Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Haul, Thanks, and Changes for the New Year

I've been working on this post for several days now. Not first because a few of these didn't actually come on or before Christmas, but also because I wanted to really think about what I was going to say. What I wanted to say to all of you, my dear readers, and to outline in my head exactly how I'm going to change, and hopefully improve, this blog in the coming year. I apologize in advance for how long it will be, but you'll get a reward at the end, I promise :)

Let's start out with the fun stuff: my Polish Related Christmas haul!

My darling mother braved the crowds Black Friday to get me an Ott Lite! I haven't built a light box for it just yet, but I will be. Hopefully this will improve my photos in a huge way!

I also got a Sally's gift card, but that's no fun to show off. Sally had Orly's on sale Buy 2 Get One Free this week, so I grabbed Night Owl, Fowl Play and Ingenue, plus a mini of Naughty or Nice that was on clearance.

My Jindie nails package arrived this week, too! Unfortunately, not in time to wear Grinch for Christmas, but the lovely Jen included a free mini of Live Out Loud to make up for the wait time :) L-R is Candy Land (LOVING the new mini bottles!), Grinch, Put A Ring On It, and Live Out Loud.

Pure Ice polishes, I believe all from the newly released color line, L-R Party Hard, Risk Taker and Sweet Tart.

Finally, some random polishes I snagged myself, L-R Sally Hansen Smooth and Perfect Air (on clearance at Walgreen's for $2.99), Fingerpaints Sparkles and Snowflakes (sale at Sally for $3.99) and Essie Penny Talk (which I've been lusting after forever!)

I'm not usually a haul post kind of girl, but I don't usually acquire such a large pile in such a short amount of time! What kind of polish-related goodies did you come across this week?

Part the second is a Thank You. A giant thank you to each and every one of you, whether you follow my blog and read it daily, or whether you just stumbled upon it- thank you for reading, and for supporting my blog. 

When I began, I thought that this would be another advertising space for my own polish line, where I could show off my colors, maybe show you my creation process, and basically just direct you to my own polishes. But as I began to dig deeper and deeper into the now huge and still fast growing world of Indie Polish, I realized that I couldn't NOT show off all of the gorgeous polishes that I've been collecting. In my view, Indie Polish makers are NOT competing brands, all vying for the coveted "top spot", or trying to take all the customers for ourselves. I prefer to think of us as a collective, an artisanal community working together to create high quality, handcrafted products that can compete with national, and even international, big name brands. And in that, we have succeeded! This has been the Year of the Indies, and fully 90% of the indie polish brands on the market have been created this year! I am, of course, no exception :) So- two more BIG  Thank Yous: To every indie polish maker out there, both for your wonderful and creative products, and to my specific customers and fans: for supporting me in my early days (when I'm ashamed to say my product was not quite up to par), and again for supporting me now, as I feel that my product has improved immensely, and some days, I still can't quite believe that you agree with me. 

I am truly grateful for the support of every single one of you in the nail community, from bloggers to readers, polish makers to polish wearers: Thank You!

And finally- Part the Third: 13 Changes for 2013. I have thought long and hard on this, and there are a few changes I would like to make, both for my blog and for my polish brand. And here they are:

1. Big Brand/Mainstream Polish: The biggest change in terms of this blog will be content. As I began, my mission statement was to focus solely on Indie polish brands, and (with the exception of nail art) that is all that I have shown and reviewed. However, I do own hundreds of polishes created by big brands, and I feel that I'm doing a disservice to my readers by not showing some of these wonderful colors. While I continue to be a HUGE supporter of the indie movement, and will continue to focus on independently crafted polish, I will also be showing and reviewing some brand name polishes. For the most part I won't be doing big collection releases, but just those polishes that particularly catch my eye- such as those I posted way up top :)

2. Nail Art: I completed my first TWO nail art challenges for Halloween, and another for Christmas, and I have to say: I caught the bug! I will never become a "Nail Art" blog, but I do intend to several more challenges over the course of this year (starting with the Crumpet's Nail Tarts new 31 Day Challenge in January!), and to incorporate more nail art into my routine, even when not doing a challenge. 

3. Photography: Looking back at some of the photos I posted in June, when I first began, I cringe.While I'm still no great shakes with picture taking, I am putting a lot more effort into my photography now than when I began. With the addition of my brand new Ott Lite, soon-to-exist light box and a considerable amount of time invested in playing with my camera settings, I hope to provide you with far better and more consistent photos. This applies to my Etsy listings as well- many of them just do not showcase my polish to it's full potential.

