• The DO Workshop. 10 pieces of farm-fresh small business wisdom.

    Do One Thing Well - The Bathory

    I’m sitting in an old whitewashed barn flooded with sunlight. Every so often a chirping swallow will swoop through the open arches, setting the stones echoing. Above my head, a dark cavity under the roof’s beams is home to a barn owl and owlet. Donkeys bray outside. Sheep bleat. Bluebottles buzz in drowsy circles. It is a perfect summer’s day.

    I’m with fifteen other people, seated around two long tables held together with paper and tape, laden with fresh coffee, home baking and Sharpies. Most of us have travelled many miles to be here. We’re listening intently, scribbling furiously.

    This is David Hieatt’s Do Workshop. And it was bloody brilliant.

    Ten days ago I travelled from The Bathory HQ to west Wales in search of some inspiration. A tube ride, two trains, a bus, a taxi, and seven hours later, I arrived in Cardigan just as the sun was going down. Then I travelled a little bit further until I hit the sea.

    moon

    The following day I found my way to the beautiful Do Farm, tucked away outside the town, overlooking rolling countryside. It’s a storybook farm, worthy of Enid Blyton – golden hay bales, a friendly farm dog, flowers blooming everywhere. Home to the Hieatts – of Hiut Denim, the DO Lectures and The 25 Mile — I’d challenge anyone to leave it uninspired.

    DO Farm - The Bathory

    I’m a longtime fan of David Hieatt’s “do one thing well” approach to business. His Hiut Denim brand is on a mission to get 400 people their jobs back in Cardigan – once the jeans manufacturing capital of the UK. The DO Lectures brings together incredible people to share their stories and break bread under the stars. The 25 Mile is all about eating local and championing small producers.

    The DO workshop distills the spirit of DO into eight jam-packed hours of practical advice and unapologetic passion. My fellow attendees were all (lovely) entrepreneurs at various stages – some with products or businesses (from proper baked beans, to ethically made custom tees), some with ideas. I think we all left galvanised and encouraged, with a little more fire in our bellies.

    Laura Grace - The Bathory - DO Workshop

    For me, it was one of those experiences where I felt I was being spoken to directly. You know those moments — when you hear something you already knew, but needed to hear someone else confirm or validate. I filled a notebook from cover to cover with notes. My head has been spinning a little ever since.

    This is my attempt to pin down a few insights that particularly stuck with me. Here goes:

    1. There’s never a right time to start.

    Chase the work - Do Workshop - The Bathory

    Start now. Even if you don’t think you’re ready. The world is full of people with great ideas for businesses and unfinished novels (mine included). Genius is not coming up with an idea, it’s making it happen. And chase the work, the kind of work you want to do, not the money. The thing that will keep you going is that the work matters to you.

    Even if you’re at the bottom of the world that matters to you most, that’s ok. That’s better than being at the top of the wrong mountain.

    And remember — sane people quit. You need a little bit of crazy to keep going.

    2. You are your brand.

    Details - Do Workshop - The Bathory

    This is the secret to branding a small business. You are the essence of your brand. The company you create is going to be a version of you. It’s the little things, the details, that make you stand out.

    Innocent’s tone of voice didn’t come from the marketing department, it’s just how creative director Dan Germain speaks. Jake Burton invented a sport, and Burton Snowboards is unmistakably a brand made by and for people who feel most at home on the mountain.

    The trick to being so close to your brand, says David, is to learn how to take emotion out of decision-making. Cultivate “cold passion”, and remember your biggest loyalty is to your business.

    3. Define your purpose.

    Do Workshop - Purpose - The Bathory

    You should watch this video. Simon Sinek explains his idea of “the Golden Circle” – in essence, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

    “The best companies,” says David, “are a tool with a purpose, a tool to change something.” Businesses can often do more than individuals to change things. If your intent from the beginning is to use your business to change something, it’s a huge multiplier of energy. It gives you focus.

    Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard uses his business as a tool to educate people about the environment. David Hieatt wants to get his town making jeans again. Jake Burton asks himself, “Can I spend 100 days on the mountain?” That’s his idea of success.

    Find your why. And remember that being small is an advantage here — the Goliath in your market has probably forgotten why they’re in business.

