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10 posts categorized "Business ideas I wish I'd thought of"

27 April 2012

Things I Am Loving: Laser Cut Nori


Speaking, as we were, of lace effects in unexpected but obvious places, I just wanted to share my love for these award-winning nori sheets (found via JeannieJeannie).





Ad agency I&S BBDO Inc in Japan was asked to create an online campaign for the Umino Seaweed Store, a company producing nori (the sheets of seaweed used in making sushi) that had been badly affected by the tsunami.

Unfortunately, and particularly in a Japanese context, nori is a very boring product to advertise, so the company looked for ways to differentiate the product and get it some online buzz. 

Remember I did a certificate in Online Marketing last year?  Well, we were told again and again that original and persuasive content is the key to online campaigns that work, so the agency’s strategy of  tweaking the product itself in an original and beautiful way was utterly inspired.

Because of the horrible circumstances of the tsunami, the agency looked to traditional Japanese designs for longevity, good fortune, hope, happiness etc. to create a positive vibe around the product and the campaign has since won many awards.




After poking round the Internet, I discovered that Seattle’s very own Food Geek had also had a very similar idea (and made some beautiful photos). Feast your eyes on these.








Can someone please produce these commercially? They would make such beautiful onigiri.


17 September 2011

Julep Maven


There’s quite a lot of self-reinvention going on around here.  I’ve lost 26lbs and counting since June 1st on the deadly but effective Dukan diet and am the thinnest I’ve been for about eight years (and yes, I will blog about it early next week).

This time I’m determined to see this thing through to the end, and as a result am holding off on buying too many new clothes as I’d still like to lose another 16-20 lbs. Instead I had to find another way to up the glamour factor round these parts – I’m feeling better about myself than I have in a LOOOOOONNNNNNGGGGG time – and give myself a bit of a reward.  And this treat fits whatever size you are.




I’ve been a fan of Julep ever since entrepreneur Jane Park opened her first salon about ten minutes from my house. They now have a presence throughout Greater Seattle and have launched their line of nail polishes online throughout the US.  These are beautiful polishes in glorious colours with lots of seasonal changes, all named after Hollywood stars.  I’m shallow enough that I find this occasionally problematic – I don’t care what colour it is, I am not wearing ‘Keira’ or ‘Gwyneth’.

They’ve also launched a monthly subscription service called Julep Maven.  You do a fun quiz to find out your style and they email you every month with personalised colour selections.  You can choose whether to take the colours, request another ‘shelf pull’, have the box sent to a friend as a present or just skip the box altogether.  And for around $20 a month, they guarantee at least $40 of product, including two nail polishes in either new seasonal colours or cult favourites, together with other hand care products.  Shipping is free and you also get 20% of other products on the website.

The quiz decided that I was an ‘American Beauty’, somewhat amusing as I’m neither leggy, nor blonde, nor even American, and the website said they’d be sending me ‘Alfre’ – a cool dusty lilac and ‘Carrie’,  a useful innocuous pink.  Since I have no idea who ‘Alfre’ is, and since I still have some residual affection for ‘Carrie’, despite SATC2, I thought these sounded good.

Everything arrived beautifully packaged, with a letter from the owner. As well as the two polishes, I received a bottle of Nail Therapy nail strengthener (which has been GREAT for my brittle nails), a full size 3 oz glycolic hand scrub and a couple of little samples.




The only problem was that they weren’t the right two polishes.  I’d been sent ‘Zoe’, a gorgeous autumnal copper and ‘Molly’ a true red, which isn’t really me.

I emailed instantly to inquire after the whereabouts of cool and beautiful Alfre, to be told that I’d signed up just as the monthly colours were changing. However they did offer to send Alfre to me free of charge, which was rather nice of them.  So here are my three ladies (plus nail protector) in all their glory.




Here I am modelling Zoe and wishing that I wasn’t such a f*cking amateur when it comes to giving myself a manicure.  I love her as she is glamorous, yet neutral and seasonal, and not a colour that I would necessarily have picked out for myself, which is sort of the point of doing this sort of thing.




I find myself strangely excited to see what colours are in my next box (I’m such a sucker for good marketing).  If you live in the US and want to give yourselves a little monthly treat then here’s where you can sign up.

