Picture Perfect Moments

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Our Christmas Miracle

I really stink at this blogging thing! I sincerely apologize to all 4 of my followers :}
I had no idea that it had been over a year since I have made an entry but it sure explains why people keep asking if I am going out of business. I will try to do better this coming year but I am not making any promises! LOL

First, I want to thank everyone who has contributed to the growth of our business this year. There have been so many of you who have passed our info along to your friends and family and for that I am very grateful !! It brings me great pleasure to be able to say that 2010 has been our best year yet, in spite of the poor state of the economy. It so easily could have gone the other way! I really appreciate your support, it is not just something that I say as an email closing. Without you guys I don't have a business and I know it, so thank you...thank you...thank you!! :}

To those of you who were caught up in our shipping delay because of inclement weather, I want you to know that I truly am grateful for your patience and I hope that everyone who needed their packages by Christmas received them. All others were shipped as well, prior to closing for the holidays. The only ones that did not get out until today are the orders that were placed on the 16th thru the 20th. The plan had been to ship those on Christmas eve, but life threw me a curve ball ! I have since mailed your bows but there for a while it was not looking good!

We left our house Christmas Eve to have dinner at my granny's house and when we came home we discovered that someone had unscrewed the bulbs in all of our security lights, kicked in the door and completely wiped us out of everything in our house that was of any value...including all of our Christmas presents. I don't think that I have every been as devastated about anything in my entire life! The last time I remember feeling this helpless was when Katie was born 3 months early.

Anybody who knows me knows that I am always the one in control and always the one running around trying to make life better for everyone else in my life. This time...well, there just are not words to express how utterly useless I was...
Even if I had had a million dollars to replace the kid's Christmas presents, it would have done me absolutely zero good since nothing was open!! All I could do was cry on my mom's shoulder while hiding behind the car so Katie couldn't see me!

It wasn't so much the material things that upset me. We are insured and "things" can be replaced. It was having our home...our safe place....violated. The jokers who broke in here ransacked my house. They emptied all of my drawers into the floor and pawed thru my underwear. They took family heirlooms and items that had sentimental value that can never be replaced. They took away our sense of security and that is going to take some time to get back...if we ever do. I know that I shouldn't feel this way, but I would love to have 5 minutes alone in a room with whoever did this....it would NOT be pretty!

On a brighter note....my cousin and his wife were among my "first responders". The very first thing that they did was to put it out on her facebook account telling their friends what had happened. Within less than an hour people were showing up at my house to help out and calling to tell them that they were on the way with presents for the kids! This continued all night long and most of Christmas Day. I will be eternally grateful for every person that stepped up and showed Katie that for every bad person that's out there there are dozens more who are good, honest and caring and willing to help out in a pinch.
It absolutely blew me away that people were showing up at my house to help BEFORE the police even arrived...and all I could do was cry!

We will forever be grateful to every person who contributed to Katie, Logan and Leah's Christmas this year! The little kids were not aware that anything had happened because they had not arrived yet from Ohio. In the amount of time it takes to drive from Ohio...12 hours...their gifts had been replaced and then some! This was by far the best Christmas ever for the kids!

I have a new appreciation for Facebook. I feel validated in my belief that most people are truly good and honest. I am just so thankful that there are so many people in my life who are supportive of me. I am blessed.

I never want to experience anything like this again. I admit that I am having a difficult time working through it. Simply making a list of missing items for the police and filling out claim forms for the insurance company keep causing me to relive the losses. It makes me angry when I think of special gifts that I had picked out for each child or things that were on their "list" that they didn't get. I'm ticked off that we had nothing to give our family. It is hard to sleep in a room that just a few days ago had at least one stranger in there dumping everything on the floor and taking what they wanted. Sigh....life goes on....

Thankfully, the business was not affected and we will rock on without missing a beat! :}
The office will remain closed until January 3rd for the holidays, but we will back with new items and I will have a better attitude by then! LOL

I hope that each of you have a Happy New Year and I hope that you enjoy the sale! I look forward to working really hard for you this coming year!