    4. Find your 1,000 true fans.

    1000 true fans

    You might have heard this one before. It’s a concept that originally came from the music industry; the idea being that if you have 1,000 true fans — people who will buy anything you put out there — you can quit your day job.

    Your job isn’t just making your product. It’s (mostly) about finding your 1,000 true fans. The people who will tell your story for you. And it’s engagement, not numbers, that is important. David said he realised that he didn’t just have a jeans factory, he needed to have a content factory as well. The content you create is for those true fans, it’s what keeps them coming back to your product.

    Jeff Johnson of Nike wrote letters to athletes asking how their training was going, enclosing a pair of sneakers for them to try. Fan-building is the time to do unscalable things.

    5. There are no shortcuts.

    Do farm | Do workshop

    Slowly does it. There are very few overnight successes. Dyson went through 5,127 iterations before he released his first vacuum cleaner. In 1995, David and Clare Hieatt started howies; in 2001, they paid themselves their first pay cheque.

    Growth takes time. You put the potato in the ground, and there’s a period when nothing happens. “Analogue” businesses tend to need to grow slower than digital ones – cash flow, stock control, market penetration is a slower burn. Digital products are different – being first usually matters. It’s tough being the second Airbnb.

    Howies grew too fast for David and Clare and they sold to Timberland in 2006. David asked Yvon Chouinard how he managed to hold onto Patagonia. “Two re-mortgages,” was the answer, “ and fifty years hard work.”

    There is no magic bullet, despite what all those growthhackers might tell you. It’s just hard work.

    I think I’ll leave it there. But here’s a few bitesized notes that can probably speak for themselves:

    6. The timeliness of your idea really matters. Don’t fish where there is no fish.

    7. Stay away from the things you don’t do well.

    8. ASK. As Michael Jordan said: “I miss 100% of the shots I don’t take”.

    9. Work smarter than everybody else, not longer.

    10. Investors mostly back people, not ideas. But first you need to back yourself.

    You should probably just go to David’s next workshop. It’s in London, on Friday, September 12 2014. Less braying donkeys, I’m imagining, but just as much inspiration.

    Do workshop - The Bathory

    “I think you probably already have all the answers,” David said to us as the day drew to a close. “I think you’ve come today looking for a nudge.”

    Sometimes all you need is a nudge.

    Laura x

  • It’s National Nude Day. Here’s 10 Things To Do Naked (excluding that one)

    National Nude Day - Let's Get Naked - The Bathory

    Are you wearing clothes right now? Well, it’s not too late to change that. Today is National Nude Day and skin is definitely in. So, don’t be shy, dear reader. Let’s get naked…

    Confused? Well, every July 14th nudists of the world encourage us to throw caution – and clothing – to the wind, and indulge in a little quality time au natural. In truth, it’s probably just another of those endless themed days dreamed up by Machiavellian marketers the world over. But as a professional taker-of-baths, I’m all for a bit of nudity promotion – everything’s a bit more fun in your birthday suit (except perhaps snowboarding, or dinner with the in-laws…).

    In that spirit, I’ve collected some naked inspiration for you! You’re very welcome. (I’ve excluded the obvious, so it’s entirely Safe For Work.) I invite you to de-robe, grab an iced beverage, and peruse my Top 10 Not-Sexy Things To Do Naked

    1. Yoga

    Naked yoga is an ancient practice, but these days it’s not just for bearded hippies. Group (and even co-ed) classes are popping up all over the US and Europe. You might find private practice a better bet – it’s a great way to reach acceptance of body imperfections and feel a bit like a warrior goddess/god. Here’s my favourite yoga channel on YouTube.

    2. Sleep

    When Marilyn Monroe was asked what she wore to bed she replied, “Chanel No. 5”. Whether you have company or not, sleeping sans-PJs is delightful. After a hot, fragrant bath, slipping naked between cool, freshly laundered cotton sheets is one of life’s great pleasures.

    3. Swim

    Ah, skinny-dipping. The stuff of bucket lists and #YOLO proponents. This Gawker article on skinny-dipping etiquette is a useful primer for both the brave and the bashful. Key takeaways: no ogling, and if you’re going to be the dick who steals your friends’ clothes, leave them their shoes.

