So, over the last couple of days I’ve been doing something a little different and to be honest a bit out of my comfort zone – but that’s how we grow right?? I’ve come the closest in a long time to having a proper job.
What do I do?
I’ve been at my children’s school for their ‘career – workplace’ week along with other parents and local businesses. We’ve been talking about our jobs and why we do what we do.
I was really impressed with the questions asked, especially by the older children. I also felt kind of humbled by their understanding of why I do what I do.
When the letter came home the previous week asking parents if they were willing and available to come in for a sort of ‘careers fair’ I half jokingly put my name down for ‘Direct Sales’. To be honest I didn’t think anyone would want me as I don’t work full time and for so many it’s not a ‘proper job’. Would teachers really want me to tell children that I don’t work much because I’m a full time mother and the business I have just fills the gaps?
So I ticked both days meaning I was available for either and expecting to hear nothing.
Well that’ll teach me! They asked me to come in both days and I was the only person who did do both days!
What do you want to do when you grow up and get a proper job?
I know when I was young parenthood wasn’t a viable career option. Looking back on my education I feel a bit lied to. I grew up feeling empowered and encouraged to change the world. No one explained that if I had children I couldn’t actually have it all. On the contrary I had to make choice.
So I told the children that I used to have another job but gave it up when my children were born. Then I wanted a business that would allow me complete flexibility of time and allow me to earn some money even if not a full time income as it’s not a full time job.
I thought they’d all be more interested to ask what my ‘proper job’ had been before my children were born. Yet not one child asked me that question. Instead they all seemed to get it. Perhaps because our children value the time we spend at home with them, even when we don’t or when we don’t realise how much they appreciate us just ‘being there’.
What did they get out of it?
I don’t know the answer to that. Most of them seemed to want to join the police (he did have much more interesting gadgets and equipment compared to my bookmarks and birthday cards!). Though their eyes did all light up when I explained that my job involves eating a lot of cake.
But I was reminded how clever and astute our children are. When I was 6 it was a visit from a missionary couple that sparked something in me to work overseas. That never left me and was the basis for my previous ‘proper job’. It’s still something I’d like to go back to. But for now my children appreciate me just being there for them. Even if they and I don’t always realise it. So I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, blogging about and selling cards and eating cake.
I’ve been busy making Christmas cakes. As some of them are for others, like teacher thank you presents, they need to go in nice Christmas Cake Boxes.
Here are my favourite Christmas cake boxes that I use for small gifts.
I find all of these just perfect for small gifts, not just at Christmas but obviously at Christmas they get used more.
Firstly there are the Cube boxes
If you need something to put a small cake in then these are great. Approximately 10cm cubed they will hold a small cake or a large decorated muffin.
I made these Christmas cakes in a large muffin tin (it has 6 holes in the tin not 12 so you can imagine the kind of size). My mum tells me she used to make Christmas cakes with her school pupils in baked bean tins, so I think these boxes would work for those too.
By the way – do you like my snowman decoration on the cake?
Secondly there are the mini boxes
These smaller boxes will hold a standard cupcake or muffin. They will also hold sweets, chocolates, homemade biscuits etc.
oooh – or a surprise!
The base of these is about 6cm square and there are 5 in a pack.
I’ve also used these mini boxes for ‘party bags’ at my children’s birthday parties. I discovered pretty early on that when children get party bags all they were really interested in was the sweets! So not wanting to give out a huge bag of sweets I tried these on our guests. They went down a treat as they looked so different it was more like giving out a present to unwrap and I think the children liked that more.
So if you’re in need of Christmas Cake Boxes for those small homemade gifts then look no further.
PS I’d love to know what you put in yours. Do comment and share with us, or post a picture on my Facebook page.
I am always being asked for Nativity crafts for Sunday Schools, preschools and in the home so I’ve put together a list of some ideas.
Nativity Crafts for all ages
1 Make your own Nativity Scene
Younger children can have fun cutting out and colouring in their own Nativity Scene.
Or why not draw some Nativity characters together, cut out and stick some lollipop sticks to make some puppets. This lollipop craft set has lots of other ideas too. Then you can act out and talk about the Nativity story.
Alternatively use oven drying clay to make a lasting Nativity set. I found a great clip on Youtube to give you a start.
