Happiness Has a New Address – Tagged "Maine Made" – Dulse & Rugosa
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    Seaweed in the Kitchen

    Seaweed in the Kitchen

    I'm a cooking junkie.  I love to watch cooking shows, my favorites being Top Chef, Chopped and The Great British Baking Show.  I also love cookbooks.  I often buy a regional cookbook as my souvenir from a trip.  The books most often checked out on my library card are cookbooks.

    I have been enjoying (and learning a lot) from Ocean Greens written by Lisette Kreischer & Marcel Schuttelaar.  In addition to enhancing the flavor of your food and adding some serious nutrition another reason to explore seaweeds in your kitchen is sustainability.  "On the cutting edge of food and sustainability, seaweed and sea vegetables are good both for you and—with the potential to drastically reduce our carbon footprint—for the planet" (quote from Ocean Greens website).

    One section I really loved was "Special Ingredients".   I tend to use seaweed as a spice and often reduce or eliminate the salt.  As I read thru there was a section about salt, especially sea salts.  Sea salts are more complex and nutritious than ordinary table salt.  In the book they prefer Danish smoked salts for their intense smokey aroma.  I'm totally thinking seafood as I'm writing- just the idea of that smokey aroma.  In addition to the intense aroma Danish salt is also high quality in terms of the salt making process and mineral content.  Being in Maine we have some great salt makers including the Maine Sea Salt Company.  My two favorites happen to be their Hickory Smoked and Dulse.  

    Another spice I'm eager to try with seaweed is Smoked Paprika.  According to Ocean Greens Smoked Paprika adds a deep meaty flavor.  Don't use regular Paprika but look for the smoked variety which is from a particular pepper cooked over an open flame.  

    An ingredient not mentioned in the book but that I particularly love with seaweed is dark rum.  Prannie Rhatigan's Irish Seaweed Kitchen introduced me to the world of baking with seaweeds.  Now whenever I am making a cake, muffin or brownie I replace the vanilla with chopped dulse soaked in dark rum.  I let it mellow together when I start mixing my batter and at the final few stirs fold it in.  It's totally yumminess.  Ocean Greens has some beautiful sweet recipes including Chocolate Chip and "Weed" cookies and a lovely Chocolate, Raspberry and Seaweed Cake.  I can't wait for my backyard raspberries to ripen.

    Bon appetite!




    Growing Our Business

    Growing Our Business

    We want to have a sustainable business. 

    A few years ago, we rethought our packaging.  We replaced our cheap plastic jars and tubs with glass.  This was an expensive process for us.  The wholesale price for containers made out of plastic vs. glass or metal is considerable.  The price difference is something that you can't pass on to consumers.  There is also the price of mailing heavier containers.  Plus companies like Amazon who offer free or reasonable shipping.  I don't like to make purchases where the shipping cost more than the product.   We also made a switch to more eco-friendly shipping materials.  It shouldn't be a surprise that mailers made from recycled paper cost more than plastic ones.  My point here is that our cost are greater for eco-friendly products but the price for our products has remained  pretty much the same.

    We are so thankful for the folks who support us.  We make products that last a long time.  That's part of our philosophy- purchase products that last.  This is not the traditional "grow your business" path.  Carly and I frequently have conversations about how to grow our business especially wholesale.  One of our goals right now is to get our Seaweed Shampoo Bars into natural food shops and coops.  She points out that because our bars last so long there isn't really a lot of turn over and that is something stores don't like.  Even if it is a store with a Zero Waste philosophy they need customers to support them and the products they stock.  

    My point here is- it's complicated.  We got an email the other day from a customer who was upset with us.  She pointed out that we had a Zero Waste philosophy but we had sent them a postcard advertisement.  I believe she was referring to a postcard I sent in Dec.  I'll admit it was probably my most "ad-centered" and not personal postcard.  It was a message to support small, local or indie business during the holiday season.  Of course, we were thrilled if someone decided to support us but the general message was shop small.  I made it a bit more "slick" because I had decided to send a card in Jan with a more personal message.  When I'm addressing or stamping or decorating our "snail mail" I like to capture a bit of author Alice Hoffman's magic.  Her characters infuse ordinary things with magical intentions.  I'm not saying my postcards are magical but they do have good intentions.