    4. Dance

    Home alone? Strip off, draw your curtains, crank up some choons, and dance like nobody’s watching. You’ll feel silly and liberated in equal measure. Put off by all that jiggling? Try a “dancing in the dark” class – a (sober, and clothed) way to jump around with a bunch of strangers inhibition-free.

    5. Sauna

    My European friends are highly bemused by the modesty we Brits display in saunas. For the shy, booking a private sauna for a bit of steamy toxin-releasing relaxation is a great way to spend a half hour. Next week I’m off to London’s only traditional Finnish sauna – I will report back soon!

    6. Cycle

    I can’t say I’ve tried this myself, but for the extra-brave/slightly-mad, the World Naked Bike Rides do look hilarious. You’ll have to wait until next year to join one of the official rides, and I’d recommend you keep some Sudocreme or similar on hand, saddle sores are not fun!

    7. Sunbathe

    “What a difference there is between wearing even the skimpiest bathing-suit and wearing nothing! After a few minutes I seemed to live in every inch of my body as fully as I usually do in my head and my hands and my heart…The warmth of the sun felt like enormous hands pressing gently on me, the flutter of the air was like delicate fingers.”

    - Cassandra, sunbathing naked in Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle

    Sunbathing naked is a glorious thing. Choose a private spot, be extra-liberal with the sunscreen, and enjoy feeling utterly liberated, in a Garden of Eden kind of way…

    8. Pamper

    A naked pamper night is always a lovely night in. I like to start with some dry brushing, followed by exfoliating in a hot bath. I’ll then draw the curtains, light candles and get down to some serious moisturising. The Body Shop’s gorgeous body butters are my current fave – slather generously from top to toe, then walk/dance around naked to let it absorb.

    9. Massage

    If you want to feel relaxed, sometimes only a massage will do. For me, booking a professional massage (hot stone is my fave) is an annual indulgence, but I think I need to make it more of a regular thing. If you have a willing amateur to hand, I recommend adding a few drops of essential oil (Ylang Ylang is perfect) to sweet almond oil for a DIY treat.

    10. Bath

    Well, I couldn’t leave this one out. If the above doesn’t appeal, I recommend lighting some candles, running a hot bath, and enjoying the best time you can have naked outside of the bedroom (unless you have a bathtub in your bedroom – if so, I’m extremely jealous). Because a hot bath solves just about anything.

    Have I missed any naked activities you enjoy…? Except for the obvious guys, except for the obvious.

    Laura x

  • How to run a cosmetics startup. (A few lessons from the trenches…)

    The Bathory - Our Values

    Tomorrow marks 4 weeks since The Bathory opened its (virtual) doors to bath lovers across the world. We’ve had SO much lovely feedback and happy bathing stories from our first customers, it’s been tremendously exciting and encouraging. Thank you to all of you who have invented soaks, emailed, tweeted, Instagrammed and everything else!

    I feel like I’ve already learned loads in the first weeks of business. Here’s a few first reflections I wanted to share:

    Reflection No. 1: Get your hands dirty

    When I first started talking to people in the cosmetics industry about The Bathory, the advice I heard again and again was to outsource everything from the get-go. Manufacturing, formulation, procurement, fulfilment, distribution – the general sense was “you would be crazy to try any of these things”.

    But we’ve done them all. Which is probably crazy, but I also think it’s important.

    If you’re running a startup, I think you need to understand every facet of it. And the best way to do that is to begin by doing as much as you can yourself. By getting your hands dirty.

    When you’ve figured out how something works at a small level, you can start to plan for growth armed with invaluable knowledge, and work out the most efficient way to scale.

    What this meant for me, was that I decided to learn as much as possible, and to learn by doing. From taking a course in cosmetic legislation so I could do all our (mountains of) legal paperwork; to designing a clickable prototype myself; to figuring out how to mix big batches of salts in our lovely yellow cement mixer; to hand-labelling every jar we’ve sold.

