Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Simple Tutorial on How to Make Your Own Scratch Off Cards

I wanted to try something new this holiday season and after looking around the nets, I discovered scratch off cards. They are super easy to make and customize for your business promotions.

I ordered up the blank business cards and scratch off stickers from Amazon. I chose white cards (for an inkjet printer, I use a Canon printer) and square hologram scratch-off stickers (they offer circle shapes, gold and silver colors too).



I designed my card using the business card template in MS Publisher. Then printed the cards and applied the stickers. I had to test one to make sure it works :)
Then I bent the card stock paper and separated the cards, gave them a good shuffle and added them to every order in December. It was really easy and fun to send them out.

I chose to offer a coupon code discount with an expiration date, but you can do this with giveaways too. I've seen them used for gender reveals at baby showers, baby shower and bridal shower games and pregnancy announcements. They are great for any occasion where you have a secret or a surprise to reveal.

I'll be switching out the snow/flake/man decor for a Valentines Day special in January. It's a fun way to connect with your tribe and offer them a little thank you gift too.

If you have any questions on how to make/design/print these cards or wants a copy of my MS Publisher (2007 folks) template, leave me a comment below!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

3 Good Reasons to Shop Cruelty-Free

Shopping cruelty-free has many benefits. Quite often we don’t pay attention to where the products we purchase come from and what the process is when they are made. There are many benefits to taking a few extra minutes when shopping for cruelty-free products. Below you will find the top 3 reasons you should shop cruelty-free.

Reason 1 –
Cruelty-free products often use fewer chemicals. This can be very beneficial to our bodies and others around us. Example: If you use aerosol cans for hair products and other grooming products the spray simply puts more chemicals into the air adding to air pollution and hurting not only yourself but others around you.

Reason 2 –
Going green are big trending words these days but it also has many benefits in itself. Larger companies are slowing down their process to create these products causing them to become more aware of not only of the importance in how the products are made but what the process is that gets the product out the door. From the creation of the product all the way down the packaging of the products they are using more sustainable ingredients and creating more cruelty-free products.

Reason 3 –
For those who are shopping for cruelty-free products realize that they are giving back and saving other animals in the process. Quite often products that are designed cruelty-free have fewer chemicals in them, which is safer for humans but they also have changed the way they process their products saving the lives of animals along the way.

In the end, switching to cruelty-free products help save our planet as well as it benefits us. There is much satisfaction in knowing where your products come from and that they are safer for you, your family, and the planet. So just take the time to look into it before you go shopping and see for yourself how cruelty-free products can benefit you.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Top 5 Reasons to try Vegan

The world needs our help; there is no doubt about that. For moral reasons, it is our obligation to do our part and to lessen our massive ecological footprint on our planet earth. Going vegan is more than just what you eat. It’s part of a way bigger picture that many may not be aware of.

Here are the top 5 reasons on why you should give veganism a try:

1.  Save animals. Those two words alone are enough for many.  Not eating animals prevents less animals being slaughtered. So use agave instead of bee’s honey, instead of wearing fur, how about faux fur and instead of applying animal tested make-up, go for the cruelty free products that don’t test on them.

2.  Stop animal abuse.  This reason ties in with the first point; however the abuse is something that many turn a blind eye to.  Don’t participate in events that cause pain to animals for our entertainment purposes. Why watch an elephant in pain just so we can cruelly sit on them for a little fun? Or see the lions in zoos wither away being stuck in a cage so we can pass by for an hour of fun?

3.  Diet. For many it’s health reasons. Our stomachs take a long time to digest meat and both meat and dairy can open the door for various diseases. So opt out of animal products both in food and everyday items and lower your risk of diseases.

4.  Increase your mood! Here's a fun fact. By not eating meat, you avoid eating the hormones and antibiotics the animals are forced to take.  Eliminating this, sparks energy in your body so you won’t feel the sluggish symptoms that comes with eating meat and dairy.

5.  Environment. Another fun fact. Water needed to feed animals that are meant for our consumption requires almost 6 times the amount of water (per tons) needed to water our crops for consumption. Being vegan, you’re contributing to the lessening of our water waste.

I know I've been "beating the vegan drum" alot lately, but since I became vegan I'm discovering all the ways that it helps my body, my mind and our planet. And I just wanted to share these insights with anyone who is interested.