Until next time...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I have spent the last couple of months spinning out of control. It started with waking up in the middle of the night with my heart slamming so hard against my chest that I could literally see my pajama top moving. At first I blew it off thinking I was waking up from a nightmare that I couldn't remember. It progressed to shortness of breath and chest pain. Naturally, I began to assume the worst and made an appointment with my physician where I discovered that my blood pressure was way outta control. He sent me to a cardiologist who introduced several different meds until we finally hit on one that worked without making me feel like I had 50 lb weights on each leg. After weeks of feeling like I was walking through mud and every heart test imaginable the new blood pressure meds kicked in and I was given a clean bill of health. I began to breathe again.

As I was checking out at the cardiologists office, my doctor stopped by with a brochure about a fairly inexpensive test that can predict what your heart will look like down the road. It is an important diagnostic test for people who have a family history of heart problems...which I do. Long story short, they scheduled me for the calcium score test and I went on my merry little way.

Fast forward 2 weeks...I get the results and discover that I have multiple enlarged lymph nodes in my chest area. Now I need a chest CT. Same results...multiple enlarged lymph nodes...I stop breathing again.

A little less than two years ago my baby brother was diagnosed with Lymphoma at age 30 so I would be lying if I said I wasn't worried. Life as I knew it just stopped. Everything changes when you come face to face with your own mortality. I have been here before when Katie and I almost didn't make it through child birth. This time was different though...I had to imagine Katie living without me and I can not describe the regret that hit me between the eyes. I realized that I have spent the last 11 years trying to make a life for katie instead of living our life. We've missed a lot. That sucks on so many levels that I can't even talk about it.

Anyway...I finally made my way to a thoracic surgeon who ended up doing major surgery to obtain several biopsies. It took an entire week for the results to come in but thankfully I do not have lymphoma. I am still not able to breathe yet beause it hasn't really sunk in completely. I am still trying to comprehend it all. Maybe I am waiting on the other shoe to drop. I dunno...

So I am sitting there looking at my surgeon and I say " well...what is wrong with me ?" His response to my question was... "Do you spend a lot of time around chicken coops?" WTH ?? Chicken coops? Um...no, the only chicken I see on a regular basis comes in a box from McDonald's. I am sitting there staring at this man like he has just grown a second head or something because I can NOT comprehend what a chicken coop has to do with anything! LOL

As it turns out...my lymph nodes are enlarged because I have an infection that can only be caught from chickens, pigeons, bats and black birds. It is not life threatening and does not usually require any kind of treatment. In my case, I will have to take medicine but I'm all for it! You have to breathe in some kind of spores straight from the bird or it's habitat to catch it. It can also happen if you have been playing in dirt that is infected. I have no idea how I was exposed. I do love the outdoors and working in my flower beds. I'm not sure that I want to know how I got it. It's not contagious and life goes on.

I am a firm believer that everything in life happens for a reason and maybe this is some kind of wake up call for me. Maybe it's just God's way of telling to slow down. He knows I am a little bit hard headed when it comes to things like that so I guess I will have plenty of time to reflect on it all during the next few weeks while I recuperate from surgery.

Chicken coops.... hmmm Life is really strange sometimes.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Changes are coming...

In the past, I have maintained both a wholesale and a retail website and both have served us well. However, as our product line continues to grow and our color selection has continued to increase, it has become a full time job for me to keep both sites up to date. The reality is that both sites have suffered because there simply are not enough hours in the day to maintain them. That is about to change! :}

Being a work at home mom is only worthwhile if you actually have time to be a mom, so with that in mind I have decided to combine the two websites and give all of our customers the best of both worlds! This decision will benefit my family in allowing me to free up my time spent online and it will allow all of our customers to purchase our products at 50 percent off of our retail prices with no minimums involved! It will also eliminate the need to periodically run a "sale" which can be time consuming and often slows production because everyone orders at once.

