Sunday, 9 December 2012


Here is a poem which I have made, inspired by one of my favourite ingredients' to eat and use on skin, (I obviously have too much time on my hands!!)


I don't know you;
You barely know yourself.
You lose all sense of shape and form
When I squeeze you from your shell.
If I didn't fetch the lemon juice,
You'd turn to brown from green
How you alter when set free
From your tough, black scaly skin.

Friday, 7 December 2012

"And all for love, and nothing in return."

I have been researching English quotes which will compliment my skincare products and the one I've used as my title for this post is my favorite so far, uttered by a man from Elizabethan England. There are some really very beautiful words out there, modern and classic. Literature is something in our heritage that we should be more actively proud about. Maybe we should be concentrating more on passing this sort of stuff onto our kids, than arguing with them about how long they've been on Minecraft. But that takes a lot of effort, right?

I have banned computer games (pretty much!) from the boys' weekday activities and come 3.30 on a Friday I would literally eat my own shoe if they asked me just once for some reading time or even a new book in place of the inevitable argument about how long they will each get on the ipad. Myself and E, my eldest son, (when pushed a bit), are the only ones who really enjoy reading in our house and like most others, I find myself having to think of ever more imaginative scenarios to get them to do their weekly reading quota, usually at about 7.30pm when we are all edgy and I am close to turning myself into a ball and rolling down the hallway into bed. The school teachers say that lacking enthusiasm for literature is a 'boy thing.' I really believe this is just a logical, adult brain's way of letting kids off the hook, and there are lots of boys in all my childrens' classes who really love to read and write stories, (their mums talk about it loudly in the playground). The fact is that they will all undoubtedly spend most of their adult lives staring open-mouthed at screens whether they are reading a book or not, which I find quite scary and sad. Save our libraries I say!

Anyway, where did I put the emergency sweet bribes.....?

Thursday, 29 November 2012

A poem: One for the Mums

I write lots of poems and hope this one makes you :)))

She comes in the night
To fold & hang clothes,
And pair up your discarded shoes.
Sleeves rolled back tight
On solid knees bent,
She scrubs off the skids when you've pooed.

And When you've been sick,
There's beads on your brow
And your tongue's the hue of old spinach,
It's she who will rub,
Hug, kiss and soothe - 
She don't mind that your breath smells of cabbage.

Even when you're grown
The fairy's still there,
You wonder who bothered to launder.
But you'll know she's been round
'cos your cups will be clean
And your books alphabetically ordered.


The state of the weather also sums up a big theme of my week.

Can't imagine what it must be like to have your home and / or business flooded. Aside the obvious damage, I've heard it smells quite a bit, is this true? My elder sister lives in South Wales but she is in a valley so is saved by the big hills.

C - the middle one - has been getting bullied at school. He tends to hold onto things, I sensed something was up and then it all tidal waved out at bed time. He has asthma and certain boys omit him from football at playtimes. They've also been name- calling; fairly typical really. I immediately spoke to his teacher ( at least 15 years my junior) and the head master. Was shocked to hear that the latter has suggested C needs counselling, and he couldn't really specifically state why this was, other than just saying " he gets angry....he gets a look about him." he then spoke openly about another boy who has benefited from the school's counselling service. I know this boy and his family and was certain their mum would be over the moon that I had been given this information. Later that day, I received a text from the mum of this boy, saying we should meet up to talk about the 'potential counselling.' Do they not teach heads about confidentiality? He needs to quiet his mind; cease the running water. I have arranged another meeting to give him a lesson.

Business-wise things have been choppy. I have had to take ( another) serious look at my finances because some of my packaging needs redesigning. This also means re-designing and printing labels, always costly. I am also desperate to launch two new products which I have a lot of faith in. Let's hope I can improve the flow of my cash ( sorry!)

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Haven't been able to write this week as I have been working in another role as nurse for 3 days.
Yes, I have donned my old navy sack which billows in the wind and could possibly propel from house to house for my nursey visits. (Who needs a car??) It has been eventful.

Yesterday I visited what could possibly be the most unhygienic flat ever. If I said balls of fag ash everywhere, coupled with the nostril-shattering smell of rotting flesh, you may get an idea of this man's abode. He is  wheelchair-bound with ulcers to the base of both feet which I was directed to re-dress by the nurses at the base. I used to work as a practice nurse a few years ago, so am quite au fait with wounds - in fact, I actually have quite a strong affection for a big old oozer. This guy has a penchant for online gambling, (his words, not mine), and has clearly not looked after himself for many years. I felt genuine compassion for him, until he tried to hit on me whilst I was still dressing his feet. The next (much older) gentleman I visited did the same, asking me if he should "remove the crown jewels from his pants," a completely unnecessary manoeuvre for an upper arm vaccine. In both cases, like Ross Kemp, I got the hell out of there!