    Reflection No. 2: Imagine every customer is your mum

    The Bathory - SootheI want to make sure that every single product we sell is absolutely exemplary. I’m extremely passionate about this – every label should be as straight as possible. Every soak should have been blended thoroughly. Every jar should be polished and spotless. (I’m one of those indefatigably punctilious types. It’s kind of a problem.)

    With a big backlog of orders to get through, it can be tempting to let quality drop – but I really want The Bathory to be a business that treats every customer with gratitude, respect and care. So, when I’m mixing a soak or responding to a customer query, I try to keep in mind – is this good enough for my mum?

    I know. It’s a bit silly. But I’ve found it roots actions in reality – a necessary check when you’re not interacting with customers face-to-face.

    Reflection No. 3: The extra mile is worth the walk

    The other week I delivered a bath soak to a blogger’s hotel after a PayPal error meant it missed a shipping deadline. After a long day at the office, battling my way past tourists in Mayfair, rain The Bathory - Laura Gracepouring down, I did question the logic of my “get stuck in” strategy.

    But I also knew it was my responsibility, and my choice, to fix that issue. It was actually pretty satisfying to have gone that extra mile. (And she LOVED her soak.)

    The next step in growing The Bathory? Making myself entirely dispensable. Delegating, training, automating, scaling. All that sensible stuff.

    But I think starting on the ground makes a lot of sense: understanding a business deeply; caring about the details.

    Plus – how often do you get to play with a cement mixer in the office? Exactly.

    Laura x

    (A version of this post was original published on the Mint Digital blog.)

  • The Bathory’s shiny new Gift Certificates – just in time for Mother’s Day!

    The Bathory - Gift Certificate

    We’re delighted to show you our lovely new gift certificates! Now you can give a lucky someone the best bath of their life, and let them have the joy of inventing their soak themselves.

    Could there be a more perfect Mother’s Day gift? We don’t think so.

    US Mother’s Day is nearly upon us (next Sunday!) and to celebrate we have printed 100 beautiful gift certificates for The Bathory that we will post direct to your deserving Moms.

    Each certificate costs $35 – the price of one soak and worldwide postage – and is valid for 12 months. They’re printed on nicely chunky card, and we carefully write your “to” and “from” deets by hand.

    Want one? All you need to do is email us at hello@thebathory.com, and we’ll sort you out!

    You need to order by midnight (PST) on Thursday 1st May to ensure delivery in time for Mother’s Day. If you order after that, we can send you an almost-as-lovely email certificate, that you can print out or email to Mom!

    Any questions? Drop us a line or tweet us @TheBathoryHQ.

    (Gift certificates will be available from thebathory.com soon – this is just a sneak preview.)

  • Introducing: The Bathory

    The team, laughing in an entirely natural way.

    The team, laughing in an entirely natural way.

    And… we’re live! I’m so delighted to introduce The Bathory, for all your bespoke bathing needs… Hooray!

    If you’ve followed any of my previous posts, you’ll know The Bathory has been something of a labour of love. Its also a bit of a paradox:

    A digital product that encourages you to unplug. A cosmetics brand developed by a company better known for our decidedly digital ventures.

    The Bathory site helps you invent a customised bath soak, to fit your mood perfectly. Our dedicated factory is uniquely set up to hand-blend your inventions in bespoke batches of one.

    factory

    It has been a complex undertaking. As we quickly realised, the cosmetics industry just isn’t equipped to create products on demand – we needed to tackle manufacturing in a completely different way if we were going to offer customisation. After months of prototyping, wrestling with cosmetics legislation and testing hundreds of formulations, we’re really excited to see what people think.

    Here’s how it works:

    1. You dig around in our virtual apothecary and create a bathtime treat to help you switch off / sleep better / feel amazing.
    2. We expertly blend it in our fragrant factory-of-dreams, deep in the English countryside.
    3. We dispatch within 48 hours. You get naked. Breathe. Bask. Let the world fade away.

    Want to feel relaxed, revived, inspired, sexy? There’s a soak for that. We like to think of it as “aromatherapy for people who are a bit dubious about aromatherapy”.

    The Bathory has been developed with extensive feedback from bath fans – “The League of Extraordinary Bathers” is a testing panel of “beta bathers” who have tried every ingredient prior to launch. So you can be sure your invention will smell and feel amazing.

