Katie Sinare the lead blogger on the Katie Raspberry Business Blog. She blogs about general business affairs while running a small business of her own in Marketing. She's been blogging for over 4 years and has been a business owner since the tender age of nineteen.
Your workspace says a lot about your style, and can determine your productivity. Here are 6 essential tips to re-design your workspace to be more fashionable and functional.
Plants are beautiful, they smell nice, and they make any environment feel fresh and alive. Most amazingly, according to a new study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, they help improve attention span too! Pick something that smells nice, like mint, a plant that doubles as lotion like aloe, or whatever you find most aesthetically pleasing.
Keep Water Close
Is that a headache coming on? It could be from staring at a screen too long, or too much caffeine, or too little water. It’s easy to forget to stay hydrated. A handy reuseable water bottle will be a great reminder to drink more water. And if you choose a cute one, it’ll be a good motivator to drink more too. Mix it up by adding a slice of lemon, lime, mint leaves, ginger, or cucumber. Whatever gets you to drink more water.
When you run out of steam, don’t start browsing the web or playing with your phone. Give your eyes a break from the screen and look out a window instead. Natural light is essential for any workspace if you want to avoid headaches, sore eyes, lower your stress and improve concentration.
A place for everything
Nothing makes it harder to focus on important tasks like desk clutter. Find a place to stash those used post-it notes if you need them later, get a holder for those loose pens and markers, and file away all your documents in labeled and organized folders. Get that mess out of sight and out of mind, and get back to business.
Calendars Over Planners
Planners are a great way to keep an organized schedule, but they don’t work for everyone. If you keep loosing your planner or often forget to check it, consider a good old-fashioned calendar. They can be cute, personal, or simple. We love calendars with room for writing notes and deadlines. Above all, they should be easily accessible and frequently used.
Keep it Simple
Overall, the most important thing is to only include things in your workspace that help you get things done! Art, statuettes, stones, candles and books can all be great additions to an office area, but don’t overdo it. Know your style and stick to it. If you are easily distracted, being surrounded by trinkets and paintings will not help you be your most successful self. Your work should be your priority, and only let things into your space that will contribute to your productivity.
If you’re trying to figure out if your work area isn’t stimulating enough or is too stimulating, try switching it up until you find something that works for you. Try soothing classical music or nature sounds instead of club tracks you like to sing along too. Replace powerfully scented perfumes, flowers and moisturizers with muted natural smells of green plants or a subtle candle. Open a window, clear everything off your desk, whatever it takes to find your balance.
As social and health issues become more mainstream and more frequently discussed, misinformation also spreads quickly. Part of being an ethical and healthy person is knowing exactly what labels and trends mean, and being able to separate fact from fiction. People are becoming more aware of the effects of consumption on ourselves and our world. But corporations have been quick to catch on, presenting themselves as an ethical or caring choice in advertisements and on labels.
Companies use different tactics to appeal to the concerns and values of their customers, like putting a “gluten-free” stamp on products containing no grains, or body positivity and same-sex families in advertisements for clothing made in sweatshops. Sometimes these tactics are misleading, making it more important than ever for consumers to be vigilant and well-informed, to take a critical approach to these trends.
Here are some lies you’ve been told about ethical consumption, and some alternatives.
Fair Trade Coffee Doesn’t Guarantee Growers A Good Income
The idea behind Fair Trade coffee is that coffee growers make up collectives, who negotiate with the roasters through a third party, FLOCERT which has some ethical, pay and sustainability checks. Unfortunately this system has proven to have several flaws. It turns out “free trade” is an unreliable label that does not positively impact the poorest coffee growers, and actually decreases the quality of the product. The cost of fair trade certification hits the poorest farmers the hardest, and encourages farmers to sell lower-quality beans.
One alternative is buying Direct Trade coffee, which goes directly from the grower to the distributer, cutting out the middleman. It’s not a perfect system either, and some growers can’t afford to go Direct Trade, but it does allow the farmers to set their prices without buying into a system that would squeeze them dry.
