Theo Paphitis’ #SBS Event 2013 – Buggie in Brum!

Well, the day finally came last week when I travelled to Birmingham to attend the #SBS Winners Event, and meet Theo himself! Excited doesn’t cover it! I was allowed to take a guest, and as hubby had to stay home looking after the kids (mwahahahaha), I choose my local friend and #SBS winner-in-waiting, Joy Bassett from AP Bassetts, Lostwitihiel (@apbassetts). Joy bravely decided to drive us there and we made it in good time to our hotel, The Hampton by Hilton, Broad Street.

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Buggie was very comfy there.

I could go on and on here about our first night in Brum, suffice to say, we met up with wonderful Twitter friends and lots of squealing, eating and drinking ensued. We did manage to get to bed before 1am though….well some of us did,

Theo had graciously started the event at the lovely time of 11am, which meant a leisurely breakfast and stroll en-mass up the road towards the ICC, excitement building!

Walking in we saw the first sign, and yes, over-excitement got the better of me and I did a silly pose!

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After collecting badges we wandered into the conference room and started right away to meet other #SBS winners, some of whom we ‘knew’ from Twitter, and plenty of new contacts too. It was wonderful to put faces to names! Trying to find each other was fun, but we soon saw that all the screens had the twitter feed for #SBSEvent2013 showing. So, what else would you expect, but everyone, standing in the same room, still tweeting furiously to each other, trying to find people. I had to laugh -it was the funniest thing, heads buried in phones everywhere! Mind you, I also HAD to see my own tweet up on that screen, so did a couple myself :0)

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I soon found another way to find people, the shifty-over-someone’s-shoulder-look at their name badge (rather than the more embarrassing walk-right-up-looking-at-their-chest kind). Numbered tables around the room helped too of course. I did manage to find a few fellow Cornish businesses (of the 10 who have won #SBS since it began). Here are lovely Fiona from @CoombeMill and Karen from @JustBunting . I also saw @MrsCassieKemp from Cake Top Characters, and there’s a photo of us together somewhere.

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The main event began with Kypros Kyprianou, CEO of Ryman Stationary, telling us about the new sponsors of #SBS. More sponsors have joined forces with Ryman to support this fab Small Businesses group. I had a seat quite far over to one side at this point and could see the main man – Mr. Paphitis – sliding about in the wings, having a sneaky peak at Kypros during his speech!

Then, on he came, to great applause from all of us.

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I don’t think the grin left my face from start to finish to be honest, I must have looked a bit of a wally, though I suspect others may have done the same! Theo spoke with humour and honesty, and made us all feel 10 feet tall for getting the award. At one point he showed a short presentation of a few winner’s stories, and I was suddenly looking at the photo of me and the kids and newspaper headline which resulted from my Press Release when I won – cue the odd squeal from the audience, including me! Eeek that was a HUGE screen, and a HUGE surprise! I still have the music in my head too, it’s the one the used for the walking along the corridor slowly in Kill Bill! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJlu_xo79k8

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We heard some exciting new developments for the #SBS family, including pending improvements to our very own website  http://www.theopaphitissbs.com, run by fellow #SBS winner Chris Wheeler (@MetalsFrogst) and his team at Metal Frog Studios. Chris was brought on stage and gave us a run-down on the changes coming up – all of which were going to be done ‘Monday’ :0). Then came the main announcement from Theo; the arrival of the #SBS Angels. These are a group of successful business people, who were invested in by Theo via Dragon’s Den, coming together to choose one #SBS winner to receive a £50,000 investment. #SBS winners were invited to pitch to the #SBS Angels for this, in a Dragon’s Den style!

There was so much discussed, and I could go on and on. I think we were all struck by what a good speaker Theo is, and were very impressed with how long he took at the end of the presentation to answer questions from the audience (going way over the allocated time). Questions ranged from sensible to crazy, with continued golden nuggets of business advice from Mr. P throughout. He made one lady’s day with an on-the-spot decision to have the Buying Manager from his most recently acquired business, Robert Dyas, meet her to discuss featuring her British-Made cookware. This was prompted by her telling him she was banging down doors trying to spread the word of her products, but many places didn’t even bother to reply to her. When she said she had felt a bit shy asking a question, he responded with “I know, I noticed you put your hand up about four times and then put it down again”.

After this, we went straight into a huge queue to have our certificates presented and meet Theo. Every lady got out her make-up & mirror! So, here is an unofficial snap of my moment with Mr. P. Of course, Buggie made it into the picture too. Theo was pleased I brought him along!