I do take a daily multi-vitamin which helps me prevent any B12 and Vitamin C deficiencies. Here's a link if you want to check it out:

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Interview with Sue Faunt about somethinspecial.com and Volusion



This interview was requested by Volusion and I thought I'd repost it here. Enjoy!

How did Somethin' Special Scents get its start? Way back in 1997 my mom and I opened a candle shop in our hometown of McHenry, IL. The name was inspired by a phrase my Grandpa Skarbek would always say to us kids “you are something special”.

How many scents did you start with, what were they and how were they created? I started out with about 10 pure essential oil scents. I had many customers start to request more body care products and I could not find a reputable supplier. So I cleared out the kitchen, bought the domain name somethinspecial.com (somethingspecial.com was not available!) and created my own line of vegan perfumes and body care goodies.

Were they all popular? No, not even close! But I’ve always kept the 2 most popular ones, Lavender and Patchouli.

How long was it before you decided to expand?
My buyers started asking for more mainstream, designer duplicate scents, so I decided to listen to them and give them exactly what they wanted. My very first one was a duplicate of Pink Sugar, which I still carry today. They are always delighted that they can find their favorite scent in products they usually cannot get, like a lotion, body powder and hair conditioner.

Did the process of creating the scents change for you with more demand?
I’ve always been a cruelty-free company, but as I grew, I was more mindful of the companies I partnered with and the products I carried. I made sure that our cruelty-free and eco-conscious philosophies were in alignment.

What kinds of things did you have to consider to make this growth possible? I had to really hone in on who was just saying they were cruelty-free and who would actually sign the Leaping Bunny declaration. There were a few that would not, so I had to stop purchasing from them. There were also a few companies that would not reveal if they used DEP in their fragrance oils, so I had to also stop buying from them.

Plus, I learned early on that I had to diversify my income streams. In addition to my own web site on Volusion, I've expanded to include Amazon and Etsy shops. I used to sell on eBay quite heavily, but that no longer works with my business model.


I'm also extremely aware of my carbon footprint on our planet, so I've completely retooled areas that would be better with a more eco-friendly solution. You can check them out at somethinspecial.com/green.

Why did you choose Volusion? I did so, so much research before I chose Volusion way back in 2007. I chose Volusion because it would meet my needs in 2007 and give me the tools I needed to grow in the future. My business looks very different now than it did in 2007 and Volusion has been with me every step of the way. Plus I really wanted a provider with zero downtime and hacking protection and Volusion has met those needs spectacularly.

What advice would you give small business owners? Do your research, be patient but always take action. Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis. I love the quote “The best time to plant a tree is yesterday, but the second best time is right now”.

Face any big surprises along the way? Like a million!! I’ve launched products that I thought would be a guaranteed best seller to only hear crickets. But I always learn along the way and implement what I’ve learned into my business.

Do you have a favorite built-in Volusion feature?
I like that is has plenty of room to grow and evolve and I love the rewards program feature, the wish list feature and the reviews feature. Plus they offer other packages that give you access to their SEO and Social Media experts. Game changers.

Oddest scent you've ever had a request for?
Skunk. Weird, right?

Anything else you'd like to add.
Being a small business owner has been one of the greatest adventures in my life. I love my products, my customers and making beautifully scented items to ship to people all over the world. If you are ever thinking about launching your own business, do it!! I love the quote by Howard Thurman “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  Feel free to reach out to me at
sales@somethinspecial.com, I’m happy to answer any questions.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

How can fragrance lift and positively impact your mood?

Is it possible that a particular scented room spray or an oil diffuser can change my mood?

Well, according to some studies, fragrance possesses the power to affect and change your mood. A pleasant smelling fragrance not only aids in boosting your mood but also enhances the quality of your work patterns and behavior in various ways. Believe it or not scents work like magic on us. This "magic" is based on our associative learning. It is processed in a way that specific items or events an individuals experience is linked to are either good or bad. A particular fragrance may trigger certain emotions and feelings based on ones memories. What might bring a positive feeling, such as tranquility and happy emotions to someone, may not be the same for another person.

How does fragrance affect my mood?
Many oil diffusers and room sprays offer some aromatherapy effect and quality, which can alter and boost your mood. However, knowing this fact that scents can significantly affect mood, you can create a scent library of fragrances that offer you a definite boost to your mood and with it, many benefits.