Organic Standards Are Very Strict, And Sometimes Arbitrary
Buying organic sounds like a good idea, but most people can’t tell you why. Getting the “organic” stamp is a complex process that not all small-scale farmers can follow. So let’s separate truth from fearmongering. First, organic foods contain no more nutrients than non-organic foods, no matter what people doubling the prices of organic strawberries would have you believe. Organic foods are always non-GMO in the USA and Canada, but foods with a non-GMO stamp aren’t always organic. An important distinction if you are concerned with either man-made chemicals, or corporate control of seeds, but maybe not both. So far the list is pretty standard, maybe not too shocking to people who have done their research and not blindly jumped on the bandwagon. But here’s where being certified organic gets more complicated. Organic foods can be treated with pesticides as long as they are approved by the accrediting organization. In America, that’s the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). Treating sick or infected animals with necessary medications like antibiotics can cause a farmer to lose organic status. Antibiotics are often misused or abused in factory farming, with the goal of counteracting unsanitary conditions of boosting animal growth, but should a local farmer who cares for their animals be punished for giving them sometimes necessary medication? Maybe not. Lastly there’s the environmental angle. Organic farms produce 20%-50% less crops fit for sale than conventional farms for the same amount of land. If more or larger farms go organic, this means globally there will be less room for forests, animal habitats, and human populations if everyone ate organic. This may sound like a list of reasons to not buy organic foods, but that isn’t the whole story. If people bought local, we could save the environment by reducing transportation costs. If we reduced our meat and dairy intake, factory farming and the antibiotic overuse that goes with it would be a thing of the past. And if we’re going to be concerned with nutritional value, well maybe a GMO orange still ranks better than certified organic chocolate ice cream. The lesson we need to learn is that labels don’t tell the whole story. If it’s where your food comes from and how it’s grown that concerns you, buy it from somewhere closer to home.
Detox Diets Are Nothing New, And Have Never Been A Good Idea
The idea of purging the body of bad things seems to just be part of the human condition. From balancing the humors with leeches and vomiting, to the crimes of Linda Hazzard, the fake doctor who “detoxed” her victims to death in order to steal their money, we’ve looked for many ways throughout history to feel clean on the inside. And they have never worked. The main reason why, is that the human body has a way of removing harmful or unwanted materials: the kidney and the liver. If these organs aren’t working properly, well, there’s a reason why hospitals have a dialysis unit and not a “miso soup and lemon water for 30 days” unit. Some argue that the presence of metals and chemicals in the skin, fat, blood and muscle that can be removed by ingesting spirulina or zinc, means they should be removed. The fact is our bodies are more intricate than we give them credit for. We are amazing machines, that require complex fuel to survive, and have a way of dealing with anything else we put into them. Maybe if we put more effort into understanding how our bodies work, we wouldn’t need to invent new things to label as “toxins” or ways of making our waste not smell, or whatever the endgame is here.
Free-Range Eggs Aren’t From Chicken Heaven
“Free Range” conjures up a lot of powerful imagery. Rolling hills, chickens happily running around, pecking at seeds tossed by a kindly old farmer, and peacefully popping out an egg at their own convenience. It feels good to picture a free range chicken farm, and it feels good to buy free range eggs. But maybe it shouldn’t. In Canada, unlike the United States, there is no set definition for Free Range. So unlike with Fair Trade and Organic, there aren’t any standards to meet except, maybe, that the chickens aren’t in battery cages. In some countries, the animals must have at least some access to the outdoors. What this usually means is that instead of stacked in small cages, chickens live on a flat warehouse floor. This actually means their conditions are more dangerous, as they are exposed to the faeces of other chickens, causing E. coli and parasitic infections, and even cannibalize each other. Furnished cages are a step up from battery cages, although still not ideal for the chickens’ behaviour and physical condition.
