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Blizzard threatening to affect business this week

Posted by OakCourt on Jan 31, 2011 in Miscellaneous News, Uncategorized

As you may know, we’re located in the suburbs of Chicago…. and the entire Chicago area is now under a blizzard warning. Snow is to begin mid-day on Tuesday and continue through Wednesday afternoon. Accumulations of 18 to 24 inches are predicted, and at some points, snow is predicted to fall at the rate of three to four inches PER HOUR. Forecasters are warning that travel will be difficult or even impossible much of the rest of the week, so it’s very possible that UPS will be unable to pick up packages daily as they normally do. If the predictions are accurate, this storm will go down in the history books as one of the worst EVER in the Chicago area… it’s only going to take 16″ to make the top 5, and the record is 23″, set back in 1967.

We’re also facing the very real possibility of widespread power outages, since wind gusts are supposed to be up to 50 MPH, so please don’t panic if we are not able to be reached by phone or e-mail.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, and rest assured that we will do everything possible to get back to business as usual as soon as possible. Orders placed this week will be shipped as soon as it’s humanly possible to do so. Please keep good thoughts for everyone in the Chicago area, and also for those in central Illinois and Indiana – they won’t get much snow, but they’re supposed to have a nasty ice storm instead.

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Fire Hydrant air freshener shapes are here!

Posted by OakCourt on Jan 25, 2011 in Miscellaneous News, New Products

They arrived late yesterday afternoon…. we don’t even have the boxes open yet, but I’ve put the inventory into the shopping cart. A number of you have been waiting for them – and they can be purchased now.

🙂

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Exciting new column on soapmaking!

Posted by OakCourt on Jan 24, 2011 in Miscellaneous News, Uncategorized

I am so pleased to announce that I’ve been chosen by Examiner.com, a well-known online news source, as their new national Handmade Soap columnist. I will be writing articles on various topics pertaining to soapmaking, at least twice a week and sometimes more frequently.

To read my column, you can do so by going directly to it at this link – Handmade Soap Examiner. Please feel free to leave comments for me, or you can e-mail me to suggest topics you’d like to see addressed in future columns by e-mailing me at HandcraftedSoapExaminer (at) Gmail.com (take out the spaces and substitute @ for (at)). If you enjoy the column, please subscribe to it by using the link at the top of the page – you’ll receive an e-mail each time a new article is published. Or, for those of you who prefer reading news via RSS feeds, you will see a link to sign up for my column’s feed.

I intend to write on a good mix of topics, some of which will be geared towards hobbyists and potential new soapmakers. Others will be geared towards the business side of soapmaking. Melt and pour, cold process, hot process, and rebatching will be discussed, with the most emphasis on cold process and melt and pour because those are the areas in which I have the most experience and knowledge.

Examiner.com also permits their writers to review products and events, and I can post instructions for projects. If you have tried (or heard about) a neat tool or gadget handy for soapmaking, please contact the supplier or manufacturer and suggest they get in touch with me to arrange for me to review it. Even though I am a supplier, none of us can carry everything in our product lines, so I intend to showcase a wide variety of products from a variety of trustworthy sources.

If you enjoy the column, please share it with your soapmaking friends! You’re welcome to share the link anywhere you find it appropriate (but please don’t spam!)… Twitter, Facebook, forums you’re on, etc. The more people that read the column, the more space they’ll give us for discussion, and I get a bonus based on the number of readers – which I will promptly spend on more craft supplies to experiment with. I love to play with (oops… I mean “test”) neat stuff too! LOL

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Update to newsletter changes

Posted by OakCourt on Jan 24, 2011 in Miscellaneous News, Uncategorized

Well, it hasn’t been an easy changeover, as we’d hoped it would be. (sigh) I tried to upload our existing list, which was last sent a newsletter in October, and AWeber rejected it. They said that too many of the e-mail addresses were no longer valid, and the list was “stale”.

As per their suggestion, I split the list into chunks of 50 or so addresses at a time, sorting the list based on the last purchase date and checking domain names to make sure they were still working. Each time I upload a chunk, I have to wait for them to approve it before I can upload another batch. I got back as far as customers from late 2008, then they decided that chunk had too many invalid e-mail addresses and stated that I should let the rest of the list go. I’m still working on sorting and testing addresses for some of you who haven’t actually purchased from us, but signed up for the newsletter.

So, if you have signed up in the past for our newsletter and have not yet received an e-mail asking you to confirm that you want to be added to the new list…. it’s because they won’t let me add you to the new list. Their only suggestion was for me to e-mail each of you directly and send you a link to sign up manually for the new list. I apologize for the inconvenience, but the reason they are so picky is that ISP’s like Yahoo and Hotmail put a black mark on AWeber’s reputation if they try to e-mail newsletters to too many “dead” e-mail addresses. They have a 99.3% delivery success record because they are so ruthless about pruning lists (even ones they haven’t mailed to yet like ours!). LOL

I am going to be sending those individual emails out, but since so many people tell me they didn’t receive the newsletters when we e-mailed them out directly, I’m guessing few people will actually get them. If you’re reading this and want to be on our mailing list – please use the box on the home page (about halfway down on the left, under the product category list) to sign up. All it takes is entering your e-mail address, and clicking the link in the confirmation e-mail that’s sent out automatically when you submit it.

