I really like reading behind the scenes from small business ventures so I thought it might be interesting to give you a little Zeal & Heart update. It’s now been four months since I decided to take the risk and import an engraving machine, and thankfully I still think it’s a good idea. I mean I’m slightly sick of having a heart attack every time I look at my bank account, but I am glad I went ahead with Zeal & Heart.
One of the biggest learnings was around photography. Turns out I have chosen to manufacture the hardest product to photograph imaginable. Seriously, the pendants are tiny and reflective why did no one warn me? After three photo shoots with mixed results (I liked the overall composition but it was impossible to see the pendants) I did some investigating and found a somewhat affordable lens for my Olympus Pen camera. There are two lenses for the Pen if you want to shoot Macro the 60mm which is £429 and the brand new 30mm which is £249. I think the 60mm is better if you want to photograph actual bugs, but it was way out of my price range (and I have mixed feelings about bugs). The new 30mm however turns out to be perfect for my Zeal & Heart needs, and since I found a 25% off code on Twitter (there are a few floating around) I got it down to £188. It took my bank balance into an even more unfriendly place, but the improvement in product photos I think is worth it.
The second big change around these parts is around the social media. Notice a marked improvement in the last couple of weeks? Yeah, that has nothing to do with me. Over Easter I went out for brunch with Jacintha and she told me about the ‘4 hour work week’ book by Timothy Ferriss, it sounded interesting so right there at the brunch table in New Zealand I ordered it on Amazon. That book is still sitting on my shelf looking at me, I haven’t even cracked the spine. But the concept got me thinking enough about the bits of business I am good at and the bits that I’m not, and thinking about the parts of Zeal & Heart that I enjoy (I seriously need to read the book). The social media side of business I find really interesting from a dork point of view, but I could not think of anything worse than actually scheduling the posts or having a content strategy. Enter Emma stage left. Around the same time as I started Zeal & Heart Emma started her own Social Media consultancy business, and let me tell you in two weeks she has done a better job across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook than I could have done in a lifetime. If you have a small business and suck at the social media give Emma a shout.
The last thing I have done was get a consulting session with Jasmine to talk about my Etsy strategy. I had no idea that Etsy was essentially a giant search engine, and without optimising the dreaded SEO I wasn’t going to get far. I think my biggest lesson with this business game is that I don’t know it all and reaching out to far more knowledgeable friends will hopefully kick it in the ass. Jasmine thankfully got me drunk before even broaching the topic of SEO, and even then lead into it gently with small words and big pictures. That girl knows her shit and knows how to simplify it all down to my level.
Last but not least I have a big announcement! I get the absolute privilege of letting you know about the first Zeal & Heart collaboration is with the one and only Laura Jane Williams from Superlatively Rude. Laura is a twice published author, former Grazia columnist and the ultimate in Instagram Stories entertainment. Laura is joining Zeal & Heart for a limited edition ‘Zeal & Heart ft Laura Jane Williams’ pendant featuring the epic phrase “none of us is fucking up like we think we are”. As always the design is limited edition and only 250 will be made, they go on sale at 6pm tonight so get in quick.
Shoot me any Z&H questions you have, I will give you another update shortly.
Before I came to the UK the one thing I wanted Mum to teach me to make was her gingerbread loaf. It is the stuff of dreams, not just because of the sweet ginger flavour but also because it lasts for up to a week without going weird AND it can be frozen. This gingerbread loaf is a total fixture in my mind when I think of my childhood (although Mum isn’t convinced she made it that often), those doorstop thick slabs covered in butter are the answer to almost any problem.
But even though I marched the streets of London with recipe in hand I have never successfully made it. Once a year Mum gets an enraged Skype from me about how I have failed yet again at the fail safe recipe. To be honest the numerous gingerbread loaf disasters were part me and part the UK. I always thought I knew better than the trusty recipe, changing the proportions or on one shocking occasion trying to substitute the milk/vinegar combo for buttermilk (learn from me kids, don’t do it). The UK does have a part to play in this ongoing saga however because the golden syrup over here sucks ass. It is weak watery rubbish that has as much flavour as licking the side of a London telephone box after an autumn shower.