Do a Nativity related jigsaw. This one is good value with 4 x 500 jigsaws in it. Four jigsaws titled, Window Shopping, Letter to Santa, The Nativity Play and The Queen’s Speech provide an opportunity to talk about lots of aspects of Christmas. Jigsaws are great for developing little minds and doing them together is a great social opportunity too. Plus it will give you some downtime in the run up to Christmas.
3 Nativity picture
Make your own framed nativity scene. Cut out old Christmas cards, or draw your own background and characters and turn it in to a framed Nativity scene. Use a deep box frame to build a 3d picture of the Christmas story and then give as a gift.
Here are a few simple steps to make sure your gift wrapping looks good and doesn’t take hours to do.
1 Buy Quality Gift Wrapping Paper
If you want your gift to look neat then you need wrapping paper that won’t crumple or rip when you start to cut it or fold it. A decent grade of paper (100gsm or more) will make your job easier and make the end result look better.
2 Use Matching or Complimenting Tag
I have 4 children so I’ve been to a few children’s parties and how often have I seen presents with no tag and no card attached. There probably was a card when it was handed over but in the excitement it’s all been put to one side and the card and gift have become separated. It’s really nice to say thank you afterwards but if you don’t know who the present is from then you can’t. A good idea is to stock up on plain tags that will go with anything, like manilla ones, or a multi pack.
3 Use Ribbon
It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to add ribbon to a present. The most elaborate is probably organza ribbon but for a special occasion it really does the business. However baker’s twine is a really good buy and has lots of other uses too, or raffia is very cheap and a multi-coloured one looks fab.
If using organza, try adding an extra complimentary colour to the bow.
4 Cut straight lines
This is very hard to do with poor grade wrapping paper (see point 1) as most likely the paper will rip as you cut. Especially that foil stuff that looked so good on the roll and seemed really good value but when you open it you realise why it was so cheap as it falls apart in your hands.
Buy wrapping paper that has gridlines on the back, it makes your job easier and we’re all for that.
5 Keep it Simple
Don’t try and overcomplicate things. Sure you can find some great ideas for Japanese wrapping with fancy folds and origami on Pinterest and maybe for the odd occasion it’s great to give that a go. But when it comes to children’s parties, or Christmas where there’s a lot to do, keep it simple and make your life easier.
You can find lots of other great ideas and inspiration on Youtube.
If you found this useful and want another simple wrapping idea try The Gift Bag
I was intrigued by a review of Phoenix Trading that I found online the other day. What intrigued me most was that the reviewer wasn’t a Phoenix Trader and never had been. Furthermore he had admitted that he had never actually even seen a Phoenix card.
As I read on it was clear that he was using Phoenix as an MLM company (Multi-level marketing) to promote his own affiliate marketing proposal.
I thought this was pretty underhanded and certainly wouldn’t attract me to his offer. (At least he didn’t accuse us of pyramid selling!)
But what I found quite amusing was that he was arguing that MLM companies didn’t work because
a – you have to recruit
b – you have to hold the stock of what you’re selling, ie you can’t just do it online
…whereas in his opinion, affiliate marketing is better because you can just sell online without holding any stock yourself and without having to recruit to make money.
Well you see, the thing with Phoenix is – if you want to do marketing without recruiting or holding stock then you can actually do that with Phoenix! So really you have both options with Phoenix Trading because it offers that flexibility.
There is no obligation to sell from your stock, you can have an ecommerce website that is fulfilled by the company and you could market that purely online and get 20% from each sale. You don’t have to make a minimum each month or anything, for every order, however small, you get 20%.
So, if you’re not sure whether to do MLM or affiliate marketing, look for a company that offers both options with no minimum targets, that way you can have the benefits of both and won’t be stuck with one way.
I’ve added a quick note at the end with my personal opinion about ‘what went wrong’ with Phoenix Trading and what will be different about the new company.
If you want to join my new team now let me know here.
If you want to join my new customer loyalty programme you can do that here.
So you’ve heard of Phoenix Trading, you love their products and you want to know what’s happened to the company? In this blog post I reveal my experience of Phoenix Trading. What I expected from it and what I discovered. Here is my Phoenix Trading review.
I became a Phoenix Trader by ‘accident’!
What is it about Phoenix that attracted your attention? Did you find their cards were unlike any you see in the shops and better value? Had you received a present gift wrapped with roll wrap that looked better quality and prettier than any you had seen before? This is what most people say. Well for me it was the bookmarks!