The funniest incident happened today, when I visited a bed-ridden lady, who proceeded to reprimand me every time I said the words "OK." I obviously say this a lot, because my 15 minutes with her was spent ricocheting reprimands from her corner for daring to utter the phrase. At one point I even replied 'OK' when she asked me to stop, (unconsciously accidentally on purpose?), causing her to punch the eiderdown. I asked her what she hated so much about the word - she replied that although it does appear in the English dictionary, it is not Proper Vocab! Hmm. I assume she's never texted anyone.

This has all been in aid of christmas gifts, the time of year when I part with hundreds. My youngest was born 2 days before the 25th December, making it sightly more dear, (why did I not time this better? - oh yes, he wasn't timed at all), than it used to be. My family members keep on nicking my present ideas too, which is infuriating. My mum texted me the other day, explaining that she'd bought the younger two their scooters. These were planned to be our main presents to the boys which I made the mistake of mentioning. I replied with thanks, not wanting to seem ungrateful, but I'm on a tight budget this year - there's only so much available for £60. Maybe someone should invent a 'gritted teeth' icon for texting. (The bed-ridden one would just love that).

'A' has been obsessing (and I mean obsessing) about a new car for us. He sold his old M3 and pride and joy last week, and has had to take the bus several times since, which he hates. He wants to get us a white Kia, which is fine except for the colour. White no. I've never liked it, especially now that it seems to have become a status / fashion symbol. Don't get it. He will probably get his way though, because I simply can't be bothered to have another row about it.

I'v actually enjoyed the nursing though; nice to give something and use my skills again. Lots of these people live alone and have no relatives nearby, if at all. Often the district nurses are their only daily contact with another human being and we are always rushing out. It doesn't take much to give them a little lift with a few kind words though - even if they are trying to flash their willy at you!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Feeling a bit better this week.

Not only are the leaves in my back garden turning different colours (and falling) at an alarming rate, but Inner-Soul Organics has also seen some changes this last month. (See what I did there?!)

We are now official supporters of the Katie Piper Foundation, helping people to live with burns and scars. £1 from each product sold will be donated to the foundation,  and I also volunteered as a masseuse for the charity's workshop for beneficiaries on November 3rd, which was inspiring. Truly. 

Inner-Soul Organics has been named in the top three 'Best New Organic Brands' by the Sunday Telegraph's Stella Magazine - lots of excitement! I took my boys to see the Cutty Sark In Greenwich to celebrate, (they were ecstatic as you can probably imagine!)

Finally I have been doing some active research on a new product. Anyone who knows me will know that I've inherited dark circles (thanks mum and nan!), which seem to get worse as winter approaches. Can't say too much, but I have been using some natural oil on my under eyes and lids each night for a month now and there is a definite improvement. Watch this space!! 

Thank you for reading, 

Emma x

Friday, 2 November 2012

In spite of it being half term so I get to not have to do the school run twice daily and spend extra time with my gorgeous boys, it has been a difficult week and mood-wise I've felt quite dreary.

A has no work and the date when we will become officially skint is approaching at speed. This is the 31st December. A has worked tirelessly - he is at his desk in our old spare room by 7.30am each day - and has created several opportunities and meetings with companies who have shown some interest in forming a partnership with his marketing company. Only to then decide that they actually are not that interested after all for various reasons. Many of these company MD's are several years younger than A, whose morale has drifted to a point lower than I've ever witnessed, and it's been my job to push it back up to some level which at least permits some form of positive thinking. Without patronizing / assuming / sounding pathetic. I'm afraid that this week, I have allowed his mood to rub off on me.

Truthfully, I find being on a tight budget exhausting. Every pound spent feels like ten and the weekly food shop takes a lot longer than it should. The boys' jumper sleeves are creeping up their arms and I can't be bothered to have to shop around for rubbish which won't last longer than a season.  And any  thoughts of Christmas present-buying are immediately swept away to somewhere dark and out of reach. Several helpful family members have already told me they've bought pj's for the boys for Christmas, and I smile and thank although we need the warm winter sleeping attire right now, this minute. I have found that the money I earn is immediately swallowed by general living costs and feel frustrated that I have no funds to inject into my business.

Each school holiday, with the strict routine of school thrown out of the window, can also act as a shocking reminder of how dependent my eldest is. He is on the Autistic Spectrum and has an unofficial learning difficulty alongside this - ie it has never been given an official label. E is now twelve, yet I found myself hunched over amongst the crowds in the Science Museum today untying his baseball boots then swapping them to the correct feet. My seven year old helped me to re-tie the laces. This is not an isolated shoe occurrence - he has been known to put odd shoes on, one a trainer, the other a school shoe. It's not that we haven't taught E these skills - I spent an entire week over the summer on lace-tying - he simply has trouble withholding the information, and applying it. The simplest things can lead to hard work and confusion. And E also doesn't feel things like other children, so wouldn't necessarily find his oddly placed shoes uncomfortable. Today's event forced the return of the question to the front of my brain, the one I hate to ask: how will E cope when he is nineteen, twenty-five, forty? When we're gone???