(FULL DISCLOSURE: I get $15 in store credit if you sign up through the link above.  However, as usual I haven’t been paid for this review, nor have I been sent free stuff, it’s something I decided to do for me).


14 October 2010

Go Love Your Office - Etsy HQ


Once upon a time when the Internet was still young and I was working as a management consultant, I remember musing with a few folks that it would be a great idea to set up a ‘shopping engine’ for craftspeople and artists to give them a standard template shop under one umbrella and save them the hassle of setting up their own websites and doing their own independent marketing.

Yes, things would be very different round here if I’d held that thought and founded Etsy, rather than just sitting on my arse.

Perhaps I would be working in gorgeous offices such as these. Etsy’s HQ in Brooklyn has been designed by Hangar Design Group to reflect the quirky, colourful, handmade nature of the brand and decorated using many pieces commissioned or bought from Etsy sellers. 




Those lamps are incredible, does anyone know where they were sourced? I’ve been searching everywhere. And I love the crochet granny blankets on the wall.




The combination of geeks and gingham is such a winner I find.




Junkprints installed the record wall




The desks are all handmade. And see the ‘Craft’ area to the left below? Every office should have one.




Plush toy makers Zooguu designed the individual phone rooms. This has made the Husband and I are consider installing a British phone booth door chez nous, though for the full authentic touch I hope the room beyond stinks of stale urine and cigarettes.




plush_room2 villain_room



Seriously, there are about a thousand fabulous ideas to steal in all this, though I am left wondering whether all the geeky programmers feel comfortable in this space – in the startups I’ve worked at, the geek squad seemed to think pizza boxes and beer cans were decorative objects.

{via SwissMiss}

13 October 2009

Cupcake Couture

Our old friends Trophy Cupcakes here in Seattle have been showing off their Halloween cupcake range.





They are fabulous and I’m particularly liking their couture outfits from Bella Cupcake Couture. Truly fashion at its finest.

Bella Cupcake Couture makes textile inspired cupcake wrappers which are fabulous for weddings, parties and other special occasions. Utterly sublime.


07 May 2009



I've recently come to know Jessie Oleson of Cakespy. She is a Seattle-based artist and illustrator who does cute watercolours showing the adventures of Cuppie, an anthropomorphic cupcake, and  also writes the blog Cakespy, where Jessie hunts down various cakes and desserts.  At which point I fully understand if you've all fled there en masse and are no longer reading this post.

As part of this month's Wallingford Art Walk Jessie was exhibiting at Trophy Cupcakes showing pictures of Cuppie in various Seattle locations.  Given my borderline obsession with Trophy anyway, wild horses couldn't keep the Minx and I from attending.

I did buy a couple of little watercolours which Jessie will be sending to me. In the meantime the above is the promotional postcard for the event, which the Minx absolutely adores and which I will probably also frame for her. She particularly likes the 'Mummy and Minx buying a box of cupcakes' (yes she is fairly familiar with the appearance of a Trophy box) to the left.

If you're in Seattle, Jessie's work will be on display at Trophy through to June 1st.  She's also exhibiting at Schmancy in downtown Seattle on Friday evening.  For all non-Seattleites, her work is available online here. 

01 November 2008

Treat or Treat

Before we hit the neighbourhood to collect a quite spectacular quantity of candy, we decided to go trick or treating at the Wallingford Center - a small collection of indie shops housed in a beautiful old wooden school building.

The star turn of the Wallingford Center is Trophy Cupcakes, Seattle's best cupcake shop, which has recently been discovered by Martha Stewart, which had gone to town on Halloween-themed cakes. 

IMG_8504 IMG_8505

We did have a rather fetching devil costume, but there was a last minute change of heart (and yes, our front garden needs WORK.)



These couture cupcakes were not for sale


These are their 'special order' themed cupcakes.  Lots of ideas for cupcake making next year.


And these are the ones that followed us home...

29 September 2008

Gwyneth Obnoxiously Opinionated Paltrow?

So Gwyneth Paltrow is apparently starting up her own 'lifestyle' website, entitled, somewhat peculiarly, GOOP.