While selling children’s books, I thought the bookmarks would compliment my stock…gradually I fell hook, line and sinker for their entire range of cards, stationery and other gifts.
Have you wondered if it would be worth being a Phoenix Trader just to get your hands on some cards, gift wrap and stationery that you love? I fell in love with the children’s range as I had young children. It was worth being a Phoenix Trader just for the birthday and Christmas cards I was going to use myself.
If you are worried that there will be lots of sales and recruitment targets, there aren’t. In all the time I’ve been doing Phoenix no one has pressured me to sell a certain amount or to recruit people.
I hadn’t intended to build a business from Phoenix but when I took a closer look at the commission package that Phoenix offer I realised that building a team and getting to the level of business bonuses was entirely doable. It wasn’t a requirement, no one would try and make me do it but it looked achievable. So if you are looking for a business, not just some free cards for yourself, there is that option too.
Do I need team members to make money?
There are two ways you can earn money with Phoenix; profit from sales and commission from the volume of sales your team do. You don’t have to do both it’s your choice and there are no targets for either. You decide what you want. I wanted an income from it!
Sales profit is simple as you get 30% profit on everything you sell. Furthermore there is more than that on greeting cards when people don’t take advantage of their 20% discount by buying 10 or more assorted cards at a time. I think that’s a pretty good profit margin for a direct sales company (and of course it means 30% discount on anything you use!).
Minimum of 5% commission on team sales – but how do you get a team? In the first few months after I started I was busy trying to work out how to ask people to join my team and the fear that goes with not knowing how to start that conversation when people started asking me! I realised it wasn’t about trying to convince all my friends and family to join my business but about listening to what customers were saying and picking up on the cues to let them know ‘you can do this too if you want’.
I now have a team of Phoenix Traders across the UK and in Australia.
What’s the company support like?
You don’t want to be stuck on your own, not knowing what to do when your starter pack arrives. On the other hand you probably don’t want to be bombarded by emails and phonecalls from your team leader either. I’ve found the support level to be just right. My team leader calls me when I want her to. There are Facebook groups to share ideas and encouragement. There will be team meetings (usually involving cake!) near you that you can choose to attend if you wish. I do not get any pressure, just support. I don’t get hassled by phone calls or emails telling me I’ve not done this or that. However I do get constant recognition when I reach a milestone, which I love.
It’s up to me to ask for input from others, it isn’t forced upon me and that’s the way I like it. I think it also makes for a better business to be honest as it’s then your responsibility.
What has really impressed me is how Phoenix Traders support each other across teams. This is something I feel very strongly about. If one grows we all grow as the ‘brand’ grows. I have received multiple nominations for the past two years for supporting other Traders outside my team. It’s this spirit of support across Phoenix which I think is somewhat unique to companies like us.
There has to be some negative in my Phoenix Trading review surely?
The ethos of Phoenix is about having an ethical business with beautiful artwork that makes people smile. We send cards and we sell cards. We wrap presents in the best wrapping paper I’ve ever used. So we aren’t as hot on social media but I’ve seen improvements since I joined.
When you show your starter pack of cards to your friends, colleagues, family the chances are they will ooh and ahh over the quality of the illustrations and product. They will see how fabulous your products are much more by physically holding them than from your Facebook page, or from a text message. Showing your cards to people is how you build your business and your personal ‘brand’. You can of course sell online too through a custom made website.
My top 5 highlights from my Phoenix Trading review
Low cost start up
Start from just £35, which includes 10 brochures to start collecting orders and 45 cards to sell immediately. Potential sales value of £70.
No one sets any targets except you. I have never felt under pressure to achieve any level of sales, recruits, bonuses or anything.
Great products you will use yourself
We all know someone with a birthday! You will use the cards yourself. In fact the hardest bit might be selling them and not sending them all yourself!
Really helpful and friendly people both fellow Traders and head office
Most friendly company I have ever worked amongst. You will meet people you wouldn’t have met otherwise and make great friends, if you want to.
Nothing to lose!
What’s the worst that can happen? You get left with a few fabulous cards that didn’t cost you much that you can use yourself.
