Thursday, 28 February 2013

Mother Day guest blogger - Anne from Gift in a Tin

We're still celebrating our Mums in Business. Mother's Day is rapidly approaching and don't forget about our gorgeous colourable bags! You can now buy them straight from our "Buy Now" tab above! At only £9.99 (including a pack of fabric pens) they are absolutely ideal for  a totally unique gift for mum!
Anyway today our guest blogger is Anne Livesey from Gift in a Tin. Have a read what she has to say about running her own business.

"Working as an Enterprise Coach, I always tell my clients “Be prepared to be Salesperson, Accountant, Head of Dispatch, Office Administrator and Tea Maker all rolled into one”.
Well today, running my own e-commerce business, I have been to the Post Office three times (not bad planning, just last minute orders with clients wanting next day delivery); downloaded logos from being a Finalist at Gift of the Year with my Garden Tin, so I can upload onto the website; ordered some beautiful new diffusers to expand my range of Scent Tins; starting building a database of garden centres; uploaded some new pics to the site, spoke to the web guys about developing the ‘coupon area’ on the site for a fab new offer site being launched in March (very excited); packed and delivered a wholesale order; ordered some catalogues for pet toys and food (the newest Gift Tins) oh..and also made a couple of cups of hot water and a milkshake - liquid diet (not the relaxing variety you understand, but the healthy - and very boring - variety) so I can get into a nice dress for our daughter’s wedding in November!
That seems like a very long paragraph and it is just a paraphrase of what’s happened today! I forgot to mention that I’ve also been in discussions about going on the One Show too....(get me...autographs will be available).

And I also booked the Hen Night venue, picked up some cardboard letters to decorate and just started getting some wedding favours ready to go out for a bride next week.

And finally, walked the dogs three times and chase an unruly cockerel around the paddock as he was refusing to go back in the hut for the night. It’s all good exercise...

So have I been busy? Mmmm, feels like it. Have I been juggling all those balls in the air?Certainly. Have I had fun? YES. I love being able to plan my day, although it seems to have organically evolved today as I look at the list which only has four items ticked off today and still seven items for starter’s orders tomorrow morning! Being self employed takes some grit and determination, and the will to pick yourself up if things don’t go right, and also pat yourself on the back when they do.

So tomorrow is planned with the remaining seven items to start on, although, I’ve just remembered I am meeting a lovely new candle supplier tomorrow at I guess tomorrow possibly won’t pan out the way I planned either - mange tout (as Del Boy might say...)"
Thank you so much for your words Anne!
Speak to you soon my friends

Monday, 25 February 2013

Mother's Day Guest Bloggers - Claire from Magic Mummies

With half term over and the kids back to school, mums up and down the land breathe a sigh of relief. Mother's Day is nearly upon us and it's your day to put your feet and be waited on hand and foot (will that happen in your house??). If you're looking for a really special present for a mum in your life then check out our colourable Mother's Day bags. Available to buy on our 'Buy Now' tab above!

Today's mum in business is Claire Iles from Magic Mummies. Have a read what she has to say about School Holiday Challenges! Have a read about what she has to say!

"Hi, I am Claire and I set up Magic Mummies last year to provide undercover services for busy mums, from homemade food, to costumes to party planning we are every mums best kept secret.  I first came up with the idea of Magic Mummies when I was making a World Book Day costume for my eldest.  It was her first year in primary school and I was astounded at the number of dress up days and cake days that took place.  I had already been making costumes and cakes for friends to pass off as their own, so I thought why not start a business based on that concept?  All items are supplied discreetly to a location of your choice so you can take the credit.  I love what I do and I love that it can give help to busy mums and joy to children.  I love home baking and generally anything handmade or homemade and there’s always an excuse for a party in our house!  However I, like any other working mum, find it challenging to balance home and work, especially during school holidays when the kids look forward to spending time doing fun things with me. 
March is due to be a busy month for Magic Mummies with World Book Day, and Comic Relief, but especially that incredibly special day, Mothers Day where among other things, Magic Mummies are selling cupcake bouquets.  I was faced with being extremely busy at work and highly in demand at home.  As half term approached I tried to plan how I was going to fit everything in….first thoughts?.....what did mumpreneurs do before iphones were around to check emails, Facebook etc.  Much of the first part of half term was spent juggling childcare, work and kids and staying up way past my bed time to get things done.  Mid-week I had the ingenious idea kids to a local soft play where I would get a whole two hours work done while they played.  And so armed with my laptop, I was sure I would have lots of my to-do list ticked off soon.  What I was faced with was complete mayhem as I quickly realised the likelihood of my getting some work done was slim.  And I was right, between screams because the kids had clashed heads and constant complaints they were hungry, I got one measly thing ticked off my list.  Never mind…the kids were happy and that’s the main thing.  And so the juggling childcare, work, kids continued until Friday when we finished our fabulous week of with a full day of ice skating and learning and centre for life, we returned exhausted and happy.
With the half term madness almost over I would definitely say this half term has been challenging yet brilliant, a lesson in juggling home and work life and I’ve loved every minute of it!  That’s why Magic Mummies is so valuable to working mums; it gives time back so you can spend time with the people who matter most.  And so back to normal next week, but not before we finish off half term with a day of serious sledging fun!


