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November Blog Challenge Day 19 - A History Lesson

My prompt for today is “something historical”, and as there are two words that are everywhere this week, today’s history lesson is all about Black Friday (and Cyber Monday).

Here’s what good old Wikipedia has to say on the subject:

“...Black Friday is an informal name for the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, the fourth Thursday of November, which has been regarded as the beginning of the country's Christmas shopping season since 1952, although the term "Black Friday" did not become widely recognised or used until the 1980s or later in some regions.

Most major retailers open very early, as early as overnight hours, and offer promotional sales. Black Friday is not an official holiday, but California and some other states observe "The Day After Thanksgiving" as a holiday for state government employees, sometimes in lieu of another federal holiday, such as Columbus Day. Many non-retail employees and schools have both Thanksgiving and the following Friday off, which, along with the following regular weekend, makes it a four-day weekend, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers...”

Then after “Black Friday”, comes “Cyber Monday”. Again, this is taken from Wikipedia:

”...Cyber Monday is a marketing term for the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. The term "Cyber Monday" was created by marketing companies to encourage people to shop online. It is on the Monday after Thanksgiving, and most of the time falls in November, but if Thanksgiving is on November 27 or 28, it will fall in December. The date range is November 26 to December 2, and is always four days after the holiday. ..”

As I’ve been selling on Etsy, which is an American website, for a number of years, I’d heard the terms Black Friday and Cyber Monday way before the UK seemed to have jumped on the bandwagon. They were associated with Thanksgiving though - an American holiday - which I dont celebrate, so I paid little interest. But over the last five years, it’s become a massive thing over here too, with stories of queues miles long and shoppers fighting over cheap TVs!! 

I don’t take part in either Black Friday or Cyber Monday, mainly due to the facts that I’ve just mentioned above, but also, as a small “one woman band” business, I simply can’t afford to offer massive discounts on the items that I make. I think it really exposes the amount of profit, and the amount that “someone” (the person who did make the TV, Laptop, shoes, fridge freezer etc etc) “hasn’t been paid in order for you to be able to buy it. There will be many other small business’ that think and operate in exactly the same way that I do, and if they happen to be American, and celebrating on Thursday, then I can see the justification in them offering a small discount this coming weekend. If they’re not, then why should they have to be paid less for their hard work?

There’s no Black Friday’s or Cyber Monday’s in my workshop, just a pricing structure that pays me a fair wage for the amount of time it’s taken to make a piece, plus the cost of everything I’ve had to buy in order to make it. Oh, and this Friday is also my birthday, so hopefully it’ll be “cake” Friday instead! 

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November Blog Challenge Day 18 - Etsy Finds - Lilly Dillys

Today’s Etsy find is accessories designer Louise Hickman, aka Lilly Dillys! She makes all sorts of lovely things and as well as selling on Etsy, has a real life “bricks and mortar” shop in the very pretty town of Bewdley in Worcestershire. Here’s what Louise sent me when I asked her to tell me all about her business:

“...I am a specialist accessories tailor and I make all manner of bespoke accessories for Ladies, Gents, Children and Pets! My inspiration for my business came from two angles. Firstly, when I got married in 2011 I couldn't find items that were exactly what I wanted and I ended up doing 90% of everything myself. I came away from that experience realising that there was a gap in the market and wanted to offer my creative services to other people. Secondly, my daughter Lilly was unfortunately diagnosed with eye cancer at 18months old and at the time I was college lecturing. We didn't know if I would have to give up my job to care for Lilly at home so I launched the business as a back up plan. After doing a few commissions for friends and family I got the bug so when my university offered up redundancies in Nov 2016 I jumped at the chance and launched into my business full time. August 2017 I opened my first boutique & atelier and the rest is history!..”

Here’s a few photos from Louise’s Etsy shop, and please go check out her website and facebook page. Also if you’re ever in Bewdley, then make sure you pay Lilly Dilly’s a visit. 

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November Blog Challenge Day 16 - What’s on my bench today....

Next time I decide to do this writing a blog every day thing, I think I’ll pick a month with a bit more daylight. I really think there’s a lot to be said for hibernation at this time of year, but hey, we plod on.....

So here’s my offering for today....some photos of a platinum, sapphire and diamond ring that’s been a while in the making, and that has literally just been picked up. I dont even know if it fits or not yet, as it has to fit alongside the client’s existing wedding and engagement ring, that she can’t take off! So finger’s crossed, all was well, but the beauty of metal is that is can always be altered if it needs to be.

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November Blog Challenge Day 14 - Gemstone Shopping

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If you’re familiar with my business you’ll hopefully already know that I’m picky when it comes to choosing where I buy my gemstones from. This can sometimes mean that I can’t supply every colour under the rainbow, but as far as I’m concerned, ethics come first! There are loads of companies out there selling loose gemstones, but there are currently only a very small number who can tell you exactly where each one has come from and who has cut it. 

So, there isn’t actually any type of official fairtrade badge yet that can be applied to diamonds and gemstones, as it is literally a bit of a minefield. There are massive scale mines that mine equally massive amounts of gemstones at very cheap prices. The rough stone that they mine could then be sent to any number of places in the world, but quite often its somewhere in India, to be cut. This again will likely be a huge factory type operation. With stones travelling all over the place, and typically the jewellery industry just not asking too many questions, this leaves many opportunities for miners and stone cutters to be forced to work in poor conditions for very poor wages. 

Thankfully though, there are a couple of stone companies (the ones that I use!) that ARE asking questions and either have their own artisan mine and cutting facilities, or will only buy from sources where they know that everyone involved in the gemstone supply chain has been treated and paid fairly. The other two options are to use lab grown or recycled gems, both of which I also do. 

Now, there’s obviously advantages and disadvantages to all of the “fairtrade” options, but my personal order of preference would be 1. Recycled, 2. Lab grown, 3. Mined, and my buying is always a mixture of the three, depending on what I can find and each client’s requirements. 

As part of my effort to be completely transparent about where my gemstone score from, here’s the list of where I currently go “gemstone shopping”....... 

1. Fairtrade Gemstones - coloured gemstones and fairly traded mined diamonds

2. Nineteen48 - coloured gemstones 

3. Rubyfair  - rubies/sapphires/spinel/tanzanite

4. Madestones - lab grown diamonds

5. Moissanite Direct Inc - Charles and Colvard lab grown Moissanite

6. Adin Antique Jewellery - recycled diamonds

7. John Gyde Gemstones - recycled diamonds and coloured stones

8. Gemstone Plateau - recycled coloured stones

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