The Mella Journal

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  1. Mella Journal January 2021

    Happy New Year! Well….not sure about happy……Lockdown 2021. We are still living with restrictions and looks like we will be for a while. I have tried being optimistic and for the most part I think I have managed it but like everyone I have off days, times when I am finding everything a little bit too much. I’m grateful that my friends and family have managed to stay safe so far but still worry as things can change in an instant.

    Normally I would be just heading home from the trade fair in Glasgow, full of energy, and enthusiasm for the year ahead with a bunch of orders and some new friends but this year it’s a bit different. I’m still trying to muster up some enthusiasm, there are not so many orders but it will be okay. All the lovely shops I supply, with the exception of those on the islands, are all closed and even then those shops are really struggling as people, quite sensibly, are limiting their trips out and about.

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    By now Shetland is usually buzzing with the thought of the Up Helly Aas that will take place all over the islands, sadly not this year. I think we will get the fire pit out when it’s our turn and have a little fire celebration of our own.  I’m guessing mostly everyone reading this will know what Up Helly Aa is, if you don’t, well it’s a Viking fire festival with lots of Vikings, burning boats, parades in the streets, all night fiestas and much more. I have to admit that I don’t really get involved, if it’s a nice night I will try and go and see the procession and galley burning at the festivals we have here in Unst (there are two in Unst in Uyeas

    ound and Norwick) but I don’t take part really. There are 12 festivals which take place from January to March. The largest festival takes place in Lerwick on the last Tuesday in January and really is an amazing thing to see.  The two festivals in Unst take place two weeks apart in February.

    Okay that’s enough about Up Helly Aa but it is an important part of Shetland life and is seen as the light which gets us through the dark winter. This lockdown is proving to be so much more difficult for so many people this time round. The wild winter weather, the shorter days (although I see a difference in the length of the days already) and not being able to socialise and to have something as bright and warm as Up Helly Aa to look forward to is making things see extra bleak. After all the whole idea of Up Helly Aa is heralding the return of the sun…..it will come back and things will get better.

    I am a great believer in writing down your thoughts and ideas and even though I don’t know when life will return to normal I have been busy writing lists with plans and ideas for the year ahead. I asked on Instagram a few weeks ago what you all thought about the idea of a soap and candle subscription. I had some great feedback and I am busy working away in the background trying to put it all together. If you are reading this and have some ideas you’d like to share let me know or if you’d like to be the first to know about it when it starts to finally come together, follow Mella Handmade Soap on Facebook and Instagram and sign up for Mella updates on the website. I promise not to spam you with lots of emails and your details are completely safe and won’t be shared with anyone. It’s all very exciting and I think you are going to LOVE it.

    Anyway…….to help us to get into the new year and to plan for the year ahead I have put together a mini mindfulness gift kit, to gift yourself or for a friend. It includes a lovely notebook from Cairney Ivy, a small one-woman

    20210121_162811business based here in Shetland, the all important Muji pen (it's a writing game changer), a delicious COCO Chocolatier chocolate bar, a Mella soap (with serious virus busting properties) and a Mella candle to create the perfect relaxed and coorie atmosphere. You can add a gorgeous card designed by Juniper Press, another one-woman business, from Aberdeen. Write down your plans, ideas, ambitions and dreams for 2021…….it’s good to dream, it will get better. They are just £20 for the kit and the card can be added for just an extra £3. There’s only a limited number available so get in there!


     
    Right, I will go for now………….stay safe, keep washing your hands and thank you for reading and keep dreaming…….we’re nearly at the end of this.

    Mel

  2. Mella Journal - December 2020

    Well…..we’ve just about made it to the end of the worst year ever. Well done! It’s not been an easy year for anyone. I’d love to say a HUGE BIG thank you to everyone who has supported Mella Handmade Soap this year and I hope you continue to follow the Mella journey next year too. I have some grand plans and hopefully enough energy to see them through.

    I know I seem to go on and on about it but the #shopsmall and #shoplocal message seems to have really struck a cord with people and the support that small business has received has been AMAZING! Some of you may know that I work in a local shop as well as running my own business and that I had hoped to start working for myself full time this year but Covid had other ideas. Working in the community and feeling genuinely helpful, as people felt that they couldn’t leave their homes and needed their shopping done and delivered has been one of the highlights of this horrible year. The local shops of Unst – H. Henderson, Skibhoul Stores and The Final Checkout really stepped up, as did a mini army of volunteers who helped pack shopping and delivered boxes all over the island. The posties and Jim who delivers the parcels all did a fantastic job too. It’s been a real community effort that we have seen reach a new level.

