As I’m busy sat here finalising the agenda for Conference, a lovely blog post came through my inbox called Comfortable Networking for Introverts, which has lots of helpful tips for introverts who don’t normally do networking or conferences, on how to take the anxiety out of the day.
If you’ve already bought your conference ticket you’ll know that this year we’re having a pre-conference social, a chance to get to know eachother, with a glass or wine (or soft drink!), before the main event kicks off. At Kids Bee Happy we’re lucky that we have such a lovely family atmosphere, but even with all of this we still have lots of consultants who haven’t met consultants outside of their team, and some who might not ever have met anyone else in “real life”. And so on Friday night we’ve got a lovely opportunity just to meet, chat and get to know each other better, so that when we get into main day the one thing that everyone will have in common is that they will know lots of other people in the room.
If you want to read Lucia’s post on Comfortable Networking, it’s here – meantime – I’m looking forward to meeting you next Friday.
Top Tip – Not everything that sells in October is a Pumpkin.
If I was to ask you what proportion of pictures sold between November and December were Christmas Themed – what percentage would you guess – 80%? 60%? 50%? Well let me let you into a trade secret – in 2015 only 32% of the pictures sold in November and December were Christmas themed, and in 2016 it was 36%. So why is this? It’s Christmas – surely everyone would want to make a Santa picture??? Well, there are a number of reasons, firstly Christmas is literally all around, from Halloween until 26th December it is completely everywhere, so it makes sense that not everything that everyone would want to do or buy during those months will be Christmas themed – if it was, everyone would be totally sick of Christmas long before Santa’s elves had loaded the sleigh.
Think back to Easter – did you exclusively sell only Easter themed ovals? Or were these in fact just a proportion of pictures and your sales?
So what’s this got to do with Halloween? Well its exactly the same, just because the date is Halloween, it doesn’t mean that everything everyone wants to buy or do during October will have ghosties and ghoulies on it. Infact, the majority will probably want the opposite. So here are our Top Tips for Halloween Sand Art.
1. Look to what the kids choose as costumes
If you want to know which designs sell well at Halloween, then learn from the masters – next time you’re in your local fancy dress shop, take a quick squizz at the childrens costume section and Disney characters will be dominant. In fact Snow White, Belle, Cinderella, Elsa and Anna are consistently year on year in the top20 Halloween costumes list for UK, adult versions as well as children’s. I’m lucky, I have one of the UKs biggest fancy dress suppliers just down the road, and I can verify that every October for the past 14 years I have visited and spent over an hour helping my daughters choose that years Halloween constume, and what can I tell you – that over 1/3 of the shelf space will be for Disney character costumes, and not just the princesses, but also Woody from Toy Story, Cars, Dory, Nemo and the Good Dinosaur are there too. Remember that when you’ve got the little kids – the costumes and characters they pick at Halloween aren’t the scary kind – they’re the friendly familiar kind. And even the bigger kids drift back to Disney after a couple of years as Witches, and Devils – which is why of course there are so many adult Disney costumes. So make sure that your stocks include as many of the Disney Characters as possible – they are all available in packs of 5 so you don’t have to buy hundreds, and remember any character picture can be made “scary” just by mixing it up with the colours.
2. Capitalise on Trends
Did you know that Scary Elsa has become a real “thing”? Give it a quick search on google and you’ll be amazed at what you find. I remember last year that Debbie, our Leaders did some great Scary Elsa pictures with some of her Halloween customers – green faces, orange and black dresses, red hair – it was amazing – and the children had such good fun letting their creativity run wild with them, and the best bit is that these pictures are never out of “season” so you know that they are always a safe buy.
3. Remember the Parents
The thing about Halloween is that it tends to happen in the dark, which means that all of the children are accompanied by parents – so make sure that you’ve got some Ailsa Black pictures or Mandala pictures in your stocks so that the grown ups can have a go too.
4. Halloween Themed Pictures
Halloween themed pictures are another essential. There a range of 6 different designs of Halloween pictures, but remember don’t make your event exclusively Halloween only pictures because our statistics tell us that at least half of kids will want to do something else. There are already 4 Halloween pictures available on site – Haunted House (A4), Trick and Treat (A5), Ghostie Boo & Witches Hat (A5) and Bat and Boo. From the 5th October we will also have the Spider back as an A6 picture, and the Cat on a Broomstick as an A6 picture too.
5. What is Scary?
The most scariest piece of music in movie history contains only 3 notes. Those three notes aren’t scary, and if you’ve never seen Jaws those three notes on their own probably wouldn’t make you hide behind a cushion. So what makes it scary ? – our imagination, knowing what those three notes are telling us, knowing that something is going to happen but we don’t know what, and we don’t know when, the suspense, the tension, the build up. Can you feel it now – just reading this? So use those same techniques in HOW you deliver the sand art, stories whilst the children are making the pictures, suddenly turning the lights off unexpectedly, etc. All of this stuff is free – there’s no cost – but its going to be this stuff that makes your Halloween event the stand out event that they’ll remember for years to come – rather than just the design on the picture card itself.