Thanks for your words Claire! If you need a secret mummy service then why not get in touch with Claire!

See you soon my friends


Thursday, 21 February 2013

Mother's Day Guest Blog - Libby from The Dressing Up Chest

Hello my friends!

As you know we're celebrating Mothers this month with some 'mums in business'. If you're looking for something a bit different this Mother's Day then don't forget about our wonderful colour-in-able Mother's Day Bags. Perfect for something totally unique for mum! To buy just click on the Buy Now tab above! Easy peasy!

Today it is the turn of Libby from The Dressing Up Chest to have a chat about running her business. Have a read and check out the pictures of Libby's fab work!

"Hi everyone.  I am Libby and my business is called the Dressing Up Chest.  For the past 3 ½ years I have been making costumes for children for dressing up, fancy dress and for stage and dance schools.

My own children are grown up now - although they still ask me to make costumes for music festivals and fancy dress parties.  When they were younger I enjoyed nothing more than making costumes for them to play in and for all the school plays and dance shows they took part in.  I thought that the perfect solution once I had more time was to create costumes for other people’s children where parents often don’t have the time and for those who just prefer not to make.


It seems that children love nothing more than dressing up and I have seen a huge increase in the number of themed parties from pirates and princesses to superheroes and book characters.  Pirates remain a firm favourite with boys and girls.  I have also noticed more girls defying stereotype and asking for knight’s tabards and tailcoats rather than the more traditional fairy princess costume.



I am often asked to make costumes of characters which simply aren’t available in high street fancy dress shops. I love a challenge and haven’t been beaten yet! I have made a giant star, a hedgehog, Lola’s Alligator (Charlie and Lola books), Captain Adorable (CBBC) and I am currently making Meg the Witch (Meg and Mog).  When children are given a leading role in the school play parents are also delighted to be able to have a good quality costume made for the star of the show to shine in. This Christmas I was particularly busy making sheep and shepherds.


I have always love dance and one of my favourite jobs is making costumes for excited little girls and boys about to showcase their talents on stage for their proud parents.  Schools too seem to be encouraging children to dress up to bring their History lessons to life and I have made endless numbers of Victorian maid’s mob caps and aprons, Tudor dresses and costumes for Boudicca!


Children can often be seen dressed up in character in the supermarket.  My costumes are perfect for this as they are made from good quality fabrics and trimmings and are all washable. I like to think of them as themed clothing rather than fancy dress as they are made in exactly the same way as regular clothing but just with a style of their own.

You can take a look at my costumes at but if you would like something completely different please contact me at and I will happily design something unique just for your boy or girl."


Thanks Libby for your words! Fab costumes!

Speak to you soon my friends!


Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Mother's Day Guest Blog - Vikki King from MiniMe Baby

With the launch of our Mother's Day bags Life's A Celebration is celebrating Mums in business this month.
Today's Mum in Business is Vikki King from MiniMe Baby. Have a read what Vikki has to say!
Who is MiniMe Baby?
I am Vikki, a Mum to two wonderful children and wife to a very understanding and patient husband. My son is 16 and scarily just about to complete his moped test (scared as I am for his safety I can’t not let him get one as I too had a moped at 16, with dreams of owning a motorbike one day. That bit never happened though) and my daughter, Libby was born last year in the very early hours of Halloween, so we nicknamed her pumpkin as she suits orange really well.

