28 February 2008

It's Our Online Shop!

Look for our Post Script Mirror in our Decorate : Wall Decor department.

"Happy Birthday, Leap Year Baby!!!" [cue sounds of plastic horns and noisemakers, people whooping, and much clinking of glasses and general merrymaking]

Look for our VIN Glasses in our Entertain : Glassware department.

As promised, our long-awaited online boutique is open for business! We hope you'll visit and spend some time wandering through.

New finds and furnishings will be added on the regular, so stop by daily to see what's just arrived. We plan to highlight new arrivals on our blog whenever possible so that you can stop here first, then skip on over to the boutique for a first peek.

Now for the personal stuff. What can I say upon the launch of our online store? Not to get all choked-up and Toastmaster-ish on you, but I really have been thinking about how to put this e-commerce launch into perspective, how to frame it for myself. Have you ever gotten so lost in a big new project that when you come up for air you fail to behold the true scope of your accomplishment? I think that's where I'm at right now.

Customers often ask me if I've considered expanding The Blissful, either in terms of physical space or even franchising. The fact is, at this point I am quite content with the brick-and-mortar store in its current size. This is as much store as I want for right now! And I can't even begin to imagine a new shop in a new city. However, the online launch is an expansion of no small proportions. It's a bigger investment in every regard: time spent behind the computer, hours spent at the shop, training new staff, getting my office into shape as a shipping center (and yes, it's come a looong way from the last time you saw it), not to mention the additional financial investment of stocking inventory for not one but two shops (that's one way of thinking of it; the other way of thinking about it is that our customer base just multiplied by several thousandfold; either way, that means more inventory). It's a leap, and how appropriate that we're launching on the eve of February 29th, 2008...Leap Day.

Look for our Tiny Garden Tee in our Dress : Apparel department.

And so we commence this next phase of our journey at The Blissful. We are launching with what I see as a fairly modest representation of all that is to come. Our product mix online will grow by leaps and bounds over the next few weeks, months, and years. We look forward to the great pleasure and privilege of doing business with you and thank you so much for your friendship and support. Merci! Merci! Merci!

Oh, and as always, thank you to Matt and Becki and to Linds, three of the best friends I could ever have. Without the three of you, this online boutique just might have leapt right into March!

Let the wonderment begin!

22 February 2008

Save the Dates

Because with no end in sight to this cold, sleet-y, snowy, freezing rain-y weather, we all need something to look forward to...

you are invited to
Paris in the Springtime at The Blissful

Thu., 4.17 from
3 PM - 9 PM

Fri., 4.18 from
10 AM - 9 PM

Sat., 4.19 from
10 AM - 9 PM

Sun., 4.20 from
11 AM - 5 PM

Enjoy our French café appetizers, gourmet patisserie, pink lemonade, & something bubbly, all set to the music of the Paris cafés. Friends & lovers welcome!

Plus, fabulous shopping promotions, one unbelievable giveaway, & more.

Yes, I know the dates are a bit far off still, but I wanted to give all of you roadtrippers a good heads up.

More later! Details about our 100th Post Giveaway in our very next Lettre!

18 February 2008

Café Love

Photo above courtesy of Flickr.

Yesterday my friend Becki and I took a little day trip to Columbus (Ohio), where (some of you may know) I used to live and teach, back before my life as proprietor of The Blissful. People often ask me if I miss teaching. I tell them the truth, which is no, I don't miss teaching, but I think often of former students and wonder where they are and how they're doing. I miss my super colleagues and teaching partners, too.

What I also miss from my former life are the coffee shops I used to frequent. My very favorite string of coffee shops were part of a locally owned franchise called Cup O' Joe (not the café in the photo above, which could be somewhere in Ville de Wonderful, France). They do not have their own website (yet), but I believe this is the link to their parent company. I regularly frequented three of their (to the best of my knowledge) four locations: the one near The Ohio State University campus (Go Bucks!), the one in German Village (think cobblestone streets and iron gates protecting deliciously Old World-looking homes, some of them so tiny they're practically dollhouses), and most recently, the one in The Short North Arts District. Yesterday after shopping our regional Columbus Market for more Christmas decor (yes, I'm late on the draw by retail standards), and after a hearty lunch at a Scottish pub, I took Becki to Cup O'Joe in The Short North. We needed a little something sweet for the two hour ride home. Being there in that venue, among artists sketching in their sketchbooks, writers tapping away on keyboards of impossibly small computers, and avid conversationalists smiling and pressing each other's wrists to make points, I realized how much I miss the laid back café lifestyle. I miss the long, stretchy, coffee-flavored Saturdays of my former life. Not so much that I could be wooed back to a regular paycheck and a great benefit plan--I wouldn't trade those perks for what I get to do now as a shop owner--but I do miss having time on my hands and a few precious weekend afternoon hours to while away. At some point in the future, I hope to be able to resume my café life without missing a beat at the shop.

On the subject of coffee (how's that for a segway?), take a look at our new favorite coffee mugs: love the size and the weight, the fact that they're clear, and most of all, the darling little coffee bean with the phrase Grain de Café on them. I also love that they're handle-less, but they narrow toward the sturdy foot and thus allow for grabbing on and drinking without fear of burning oneself. How delightful.