4. Post Consistency: I do feel that I've been fairly good about this one, but there is always room for improvement. I aim to post daily, but there are days when I just don't have anything prepared, and really don't want to take the time to write and edit a whole post. So going forward, I will put a far greater effort into having several posts ready to go, for days when I just don't have the energy. 

5. Clean Up and Care: I'm not terribly messy when it comes to polishing, but I don't tend to avoid clean up unless I'm doing something particularly messy, such as watermarble or sponging. I'm also pretty horrible at remembering to take general care of my nails, such as applying cuticle cream. Both of these are things that I aim to improve upon in the new year.

6. Other Interests: I, along with every other nail blogger out there, do indeed have interests other than nail polish. I would like to occasionally share mine with you. I won't call this one a goal, but it is something that I've actively avoided doing in the past, and I don't think that quite fits with my "community" theory of the polish world. I'd like to get to know you all better, and sharing other interests is a great start.

7. The Not Too Polished brand: As I mentioned earlier, when I began blogging, I intended to showcase primarily my own polish. To date, I have exactly one post about my own polish, and 160 that are not. I would like to start showcasing my own polish occasionally as well. There is an "Ordering Info" tab at the top of the page that hasn't been updated in months. I would also like to show you some process photos: how I create polishes, and the things that inspire me.

8. Social Media: This one applies to both my blog and my brand. I am currently active on Facebook, Twitter  (@nottoopolished) and Pinterest (/edlefevre), but do not necessarily use them to their full potential. 

9. Frankening: My earlier polish collections were frankened out of existing polishes. I don't think that I can be taken completely seriously selling Franken polishes, so I have begun reformulating all of my earlier colors that were created using existing polishes. Several are already completed, but there are still a few to go. The finished polish itself may change considerably in appearance, but I will be much prouder of the product itself, and of my brand. It will also allow me to keep much better track of my ingredients, for those who are concerned about chemicals.

10. Monthly Collections: For those who have followed my brand for a while, I have released seasonal collections on a monthly basis. While I love the idea behind this, it is just not feasible as my business continues to grow. I don't want to release a collection just to have one, and I would prefer to offer a more solid core line of colors, rather than struggling to come up with themes for every month. I will still do Holiday collections (I have a Valentines Day collection coming out in a few weeks!), but they may not be full 6 piece collections, as they have been in the past.

11. Bloggers: I've had reviews of my polishes posted on several blogs, but it's rather sporadic. I'm revamping my process of working with bloggers (which, until now, has been- wait for someone to ask to review for me!), which will hopefully gain me more exposure. I am still a relatively unknown brand, and I would like to change that.

12. Bottling Process: When I first began, way back in March, I would create each bottle of polish as it was ordered. This took forever, and I hate the "glitter sticking to the side of the bottle" look. So in early summer, I began batching polish in larger bottles, and then pouring and labeling each bottle as it was ordered. This shortened the wait time, and made it much more unlikely that I sold polish I didn't actually have. This currently works out very well for me, as I take great care to keep stock of my supplies, and pull polishes before I run out of anything. However, when large orders or busy days roll in, it can cause a slight panic. Shortly into the new year (once I get settled into my new place!), I will begin pouring and labeling as soon as the product is made. I feel that this will make shipping far quicker and easier, especially if number 11 works out for me :)

13. Finally, Product Image: My product image has changed several times over the past 9 months: I've gone from boring Avery label printed on my home computer with handwritten color name stickers, to my current labels, which are a combo of purchased professional labels and handprinted color name labels. I'd like to combine the labels, so that they look more professional, and I think I would prefer clear ones to the opaque that I have now. I would also like to streamline all of my images, to that my labels, shop header, blog and business card all match a bit better. 

If you've stuck with me through this entire post: thank you. A good chunk of it is for myself, knowing that since I put it out there for everyone to see, I will be held accountable for it! Hopefully, this will help me to achieve all of the goals I put out- we'll revisit at the end of 2013 to see how I did!

Also- here is your reward: some adorable animal photos!

My mom's dog Murphy, on the day he went home with her. He's now a 90 ball of nothing but energy, but look how cute and tiny he was!

My baby girl Clio, playing with one of her Christmas presents.

And finally, Clio several years ago with her brand new litter of kitten: L-R Ash (who is still with me, and has been featured on this blog before), Leo, Chubby Check and One Eyed Jack (all of whom were adopted out).

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