We setup MiniMe Baby back in July 2012, when I was 6 months pregnant. It was our vision to bring parents affordable clothing for 0-8 years and gifts that were also either organic, ethical or UK manufactured. So determined was I to start trading before our daughter was born, that from the moment we finally decided to go for our dreams it only took me 7 weeks to launch our website and visit our first trade show. In fact the website went live the night before our first visit to the trade show and our business cards were still hot off the press.
 Our business has since evolved slightly and I am now obsessed with everything UK Handmade and with fabric. 2013 see’s MiniMe Baby searching out small crafters to bring you unique and lovingly created clothes and gifts. I have found a passion and I love working with other small businesses.
Bebby Girls and Bebby Boys wall art is a great example of this. They are created by a very talented mum and school teacher, Rebecca McKay. Who found me on Twitter.

New stock sourced, but still to be added to the website so far this year includes; C.E certified sock monkeys, sock bunnies, sock tigers, up cycled bags, felt keyring/ bag charms, hair accessories and nursery decorations.

On our search for new stock of british products and brands we are proud to have found  Zippy Suits:  Zippy Suits are luxuriously soft sleep suits with no poppers (genius idea I think) Zippy Suits have a single zip to fasten the sleep suit instead of many pairs of poppers. Helpful when changing any little wriggler! Also helpful for night time changing in dim light and for parents with arthritis. They have an envelope neckline to ensure a snug fit for baby whilst being easy for dressing. Available in Sizes: 3-6m, 6-9m, 9-12m & 12-18m and currently available in 4 fab colours (2 blue, 2 pink).
Matching dribble bibs are also available

Please feel free to browse our pages, we are especially proud of our Reviews tab; which links to independent blogs and videos of products we stock. The Info tab; has also been setup to give helpful impartial information for parents covering topics such as; Breastfeeding, Real Nappies; Reading; Sleeping; Family days out. These areas are constantly being updated so please let me know if there is a topic that you would like adding and I will research it for you.

Working around a baby is difficult and tiring but if you believe in yourself and your business I think that it is worth persevering to reach your dreams, and that is exactly what MiniMe Baby is doing….never give up on your own dreams.

Facebook: MiniMe-Baby

Thanks for your words Vikki. Don't forget about our Mother's Day bags. These gorgeous bags come with a pack of fabric pens so the kids can colour them in and make a totally unique gift for mum. At only £9.99 they are an affordable present that mum will love! If you want to buy all you need to do is drop me a line - it's that simple! Plus (I'm leaving the best till last) - all those that buy a Mother's Day bag will be entered into our giveaway to win an Easter bag too!

Speak to you soon.


Thursday, 14 February 2013

The design process for our Mother's Day bags - Guest Blogger Carrie Dennison

As you know we're celebrating Mother's Day coming up. Today's guest blogger is the fantastically talented Carrie from Press for Design. I use Carrie for all my designing for the business. She has been working with me on the design of our Mother's Day bags and that's what she's talking about today. Keep watching for our Easter bags that will be coming soon as well Hen Party bags, Wedding Gift bags, Thank You Teacher bags, Kids Travel bags and loads more.
Here's what she has to say.
The design process of Life's a Celebration's Mother's Day bag

All the best designs start with a chat over coffee!  The most important step when designing for a client is not only to talk to the client, but to listen to them too, in order to find out exactly what they are looking for.  Maxine and I sat down over a cuppa and she gave me the ideas that were going through her mind, which I jotted down.  I tend to use a mixture of words and sketches when jotting down ideas from clients, generally I can get a good idea of what they are looking for and put together an impromptu sketch to see if the ideas that I have picked up from the client are what they are actually looking for.  I defy anybody to actually make sense of my initial doodlings though!

I then went away and worked on some sketches.  I always work in pencil and whilst I'm sketching I tend not to rub anything out, as seen in the example below.  It might look a mess, but when I'm happy that I have the lines I want I then draw over the final lines in waterproof pen and then rub out the pencil marks.  Once I have the final drawn design, I scan it into Photoshop and then I have a digital version of the file that I can play around with.  This saves a lot of time later when refining the finished design as it means I can make alterations to the sketches without redrawing the design again.


I put together two different versions of the Mother's Day design and emailed them over to Maxine for her thoughts.  I always say to my clients that I want to hear all their thoughts about a design, good, bad or indifferent!  I want to make sure that they are perfectly happy with the design that I produce for them, and that it is exactly what they are looking for.  Maxine got back to me with some changes that she wanted making, and I worked on those.  This is where the digital files came in handy, as some of the sketches I had originally produced needed altering to make them easier to colour in.  These can be easily and quickly altered in Photoshop, without the need to re-sketch.  As you can see in the example below, we decided that the initial cup design I had drawn needed to be less complicated so that it would be easy to colour in - this change was quick and easy for me to do once the sketch had been digitised.