At the moment, it's a strange little two-paged affair - click on any one of the icons above and you get a vacuous and somewhat patronising little essay about how Gwyneth has created her own very lovely life - the very loveliness of which I'm sure has NOTHING to do with the many millions of pounds she and her husband earn. The site is currently as content-free as its owner, though it does promise that in due course it will be full of fabulous hints and tips so that we too can lead lives as fabulous as hers.


I'm sure Gwynnie is hoping to become the next Martha Stewart and I don't fundamentally have a problem with that.  After all, isn't that what all of us 'lifestyle' bloggers are secretly hoping might happen to us?  And it's not just that I find her profoundly irritating as a person - as you know I'm not overly keen on Martha or Nigella as people, but blimey, do they have some great ideas.

And that, I'm afraid is my problem with GOOP.  I just don't believe that Gwynnie will have anything to say that will interest me.

GwynethPaltrowPA_468x845After all, would you take fashion advice from someone who, with all the money and stylists in the world, manages to look like she forgot her trousers on the red carpet?










Or take interiors advice from someone who, with all the money and interior designers in the world, has a house that looks like a somewhat soulless collaboration with the Sugar Plum Fairy?

masl15_paltrow Gwyneth_Paltrow's_dining_room_internet_image

As part of the festivities in the run-up to this year’s Oscar telecast, Laura Ziskin, 79th Annual Academy Awards® producer, has announced “A Celebration of Oscar Fashion” – a live event in the Academy's Grand Lobby presenting a unique retrospective of Oscar fashion. Pictured here in one of the dresses displayed: Gwyneth Paltrow in Ralph Lauren at the 71st Academy Awards® on March 21, 1999.
Or indeed, take foodie advice from someone with a concave chest?


And anyway how can we trust her taste when she is married to HIM?

Will you be taking lifestyle advice from Gwynnie?  Or are there any other celebs who you wish would put together a lifestyle website? (Personally I can't wait for Sarah Palin's).

11 September 2008


I want to be Orla Kiely -  design one (possibly two) iconic fabric designs, and create a whole global empire. 

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It can't be that hard surely?

All available from Heal's in the UK.  God, I miss Heal's.

06 August 2008

Daily Candy Sold




CropperCapture[5] CropperCapture[4]

Right at the top of the list of 'brilliant business ideas I wish I'd thought of' is Daily Candy which has apparently just been sold for $125 million.  Not bad for a company that employs just 55 people and relies principally on the archaic delivery method of email. 

A brilliantly simple idea, brilliantly executed, and whoever decided to have the emails illustrated by the fabulous Sujean Rim deserves genius points. I do hope Sujean is getting a big cut of that $125 million.

One of my dearest ambitions for 'mirrormirror' is to get it into Daily Candy.  Which probably means I need to pull my finger out and focus more on developing it as I have been sorely neglecting my baby of late.


17 July 2008


Oh I'm way behind other blogs on this one, but I'm very excited by the development of Spoonflower, 'the website that allows anyone and everyone to print their own fabric'.

It's still in beta, but basically you upload your own textile design (full instructions on the site) and they'll print off a length of fabric in that design.  They will also ship to the UK.

This is such a 'duh! I wish I'd thought of that' business idea.  It's obviously going to be huge and the potential to print on all sorts of different fabrics (currently they only offer mercerized cotton) and possibly even use it for things like wallpapers and rugs is enormous. 

Not to mention that in future they're hoping to allow people to buy other people's designs through the site, which will be one in the eye to all the 'only to the trade' fabric designers.  I think there are going to be some interesting copyright issues going forward though. In the meantime some beautiful fabrics are starting to crop up on Etsy.

unikko_001_loresI've never designed a fabric pattern in my life, but I have received an invitation to use the site (while it's in beta it's by invitation only, but they don't seem to be too difficult to get hold of) and the temptation to bring out my latent Tricia Guild is enormous.  After all, it surely it can't have been that difficult to design the Marimekko Unikko poppies?

I  just wish they were doing canvas or upholstery weight fabrics as I want to make CUSHIONS.

The Spoonflower guys are also writing a great blog about setting up and developing their own business. I'm particularly enjoying their little podcasts.