Enter SANZA stage left. Antipodean expats in the UK will all know of SANZA, the website that has all of those treats from home that solve homesickness time and time again (INCLUDING ORIGINAL FLAVOUR BBQ SHAPES!!!!!!!!!!). SANZA offered to send me a box of goodies and to say I leapt at the opportunity was a slight understatement. They might have been slightly surprised at the first thing in my basket, because it wasn’t the Shrewsbury biscuits the Twisties or the Whittakers…it was Chelsea Golden Syrup – time for me to finally conquer the gingerbread loaf.
175 g butter 2 tsp baking soda ¾ C sugar 2 eggs 1 C golden syrup 1 C milk 1 T ground ginger 1 T vinegar 2½ C flour ½ tsp cinnamon
Add the vinegar to the milk & let stand to sour.
Cream butter & sugar, add the syrup and beat well. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
Sift the flour, baking soda and spices into the mixing bowl.
Gradually beat in the milk & vinegar.
Pour the mixture into 2 lined loaf tins or 1 x 20cm square tin.
Bake at 170°C – loaf tins for approx 50 mins, large tin for approx 1 hr 20 mins.
I was primed and ready. In preparation I put on Dave Dobbyn and ate an entire packet of BBQ Shapes, it was time for me and gingerbread loaf to become friends. This time, I had the right ingredients and I was going to follow the recipe to the letter. No exam had ever been so stressful, no relationship as high risk; but step by (totally easy why the hell had I failed before) step I went through the gingerbread loaf recipe sent over from Mum. And do you know what? I only went and bloody well did it.
My gingerbread loaf was perfect. I feasted off it for the next week and froze two mini-versions to have at a later celebration. Turns out, with SANZA to the rescue and if I actually follow the recipe, all is right in the world.
Oh and since I was on a roll I did something that I had never attempted before, I made lolly cake. I was worried that after 29 years without making it, the NZ Embassy was going to revoke my Kiwi card. Lets just say that it was a tasty few days in the Runawaykiwi house.
I woke up today and being a millennial went straight onto twitter. The first tweet I saw was simply “Oh fuck” from a seismologist monitoring underground nuclear testing, not exactly the person you want swearing on a Sunday morning. North Korea had let off another test and this one was a biggy. As I sipped my tea I moved on to aimlessly scrolling through Facebook and Instagram which were far less terrifying.
I don’t know how seriously to take the threat of a North Korea induced nuclear winter. On one hand, with ego driven nut cases in charge of the big red buttons it feels like all it will take is either one seeing a tweet about their haircuts. But on the other hand I have to trust that the international bodies that have been set up since the last few wars are there to protect us and are possibly doing a good job.
I think where I have put nuclear attack on the Runawaykiwi worry scale is somewhere between embarrassing myself during a work presentation and chocking on a penny that someone has left in my tea (not a fantastical situation, this has actually happened to me). Given how this year has gone maybe it should be higher, but the absolute lack of being able to impact this fate means it is quite far down on the list.
In rather terrible timing I have been attempting to read books lately after years of only reading things in tweet form. Reading itself is not terrible, many people would argue that it is in fact a good thing. The problem is that that Taloned witch Lex recommended I read Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, a delightful tale of living in a post-apocalyptic reality. In the book the apocalypse comes in the form of a fast acting flu that kills most of humanity rather than a Trump vs North Korea pissing contest, but the effect is somewhat the same. (Side note: it is a amazing book which unveils the story in a very clever way as well as creating a terrifyingly realistic post-“oh fuck” world).
This combination of book and tweet made me think on a Sunday morning made me think about where I would want to be when the world ends. Given how much I agonise over my physical location (I still manage to have a weekly existential crisis over it) the answer was astoundingly quick and simple: New Zealand. The reality is that in a post-apocalyptic situation New Zealand just has so many advantages. Low population density in relation to the size of the land means there is a chance we can get enough food for everyone. Fewer guns means the initial riots will have a significantly lower chance of death. And with the ‘she’ll be right’ attitude there is every chance that NZ will just keep trucking along as normal pretending everything is ok. Oh, and my family is there.
Now, I choose London with every fibre of my being because of the history, the culture, endless museums, galleries and markets. I choose it for the ability to make my own choices, be 100% authentic to me and to have career opportunities that don’t exist back home. But in an apocalypse? I don’t think any of that matters. Mum making me a cup of tea from tree bark foraged from behind the ear of a sheep will matter. And knowing her she will make it taste delicious.
So essentially I have to comb over every detail of Trump’s tweets to try and get the last flight out before that big red button is pushed…too bad I’ve already muted him.