Once the files were re-drawn, another proof was sent to Maxine.  This process was repeated until Maxine had the design that she had envisioned in her mind, and then it was a matter of preparing the design in several different formats - one black and white format for the Mother's Day bag itself, and other coloured formats to be placed on the Life's A Celebration website, blog and Facebook page.

Here’s the finished Mother’s Day bag - and look out for an Easter design too that will be coming along very soon!

I love our Mother's Dag bags and I'm so pleased that I've found Carrie to do our design work for us. At £9.99 (plus £1.50 p&p) these bags are a steal. They even come with a pack of fabric pens so they're ideal for the kids to give their mum a totally unique Mother's Day gift. If you want to buy or want more details then drop me a line. I'm always happy to help.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Making the Most Of Social Media - Guest Blogger Jayne Graham

As you know, this month we're celebrating Mums in business. Today's Mum guest blogger is Jayne Graham. Jayne is founder of Colleagues on Tap and She is an experienced Business Coach & skilled strategist. Today Jayne is chatting about 'Making the Most of Social Media'. There's some fabulous hints and tips in today's guest blog so check out what she has to say.
Making the Most of Social Media
In 2004 I made the choice to set up business at home.  The driver was two-fold.  From a business perspective I really didn’t need an office;  a laptop, a phone and a lot of enthusiasm set me off on my journey as a freelance consultant quite adequately!  As a busy mum of twin girls, now aged 11, there was another driver – flexibility;  and being able to start work at ‘silly o’clock’ before my daughters started their days has become a survival strategy ever since.  The wee small hours between 4.30 and 7.30 am are now, genuinely, my best time of the day!

Discovering social media
So, fast-forwarding to 2010 when I needed to market my new businesses and Colleagues on Tap, I wondered how I could get in touch with other people, en masse, who also freelanced or ran businesses for themselves, and possibly worked non-traditional hours like me, to tell them about my great new services.  Although as a ‘woman of a certain age’ my friends and associates were pretty sceptical about social media, I got stuck in, and very quickly found it held a treasure trove of opportunities.  I’m pleased to share some of these with you in this blog.
Social Media has grown in popularity over the past 5 or so years as a key device in the business marketing tool-kit. It provides businesses with a channel for communicating with a mass audience at a speed and scale that would be difficult to replicate through traditional off-line media, and certainly impossible to match through face to face networking activity. 
Traditional media and social media
The key difference between traditional media and social media is that media communications are, in the most part, one way, whereas social media provides for two-way and multiple interactions. This two-way dialogue is far more effective at engaging an audience, and can significantly enrich a customer relationship.
Social v business

I’m often hearing people’s concerns about the potential to get too personal on social media, however this tends to stem from a confusion between ‘being sociable’ and ‘getting personal’;  as long as a line is drawn between the two, positive relationships can be developed that are good for business.  Through having conversations we can understand more about our customers, and are therefore more able to anticipate and respond to their needs; and of course we can start to form relationships which can ultimately result in new, and repeat, business.

8 Reasons to Network your Business through Social Media
1.    Millions of other businesses are already doing it (including your competitors and future customers)
2.    It’s free to use, in the main, other than the cost of your time to participate
3.    It’s fast, and in some cases immediate
4.    Its reach is vast; it provides you a medium to improve brand awareness globally, providing access to a scale of audience that it would be impossible to replicate through traditional media
5.    People can easily share your information with their own networks;  champions for your business can quickly emerge
6.    It has a positive impact on search engine optimisation SEO as it enables you to build links to your website increasing the likelihood of people finding it.
7.    It allows you to have two-way interactions with your customers and potential customers, enabling you to gather market intelligence and build relationships
Its transparency enables you to quickly gain the trust of your potential customers.
If you’d like to know my thoughts on the 5 key social media applications for business get in touch and I’ll send you a link for you to download.
In the meantime, here’s my 5 Point Plan for ‘Making the Most of Social Media’
1.    Define your marketing objectives: who do you want to communicate with and what do you want to say?  If you’re clear about this in the first place you can use social media much more effectively.
        2.    Determine which social media platforms your targets are likely to be using; not every business can make great use of every platform, and it’s better to start with one or two and build on it rather than trying to tackle everything from day one.
3.    Make a commitment to maintaining a presence on your chosen social media, and realistically plan resources to enable this. 
4.    Remember to converse, rather than broadcast; social media enables a two-way dialogue.
5. Evaluate progress regularly, based on impact for your business, rather than volume of interactions, and adjust your approach accordingly.
Jayne Graham, Founder of Colleagues on Tap and Space on Tap
Copyright Jayne Graham January 2013.
Thank you Jayne for your hints and tips on Social Media. Don't forget that Life's A Celebration has some fabulous Mother's Day bags. These delightful bags come with a pack of fabric pens for decoration and at only £9.99 (plus £1.50 p&p) they're a steal! Go - on treat the mum in your life! To buy or for more information just drop me a line.