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We left, Rymans goody bags in hands, feeling buoyed up by being part of such a fantastic group. Members of #SBS have the benefit of advice from all sorts of different business people, from around the country, with expertise in a huge variety of areas. For me, relatively at the beginning of my journey, this is invaluable. The possibility of mentors offering their services to #SBS members is exciting, and this support is something most Small Business owners cannot find. I would advise anyone who has thought about entering #SBS (on a Sunday between 5 – 7.30pm on Twitter) to do it! Have a read of this http://www.theopaphitissbs.com/about/ to find out more. Twitter itself is a great network, and #SBS a wonderful group of people. Long may it continue to grow and inspire people – Thanks Theo!

#SBS Award-winning  http://www.onestopbugshop.co.uk For the most fabulous Bug-Themed gifts, clothes & toys. Bright, fun & funky. Have a buzz around!!

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A Very Special Leopard

Most special toys seems to have been owned from birth, not so ‘Leopard’, the imaginatively-named BFF of my number one son Jack. I do remember the pre-leopard year, when Jack made no particular connection to anything fluffy or cuddly. He had just taken to a floppy lion, and brought him with us to Scotland, when POW, my Auntie gives him a new, spotty friend, and the love-affair starts.

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Floppy lion was unceremoniously dumped in favour of the spotty wonder. He was named ‘Leopard’ straight away. I always thought he may develop a real name as the years went by, but apart from the ‘Munnee’ phase (no idea, don’t ask), he has always been known by this simple moniker. Within a few days we realised, horror of horrors, that leopard was, in fact, a Cheetah! There was no way the name ‘Leopard’ was going anywhere by this time, so it stuck. Leopard has been part of the family ever since. He used to come EVERYWHERE with us. I know what you’re thinking, what if the worst ever happened and Leopard went walkabout? Well we thought that too, as soon as we realised how special he was to Jack. After searching high & low there was no identical leopards/cheetah’s to be found, except in the USA via Ebay for silly money. Jack was given various ‘relatives’ for leopard, which had spots, but were not the same, just in case the main guy ever got lost.

Luckily for us the only time our precious Leopard ever got lost was when he was left at the doctor’s surgery. We retrieved him, and had the talk about not taking him everywhere. I guess he outings have reduced now, 8 years later, but he is still a permanent fixture when Jack is at home. There is no way he can ever be replaced. Gone are the days when I could safely scrub him with antibacterial soap & a nail brush, his fur has gone to nothing on his back. He’s had so many repairs that his waist is tiny and he has no stuffing in his middle, making him a Leopard of two halves. We’re beyond any chance of extra fur or repairs being made, as then Leopard would not be Leopard. So, the solution has been a thick sock, made into a polo-necked jumper for the poor floppy beast!

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Leopard has a very distinct personality (and smell), and I hope he survives for many more years. He features in many pictures, as he’s always around!

If you have, or remember a special toy, or your child does, why not write a little about them and enter this competition? http://tattooedmummy.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/a-special-toy-blog-competition.html

The prize is a stunning Hide-Away Rabbit puppet with mini-beast friends from http://www.onestopbugshop.co.uk. You have until 9pm on 30th November to get your entries in!

So, I made it to the papers over the last couple of weeks! Now looking forward to the #SBS Event 2013 in Birmingham, and meeting some of the lovely people I have met via Twitter, as well as the man himself! Am keeping everything crossed that new winners will get the photo with Theo that last year’s winners got.

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And even better, the kids now think they are famous:

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My neighbours were joking that they now need my autograph. How funny! My new Christmas stock is coming in though and I am very happy to be able to have my favourite caterpillar back in the shop! Watch this space…… :0)

Whirlwind Week!

Well, the launch of the website went well and I have had lots of positive reaction to it. The competition was very well spread and Chris the Caterpillar was sent off to his new owner, so I was a happy bug anyway on Sunday. Once the draw had been taken I flew over to Twitter to send my weekly #SBS tweet to Theo Paphitis. Every Sunday small businesses like me are able to tweet Theo with the hashtag #SBS between 5 and 7.30pm and he then re-tweets his favourite six on the Monday evening at 8pm. I have been entering #SBS for over a year. I have tried funny, silly, serious, straight, topical and rhyming tweets to win Theo’s attention and recognition. I even made a little spoof video of Dragon’s Den called ‘Dragonfly’s Den’ with my family and was brave enough to send it to both him and Deborah Meadon!

So, that done I just carried on as normal. Often on a Monday, depending on how well bedtime goes, I am able to sneak a peek at 8pm over on Twitter and wish my fellow tweeters ‘Good Luck’ for #SBS. This time, however, my son had been on a walk with cubs and was hyper. I was reading to him in his bedroom when the phone rang. I’m afraid I just ignored it thinking I would check later who had called. The it rang again 5 mins later and I immediately panicked! Someone really wanted to get hold of me, so I had to go and check.