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    Hard at work at H. Henderson in Unst - Also known as Ethel's!

    So this month I’d like to highlight a few more local heroes who have adapted and changed their businesses to really serve their communities.

    The Pittenweem Hub, Fife

    The Pittenweem Hub is a pharmacy, post office and shop which serves the lovely little town of Pittenweem in the East Neuk of Fife.  They have offered home deliveries, provided a vital pharmacy and advice service, had a brilliant list of what stock was available listed on the door…..remember that time when we couldn’t find sanitizer, thermometers and toilet roll? We seem to have found ourselves in the same situation....crazy times indeed. They have such cheerful staff and kept everyone topped up with bread milk and if you needed it, wine and gin.

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    The one-stop-shop for all your needs in Pittenweem, a real community asset.

    Hammerton Store, Aberdeen

    Susan and her team at Hammerton Store are massive supporters of Scottish produce, crafts and gifts. She mobilised her team and adapted Hammerton Store to cope with every bump in the road and change in government in guidelines, including an extra Aberdeen lockdown just as everyone else was enjoying a little bit of normality in the summer. Each day they serve up delicious lunchtime treats and just now a hamper wrapping service for perfect Christmas gift is in full swing…….makes me wish I had the Hammerton Store on my doorstep……lucky folks of Aberdeen!

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    Hammerton Store on Great Western Road, Aberdeen.

    Kitschnbake, Newport-on-Tay, Fife

    If the daily scones on the wall post on Instagram doesn’t cheer you up, nothing will! MJ, Charmaine and the Kitschnbake team have really adapted to the covid conventions. As the space for eating inside is too small they have changed that area into a gorgeous shop, showcasing the best in Scottish craft and design, including a range of candles made by Mella especially for them! I bought some lovely cards when I visited there in August…..and the scones, so delicious…..you’ll never want a boring old plain scone again!

    Amy Britton Accessories, Stirling

    Amy really has adapted and changed her business to cope with what the pandemic has thrown at us. She has a range of stunning Harris tweed purses, bags, glasses cases and more and in the middle of everything designed and made some exclusive products for Mella Handmade Soap using some stunning Shetland Tweed woven on the island of Yell. Not only that she quickly looked at how she could change her business to start producing face coverings as it became pretty clear that they would soon become a part of our lives. She is now making masks to add to her own range, for my business as well as Emma Ball and Sandra Vick, plus others.

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     Not doing a great job of modelling an Emma Ball face mask at Amy's studio in Stirling.

    Teagreen Online Marketplace

    One of the best markets I was able to attend last year was organised by Teagreen Events at The Bowhouse just outside St Monans in Fife. It was such a fantastic day with so many beautiful things to buy, delicious food and drink to share over Christmas. The thought of not being able to go again this year was pretty sad but Joanne MacFadyen who organises the craft markets did THE most fantastic job of putting the whole thing online. I was a bit sceptical at first, I mean how can an online event ever replace the real thing? Well, in truth it can’t but Joanne’s efforts were so impressive and I took part in three online events, each better than the one before! She managed to create a market atmosphere online….how did she do that?! She put together makers and designers from all over the country who offered a wonderful range of handmade products and gifts. I have discovered lots of new makers just by taking part and did much of my Christmas shopping at the online market too. So just like the real thing…..I spent lots of money on my fellow stall holders tables and have got lots of gifts, some of which may or may not be for me!

    Unst Leisure Centre, Baltasound

    When Swimming pools and fitness centres were forced to close that had a massive impact for so many people. Our leisure centre here in Unst is not just a place for taking exercise it’s meeting place and social hub for all ages. Faye Cox put many of the fitness classes online and kept everyone active and motivated. Her positive and enthusiastic nature kept everyone going and now the centre is open again it’s welcoming new people and people who may have gotten out of the way of going to the leisure centre back as we have all realised how important exercise and social interaction is to our physical and mental wellbeing.

    There are so many other small businesses I could mention, everyone has made the biggest effort. Hopefully 2021 will bring us some better times and that everyone will remember what their local shops and business have done to help their communities.

    **I wrote this last week before the latest announcements from the UK and Scottish governments and I wondered if I should have re-written the whole thing. Now many of these places are forced to close for three weeks and perhaps longer. This year really is the year that keeps on giving us more bad stuff to deal with. But as the image below says…..Life is Tough but so ARE you!**

     

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    Gorgeous card designed and made by Juniper Press of Aberdeen. Available on my website with a soap and candle of your choice.

    I can’t thank everyone enough for supporting my business this year, for reading my blog, liking my social media posts, it all means so much.

    THANK YOU!

    Have a Merry Christmas and here's to a better 2021,

    Mel x