Friday, August 30, 2013

Our Eclectic Home and Back To School Offer

Greeting from Malaga, Spain where I have just landed after a brief visit to AW Sheffield. Last week I was telling you about our Ancient Wisdom wedding couple.
You can read it here.
Weddings don't get more eccentric and eclectic (I love that word) than theirs. But then any given day at AW can be pretty eclectic. Probably because our product range is stuffed with a load of esoteric and mystical stuff, our customers are also a pretty strange and eclectic bunch. When I say "strange" I mean that in a good way.
The other day I'm just stood in our order processing department. It was buzzing, every phone ringing, warehouse staff running in an out like bumble bees, and stuff been sorted out at a rapid pace. We have been rather busy this week, a short week because of the bank holiday, sort staffed because of the holiday season and a record number of orders received. I know we are a bit behind - so please bare with us. Honestly we are working hard to catch up.
Back to eclectic.. I was stood there just watching and listening to what was going on. If those government spy's are eaves dropping on our offices they may be a bit confused.
Kerry; (across the office) "I have The Arc Angel on the phone, can we add a pack or "Let Angels Pass" simmering granules. Ursula: "There's someone from Another Realm in reception"
Bruno: "I think the postcode for Cloud Nine is wrong.. Jessica: The courier can't find the entrance for "Heavens Gate".. Zoe: "Have you got that message from "Whispering Angels"?
No, it's really like that. And those really are the names of our customers. :)
Crrrrumbs! Have you noticed it's practically September.. which means it's almost Christmas. Action stations.
Actually this year I think we are more prepared than ever before. Thanks to a ton of hard work from Craige (warehouse manager) and his motley crew. The steady stream of containers (arriving for the busy season) have been offloaded and sorted and put away ready for the rush. Warehouse systems are go! We have more new and eclectic stock than ever before. The best ever deals, and faster selling lines, scummy soaps and bath-bombs etc etc.. You can't get better. (even if I say so myself :) )
Until next week take care.
ec·lec·tic (iˈklektik) Adjective: Deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Double Trouble

Greeting from... well believe it or not, the UK. I'm in Sunny Sheffield at Ancient Wisdom HQ.
Last week I was telling you about my Poetic Train trip in New Delhi, India. You can read it here.
Since then I have made a flying visit to our Spanish sister company and onward to Blighty.
Well.. just in time for an upcoming Bank Holiday weekend. Or officially known as "Late Summer Holiday".. in Scotland it's one week later. If you're feeling canny and up north then I guess you could hope over the border and claim a double bank-holiday.
There has been a DOUBLE wedding at AW.. Actually two folks that work at AW got married to each other this week. So I'm counting that as a double.
So big CONGRATS to... Urszula and Callum. If you are regular customers you will know that Urszula is a hyper-vibrant, super-organised, rather gothic, belly-dancing Polish gal, with a convincing Yorkshire accent. Callum is the stolid, mystical embodiment of Merlin the Wizard, complete with bushy beard, sage sayings and of sound British stock.

Urszula is headmistress of Customer Service, and Callum Dropshipping supremo. :) They got married in Poland.. which was double trouble. (I had suggested the staff room, with quick shindig in despatch and back to work, but they weren't impressed) - so we have been a touch short of staff this week. But those not invited to the wedding, have rather sportingly done a stomping job, and managed to keep the everything shipshape. Well done team!
Here's some picture..
Take care..

Friday, August 16, 2013

Poetic Train Trip

Greetings from Mumbai airport. Where today is Independence Day in India.
Last week I was telling you about the Chapatti Redeye flight from Shanghai to Delhi.
Since then I have bumping around India trying to complete a few missions. In Delhi with the help of our agent, Amit the Poet (yes he's really a poet - more later) we found a supplier of pretty cool block prints. Little hand carved wooden blocks, originally made for the sari industry, but now sold as beautiful craft items, you can decorate cards and letters with little owl, or yin-yang stamps.. Coming soon.
People kept telling me about the Delhi metro, how modern, clean and smart it was. Just like Shanghai metro. So off we went, Amit showing me the ropes. From Nehru Place to Grand Bazar. We bought a pass card it's mine for life. Pretty slick system, you just top up your card from time to time. Wave them at convenient machines and it tells you your balance. As you enter or leave stations it reduces your balance. It's scary cheap, just penny's per station.
Well it might have been state of the art two years ago, but like anything else run by the state here it has degenerated in to a state of glorious squalidness. Really the ticket booth is a den of badly written signs cracked glass and disinterested staff. Paint work is a splash job, and I can't say anything looked particularly clean. When I tried to take a picture, two security guys were on me in seconds. No pictures sir.. Why? Terrorists apparently.
The privately run airlines, five star hotels and top restaurants are the finest you can find. The contrast between the excellence of young private businesses and the rotten corruption of old establishment government is one those Indian culture shocks.
The train journey was predictably jolly. In the crush we quickly made friends, everyone asking me lots of questions, where are you from, how many children do you have, how much do you earn, do you know David Beckham? those sorts of things.. Then someone recognized Amit the Poet, and a large circle opened up in front of us in a kind of awe. For here amongst them is a very large man, with an impressive mustache and a big booming voice. Very soon we have a poetry rendition underway.
We get off the train at our stop and now have a following. This is India.. I love it.
More tales next week.
Take care.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Candle Factory Closed By Heat