On the answerphone was an excited (VERY) Scottish voice. I’m sorry Ally @vital_pa but I couldn’t understand a word first time around ;0) , So, I listened again and it went something like “Hi Siân, It’s Ally Vital PA, YOU’VE WON Get on Twitter now pleeeease” This time I got the ‘you’ve won’ bit and I just went all wobbly, really! Very strange feeling. So, I looked at my phone – over 100 new mentions? That’s not normal, since I had looked about half an hour earlier and only had a couple! At this point my son was out of bed saying “What’s happened, what’s happened?”.

So, on with the computer and there it was, I had won #SBS !! So, the weird wobbly feeling got wobblier as the phone rang AGAIN. This time I had the lovely Kim @Welshroyalcrystal on the other end saying she’d called all of Mevagissey trying to get hold of me! My son immediately assumed Theo was calling me and shouted “Did she win because of Dragonfly’s Den?”. At this point I think I got a little screechy (sorry Kim) with excitement and started thinking of everything I would need to do this week. I did manage to pour myself a glass of red, as my son put ‘Celebrate’ by Kool and the Gang on o his CD player and started bouncing on the bed (yep bedtime was a bit of a disaster that night)! He also asked if I would buy him his own TV now….hmmmmm!

So now I am having a very hectic week. Lots to do, and I keep pinching myself that this has really happened. For some time I’ve been part of a supportive, exclusive group of wonderful businesses on Twitter called #SBSWIW (#SBS Winners in Waiting) who provide encouragement and exchange ideas with each other. I’m now keeping everything crossed for my fellow #SBSWIW to follow me into this new club. I am ‘meeting’ other #SBS winners every day via Twitter and I hope to meet them in reality when we have the #SBS Winners Event in November, when the man himself, Theo Paphitis will be there to offer his advice to us all.

Here’s the tweet that caught his eye:

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I feel like the new website played a part here. I was selling soley on Ebay before that. I don’t know that for sure though, and I am just pleased that Mr. Paphitis decided my shop was worthy of his recognition!

So, if you do are doing #SBS the motto remains, Never Give Up! :0)

 

Exciting Buggie News!

Well, my poor blog has been in hibernation for a while, and I thought now would be the perfect time to come and tell you all my news! The next step of making The One Stop Bug shop has been made. I have spent the last few months making a brand new website, to run alongside the Ebay shop. The difference is that, unlike on Ebay, I now have the freedom to add certain products I could not before! This is my main reason for taking the plunge. All my lovely puppets have come over to the new site, due to changes in the rules of the supplier, and there will soon be more buggie friends there that cannot be sold on Ebay! This should soon become the Bug Shop of my (crazy, ladybird-spotted) dreams!

So, I suddenly had to become familiar with a whole new world of widgets and html, frustrating buttons that won’t go where I put them, and the tiniest little things becoming yet another learning experience for me. Luckily I chose to use a build-it-yourself company, so I have some support along the way (they may be fed up of all my emails by now of course!). The company was recommended to me by lovely, experienced twitter friends and supporters. Again, I have to say, the twitter community is a real support to new businesses and I wouldn’t be without them! The lovely Alison from https://twitter.com/AlisCraftStudio went above and beyond to offer advice (thank you Ali). And Sarah from https://twitter.com/Lilac_Dragonfly  has also helped with advice, being a lot more experienced on site-building than me (Thanks Sarah!)

So, after a while, I realised I had better just make this thing live and carry on tweaking things along the way. I mean, otherwise, would I ever have been happy with it? So, the brand new, bright and bold, labour of love that is http://www.onestopbugshop.co.uk  (phase two of the plan hatched in 2011) is here! To celebrate I’m having a competition to #win this fab caterpillar sockette puppet, who goes by the name of Chris:

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To enter, just find me on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheOneStopBugShop and like the page, then share the competition post, OR just RT my competition posts coming up on twitter https://twitter.com/OneStop_BugShop . The winner is being picked out of a hat tomorrow, Sunday 22nd Sept at 6pm. Good luck!

I am very excited about the new look site, and hope you will love it too! Feedback is very welcome :0)

Gorgeous Grasshoppers & more!

Gorgeous Grasshoppers & more!

Some additions I have not blogged about are the amazing Barefoot toys! Ethically produced in Sri Lanka, handmade from scratch by one person, so each one unique. Cotton, so washable. On the grasshoppers all clothes & wings are removable for more interactive fun! Girl and boy available http://www.onestopbugshop.co.uk

Beautiful Home-Grown Butterflies!

Well, the long school summer holiday is in full swing now, and, like many mums, from the start I had a list of things we could do together to alleviate too many complaints, plus a healthy dose of boredom in there too of course. I won’t start the “in my day….” conversation, but you know what I mean! Just before the holidays started I ‘hatched’ a little plan of product testing at its best. I thought it would be wonderful for my children to experience the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly first hand. So, we opened up our Butterfly Garden to see what this entailed. The kids seemed happy to play with the pop-up mesh habitat we found in the box, while I quickly entered our code into the manufacturer’s website to order our caterpillars!