    I still like "real mail".  It's partly my ties to Gotts Island.  Mail is a big deal there and the little mail house helps build and connect community.  When I lived overseas I had "postcard" buddies.  Postcards where what I'd buy in airports.  I just mailed a card of cheer to the mom of one of my grade school friends- she needs a bit of love.   I also realize how complicated every action we take is and how there are always consequences.

    We've tried so many different avenues to introduce people to our company.  I know it's easy for people to say "just use social media".  Social media is incredibly complicated and it's very hard for small businesses to make a dent when they compete against large companies with big budgets.

    The social media sites are also businesses.  In general, an average post is shown to about 2% of the people who like your page.  If people "like" or comment on the post the reach does increase.  You can also try to increase your reach by paying the social media company money to promote your post.  FaceBook just changed it's rules again making it even harder for little companies like Dulse & Rugosa.

    Another option is to join and participate in groups.  I joined some Zero Waste FaceBook groups.  I felt like I was a good group member.  I "liked" and made relevant comments on posts and whenever someone asked about shampoo bars I would post a link to our website.  One evening I got a message asking me "to not self-promote".  They explained -

    We just wanted to reach out to you to let you know that the group's rules around business posts have changed. Unfortunately, none of the Journey groups allows members to do any sort of promotion around their businesses, blogs associated with businesses or that have affiliate links etc etc etc. 

    I totally understood where they were coming from but the next day in the site's thread were posts about products from three big companies including posts about the wonders of Burt's Bees.  This company actually started in Maine and is always the example used in entrepreneur classes.  "Do you want to be another Burt's Bees?"  We always answer "NO".  I was so frustrated by this- Burt's Bees is a giant company owned by the multinational company Clorax.  My take away from this is it's OK for big business to continue to get their products posted because they themselves are not actually doing the posting.  It's coming from someone else- what's wrong is "self-promoting".  Even thought it's social media- you have no idea who is actually doing the posting or how much money and influence is being spent encouraging and influencing folks.  

    I'm frustrated today- how can I grow a business that isn't perfect but also tries?  

    Sustainable Gift Guide for Unique Personalities

    Sustainable Gift Guide for Unique Personalities

    The winter solstice is fast approaching, many of us have had our first snowfall and with all the cheerful twinkle lights it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. We have lots of sustainable gifts and stocking stuffers for family and friends.  Our holiday gift guide has suggestions for all the unique personalities in your life.

    The Mermaid-  Always be yourself unless you can be a mermaid
    Keep your locks looking their best with our Seaweed Shampoo Bar, Herbal Hair Vinegar and a nourishing hair oil.

    The Sailor- I need Vitamin Sea
    a Cruising Bar with a rust proof tin will let your sailor travel the seas plastic free.

    The Bearded Guy-a beard is a gift you give your face
    Give some beard love this holiday season with our Beard and Scalp Oil.

    The Comedian- laugh and the world laughs with you
    Give the power of seaweed with a bar of Weed n' Shrooms soap or Seaweed it’s Legal Canva Bag

    The Bathing Beauty- happiness is taking a long bath 
    Make every bath extra special with our Hot Island Bath Tea or Bath Effervescents. 

    The Stressed Mom- stressed is dessert spelt backwards
    When mom has had too much it's our botanical perfumes to the rescue.

    The Tattoo Artist- it's always a good day for a tattoo
    Keep skin art looking good with our all natural, chemical free soothing Tattoo Butter.

    The Vegan- be kind to every kind
    Pure and natural vegan butter.

    The Gardner- to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow
    Give the gift of flowers and soft skin with our gentle Gardeners Scrub.

    Sleeping Beauty-  prioritizing good sleep is good self love
    Bring on the Zzzz's with our balm or roll on. 

    And finally the stockings were hung by the fire with care
    Place our shower shots on the floor of your shower and let the fun begin.  Aromatherapy for every mood.