You can expect to see many new products and color selections added in the coming weeks, including an entire new line of character bows, a Thanksgiving line and our 2009 Christmas line!

I hope that you will continue to enjoy our products and I look forward to serving you for many years to come!

I treasure your business!

Carla Smith
Picture Perfect Hair Bows

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act

I have been putting off blogging about The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act ( aka CPSIA) because I am so tired of thinking about it. At first I was in denial that it would affect my business...then I was really angry which quickly turned into really depressed and then angry and depressed at the same time! I stomped my feet and shook my fist in the air and cursed the fact that the biz I've been nurturing for 10 years was circling the drain! I monitored forums like the fashion incubator and I read and re read the law until my eyes crossed trying to figure out exactly what I needed to do to survive. The answers were just about as clear as mud!

As a mother and as a business owner that produces children's products I am very concerned about the amount of lead in the items that our children come in contact with on a daily basis. I believe that there needs to be reform and I believe that the levels of lead need to be monitored closely. The CPSIA was written with good intentions, but as my grandmother will tell you, the road to hell is paved with good intentions! The CPSIA needs some serious "tweaking" to make it workable for the long haul, period. After August 2009, the standards and approved testing methods will be changing and it may very well make it so that it is impossible to afford the testing without passing the cost on to our consumers. It is very doubtful that anyone will want to pay $150 for a $5 hair bow !

I could go on for hours about my opinion on the CPSIA but frankly I just do not have the energy. I am tired of talking about it, thinking about, dreaming about it, and wishing it away. It is not going to go away or be reformed any time soon so the only choice I have is to comply with the law as it is currently written. It does not mean that I have to like it :}

I do encourage you, however, to take the time to read a very interesting blog entry by The Domestic Diva. She explains in simple terms the impact of this law much better than I ever could! She also provides all of the important links to pertinent sites and pulls it together in a way that makes sense.

As a consumer, the CPSIA will also have a huge impact on you. Choices will be limited, product availability will be lost and or limited, one of a kind items may become a thing of the past due to the destructive testing process, handmade items will eventually disappear, thrift store shops will be too afraid of the penalties to resell used children's products and the list goes on....just trust me when I say that it is worth your time and effort to research this new law because it does affect you in a big way!

Many people would also be surprised to know some of the items that get recalled because of high lead content. Click here to view some of the recent recalls.

Please rest assured that the products that Picture Perfect Hair Bows sells are safe. On February 10th we will be in compliance with the new law as it is currently written and we will be including all of the necessary paperwork for our wholesale customers. We are already using a third party testing facility and have worked closely with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to insure that our testing program meets with their standards.

If you have any questions or concerns please dont hesitate to contact me! My door is pretty much always open!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Save Small Business From the CPSIA

Monday, November 17, 2008

Out Of The Office Until Thursday

Thank you for your email ! I am glad the auto responder sent you here....since it wouldn't allow me actually tell you what's going on! Okay, it would have...I just couldnt do it in 200 words or less ! Please see below...

I am currently taking a two day break from my computer due to the fact that if I don't I am going to have to have my keyboard surgically removed from my wrists! :}

Seriously, the current 50 percent off sale has caused an overwhelming increase in my email and in trying to keep up with my mail other areas of the business are beginning to require my attention. I need to help out with production and shipping on Tuesday and Wednesday so that we do not fall behind on our orders...which would only generate more email...which would cause us to fall further behind on shipping...which would ...well, you get the idea! LOL

It's a bit of three ring circus around here with the holidays approaching and while I am a fairly good juggler I have to step away from the computer to keep all of our bows in the air ! I hope that you will understand :}

In the meantime, if you are inquiring about your turkey bow. It shipped at the end of last week and should arrive any day now.

If you are inquiring about your order that was placed prior to November 5th, please rest assured that you are the reason I am unavailable right now and your order has shipped or will be shipping within the next 48 hours.