Monday, 11 February 2013

Mother's Day Guest Blog - Sara Kitchener from Sara's Kitchen

Today's Mother's Day guest blogger is Sara from Sara's Kitchen. The baker of the best cakes in the entire world. Take a look at them aren't they fabulous??


Sara's talking to us about being a mummy and running an incredibly successful business.
Before October of last year I didn't know Sara but since then we've become great friends, we now share business premises in the Silver Birch Studio and she's one person that I know I can rely on when I'm having a tough day as a 'business mummy'. Have a read of what she has to say.

"So when I started to think about I would write for this blog post by the lovely Maxine at Life’s a Celebration, I scratched my head and really struggled, see I’m not very good at writing about myself or my business, I love to hide behind my cakes, so I scratched my head some more and thought about how I’d got to where I am today.
Rewind five and a half years and you’ll find me sat at a group called bouncing babies run by my local Sure Start centre with my gorgeous little man Harrison. Who at six weeks old was already a smiler and who I was totally head over heels in love with…. Except my world had also been turned upside down in the process, suddenly it was normal to go days without a shower, to sport baby sick as the latest fashion accessory and fret over whether the contents of that nappy are normal, I mean really green/black/yellow poo?!!? Normal?! Here was I at a baby group, yes me! Who used to love reading a paper at Starbucks over a skinny latte or spending the afternoon at the hair dressers, Indian head massage, oh yes please! Now I was sat here begging for one of the other mummies to talk to me, to tell me it’s normal to be scared and elated all in the same breath. So here is where ‘The Mammies’ came in.
The Mammies!

I can still remember meeting each and everyone of them. We had all the insecurities that come part and parcel of being a first time mum, challenges, trials and tribulations, as well as a whole load of giggling over a gin or two. We have faced everything you can imagine, but through it we’ve had each other to wipe away those sleep deprived tears, to send prayers of strength and witness the most amazing achievements by ourselves and our little ones. You see us Mums aren’t superwomen (although I think we rank a close second), we are only human, we’re tired or insecure, we’re sleep deprived and tested to the limit, we’re blown away by our bundles of joy and want to ask ‘is that normal/ok?’, sometimes your Mummy friends may just pass you the box of tissues and a mars bar or they might tell you ‘trust your instinct’ or my favourite has to be putting the dancing shoes on and getting a night out for some finger pointing to the juke box!
Sara with her gorgeous kids!

So with these lovely Mammies propping me up and saying you can do it, over one crazy Gin or two it was discussed, why don’t you start your own business? Erm Ok that sounds like a great idea…… See I‘d always loved to bake, taking after my own lovely mummy, so it was natural with my design background in the theatres to make my own kiddies birthday cakes, then family cakes and of course not willing to miss a trick the mammies cakes. They say from a seed, a great oak can grow and Ok my Kitchen is no oak but it is my gorgeous third baby. Don’t get me wrong it’s been tough along the way and there has been many a tearful tantrum at midnight when I’m trying to juggle being a business lady and a mummy, but I wouldn’t change it for the world! It has made me a confident mum, proud to show my children what exactly can be achieved with a lot of hard work., but it really wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for The Mammies, my family and friends.

If you had said to us over five years ago where we would be now, we would have laughed hysterically, running our own businesses, expanding our families, director of a company, back to university and trust me that is just the tip of the iceberg! One thing I do know I’m really excited to see where the next five years takes us!
Sara xx
So why not pop in and see me and Sara and the other wonderful businesses we share our office space with. You'll get a warm welcome, a cuppa and if you're lucky you might get some of Sara's really tasty cake! You can also pick up one of our fabulous Mother's Day Bags - these cotton bags come with a pack of fabric pens and are a steal at only £9.99. If you can't make it into the office then don't panic, drop me a line to buy or get more details.
See you soon everybody!


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