So what’s the best option for chickens? It’s actually the simplest answer: maybe we shouldn’t keep as many of them. If we used less eggs, we wouldn’t need to keep the birds on such a large scale, and have all the complex problems that go with it.
You Can’t Live on Juice Cleanses Alone
Drinking nothing but a liquid diet makes people feel skinny, the simple reason being that your body isn’t getting everything it needs. When you juice a fruit or vegetable, you’re simply not getting the whole plant. What gets thrown out is the fibre, and everything that makes people feel full. What you keep? Many of the vitamins, and all of the sugar. A juice cleanse can give you serious issues in regulating your blood sugar levels. Not taking in enough protein can cause your body to break down your own muscle to provide what’s missing. So that juice cleanse weight loss? Surprise, it’s not all fat that you’re burning! You also won’t be getting the fat, protein, and some vitamins and minerals your body needs, and you may be getting way too much of some vitamins, like potassium. So what should you do instead of juicing? Try eating less processed foods, making a smoothie instead of juicing, or maybe just eat a fruit or vegetable.
There are a lot of people wanting to profit from the good intentions of others. Unfortunately there’s just as much money to be made from misinformation. Being able to separate fact from fiction is the first step in living a healthier and more thoughtful existence. The second step is to find alternatives that work for you. There’s a lot of blogs out there telling people exactly the right way to live your best life, but the answers can be much more simple than that. For some people it’s cooking from scratch, for others it’s buying local, or going vegan. No matter what, if you’re well informed chances are you’ll be much happier with the choices you make, and the future you’ll create for yourself, your community, and your planet.
There may have been a time where appearing professional meant putting a lot of effort into looking and dressing sharp. On the opposite end of that style were so-called “hippies”, stereotyped as looking unclean or unconcerned with their appearance, instead focusing on non-material and altruistic pursuits. Nowadays, more people are concerned with the environment than ever before, and a new group has emerged: Sustainable Entrepreneurs. There is a lot of passion and a lot of money driving projects that improve the environment and leave a better world. With this comes new fashion needs, to look professional and presentable without filling landfills with fast-fashion and wearing the products of exploitative labour.
Stylish sustainable entrepreneurs rejoice! Here are some exciting new fabrics and companies to with innovative ways of helping our environment. These pieces are a great conversation starter that show your clean and professional side, and your dedication to sustainability too!
Yes, pineapple leather. Until now, the only alternative to the wasteful and cruel leather industry was petrol-based polyurethane. Now we have Piñatex, a pineapple leather from Ananas-Anam , which is a sustainable and natural product made from the leaves of pineapples, which would otherwise be thrown away. The fabric is being used by different designers for everything from sneakers, to purses, smartphone cases, and everything else leather is currently being used for.
Sonic Fabrics is a small business from New England which makes a unique product for music lovers: beautiful neckties made from recycled cassette tapes. Their ties are made in the USA and show that recycling can be creative and a lot of fun. Have an idea of what you would make out of this super cool fabric? They also sell swatches so you can make a sonic item of your very own.
Hemp really is a wonder-crop. It grows easily, is cost-effective, and produces a tough and durable fabric . It has a tough feel, perfect for imitating things like wool, denim, and linen. Many producers, like Washington/Vancouver-based Rawganique are experimenting with hemp clothing, creating polished styles that no longer look like they belong at Burning Man.
Recycled fur & leather
Love the look of real fur and leather, but don’t like the wastefulness of the animal product industry? Montreal’s Harricana is saving animal lives and human wardrobes with their repurposed pelts. Fur itself is a very durable material, that can last for over a century. In addition to selling beautiful recycled designs, they have a buy-back, tailoring and fur exchange program to make sure no pieces go to waste. Harricana products can already be found in major stores like The Bay and Simons, and is expanding fast.
What’s Next For Sustainable Fashion?
From small businesses like those we showed here, to bigger retailers like Zara, H&M and Adidas experimenting in recycled fabrics, we can say for certain that he future of fashion is sustainability . We still have a lot of work to do, but there is a proven interest in these green, cruelty free, and fair-wage clothing. We are glad to see so many retailers joining in, and making creative products with business professionals like us in mind.