    Alright then, let’s get naked: www.thebathory.com

    (A version of this post was published on the Mint Digital blog earlier today.)

  • Real artists ship. (Some reflections on business, and making things.)

    Me outside The Bathory's factory. Thinking thoughts.

    Me at The Bathory factory. Thinking thoughts.


    We’re achingly close to launching The Bathory. (Join The League of Extraordinary Bathers to be among our first beta bathers!) In the run-up to launch, I’ve been jotting down some personal reflections on our process and journey so far…

    Last autumn I was interviewed by The Writing Platform about a fiction project, and asked what I was working on next. Here’s my reply:

    I’m delving into something a little different at the moment – a line of bath products (really) that have been developed around the idea of brand storytelling as non-linear narrative, products that tell a story and offer a shared sensory experience.

    Behind the hyperbole, I was trying to connect two sides of my life: work (digital product adventures by day) and play (writing, making and arts-bothering by night).

    Six months later, The Bathory is the result of this ambition. Its name (murderous countesses aside) is a felicitous portmanteau of baths, apothecaries and stories.

    It has been something of a labour of love.

    A confession

    I’ve come at the process of building a business from quite a different angle to many of my colleagues at Mint. Here’s my confession:

    I’m interested in approaching business as an artist.

    I know. That sounds a little pretentious. A little self-important. But what I mean is:

    I’m interested in making a product in the same spirit as I would write a story, create a game or develop an arts event. These are all things I spend my time on outside my work at Mint.

    Thinking about The Bathory last year, I decided that if I (personally – these are not directives I think would apply to everyone) was going to build a business, it would have be something I cared about in the same way. Something I’d happily choose to spend my ‘free’ time on.

    I came up with two rules, that I keep coming back to. They’re very simple, but they have been useful principles in making choices as the business developed:

    1. Make something I love

    When I was at university, I could never quite understand why people studied “Business”. To me, an ambition to be “in business” didn’t really mean anything. (Beyond, well, making money. Which I’m certainly not against.)

    But I’m not interested in entrepreneurialism for its own sake. I want to be in the business of making something I love.

    Something specific. Not just something that fills a market gap I have identified, or solves an abstract problem I haven’t experienced myself. Something I love enough to spend a hell of a lot of time thinking about and talking to people about.

    In my writing life, the stories I write are the ones I can’t get out of my head, the ones that demand to be written. If I’m going to create a business, or make a product, I think it needs to come from the same place.

    2. Make something I want to use

    When I started thinking about branding The Bathory, one of the things holding me back for a while was trying to make assumptions about my future customers based on faceless personas. (“Claire is 33, works in PR and shops at Space NK and FeelUnique”; “Fred is a 28 year old Brooklyn-based graphic designer who likes bar soap from Lush.” Gah.)

    But when I write a story, I’m really first-and-foremost writing for myself. I don’t try and make assumptions about what people “want” to read, or look at genre trends or target markets. I refine based on feedback, I re-draft exhaustively, I pitch strategically; but that comes afterwards. I start with play – moving things around, following a thread, shaping a shadow of an idea into something more defined.

    At this stage, I’m not thinking about solving a problem, or about intrinsic usefulness. I just want to make something I’m proud of. Something I’d want to read or use or be part of.

    The Bathory: For bath people, by bath people.

    Quotes I live by.

    Quotes I live by.

    In product development, we talk a lot about delighting our customers, but perhaps we should start with delighting ourselves?

    If you love it, people a bit like you might love it. If you love it, you’re going to want to tell people about it. People respond to genuine passion. (And marketing your product becomes a whole lot more fun.)

    I’ve been very inspired by Hiut Denim lately. David Hieatt talks a lot about making something you love, for people you love. His jeans are specifically for creative people who wear jeans to the office. People rather like him.

    That resonates with me. I like the idea of creating a business that authentically empathises with its customers. Because when you decide to make a product, you also get to decide who you’re making your product for.

    And maybe they’re creatively inclined people who enjoy daydreaming in baths. People a bit like me.

    Laura x

  • Building The Bathory. (Update! With many shiny pictures!)

    The Bathory HQ. We like sticking things to walls.

    The Bathory HQ. We like sticking things to walls.