Thanks for your patience – we have lots of exciting news that’s going to go out in the newsletter around the 1st of February! I can’t wait to share it with you!

 
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Newsletter Changes – VERY important!

Posted by OakCourt on Jan 7, 2011 in Miscellaneous News, Tips and Helpful Hints, Uncategorized

By far, the most common thing heard from customers I spoke with in 2010 (either by phone or e-mail) was that they don’t seem to be getting our e-mail newsletters.  I’m not totally surprised … my former “second job” relied on mass e-mailing thousands of people, and from tests we did, we quickly realized that some newsletter systems had MUCH better delivery rates than others.  Unfortunately, “in-house” systems like the one Oak Court Creations has been using (handled by our shopping cart system) seem to have the most delivery issues.  It’s a HUGE problem when sending e-mails to certain domain addresses – particularly AOL, Yahoo, Comcast and Hotmail – because they have filters in place that are hard to get through, unless the e-mails come from what they call “trusted senders” (i.e., paid e-mail list services).

So sometime later in January, we’ll be switching our newsletter delivery over to AWeber Communications, one of the leading e-mailing services.

THE BAD NEWS – When we import our old mailing list into AWeber’s system, everyone whose e-mail address is imported will be automatically sent an e-mail invitation that will require them to click a link to confirm that they actually do want to be on our mailing list.  AWeber requires this to prevents anyone from signing you up without your knowledge.  Anyone who doesn’t click the link in the confirmation e-mail won’t be added to the new mailing list.

THE GOOD NEWS – If you haven’t been receiving our newsletters in the past, when you confirm that you want to stay on the list (see above), you should actually start GETTING THEM!  (g) I’ve sent some test mailings to selected e-mail addresses, and they seem to be going through just fine, even to AOL and Yahoo addresses!

When we get everyone moved to the new list, there will also be a brand-new newsletter signup box on the front page of the website. If you want to receive our newsletters, but don’t receive the invitation e-mail for the new list, just re-subscribe by using that box.  We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but this is the only way to take care of most of the problems with non-delivery of the newsletters.

Our goal for 2011 is to be sending newsletters at least once a month, perhaps twice if things like new products warrant it.  We’ll also be offering subscriber-only coupons and specials occasionally – you won’t want to miss out on those, so if you get the invitation, be sure to click the link to confirm your subscription. Thanks in advance for your understanding!

PLEASE CLICK ON THE ACORN above if you would like to leave a comment.

 
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Happy New Year! Exciting new products here and more coming!

Posted by OakCourt on Jan 3, 2011 in Miscellaneous News, New Products, Uncategorized

Hi everyone!  Happy New Year!

2011 is already shaping up to be a VERY exciting one for us here at Oak Court Creations.  We have some new items already in the cart for your shopping pleasure , a few more that will be coming in shortly (in the next week or two), and more planned for the 1st Quarter that have already been budgeted for and ordered.

    What’s already here:

1) Restocking of all of the varieties of SFIC Melt-and-Pour Soap Base, and the addition of two more varieties – regular clear and regular white.  This has proven to be a great product line for us, and the word is getting around that we now have ALL of the varieties SFIC offers – there are SEVENTEEN!  One of our goals for 2011 is to bring in at least one or two custom kinds of base – they’ll make anything we want, but we have to buy 1000 lbs., so it’s definitely not something we can order on a whim.  LOL  If you have any ideas as to what kinds of custom soap base you’d be interested in, please e-mail them to us at suggestions(at)oakcourtcreations.com (take out the (at) and replace it with the @ sign).

2) Even MORE new Air Freshener Shapes!  Click on the pictures to go to the shopping cart, where you can zoom in on the images and purchase them.  The first five are available immediately – the fire hydrant will be here in mid-January (see below).












3) In response to requests, we updated the variety pack of air freshener shapes to reflect the new shapes – we now have *** 72 *** of them!  Wow… it seems like just yesterday that we introduced the first six shapes. You can now get one of each of the 72 shapes for one low price, so you can see, feel and touch them to help you decide which ones you want more of.

    What’s coming soon:

1) One more new air freshener shape – the fire hydrant.  It was supposed to be here with the other five shown above, but a minor problem with the die delayed the cutting process, and they should be here mid-January.  These adorable little hydrants will be perfect for both dog-related customers AND firemen!   I can easily see using these for fundraising activities, and the simple shape allows for lots of room to personalize them if desired.

2) Neem Oil – after a number of requests, we’ve found a reliable and reasonably priced source for Neem.  This oil is wonderful when used in soaps and lotions, and many swear by it for relief of skin conditions (although advertising the soap or lotion as being for that purpose isn’t allowed by the FDA).  The only drawback is that it’s rather…. well….. “fragrant” (some would come right out and say it’s stinky!).   But the scent CAN be overcome by using a strong fragrance oil or essential oil blend – we know, as we’ve done it! 🙂

 

CLICK ON THE ACORN at the top of this post if you’d like to leave us a comment – we love to hear from you!

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