Nowadays it is almost impossible to think about a person or organization that works expecting only a “thank you” as payment. This concept, however, exists and it is not some sort of scam or slavery. On the contrary,impossible.com is a global community that aims to help each other out by sharing people’s time, skills, and objects; with the simple objective of boosting people’s profile by encouraging kind actions and work, using only the “thanks currency” in exchange.
The mind behind this innovative concept isLily Cole, the English model, actress, and entrepreneur who has been also image of Vogue in several occasions. This idea came partly from Cole’s University of Cambridge thesis “Impossible utopias”. In her History of Art thesis, Cole meditates about momentary utopias in everyday reality, contributing to the possibility of making such utopias a reality; a concept somehow similar to the original term of utopia, first coined by the political philosopher Thomas Moore in his 1516 political fiction work of the same name.
In further analysis, Lily Cole wondered about the possibility of a website or platform where people could do things for one another without money being necessary as currency. In words of Lily Cole for Vogue “it just felt like quite a simple, obvious idea”, impossible.com was taking form in Cole’s mind.
The concept of impossible.com is simple and clearly reflected in its manifesto: having in mind there are only two things you can spend in this world, money and time; we all should be wondering what we are doing with these things, spending them or turning them into something impossible. Impossible.com is a group of people sharing knowledge, skills, and some time without expecting money in exchange.
Although Cole admits her model and actress profile has helped her idea to take off, the objective is that impossible.com can continue on its own. In the future people will realize that being helpful and selfless can bring enormous satisfaction as reward. Lily Cole is also demonstrating that the times we are living now need new business and economic models. Sustainable, equitable, and responsible business models also look for people well-being for nothing or little in exchange. Step by step social-engaged entrepreneurs like Lily Cole are making utopias coming true.
A friend of mine, who is an avid reader of my blog, asked me if I could write a post on when and how I knew was ready to start a business. Thinking back, I remember it started at the age of 19 when I was in college studying business. To keep afloat, I worked small part-time jobs in restaurants, bars and small offices. While I was enrolled in business classes I learnt that starting a business wasn’t as hard as it everyone said it was. I also realized that I would much prefer to work for myself than the employers who I had currently worked for. With that in mind, I made my first step into the world of entrepreneurship but before I took that important step I ran down these 6 points:
Was ready to start crafting my passion?:
When we start our careers we usually start in low entry jobs. These jobs generally entail tasks that are repetitive or soon become repetitive. It came to the point where I wasn’t pshcially capable of doing work I didn’t want to do anymore. I knew that by becoming my own boss and by stepping into the world of entrepreneurship I would be able to experience and practice a much broader line of skills. Entrepreneurship allows you to focus on the activities and passions you care most about or are most interested in. You can do this by finding ways to incorporate them into your business or forming your business around this concept.
I never received anything from the companies I worked for that was as valuable as the time I invested:
Building someone else’s dream is what we call a job, or even a career. If you have a job, it needs to bring something into your life. As for me, completing projects that brought an already wealthy person more money wasn’t filling in my achievement meter. I found the companies I worked for generally lacked a sense of community, meaningful goals and proper values. If you’re going to work for a company find one that you can admire and if you can’t find a non-materialistic value in them don’t work for them. Start your own projects, make a difference in the world and don’t submit to a greedy CEO. I decided that my time was best invested when it was towards my own dreams and passions.
I desired to live my life to its fullest and was ready to create the time to do so:
When you’re employed you will always have schedules, mannerisms and goals to follow. You’ll have deadlines to follow, a boss to follow, a contract to follow – you’ll be following something constantly. To me, becoming an entrepreneur was my entry way to following my own schedule and creating my own rules. I know, many people who put up with unjustified behavior and treatment at their jobs because they enjoy the comforts of their stability within their jobs. Something they don’t realize is that their quality of life has declined for all the wrong reasons and reasons that are not worth it.