Greetings from Yiwu, China. Last week I was telling you about how confusing the names are in Bali. You can read it here: By George that's Confusing. In China today, temperatures are just subsiding after some violent storms. Earlier it was the hottest and most humid in this region's history. Yiwu was stonking hot. In the 40's.. and even with air conditioning you seem to end up a sweaty mess by the end of the day, clothes like sodden rags. It's been so hot we have had to suspend candle production in our little factory, because the wax is behaving so strangely.
Yes, the massage candles from our factory just landed. I can tell you they were a huge job. To get the product perfect we had to ship essential oils from the UK, source the very best brand soywax in China and spent weeks perfecting the blends and designing the packaging. But the response is worth it.. I'm really pleased to see so many people enthusiastic.
Plus I think Tomas in marketing at HQ Sheffield has done a great job with the web pages. Any feedback, tips or ideas on how to retail or use in spa's or therapy sessions - that we can share - would be appreciated.
Talking about Bali (where the weather is always barmy and equitable), I'm pleased to report that our new little warehouse (you may have read previously) in Yellow Coconut Village near Ubud is in full swing.
Ringo (our agent) sent me pictures yesterday..
It's great because now our suppliers - who are all small family businesses can bring finished stock as they make it, and we can pay them faster. Another advantage is that since no artisans pack the goods in cartons for export, we can now do this job ourselves (rather than the local shipping agents, who charge way too much) and ensure that quality is good at the same time.
Before you ask.. there is a container enroute, arrives possibly next week.. and yes there are Hati Hati Angels on board.
Hati Hati - means take care in Indonesian.
So until next week - I'll be in India..
Hati Hati!
Is this your first time with us?
You will receive First Order Bonus worth £100 of stock at retail value. You are entitled to claim it on your first order with us when you spend over £100 + vat. Just quote BONUS 100 in the shopping cart message box.
Soybean Massage Candle has been carefully blended using only pure essential oils and natural plant waxes. Jojoba oil adds a tactile and luxury feel to this warm wax massage.
The ingredients are extremely rich and moisturising so a little will go a long way. Ideal for rubbing into those dry skin areas to replenish and nourish the skin. Made with the finest natural blend of waxes and only pure essential oils.

The Chapatti Redeye to Delhi

Greetings from Delhi, where I have just landed. Last week I was telling you about out hot it was in China (read it here). Last week in Yiwu the word was a plane had crashed in the little airport there. Impossible to find what happened initially, the web was quickly blocked. It turned out that the heat and direct sunlight on the end of runway had melted some of the tarmac, and the plane landed and sunk into the runway like swamp water. No one was hurt fortunately.
I'm writing this with slightly jet lagged brain power, so please forgive any typo's.
I've just come on the Midnight Shanghai to Delhi Air India flight - the Chapatti Redeye. Always an experience. Before now I have been one of a handful of passengers on this infamous night run, able to sleep peacefully across three seats. But last night was almost full, mostly Indian businessmen heading home, a few brave Chinese businessmen and women heading out, and for the first time a number of Chinese families on sightseeing holidays to India. India like many countries has just woken up to the fact that Chinese tourists are big spenders, and there's a lot of them. They represent a significant boom in tourism revenues, so they have recently made it relatively simple recently for Chinese to get a visa - so the flight is full :(.
India is home to some of the best airlines in the world! Air India is not one of them. The Chapatti run (as I call it) is delightful in an archaic chaotic kind of way. Flight safety demonstration? Not that I noticed? Use of mobile phones and electronic devices prohibited during take off. No issue. The Indian sari clad ladies have long given up trying to control the Indian businessmen, and barely had a word of Chinese. Instead barely at cruising altitude the ladies were pouring super large whisky's and delivering them to the Indian guys almost without asking. I asked for a G&T and was thrust a handful of mini bottles and three cans of tonic. Get the buggers nicely sozzled and they will be less trouble, is clearly the policy.
After the fastest meal distribution, and half hearted tidy up, that's the last of the we saw of the stewards on the 6 hour flight. I could see the Chinese tourist were not happy with the food, what do you do with a chapatti?, and what no chopsticks? Early stage culture shock setting in.
A rather relaxed captain came on the tannoy to announce our imminent arrival in er.. Delhi, a slightly worrying pause as he obviously checked - in fact - where we were going. Your luggage will be on belt 12, and the local time is 2.40am. Luggage was on belt 10, and it was 1.40am.. but only minor things. I read recently about an Air India captain who went to the toilet, and locked himself out of the cockpit. He was rattling and banging on the door trying to wake the sleeping no.2 inside.
Landing in Delhi at 2am local time, is not such a bad idea, you can breeze through the immigration and customs without any trouble. Everyone is half asleep. My hotel had sent a car to pick me up. They remembered me. Then it struck me, how come in such a hectic, crazy place like India they can produce the best run, and elegantly calm hotels in the world?
Only a few days in India, and so much to do... must get on.
Take care.
Is this your first time with us?
You will receive First Order Bonus worth £100 of stock at retail value. You are entitled to claim it on your first order with us when you spend over £100 + vat. Just quote BONUS 100 in the shopping cart message box.