So, what went wrong with Phoenix Trading? What will be different about Flamingo Paperie? (added August 2017)
If you’re still reading this far then you may well be asking what went wrong? Why did Phoenix Trading close? What will be different about Flamingo Paperie, given the involvement of some of the same management? These comments, like all the others in this article, are just my personal opinion based on what I know. There is probably a lot I don’t know.
What went wrong with Phoenix Trading?
In my opinion there were 2 major things that went wrong, trying to expand in to the USA and warehousing issues.
Expansion in to the USA – didn’t make money. Lost money and cost the company a lot of its reserves. Phoenix management are not the sort of people to give up easily and probably could have pulled out of USA sooner than they did but isn’t hindsight wonderful? It’s easy to throw that judgement in now knowing that the idea wasn’t profitable but at the time it would have been easy to persevere. After all it takes time to build a business right?
Warehousing – because we love our products so much it’s very difficult to pulp them! Phoenix rarely pulped discontinued lines. Phoenix offered sale items to Traders. However, this had the knock on effect of leaving Traders with lots of stock to sell that was no longer in the catalogues. Personally I think we should offer sales and special offers direct to customers. I also think we should ultimately pulp discontinued lines. This would have saved warehouse costs and kept the business fresher. This will now be happening in Flamingo when you join the Flamingo Customer Club.
I have a few other ideas about things that could have been done differently too but these two issues above would have made a big difference.
Well we aren’t trying to expand in to any other countries for a while! We’ll be outsourcing our warehousing, which should make it financially more efficient. We are introducing a customer loyalty programme. This is going to be fantastic for you if you’re a customer! You will get direct access to special offers and discounts and have the chance to buy stock that is due to be discontinued before it goes to pulp. We have a new director called Stuart Millar.
I know Stuart personally. He has even taken time to come and visit my small team in the Outer Hebrides. Stuart has been a Phoenix Trader for years and he’s a listener. I’m pretty much a nobody in the whole scheme of things but Stuart has had phonecalls and Skype calls with me and taken time to listen as well as encourage and develop my team. Without going in to too much detail of the previous commission structure, Stuart has done this despite the fact that he doesn’t earn commission directly from my sales. Having Stuart on board brings direct Trading experience to the table. It brings someone who was very much in touch with all activity-levels of the previous business. And therefore brings a greater understanding of what Traders need as well his own business and customer relations experience and knowledge.
Flamingo Paperie will be a much more enhanced company built on experience, lessons learnt and listening to what all parties are saying.
Like most direct sales, network marketing businesses Phoenix Trading is flexible so you make it work to suit you. Therefore, another person’s Phoenix Trading review might be totally different. I hope you’ve found my Phoenix Trading review helpful.
To join my new team with the new company click here
You could leave a comment telling me what you thought about Phoenix Trading. Perhaps you’re thinking about joining the new venture, what do you like about the idea, what are you not sure about? Were you a Trader, feel free to tell us what you loved about it. Or were you a happy Phoenix customer – what made us different to other card outlets? What’s your Phoenix Trading review?
You know Christmas isn’t far away when it’s time to start opening your advent calendar. I remember every advent calendar I had when I was little. They were all traditional advent calendars with 24 little doors to open. Even if I got a new one the next year I would still reuse the old one pushing the doors shut as tightly as I could so I could reopen them again. My children love chocolate but when it comes to advent calendars the delight and wonder of the traditional advent calendar is what they ask for.
If you’re looking for something more traditional this Christmas season then here are some of the best traditional advent calendars you will find. Flamingo Paperie (from the people who brought you Phoenix Trading) have been producing well-known, beautifully illustrated, traditional advent calendars for over 20 years now. With either 24 doors to open or 24 pieces to press out and slot in or stand up, these calendars will stay in the memories for years to come. All printed in the UK and beautifully illustrated.
Whether you love Nativity themed, Santa or just Christmassy there are traditional advent calendars for everyone.
The Nativity Stable, with both slot in and stand up pieces, illustrated by Kate Garrett is our current bestseller. This is a perfect advent for classrooms, Sunday School or at home.
Ski Resort, with slot in pieces and illustrated by Julia Rigby. Christmas Ark, with 24 slot in pieces, illustrated by Julia Rigby. Tower of London, with a mixture of slot in pieces and doors to open, illustrated by Amanda Loverseed. Winter Village, with 24 slot in pieces, illustrated by Sue James.