    Hello! Gosh, it has been a month since my last post (*hangs head*). I’ve always been an all-or-nothing kind of blogger – frenzied activity followed by tumbleweed-strewn post-less droughts. Must do better.

    Still, we have been rather busy. The Bathory team is now four-strong (holla Kim, Brad and Will!) and working full steam ahead to launch in the next six weeks. Yes. For reals. No carved-in-stone launch date at this stage, but we’re pretty confident that we’ll be ready to ship by the beginning of April. (As I type this, all I can hear is dum dum duuuuuum and ominous thunderclaps…)

    I’m going to be sharing sneak-peeks and assorted insights on this blog as we move towards launch. To kick that off, here’s what we’ve been up to over the last few weeks…

    Branding

    We kicked off an intense week of branding focus by getting back to basics and defining our brand values, our personality and style. To prep for this, I enjoyed reading Simon Middleton’s Build a Brand in 30 Days and I loved Aaron Walter’s Designing for Emotion.

    The Bathory - values

    The Bathory - brand values

    I did a lot of thinking around the difference between features and experience, tools and results. Is our product about empowering people to create the perfect bath product for them, or about the end experience of that amazing candlelit bath? (Conclusion: both, in our brand’s case they’re crucially linked.)

    The Bathory - Relaxation - Benedict Cumberbatch

    A disturbing peek into my mind…

    Packaging

    Kim and I were focused on getting the packaging right first (as it’s such an important part of a cosmetics brand), with the idea that the visual design of the Bathory website would be informed by this direction. We tested a bunch of concepts on a lovely panel of League of Extraordinary Bathers members (thanks Elizabeth, Claire and Holly!) and pitched our final designs back to some folks at Mint.

    The Bathory - sketches

    So much sketchin’

    The Bathory - label - concept

    Annotatin’

    I’m going to keep the final designs under wraps for the moment, but we’ll be unveiling them soon

    Building

    After our brand intensive, we headed straight into a focused build week, roughly organised in the spirit of Mint’s 4 Days To Launch rapid prototyping service. Which basically involves getting off-site, making lots of fast decisions and drinking too much coffee.

    These were our objectives:

    The Bathory - Build - Lean Startup

    We did a lot of sticking things to walls, which certainly makes me feel like progress is happening:

    The Bathory - Building - Prototyping

    This is apparently how I casually pose while looking at walls.

    We moved location to my flat, and stuck more things on walls. If you look closely you can see all our secrets…

    The Bathory - prototype

    We managed to define our MVP pretty quickly, which was terrific, and just about managed to retain our sanity while working at such close quarters for so long. We then all trooped off to Bournemouth for Mint’s annual retreat, a hack-a-thon of sorts, fuelled by fine dining and a bar that never closes.

    While there, I managed to take lots of:

    Baths

    The Bathory - bathtime with Yorrick the Duck

    All in the name of duty. And we even squeezed in a Team Bathory photoshoot in a gorgeous claw-foot tub (nakedness was optional). More on that soon.

    Until next time, here’s a tantalising glimpse of our launch product, coming soon to a bathtub near you…

    The Bathory - Coming Soon

    Laura x

  • Oh, Hello 2014

    The Bathory - bath product sample unboxing

    First things first – Happy New Year! (I know, that’s getting old now, isn’t it?) I hope your 2014 is filled with many good things and many hot baths.

    And 2014 means – The Bathory launches very soon! A tentative date is pencilled in our calendars, although much depends on printer and supplier lead times and all that boring stuff. But rest assured – it’s all happening.

    The picture above is a sneak peek into one of our Christmas deliveries. This invention was created by the lovely Holly and includes Frankincense (v seasonal), Rosemary (one of the most ancient oils) and Ylang Ylang (the sexy oil, strewn on the beds of newlyweds in its native Indonesia). Glorious.

    Want one of your own? Well, if you’re a member of The League of Extraordinary Bathers, you should have received a wee email this week, announcing the release of our latest batch of sample inventions…

    This time, we’re letting League members dig around The Bathory’s (virtual) storecupboard of salts, minerals and essential oils to create their own personalised bath soak. Want to feel energised or relaxed? Focused or inspired? There’s an oil for that.