6. Be Imaginative
So, we’ve ticked the obvious boxes, Halloween themed pictures for the ghosts and broomsticks. Disney pictures so that the kids can make a picture of the character that they are dressed up as. Now its time to let your creativity take over. For example, in Scotland a fairy isn’t traditionally what you would think of as a fairy, they are faeries – tiny mischievous and powerful beings that deliberately wreck havoc in peoples lives – that sounds pretty “halloweeny” to me, the same with Leprechauns who do infact magically exist all year round, not just on the 17th March 😉 and of course Leprechauns are real, we know because an Irish MP has blamed the wee critters for permanent road problems only a few weeks ago . Another one – the Ailsa Black isn’t just any cat, it is infact a magical Witches cat in disguise, full of magical powers. All these little stories etc are special to the children, and help them engage and enjoy the sand art much more than simply the design, they take the picture home, share the story and the imagination……
7. Halloween Bears
And don’t forget that the bears can be all halloweened-up too. As well as of course as making witches cats, you’ve got the opportunity for creating Halloween designs and doodles on the tee-shirts and hoodies. But again, back to being creative and imaginative, bear making gives you such good environment for telling scary Halloween stories, for example Did you know that dogs and cats are supposed to be able to see the supernatural – so if you’ve got some children who really are a bit spooked out by Halloween, what better thing for them than a lovely Cocoa, Lemon or Charlie, who will sit watch all night next to them protecting them from all the scary monsters. There are lots of stories about phantom and magical tigers all over the world. And well, anyone that’s seen Fortitude can definitely verify that Polar Bears can be very scary. And i’m willing to bet good money that 2 minutes on google will reveal a whole wrath of american scary stories about bears. So every bear has the potential to be a Halloween bear – and it won’t cost you a penny extra.
8. Halloween Sand
Mix the colours up – be brave, take out the pink and add some darker colours. Top up your orange, red, black and brown. And don’t forget the silver – always fab to give a picture a completely different sense.
So, there you go, a few of our top tips, and as you can see the simplicity is in looking beyond simply the date and the theme, using your energy, creativity and enthusiasm, and making it about more than just colouring in a picture. Why don’t you join the brainstorming session in your teams and share spooky stories and ideas.
During the very busy run up to the end of August, you might have missed this post that went viral about a little boy not being allowed to go to a “Princess for a day” party at Disneyland. And with BBC’s No More Boys and Girls, and the Clarks shoe debacle, when big companies get it wrong it seems like a great opportunity to discuss what the public is increasing expecting regarding gender neutrality in play.
As you know, Kids Bee Happy has been the proud supporter of Let Toys Be Toys, and been awarded the Toymark Award for the past 2 years, but it’s something that we should never rest on our laurels and always be at the forefront of how we do business. There is a fantastic moment in the No More Boys and Girls episode 1 where the producers swapped a baby boy and baby girls clothes round, and then put the babies on a mat with an adult and a selection of toys, and then watched as the adults pushed gender stereotype toys onto the children without even realising that they did it. It was very noticeable that the stuffed passive toys were directed at the “girl”, and the mechanical toys for the “boy”. And it shows instantly how all these influences are around children everyday, and how they all add up.
Now me, you might have noticed that I have a huge passion for levelling the playing field. I personally have spent the majority of my life being the only female in the room, and I haven’t lived that rebellious a life. And as a mother of girls, I had hoped that what gender they are would have no impact on the choices of my children in their careers and future. However, the world moves slowly it seems and we’re still fighting the battle. But the one thing that I can do as the Managing Director of Kids Bee Happy is to try my upmost to make sure that its something that we as a company join the battle to eliminate.
Kids Bee Happy offers a very wide range of Sand Art pictures, and we try to ensure that there is something in there that appeals to everyone, however, when i’m out at the events I have to consistently remember to help the children choose in a gender neutral way. All too frequently we see the parents or grandparents steer their children’s choice in the direction of “suitable” pictures, how many times have we seen wee boys hovering over a butterfly or a fairy picture to see the mum go “Oh, there’s a dinosaur, or how about a car?” Or to see a girl thinking about a robot picture and their parent suggest a “pretty butterfly”.
As advocates of gender neutral play, we have a role to play here, little things that we can do can make a difference. If a parent is pointing at lots of stereotypical pictures then interrupt (gently) point out other pictures that they can equally enjoy. If we’re making recommendations to children then again mix it up so that the suggestions are wide and varied, and be brave, make the first picture something that could be associated more with the opposite sex. Make it clear to the boys that if they want to colour in a picture of a princess then that is absolutely fine, and make it clear to the girls that we know that they like cars and planes just as much as boys. On the tables, in the displays mix up the pictures, make it clear that there is no such thing as a “boys” section and a “girls” selection.