The Reindeer Stables, with 24 slot in pieces and illustrated by Amanda Loverseed is our second bestselling advent calendar. Of course you’ll know all the reindeer names but in case you forget one, they’re on each of the stable doors!
If you’d like to see the Winter Village unfold day by day then take a look at my video of the advent calendar being built.
The latest designs are available online in my Flamingo Shop now. Click here or click on an image to go straight to that calendar. Alternatively keep reading to see some well loved old favourites, available while stocks last here, at Cards and Gift Wrap.
Snowy Village, 24 houses to build and place round the village. Elegantly illustrated by Sally Swannell. Christmas Tree, 24 slot in decorations, Illustrated by Amanda Loverseed.
Bethlehem, with 24 slot in pieces and illustrated by Sarah Summers and Nativity with 24 doors to open in a 3D display, illustrated by Anna Cattermole are both exquisitely illustrated advent calendars depicting the story of Jesus’ birth.
If you want something with a Santa theme then the following advent calendars all have some aspect of Santa’s part in the big day.
I’ve just had a fabulous 2 days at one of the best agricultural shows in the UK, the Black Isle Show. While I do some of my business online, I think it’s really important to get these fabulous Flamingo cards and gift wrap in the Highlands and Islands.
Despite the rain, the footfall was good, people’s spirits weren’t dampened and everyone seemed impressed with my fireplace (held in place by some paper chains – just shows how sturdy they are!)
As they oohed and aahed over the cards, I asked quite a few customers, ‘Have you heard of Flamingo Paperie?’ and to my surprise many of them said, ‘No.’
Who is Flamingo Paperie?
Flamingo Paperie (formerly Phoenix Trading) have been going for 22 years. You can’t buy Flamingo cards in the shops. However there are 1000s of Partners across the country selling cards in workplace baskets, holding coffee, cake and cards in people’s homes, setting up stalls like mine. Ultimately these people become ‘The Card Lady’ (or man) to their friends and relatives.
Yet many have still not heard of Flamingo Paperie and don’t know a Flamingo Partner.
People want to buy these cards and gift wrap in the Highlands and Islands so we need more Flamingo Partners.
Do you love cards? Are you a stationery addict? Do you know even a small handful of people who would love to have access to good quality, reasonably priced, ethical, and charitable greeting cards? Would you like to make a little money selling these fabulous products? Would you like to be able to buy these cards and gift wrap in the Highlands and Islands?
If so, then you could be the next card lady (or man).
You can become a Partner from as little as £45 starting you off with cards, a
few brochures and some business stationery. These are at a high discount to get you started so if you’re a card lover you will save money whatever happens.
Perhaps you want something bigger than that?
Then start with the £200 business pack. This contains over £500 of cards and stationery, more brochures and plenty of business material to get you going.
Or if you’re somewhere in the middle then there’s a £95 pack too. Which ever pack you choose the start up covers stock, business materials and your first year registration fee. It also covers your public liability insurance (usually about £50 a year) and a free personalised ecommerce website.
Statutory Notice – It is illegal for a promoter or participant in a trading scheme to persuade anyone to make a payment by promising benefits for getting others to join a scheme. Do not be misled by claims that high earnings are easily achieved. The promoter of the Flamingo Partner scheme is Flamingo Paperie 60 High Street, Wimbledon Village, London, SW19 5EE
If you’re attending the Black Isle show this year I’ll be there in the craft tent. The Black Isle Show is always the 1st Thursday in August. So it’s 2nd August 2018. Pop by and say hello! Even if you need just a card (it’s never just a card!)
Of course I’m talking about the giant, stiff, corporate cards that seem to come wearing a suit and tie – yep that’s them. Well – fear not there is an alternative because…
Your company can now send exclusive, charity Christmas cards, all printed in the UK, all from ethical sources. You can choose the card, whether you want it glittery, embossed.
Send corporate Christmas cards this year that look good, do good and are good.
Look good because our artists are some of the top illustrators in the UK.
Do good because all our Christmas cards are charity cards.
Are good because they are made in the UK
3 great messages for your UK business to promote through their Christmas cards.
Ask me for a sample pack or take a look at this year’s brochure to get started and order before October 10th for a 10% discount. Place your order directly through my shop or contact me and I can help find the right card for your business. A handwritten card is a powerful tool for your business.
Make an impact this year with Christmas cards that look good, do good and are good.