was sufficiently impressed and my day instantly went from good to great, thus I wanted to share this unique gift idea with all of you. You can view the actual cookies below, before they got eaten :)

Visit Elenis' website to find out more about how you can send these artistic, tasty and custom thank you gifts. They also do cookie favors for all occasions from baby showers, to weddings, kid's parties, birthdays, or just cookies that say Thank You. Lots of adorable ideas.

I am so appreciative of this unique gift from NYIGF, and you can be sure they will get an extra special handwritten thank you note from me! I look forward to sending some cookies of my own for gifts in the future.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

5 Year Milestone...

Five years ago this month... I launched a website to sell stationery that I printed at home and offered invitation services by appointment. I still worked full-time and thought that this new idea would be a fun "side-job" to keep me busy and fuel my creative side. I had no idea then what that little website would become. I can still remember what my very first stationery order placed on that website was for, a package of 10 note cards with a cute little ladybug on them for a cute little then 1 year old girl, the daughter of one of my best friends, for whom I have since printed many more note cards. During the last five years things have changed tremendously, sometimes to the point of being overwhelming. I slowly built a very loyal customer base of friends and family, which grew to include their friends and family and so on and so on. I started to have dreams of opening a "real" store and two short years later, that impossibly sounding dream came true. We started out in a space that most retailers would have scoffed at, mainly because it was the size of a shoebox, a very small shoebox, but it worked and it worked well. I can even still remember the very first person who walked in the door as I sat patiently waiting the day of our "soft" opening. She was waiting to have her car serviced and just passing time, she had no idea that we had literally just opened minutes before she walked in. She purchased some sterling engraved earrings for herself and was quite delighted with her little find of our new store. We had never met, however, I have seen her many, many times since and now I call her a friend.

I was very blessed to be able to move to a much larger and brand new location in 2008 and my business has continued to grow even in a bleak economy. We learned a lesson about trademarks, and changed our business name in order to get a trademark of our own. I took the leap of hiring my first real "employees" that year as well and have never looked back on my hand-picked choices. Owning a small business has taught me so much about myself, about business, about customers and about life in general. I never knew how much I would learn. I have met so many wonderful people and made so many new friends. My life is much richer for the relationships that I have made with everyone from my customers, vendors, employees, delivery drivers, sales reps, advertisers, neighboring business owners, community members, and everyone who has touched my business in these five years.

There is still a lot to learn as a business owner, a lot to do to grow my business and a lot to be thankful for each and every day. Please know that I am thankful for each and every person who is now reading this message, most of whom I know by name, because in some way, you have personally helped to make my business what it is today.

I look forward to many more years of getting to know you and helping to meet all of your invitation, stationery and gift needs.

Elizabeth Howard
The Cordial Cricket

Trip to NY Gift Show

Just some of the highlights of our recent trip
to the New York Gift Show...

Me with Bonnie Marcus of Bonnie Marcus Style Press.
We just love her stationery! Can you believe she's a mom of three boys!
Great work on her new designs. She was so sweet in person.

Me with Stacey Hagarman of s. e. hagarman designs. She was such a delight & so stylish! We will soon have her Swanky Stationery in the store, but I already know that her fashion forward designer note cards won't last long!