A few days later a little box was delivered, and inside was a little pot, with five of the tiniest caterpillars I have ever seen inside. I was a bit worried at first because they barely moved, and got very excited when I saw one having a munch of the strange food that is deposited in the bottom of the pot.

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We put the pot on a shelf high enough to deter curious hands, but low enough that everyone could see inside, and waited. After only one week the caterpillars were much more lively and much bigger. Lots of scoffing was going on now and they grew…and grew and grew! A couple of them seemed to be dropping fluffy poo, but it looked a lot like their own body parts, and I think it probably was, as they quickly got much larger and started to move up to the lid of the pot.

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Under the lid, at the top of the pot, is a thin piece of paper which the caterpillars started to hang from. I noticed the first couple hanging there and thought “This is it!” The kids were absolutely enthralled at this point, checking every day for changes, as gradually, all five caterpillars hung upside down and made themselves a chrysalis. We managed to see one actually in progress too. Lot of effort & wriggling ensued, and by the next day the crazy, beautiful, alien-looking chrysalides were all hanging there.

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Now, following the instructions carefully, I transferred the paper to the mesh habitat and attached it near the bottom so that any fallers wouldn’t have far to go. We had one on the floor of the pot already, which I placed on kitchen towel at the bottom of the habitat. Now, for the wait!

Every day we checked, and I believe it was about 10 days before the first one came out. This prompted HUGE excitement in our house, and the first of many arguments about the name of our new, beautiful butterfly. When they are new, the butterflies drop a red liquid, which is called meconium, yes, like babies and their black poo! For the butterflies this is left over after the formation of the wings. It did make their habitat look a little gruesome, like there was blood all over the place, but I guess it’s all part of the experience. As they emerged, one by one, we decorated the habitat with buddleia, and gave them a juicy piece of orange each day. It was fascinating watching them sip at the orange too!

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The very best moment was setting them free though. The older, and I guess more confident ones, flew right up and away without a backward glance ;0) One or two had to be coaxed though.

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One was so sweet, and sat on the childrens’ fingers calmly for ages, before we put him on the buddleia. This was just a magical experience and one which we are sure to repeat! 

 

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Attention Budding Entomologists – Buggie Wonderland Alert!

Today I have finally added a range I have been hankering after for a while and I’m a happy bunny! I love cute & gorgeous gifts based around butterflies, ladybirds and the like, and enjoy selling these, but I know that bugs are also creepy crawlies that scuttle around your garden and provide a great curiosity for little ones too, and I wanted some products to help study these too. Now you can get your bug magnifiers and catchers at The One Stop Bug Shop! I have had this supplier’s catalogue for a while. Luckily I have a son who is slap bang in the middle of my target market, so his opinions were my guideline. He provided me with ticks and crosses next to the products he liked & wasn’t bothered about, and a big ‘I LOVE YOU’ written next to a couple of products too! Here’s a great favourite, the Creature-Peeper, which allows you to safely house the bug and view it from above and below at 3x magnification:

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All of the new products come under the ‘Educational’ category in my shop as they all provide an insight into the life of bugs. You can house ants in a special (non-escape) ‘Anthill’ and watch them create a labyrinth of tunnels and hidey-holes in the special sand provided. You can purchase a butterfly habitat with  all you need to take care of five caterpillars through metamorphosis into beautiful butterflies! These are the products I did the most research on, understandably. I am happy to know that no live creatures come with the kit, these are purchased separately via a coupon in the kit (for an extra shipping charge) and sent directly from the manufacturer, along with the food supply. Phew, I was certainly not going to post caterpillars! I have had lots of people tell me these are amazing kits and fantastic for little ones to watch over the weeks it take for the transformation. Then you can enjoy releasing your butterflies into the wild!

I love these bug goggles too. I know both my children will be ‘seeing like a bug’ for some time to come, that’s for sure. Three fantastic bright colours, and prismatic lenses to show you what it’s like to have compound vision like an insect!

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So, these products have brought balance to the shop! I am certain we shall be examining all sorts of creatures over the summer and learning about them. Fun and learning, what’s not to like?

P.S. The Big ‘I LOVE YOU’ from my son was for this fantastic bug catcher (mums, it’s hands-free – I’m thinking spiders here ;0)  )

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Dragonfly’s Den

Well, here we go, this is the little video my family did to help me with the shop. I even had the guts to send it to @Theopaphitis as my #SBS entry that week, yes,I really did! It has been around Twitter a bit too :0) My kiddies loved doing this and have watched themselves so many times that they can quote back what they said! I have two little budding actors there, or two little show-offs anyway!