On a brighter note, tomorrow I am going back to my therapist roots to volunteer at a Katie Piper Foundation workshop. I will be offering massages to people dealing with deformity of various kinds, which I am sure will help me to put everything neatly back into perspective.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Well that's the Halloween party regalia sorted - thank you lovely M&S. I know they're a bit pricier sometimes but actually their pinata was cheaper than the big T's and they are doing 3 for 2 on decorations and sweets. Overall, today has produced a rare moment of pre-Friday shopping for me ( I usually do it all online) but I managed a trip to Primark as well. Totally stocked up on gloves and hats for the boys - which will no doubt end up lost in a gutter before the last leaf falls off the tree outside my kitchen window - plus cosy fleece socks, monster slippers, pyjamas and a skeleton outfit. All for under £30.

Talking of lost things a lovely thing happened this week - someone handed in my cash, which I dropped somewhere between my car, the school and the pet shop a couple of weeks back. It was kindly recovered by the lady who picks up the children from school when their parents can't, so she shall be getting a big hug next time I see her. I might even use tongues, (kidding)!

Here is a picture of the first shop to stock my products. It's such a beautiful place, one of those shops you could spend hours in and based in leafy Chislehurst.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

This has been an eventful week - both business and personal-wise, which is why I haven't had the time before now to post.

I received a phone call whilst sitting outside the boys' school at 3.15; it was the nice lady from Annabel's, a luxury gift shop in Chislehurst which bases itself on Fortum and Mason. I'd had a meeting with Carmel the previous week, with a view to them buying my products for stock. It was all going well, we'd made a connection and I was feeling at home in the snug shop with my pink cup and saucer when Carmel asked the 'M' question: money. Had I prepared a spreadsheet on wholesale prices for Annabel's? No. Had I even worked out a percentage wholesale price? Negative. The words of Michelle Mone rumbled through my ears: "fail to plan, plan to fail." I had played out this moment in my mind so many times  - hundreds - in the past two years and yet here I was, stuffing it up. My darting eyes rested upon a calculator next to the shop's cash register, which I grabbed, plucking a random sum from my head and writing some calculations for Carmel on the back of an old envelope (really!) She told me she would speak to her colleague and get back to me, then asked for a business card. I didn't have any of those either.

Felt deflated for the rest of the week, but Carmel was true to her word, bless her, and when the call came, she told me they would like to buy 6 of each product. I was ecstatic, floating into the playground to collect my offspring with a silly grin on my face. Oscar has tutor on Monday's so I took the other two for a celebratory cake in the expensive bakery and they chinked their Tango's on my latte.

The blanket PR campaign has continued, every spare moment spent scouring magazines, newspapers and the web for beauty editors' names. A few weeks ago my mum gave me a copy of Stella - a Sunday Telegraph supplement - from which I promptly extracted the beauty writer's name and e-mailed over my press release. The lady came back quite quickly - which is something I'm learning about the world of journalism; if someone is interested in me, they will come straight back, otherwise I hear nada. Anyway, she asked for some samples which I promptly sent and on Tuesday evening she told me she will be featuring the Circulation Boost Skin Oil in a piece she will be writing. Was so excited, I forgot to ask when it'll be in.

My best friend from school rang me up, asking if I wanted to be in the Come Dine With Me Christmas special. She knows how I sadly watch repeats of this and have already planned several menu's, so obsessed am I with the programme. Ewan, my eldest also likes to watch with me whilst putting together one of his 1500 piece puzzles. In fact all my children really enjoy it and Oscar has already been bragging to his classmates that mum's going to be on Come Dine. My friend's friend is a producer for the programme and they have been casting in my area. By the end of Thursday I had chosen my menu and submitted an application form which promises a christmasy dinner party complete with pass the balloon and 'name that tune' - will find out next week whether I will be on.

Had a semi-review from a beauty editor  - she has received the products I sent and so far so good - fingers, knees and thumbs all crossed.

Went to a book signing at the 'Come Dine' friend's place of work  -  a wonderful bookshop in Crystal Palace called 'The Bookseller Crow.' As usual where she is concerned, it was an interesting evening with an eclectic mix of people involved. The author himself was dressed up in lady's attire, complete with PVC trousers and velvet handbag. I also learned that Crystal Palace is home to a British cheese shop where you can take your own wine (or port ) along to taster evenings. Shall definitely be going to one of those.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Lots to think about this week; another day has almost ended and poor little April hasn't been found. 