    We like to think of it as “aromatherapy for people who feel a bit skeptical about the whole aromatherapy thing”. We’re working on a catchier tagline.

    High fives to those of you who got back to us in time to create your own bespoke bath soak this week, and commiserations if you didn’t – there will be more opportunities, fear not.

    If you’re not a League member already, sign up here!

    Laura x

  • Merry Christmas! (& first samples shipped – hooray!)

    Our latest sample blends, looking all sexy.

    Our latest sample blends, looking all sexy.

    Just a quick post to wish you the merriest of Christmases! I hope your festive season is full of good cheer and glad tidings and, of course, many hot baths.

    And as if that wasn’t enough to get excited about, I’m also delighted to have shipped the first batch of our League of Extraordinary Bathers samples, don’t they look nice? For the first round of The Bathory‘s aromatic bathtime experiments, we invited a small group of bath lovers to create their own essential oil blend to be made up into perfectly balanced bath salt concoctions. We hope you enjoy them!

    The Boxes - The Bathory - The League of Extraordinary Bathers

    All wrapped up and ready to go!

    In the new year, we’ll have lots more inventions ready to be shipped – so don’t worry if you missed out on the first batch. Our samples come wrapped up with a few little surprises, and the string/tape packaging combo has been designed to allow you to unbox your sample in a jiffy. Just tug the string, and it opens like magic! Here’s how it works:

    Unboxing The League of Extraordinary Bathers Samples

    So, have a wonderful Christmas, and a splendid New Year! We can’t wait to launch The Bathory in 2014, it’s going to be quite the adventure…

    Laura x

  • No-Video November. Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the quiet.

    Reading: It's like TV in your brain!

    Reading: It’s like TV in your brain!

    This November I decided to give up watching videos for 30 days.

    No Netflix, no YouTube, no TV, no Maru. I dubbed this “No-Video November” or “NoVember” for short. This is pretty much my favourite joke ever.

    So, why no video?

    Well, don’t get me wrong, the magic of moving pictures is a huge part of my life. I’ve worked in film and TV for years. And, you know, I love watching stuff. Video = a good thing.

    But. You can have too much of a good thing. And I was beginning to feel the effects of all those Netflix marathons and the lure of my constantly-replenishing YouTube subscriptions inbox.

    Now, The Bathory is all about switching off – making time for simple pleasures, giving yourself some head-space at the end of a busy day. Thinking about this prompted me to look at the way defaulting to video-watching – over dinner, after work, at the weekends – was impacting my life.

    To put it simply – I just wasn’t reading enough. Or listening to music enough. Or just, well, not staring at a screen enough. It’s not that I plan to stop watching TV altogether. I’m not crazy. But I thought a detox was in order. Plus, I was interested to see how I filled my time…

    And so, No-Video November became A Thing.

    Some background: I’m partial to a challenge. I’ve had a a couple of NaNoWriMo fails, a self-imposed Vegan Week (total fail – I mean, ice cream isn’t vegan?), many a 750words.com stretch, and, you know, every diet plan ever.

    For me, the real lessons are always in the attempt. So here’s a few reflections on this experiment:

    1. Your imagination > video. I spent a lot of November with my nose in some amazing novels. In fact, I managed to get through seven of them in four weeks. (Favourites: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson; Life After Life by Kate Atkinson) It’s like TV – in your head!
    2. Allowing yourself some switch-off time means your mind can get busy cooking up new ideas. I wrote more in November than I have done all year. It felt amazing.
    3. I really do love Radio 4. And Radiolab.
    4. Silence is underrated. This book says more about that than I ever could.
    5. Video is pretty unavoidable. My one hiccup was caving to the impulse to watch Lily Allen’s Hard Out Here, after all the hoo-hah on Twitter. I know. Much shame.

    With November over, I’m back to catching up on Homeland and wincing at that Kanye West video my eyes just can’t un-see. I missed video, and it’s good to have it back.

    But I’ll be exercising a little more moderation. And letting my mind wander a bit more, giving my eyes a rest every now and then. More baths, in other words. More books. More getting out and enjoying the big wide world.

    We’ll see how that goes.