When we colour in our display pictures make sure that we make them as multicoloure as possible, using all the colours from pink to blue, and all the other ones inbetween, so that we don’t send out the subtle “pink for girl” messages that we see so often in the clothes and fashions sectors. What I personally prefer to do is to mix up the colours in the most wonderful and creative way, pink loins, red dolphins, brown butterflies, orange fairies, orange, pink and yellow skies, even a punk rock hedgehog. There is no right or wrong with colour when it comes to sand art, so the more creative we can be with our display pictures, the more we send out the “anything goes” message to the children. If a boy’s colouring the picture point out to them that they’ve not coloured anything in Pink yet. If we’re chatting to the children about colour start a conversation about how “brown” is your favourite colour etc and make up a whole load of wonderful reasons why brown is so good.
Draw attention and offer an alternative, that’s all we have to do.
In the great big gender debate it’s very easy for critics to dismiss it all, saying “oh why do we need to worry, the children will choose what they want”, but the problem is that by the time the kids get around to choosing they’ve already have years of marketing, fashion, TV, books, films, cartoons, and adults telling them subconsciously what they “should” be preferring, and sometimes its difficult for them to say something different. And this is where our role comes in. I know that all of our consultants work hard to ensure gender neutrality with our young customers, however, its important to remember that they might not have that same influence elsewhere, they could perhaps live with very traditional parents or grandparents, so your voice is important, even if it by doing something as tiny as just adding in the word “fairy” into a list of suggestions of boys pictures, let them know it’s OK to do something different. From little acorns big oaks grow, so please continue to plant those little acorns. Thank you.
During the past few weeks we have had a number of consultants that have cancelled events at the last minute. Even worse, we’ve had consultants who simply haven’t turned up and haven’t even been polite enough to contact the organisers and let them know why. With Kids Bee Happy everyone’s business benefits from being part of a brand that represents quality, consistency, and high customer service, so if a consultant doesn’t turn up then it impacts on everyone.
It also has a knock on effect and impacts on the reputation and bookings of other consultants.
There is never an excuse not to turn up. 90% of the time an other team member can cover or a borrow box can be arranged.
And PLEASE – never book multiple events for the same times – you cannot be in two places at once and you are guaranteed to be letting someone down.
Are you a Kids Bee Happy Ambassador?
Traditionally, direct sales companies are very good to giving recognition to people who build big teams, or who knock out top sales month after month. But here at Kids Bee Happy we are very aware that there is a massive group of people who contribute just as much to the success of Kids Bee Happy, but who don’t get loud and noisy recognition in the newsletters.
So, with effect from August we will be creating Kids Bee Happy Ambassadors. To be a Kids Bee Happy ambassador you need to be have been with Kids Bee Happy for at least 12 months, and have achieved active status for 10 out of 12 months each year.
And to reward as well as recognise our Ambassadors, we will be sending you out a pin badge so that you can (discreetly or loudly) display your success, and in addition there will be a unique special offer code each month giving you access to an exclusive special offer only for Ambassadors.
We look forward to welcoming our first set of Ambassadors at the end of the month.
Well every year it comes along and every year it brings with it a whole bunch of surprise. Because August is in the “summer” we expect it to be full of long beautiful summer days, and frequently it is – especially if you live in the southern half of Britain. However, for those of us in other parts of the UK, August is always a mixed bag. So, top 5 tips for loving August events –
- Have a gazebo – if its hot and sunny, you’ll need it to save yourself from the sunshine, if its not so hot and sunny then you’ll be one step ahead of the rest of the activities on the field, and the parents will flock to you when the showers come.
- If it is raining – then remember it will usually only rain for a short amount of time. It’s not February, the weather moves fast in August, and so what’s wet one minute can be gorgeous sunshine the next. Many of our top consultants will tell you that the best bit of the day is usually after that shower when other more fickle stall holders have packed up and gone home. Plus the organisers will love you for ever – and that’s always a bonus.
- Talk to people – if you have a tent full of people hiding from a summer shower, then grab that opportunity to talk to them about Kids Bee Happy, about birthday parties, other event ideas, or team building. Remember sales don’t always appear in the form of a picture, sometimes they come in the form of a birthday party booking from a nice friendly chat with a customer taking advantage of a chance to sit down.
- Remember the Sun Tan Lotion and Water – remember to take care of yourself too.
- Explore the floor – if its a great sunny day, then don’t try to squish everyone into your gazebo, why not grab a picnic blanket or a groundsheet, put the sand bottles and sand bowls out of the ground, and double the space you have available.
But remember, whatever you do – have fun!