This situation has prompted me to have a stranger refresher chat with the boys but I'm not entirely sure it makes much difference. I've instructed them that if they are lost, to find a lady to help them. I've also said that if one of those creepy men driving white vans which seem to patrol our school-concentrated area approaches them, they are to walk up to the nearest house and knock on the door. God knows where that could lead them; makes my stomach curl up on itself like my mum's hall rug if I think about it all for too long.

Yesterday I met a lovely man (a previous client's dad) and gave him a reflexology treatment. Every other word started in 'f' and ended in 'king"and he was at turns hilarious and sad. A worrier. He paid me, I was in a hurry to leave and shoved the cash in my back pocket as I often do, then I noticed it wasn't there at around 5pm. I handed the cooking and application of fish finger trimmings over to A and jumped in my car, desperate to re-trace my steps. First the walk to the school: it started pouring, I didn't have a coat and several teachers gave me funny looks. The ball of cash wasn't there, although tenners could easily be camouflaged by the autumn leaves I considered afterwards. Then is was off to the pet shop where we had earlier stopped to buy Chub-Chub the hamster some bedding. The money wasn't there either, although the last black kitten still was, bless. "That shredded paper cost me £45," I wanted to cry at the helpful shopkeeper. On my way out I noticed a betting shop two doors down which struck a philosophical cord in me; I hoped that someone had at least had a good win on my earnings. 

Later, after a cup of tea I went online and realised that this is Breast Cancer month. One of my mum's oldest friends and a real supporter of our family after my dad died, was in St Thomas's this week having a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. Poor love, by all accounts she is very poorly following her big op. This got me thinking about the wearing it pink thing, and I soon made the connection that the Inner-Soul Organics range includes the Romance Me Skin Oil - which has a cerise label. I immediately signed up with the Breakthrough Breast Cancer website and will be donating a British pound for each of these products sold until October 31st.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Today I went to my Monday morning regular job at a local nursing home which involves offering aromatherapy massages (usually hand) to the residents. I can't afford to give it up currently, due to the new baby (business), but to be honest it gives me a weekly healthy slice of grounding, plus a reminder of my own future. 

Most weeks one of my regulars has died, which I learn about from the rose attached to the outside of their bedroom door, in place of their crumpled photograph. Today, Mrs. M was calling out repeatedly that she hadn't been fed. A passing nurse told me she'd had porridge, which I reminded her of several times afterwards, but she couldn't take it in. Sadly, she could tolerate only a very short massage, which didn't affect her agitated mood.  

I spent the afternoon 'PR-ing and selling myself. I contacted a blogger, and a local newspaper who said they are considering me as a feature in their business supplement. The blogger came back to me asking me to send her two of my products, so I e-mailed back asking if she can confirm for definite that she will use them as review material. Is this wrong? It feels wrong, but I am tryng to be honst about my limited budget.

I also spoke to a beauty editor at a well-known glossy. She could barely hide her disdain at my request for a review, and told me to contact her in January. She must be busy, I thought.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Doing my own PR campaign

My newly launched organic skincare business, Inner-Soul Organics, is on a tight budget. This is because we had our house pretty much gutted (it needed it!) a year ago. Then A's 12 year old marketing business began to take a slide, which has all meant that my launch budget has been halved.

I spent 7 months building my website in between making sure everyone had broccoli with dinner, sorting out label design and finding out whether my packaging can be recycled, (it can).

After the website launch in August, there was the sound of tumbleweed and an eery breeze through our house, where online orders should have been. So I decided a PR campaign was in order. I have written poems before, but never a press release. So I collared a mum at school's husband (another A) to help me out. He kindly gave me an hour, during which time I learned exactly what to write.

"Start with local press," he said, and "don't be afraid to approach internet mags."

This'll be easy, I told myself. Wrong.

I have now sent off a total of 33 press releases and three weeks down the line, I've managed to procure a free gift box giveaway via a not-very-glossy magazine. And this wasn't even because of my outstanding writing. I got this via a free trial of Response Source, which I would highly recommend and is basically a pool for journalists to put out an e-mail about what they are researching. The downside is that my weeks' trial runs out in 3 days and the service usually costs £350 plus VAT annually. Boo.

Anyway, on a more positive note, I had a meeting with the Katie Piper Foundation yesterday and have secured a partnership with their 'One Club' which basically means for every product sold, the Foundation gets £1. I've always admired Katie and her determination and will also enjoy returning to my former glory as an aromatherapist by giving massages to beneficiaries of the Foundation at their next workshop in November.

My husband says I'm green, that I'm only just learning the harsh ways of the corporate world. I think what I'm learning most is that the free things are usually worth more.