When I returned to the shop this Monday morning, here's what was waiting for me:

A heaven of green. Alongside our softest of soft Green Cattail Balls (velvety to the touch) and our new Green is Good totes, we're featuring our new Garden + Forest Infusion line, which comes to us via our friend Margo, candlemaker extraordinaire of Tatine Candles in Chicago. I wish you could smell the shop today. I've been burning Salted Caramel Tabac, which I'd told Margo I knew would be my favorite based on the name alone. I was right.

After stubbornly resisting carrying fragranced pillars the first year we were in business and simultaneously keeping my eye out for just the right line (because you never know when something might sway you), we finally found Tatine and knew it was just right for The Blissful. Here's a preview of Paris, one of our bestsellers. With notes of champagne, sea salt, and kelpy air, this candle smells just like the city itself.

Back on the coffee shop tip, I should mention that we've recently introduced a patisserie into the shop. Again, courtesy of Tatine (clearly I have a lot to thank Margo for). Her Patisserie line of candle tins features all of the yummy baked goods scents you would dream of finding in the best little patisseries in Europe, including Café Crème, Framboise (raspberry with a whiff of vanilla), and Madeleine (a classic French tea cake). I think I'm gaining weight just from burning them in the shop.

Speaking of which, the remainders of our Valentine's candy are being put to good use:

That's my mom's hand in the photo and she wanted me to be sure to tell you that it only appears miniature and chubby. It's the angle, people, just the angle.

There are still a few boxes left!

Wistfully Yours from an Imaginary Table at My Favorite Café,


14 February 2008

It's a Leap Year Baby!

according to Wikipedia.com
(channeling Michael Scott, for all you fans of The Office):

A) A
leap year is a year containing one or more extra days in order to keep the calendar year synchronised with the astronomical or seasonal year. For example, February would have 29 days in a leap year instead of the usual 28.

B) The launch date of
The Blissful's new online boutique!

We didn't plan it this way. It simply came down to the fact that I had promised we would launch in February and I wanted to keep that promise. It meant that we would launch the very last day of February, but February it would still be. (Building a comprehensive e-commerce boutique that reflects the flavor and scope of its brick-and-mortar big sister takes a lot longer than one would think.) And so, I decided that February 29th would be the day. And then I realized what day it already was: Leap Day.

So Friday, February 29th is our big day! We are working hourly to perfect every last finishing detail on the site. We continue to upload more great product as we unpack boxes, stage and shoot new items, and write up descriptions that will make our online store as tangible an experience as possible for you. I'm even doing something I never thought I'd have to do when my store was this young: hiring part-time help! We feel pretty blessed and lucky to have a small bevy of terrific friends with lots of valuable retail experience who 'get' the veeeerrrrry low-key sales approach we favor at The Blissful. Our new staff--who you may get to meet beginning in March--are going to be fabulous additions to our team.

Thanks for your patience, your warm words of anticipation, and your support. I appreciate the e-mails I've been receiving from so many of you asking when this baby's going to launch, and I'm here to tell you: we're having a Leap Year baby!!! Get the (fake) vanilla cigars ready!

11 February 2008

Why, St. Valentine, Why?

It's Valentine's Week, you know. ("Valentine's Week?" exclaimed my boyfriend yesterday evening. "Now it's a week???")

There's little historical veracity to back up the idea that it was the St. Valentine of history books who founded the holiday that is alternately beloved and dreaded by people throughout Western Civilizaton. However, I appreciate the cultural mythology so much that I am going to blame him for picking the middle of February for this holiday. Why, St. Valentine, why? It's only in the single digits here in Ohio and I'm sure it can't be much warmer anywhere within a ten hour drive! (Those of you in warm weather climates, I hope you're counting your lucky stars this week.) This is the weather in which we're supposed to run out, buy a cute new outfit for our big night out at a restaurant, or hit up the grocery store for ingredients for a batch of cupcakes for our honey? Yeah, not really feeling like it this week. But we press on.

Just in case you plan to brave this week's oncoming weather, we invite you to make a stop at The Blissful, as we are running our St. Valentine's Sale today through Saturday. We're taking 10% OFF all pink and red items and all other Valentine's-specific finds (cards, candy, etc.).

Below, we are featuring exquisite chocolates (each truffle is named after a girl; pop open a box and you can sink your teeth into a glorious ganache-covered Sophie, Antoniette, or Helena!) in our handmade pink polka dot heart shaped box. Lovely and adorable. Enjoy the chocolates, then treat the box as a keepsake.

Certain of our KOBO candles are perfect for this holiday. Try Santal, which is a blend of sandalwood, cognac, and anise. (Once he takes it out of the pink and red box, the candle is white soy wax in a clear vessel. The fragrance is great for his study--not too girly.) Or light up a Chocolat et Orange (now burning at this present moment), a mix of dark chocolate, tangerine, and orange.

On another note, have you seen the feature on our friends Darcy and Kara's shop in the March issue of Country Living? Check these ladies out! The honor couldn't have been bestowed upon two nicer, more deserving people. Their online shop is debuting soon, too, so watch for it!

It's hard for me to believe it, but our 100th post on Lettres from The Blissful is fast approaching! In fact, it's just seven more posts away. I'm going to jump on the bandwagon (not usually my favorite activity, but all of you wonderful bloggers deserve it) and do a 100th Post Giveaway! More details to follow soon, including how to enter and what the winner will receive.

Hope your Valentine's Week (week, week, week, week, week) is unusually sweet.