Here is a list of positive moods that you can have with the perfect aromatherapy spray or diffuser:

•    Uplifting Mood:
Different aromas have a tremendous physiological effect on the human body, and this can lift your mood too. No doubt, pleasant smells help in lowering the heart rate, reduce stress level, and will ultimately lead to you feeling better.

•    Increased Alertness:
Good fragrances not only boost your emotions but also improves your brain health and increases mental sharpness.

•    Invigoration:
Using an organic scented oil diffuser would help to avoid the harmful side effects of chemicals and invoke a sense of invigoration and keep you energized all day long.

•    Relaxation:
Using a good quality relaxation aroma induces a sense of happiness and will also make your muscles relax and you will feel more positive after a long workday.

•    Feeling motivated:
Nothing could be achieved without motivation and invoking motivation can sometimes be the toughest job on earth. But did you know an invigorating room spray can boost your feelings of motivation?

If you need help finding just the right combination of essential oils to achieve any of the above outcomes, feel free to email me at sales@somethinspecial.com or leave a comment below.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Ingredients Deep Dive into my Avocado Lotion via EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database

Today we are deep diving into the ingredients in my vegan Avocado Lotion. Full disclosure, I do not make any of my lotion bases, instead I research samples from many, many different companies and then I choose the best ones. You will NEVER receive a runny, watery lotion from me.


In case you were wondering who EWG Skin Deep is, it is my go to resource if I have any questions about an ingredient, with the 2nd being Wikipedia. They use the power of information to protect human health and the environment. Their database gives you practical information to protect yourself and your family from everyday exposures to chemicals. They have an easy to understand rating system:
And also understand, when listing ingredients, it is done by quantity. So the first few ingredients make up most of the product, while the last few are in the smallest percentages.

Water - Hazard Score Key: 1
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/706945/WATER/

Avocado Oil - Hazard Score Key: 1
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/704777/PERSEA_GRATISSIMA_%28AVOCADO%29_OIL/

Glycerin - Hazard Score Key: 2
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/702620/GLYCERIN/

Stearic Acid - Hazard Score Key: 1
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/706311/STEARIC_ACID/

Cetyl Alcohol - Hazard Score Key: 1
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/701263/CETYL_ALCOHOL/

Dimethicone - Hazard Score Key: 3
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/702011/DIMETHICONE/

Glyceryl Stearate - Hazard Score Key: 2
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/702658/GLYCERYL_STEARATE_SE/

PEG-100 Stearate - Hazard Score Key: 3
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/721388/PEG-100_STEARATE/

Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract - Hazard Score Key: 1
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/721197/ORYZA_SATIVA_(RICE)_BRAN_EXTRACT/

Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract - Hazard Score Key: 1
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/705656/ROSMARINUS_OFFICINALIS_(ROSEMARY)_LEAF_EXTRACT/


Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Extract - Hazard Score Key: 1
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/702803/HELIANTHUS_ANNUUS_(SUNFLOWER)/

Tocopherols - Hazard Score Key: 1
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/706564/TOCOPHEROL/

Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B5) - Hazard Score Key: 1
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/704436/PANTHENOL/

Allantoin - Hazard Score Key: 1
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/700244/ALLANTOIN/

Triethanolamine - Hazard Score Key: 5
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/706639/TRIETHANOLAMINE/

Phenoxyethanol - Hazard Score Key: 4
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/704811/PHENOXYETHANOL/

Hexylene Glycol - Hazard Score Key: 1
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/702849/HEXYLENE_GLYCOL/

Caprylyl Glycol - Hazard Score Key: 1
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/701067/CAPRYLYL_GLYCOL/

Ethylhexylglycerin - Hazard Score Key: 1
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/702352/ETHYLHEXYLGLYCERIN/

I hope this helps you make good choices about your skin care. What you put on your body is as important as what you put into your body.  

Thursday, August 30, 2018

What is Zero Waste? How can you start doing it right away?

What is Zero Waste? How can you start doing it right away?
You might have heard the term “Zero Waste Living” but do you know the actual meaning of it?

Well, Zero Waste is more like a philosophy that encourages humans to redesign the life cycles (how resources are being used) so that all the products can be reused again. The primary goal of this movement is to free the landfills or incinerators from trash. It seems interesting when listening to it for the first time, however, the process is not as simple as you think. If you try to dive deep to understand this term, you might kill your enthusiasm for zero waste living before you even begin it. So, let’s find out what baby steps you can take to initiate this movement.