If you are inquiring about an order placed after November 5th, please know that we are still on track to ship your order within the promised 14 business days and I am committed to making sure we stay on track!

If you want to know when the Christmas bows will be on the site the answer is Friday.

If you want to know how long the sale is going to last the answer is very simply...um...I don't know! I'm trying to keep it up as long as we can serve you well. If we begin to get overwhelmed and unable to meet your expectations I will take it down immediately. In the meantime...enjoy!

If you just placed an order and are receiving this email please know that we appreciate your business and you support more than you know! We are excited about making bows for the little girl in your life !

If you are attempting to sell me Viagra or similar products, your email will be deleted as usual and I hope this auto responder annoys you as much as your email annoys me!

For all other inquiries that were not addressed above, please know that I will be responding to you on Thursday and I look forward to talking to you!
It's my favorite part of this job! :}

If I answered your question above I will not be contacting you and wasting any more of your time but I do look forward to our paths crossing again in the future!

If you managed to read this far, I want you to know that I appreciate your time and your support! :}

Have a wonderful day!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I discovered yesterday that someone had taken the content from my entire website and plagiarized it. It was maddening to read my story of how it all began with someone else’s name inserted where mine belongs. It was infuriating to see Katie’s name missing and someone else’s childs name parked in her spot.

What possesses some people to take the easy way out? The longer I looked at what this person had tried to do the more upset I became.
Not because I think I have created some award winning website that shouldn’t be touched but because I know what my daughter has sacrificed for us to get this far.
In just a matter of seconds, I saw our “life movie” flash before me. In my mind I watched as Katie stood hugging her gymboree blanket asking to go to the park. Me refusing her request because I had too many orders and too little time. Desperation written on her face because she was tired of being cooped up in the house. Desperation coloring mine because I needed to list more auctions so I could afford groceries.

I watched myself lifting my head off of my keyboard as I woke from a deep sleep. How many times did I actually fall asleep writing the html code that would eventually bring a steady income? I don’t know. Too many times to count. How many times did I swear out loud when I would refresh a page to discover everything had shifted to the right and it would take hours to find my mistake? I lost count there, too.

Fast forward a little and Katie wants to go to the movies. We can’t. I have to work on the site. Shoulders slumped, she walks away. My heart breaks but she needs glasses and it’s getting cold. Coats are expensive.
One day she will appreciate the sacrifices we are making. At least that’s what I tell myself so that I can sleep when I do finally stop for the night.

Hours of research attempting to learn how to fix the pictures so that when you roll the mouse over them they change to a larger size or different color. Hands shaking as I wrote checks that I hoped I could cover for photographs that I couldn’t take on my own. Stepping out on faith and buying cameras that took money we didn’t have.
Endless hours of lost sleep taking pictures as fast as I could so that I could list auctions to pay for the cameras. Tossing, turning, praying that each satisfied customer would tell a friend how to find our ebay store. Constantly checking the feedback on Ebay to make the guilt go away. Surely it was okay to keep sacrificing my time with my daughter if I was paying the bills and making so many others happy. The ultimate goal being a website that would reduce the amount of time spent away from Katie.

Fast forward a lot… I don’t have a ton of pictures of Katie playing in the yard, baking cookies or blowing bubbles on a sunny day. I do have a stack of dvd’s 6 inches tall that contain pictures of bows and copies of my website through the years. Our life line…the website….the heart of the business that pumps money into our account so that we have food, shelter and clothing. Without it, our ability to support ourselves would die. It’s that simple.

You know, it’s not about making a lot of money or having a lot of extras. It’s about survival. It’s about building a business that you can be proud of and providing an honest days work for an honest days pay. The lady who tried to steal our website will probably never know what that feels like. If she reads this I want her to know that I am not angry. I feel sorry for her.

Today, the website gives Katie and I more time together. We still struggle to find a balance. Who doesn’t? But I am grateful that the sacrifices we have made have been worth it in the long run. And the show goes on…