Maintaining a free schedule that allows you to stay disciplined is important. Being able to freely decide on what they are doing, when they are doing it, how they’re doing it and who you are dealing with is what I define as true freedom.
I wanted to do make decisions and felt entitled to my opinion and beliefs:
I am a free soul who bases everything I do off of my vision, morals and values. Within a job, often times employers make you operate on their terms. They force you to see from their perspectives with the bribery of money which will eventually corrupt the soul. You have to always remember that you can be your own leader and develop your own methods of business even if they are not as prosperous as other solutions. For example, I am completely against non-environmentally friendly production so I do my best to find dealers who are socially and environmentally friendly.
When you give yourself the freedom to navigate your operations the way you desire – you’ll notice immediately the inspiration that will fill your mind with good.
I had the will power to minimize my life in the mission to maximize it.
Almost every self-made business owner knows the struggle of starting their own business with no support other than our own two hands. We have less money, time, social life and romance all for the sake of our start-up. Building a business from the ground up is like having a new born baby – you invest everything into its growth. You have to give up the expensive life style that included your fancy meals – unless it’s for potential business, reduce the amount of times you go out, limit your unnecessary shopping, etc. This sounds depressing but it’s actually so empowering. I’ve become a minimalistic through these strict practices and I do not not feel as if anything in my life is missing. I believe it is because I am working towards something that I believe is far greater than materialistic things.
I felt uncomfortable staying in something I didn’t believe in:
This point is my finishing point – it is also the most important. This doesn’t just apply to work or business – it applies to everything in life. As individuals, we have so much power and groups we have even more. When you are in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable or feels wrong you must take action. For me, I simply didn’t agree with my past employmers which is why I took a step in my own direction. You should do the same.
I hope you enjoyed this read and please share your experiences and thoughts in the comment board!
It’s that time of year! Each year fellow entrepreneurs such as ourselves spread the christmas spirt by showing our clients how much we appreciate them for their business. When choosing your method of appreciation we all know which is the most effective. So, before sending out your solo christmas card take a look at this gift you or your assistant can put together alone. This gift can cost anywhere between $5-$25 depending on what you put in it.
Step 1: Purchase a stylish cup, bowl or mini basket
2. Place your biggest items inside the container
3. Stuff the bottom with wrapping paper (any colour you wish)
It should then look like this:
4. Place smaller items you have on top of the wrapping and be sure they are displayed nicely.
5. Purchase a smaller items that are a bit more fancy and decorative than the other smaller items.
And place them on top of everything else for display. Your finished bowl should look presentable.
6. Purchase some see through wrapping paper and place you bowl in the centre of a measured piece.
7. Purchase some transparent wire and cut a small piece off. Also cut your measured piece of transparent paper.
8. Pull the wrapping together as if holding a garbage bag and tie the top together with transparent wire.
9. Purchase a nice ribbon that goes with your wrapper paper. In my case I’ve chosen white. Then cut your ribbon at a very generous length.
10. Tie a the ribbon into a little bow.
11. Purchase some Christmas gift tags
Don’t forget to write who the gift is from
12. Take a second look. This is how your wonderful and affordable gift should look like.
Thank you reading. I hope this gift idea helps our entrepreneurs looking to give their clients, associates and employees a little something for all the positivity they brought to your business. Wishing you all happy holidays! Share with us any other ideas you have done in the past for affordable business gifts!
Black and white identified as a symbolic trait of our history. I’ve always gathered inspiration through B&W photos because they arouse our curiosity or interest. Here are a nine (9) of my most favored black and white photos that I’ve came across during different moments of browsing and they all relate to businesses, inventors and owners:
The Disney crew getting their lunch
Hotel owner pouring acid into their pool with Africans
One of the first Ronald Mcdonald’s scary clowns
An inventor testing the final version of his bullet proof vest
A business man who thought this would be a great form of transportation. I wonder why it is now around today…