How to get started? (Baby Steps)If you wish to have a change, then it starts with you. You can start living a zero waste life by changing your habits that produce waste. Here are some of the steps that you can consider for the first time.

“Slow changes nurture the world we want better than quick fixes.”
  1. Stop buying plastic bottles: It starts with you and your home! One of the biggest culprits contaminating oceans and seas are plastic bottles. Millions of plastic bottles are bought around the globe every minute. This is one of the biggest sources of plastic ocean pollution. The speed at which we are consuming the plastic bottles, chances are in the near future we will have all plastic bodies. Considering the terrifying environmental impact and also the sheer amount that people spend on purchasing bottles while having safe water to consume-why are people still buying them? Think about it and start with your home. Buy and use the many reusable water bottle options available today.
  2. Reusable bags: One more step in the easy way to a zero waste lifestyle is to switch to reusable cloth bags to bring to the store for shopping. According to a survey, almost 1 trillion plastic bags are being used and trashed which is insane. The best alternative is to take cloth bags to the store and carry home your items in them. Some stores even offer a small discount for bringing in your own bags. 
  3. Stop wasting food: Food waste is becoming a huge problem around the world as 40% of the food that we grow goes to waste. We have discovered thousands of ways to grow excess food but not a single way to value it. So, from today on, take an oath that you will not waste food at any cost and only buy and/or order what you will consume. Always take home any leftovers, either to eat or compost.
  4. Say No to freebies: Most of the problems are due to freebies. Whether it is about promotional pens, bags or the packets of junk that we get at the dentist’s office, all these freebies are not good for our surroundings. These use a ton of resources to create. So, the question is: do you actually need them? A big no!
The positive impact of Zero Waste Zero waste is helping in saving the environment in one way or other and at the same time benefiting communities and a strong local economy. Let’s see what the positive impact of Zero Waste is:
  • Zero Waste helps in reducing climate impact: Focus on reducing, recycling and reusing can play a great part in the overall climate changes and effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Minimize pollution: The best positive impact of zero waste is there is less use of resources which alternatively reduces pollution from disposal, manufacturing, and extraction.
  • Social equity and build community: With a Zero Waste approach, creating a strong community is built right in. It supports large and small communities as well as promotes community health.
So, be the first to start incorporating these practices for this planet-saving movement.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Ingredients Deep Dive into my Vegan Hemp Sulfate Free Soap via EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database

Today we are deep diving into the ingredients in my Hemp Vegan Soap.
In case you were wondering who EWG Skin Deep is, it is my go to resource if I have any questions about an ingredient, with the 2nd being Wikipedia. They use the power of information to protect human health and the environment. Their database gives you practical information to protect yourself and your family from everyday exposures to chemicals. They have an easy to understand rating system:
And also understand, when listing ingredients, it is done by quantity. So the first few ingredients make up most of the product, while the last few are in the smallest percentages.

Glycerin - Hazard Score Key: 2
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/702620/GLYCERIN/

Water - Hazard Score Key: 1
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/706945/WATER/

Sorbitol - Hazard Score Key: 1
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/706239/SORBITOL/

Sodium Cocoate - Hazard Score Key: 1
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/706037/SODIUM_COCOATE/

Sodium Stearate - Hazard Score Key: 1
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/706190/SODIUM_STEARATE/

Virgin Organic Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Seed Oil - Hazard Score Key: 2
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/701045/CANNABIS_SATIVA_(HEMP)_SEED_OIL/

Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil - Hazard Score Key: 1
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/702679/GLYCINE_SOJA_(SOYBEAN)_OIL/

Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil - Hazard Score Key: 1
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/707096/PRUNUS_AMYGDALUS_DULCIS_(SWEET_ALMOND)_OIL/

Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil - Hazard Score Key: 1
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/701141/CARTHAMNUS_TINCTORIUS_(SAFFLOWER)_OIL/

Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil - Hazard Score Key: 1
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/705966/SIMMONDSIA_CHINENSIS_(JOJOBA)_SEED_OIL/

Organic Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Extract - Hazard Score Key: 1
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/700275/ALOE_BARBADENSIS_(ALOE_VERA)_LEAF_JUICE_EXTRACT/

Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E Acetate) - Hazard Score Key: 3
https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/706569/TOCOPHERYL_ACETATE/

I hope this helps you make good choices about your skin care. What you put on your body is as important as what you put into your body.