Author Archives: daniellesdives

About daniellesdives

diving enthusiast

Tagua Nut Jewelry fashion alert!

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Wheweee it has been a super busy day! You know eco friendly and eco fashion jewelry is all the rage right now on the runways….today Scentsations just got another hot and huge shipment of tagua nut bracelets, rings and necklaces from Ecuador. Plus we have just a couple days left of our SUMMERSTOCK Sale, where all jewelry is 25% off. You won’t find better prices, better colors or better selection all in one place! Bracelets start at $15.99 and on sale that is just $11.99…stock up today. These are VERY HOT and fly out of the store quick. They make the perfect gift for bridal party attendees, eco friendly, and trendy fashionistas of all ages.
See what just arrived…

New Bella Taylor quilted Handbag delivery!

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As part of our continuing Summerstock sale where everything storewide is 25-50% off, I am excited to say we just received a hug delivery of quilted handbags from Bella Taylor and yes…it is all 25-50% off.

Stop by today for best selection.

The ever popular Blue Tropic is back in stock along with some great patriotic patterns like Florista and Masquerade. Perfect way to acessorize and show your American Stars & Stripe spirit!

Patriotic Masquerade

Red, White and Blue Summer Fun

Blue Tropic Getaway

Show your allegiance

Constance is 50% off and we just received some Newport back in stock at 50% off.

Folkart Quilted fun

Roomy Suzanne handbag

Stride $22.50 – pockets everywhere!

Classic saddlebag $22.50

Glycerin Soap Benefits

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Ever wonder why your skin is so dry even though you are applying lotion everyday? Not only does the type of lotion you use affect your skin, but so does the type of soap you use. The soap you buy are your local grocery store may be the cause to your never ending dry skin. Actually, the soap you think you are buying, is in fact, not soap at all. “Soap” as we know it is actually made of petroleum by-products and is in fact detergent. Well, I don’t have to tell you, but if you use regular bar soap you know that your skin is tight, dry and sometimes itchy. Not only does regular bar soap contain lye and petroleum, they also contain DEA and drying alcohols. This is all great to know—so what kind of soap can I use that will be good for my skin you ask?? Pure Glycerin soap.

Glycerin is a clear liquid that absorbs water from the air. It is a humectant, drawing moisture to your skin, allowing it to remain hydrated and soft. I love soaps made of pure vegetable glycerin. Beyond hydrating your skin, glycerin is also known to be a natural remedy for yeast and fungal infections, such as eczema and psoriasis. It is especially good for sensitive skin. Glycerin soap does not contain synthetic ingredients that will cause skin irritations. It keeps your skin looking and feeling healthy and soft. Glycerin is a sweet tasting, colorless, thick liquid that has a high boiling point, it freezes to a paste and is a humectant, which means that it attracts moisture. It is also a natural by-product in the soap making process. Commercial manufacturers remove a significant quantity of glycerin from soap to be used in more expensive lotions and creams.

Glycerine was first discovered in 1779 in the saponification process, today, glycerine is found in and sourced from animal fats, vegetable oils and synthetically from petrochemicals. It is generally thought that Glycerine is an ingredient added to handmade soap but as stated above it is actually a by-product of the soap making process (saponification). Clear soap is often mistaken for glycerine soap when in fact all handmade soap contains glycerine, a treatment using alcohol and sugar is what makes the soap clear and this is what people generally refer to as glycerine soap. You can add extra glycerine to improve the moisturizing properties of the soap but it is not a necessity.

Glycerin soap combined with selected oils can be a great way to relax and mixed with carefully selected herbs and essential oils can be great for acne suffers, it is also very mild and gentle so can be used by children.
Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia found that glycerine makes skin look, feel and function better by attracting moisture and by helping skin cells mature properly; they also discovered that it helps convert fats or lipids in the external, protective membrane. All cells have this layer, but skin cells secrete extra lipids to form a protective barrier. “Think about it. If there was not some sort of barrier, when you took a bath, all the water would go into you and you would blow up like a balloon.” This research is not news to natural soap makers who for years have been telling the virtues of real soap over mass-produced chunks of soap full of chemicals that are cheap, but not skin-friendly. The skin covers our whole bodies. It is the largest human organ and is our first defense against dehydration, temperature, infection and harmful substances. Glycerine Soaps give your skin the care it serves and make bathing a gentle, soothing experience. Indulge yourself. A fragrant, handmade glycerine soap, like is a simple indulgence that enhances the feeling of relaxation and well-being. Treat yourself, or a loved one to the benefits of a handmade glycerine soap. Men love to use it for smooth shaving! It is gentle enough to use on babies. Stop by Scentsations today to smell one of the fragrant choices today. The soap is all natural and is fortified with vitamin E. Starting at only $2.99 per soap bar.

Pick 3…spend $50, save your local economy

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I belong to the 3/50 project.net group of indie retailers.  Have for over 3 years now.

I thought it would be good to give a shout out of what spending your hard earned $$$ with me means to your local community. What got me started on this was the ridiculous promo going on in Target now about stores within stores.  Basically they are just end caps pushing local vendors. You know, think Vera Bradley before she sold out and started mass making everything in China.  Little in store boutiques.

The fact Target advertises these “Shops” as “a curated collection of home, beauty, fashion and pet products from…specialty stores” doesn’t help, painting a picture of cozy environments bubbling with delight, nestled between familiar red walls, bursting with exciting designs, catchy displays, oh-my-gosh-that’s-to-die-for offerings.

Well folks, I am so flipping glad they aren’t even close.  So, please for the love of GOD, don’t be the mindless cow that follows the pack to the slaughter house.  Think and don;t be deceived by clever marketing.  As a consumer, you can CHOOSE where you spend your hard earner $$$$.  (And thanks ever so much to all my fabulous customers who believe in Scentsations)

so without further ado…

3 is the magic number – What 3 independent stores would you miss if they disappeared or closed?  Stop in, say hello and spend a little.   As many of my long time customers who followed me to Vero beach know, we had a store in Brevard County for almost 15 years.  I closed that at the end of my mall lease on 12/31/11.  We could not renew lease due to rising costs and shrinking revenue.  After closing this one, many people emailed me and facebooked to ask where we were and why.  To be honest, I didn’t see these people at all for December, the holiday season when they spent $ for gifts somewhere.  Don’t forget why you love these stores and remember them when you have gift needs. Without you, they can’t survive.

Nifty 50 – if 1/2 the employed people spent $50 a month in independant stores, it would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue.  What sort of positive impact would that have if 3/4 of employed people did that.

68 – for every $100 spent locally, $68 stays locally through taxes, expenditures and and payroll.  If you spend it in a chain, $43 stays locally and if you spend it online $0 comes back to your community.

1 – The number of people it takes to start a trend and make a change – just 1 – you.

 

For more details on how YOU can help stimulate America and small town America’s economies visit The3/50project.net

What is Fair trade and why Scentsations supports it

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The longer I am in retail, the more I find myself trying to make socially conscious decisions about what we feature for the store.  This year we made a decision to strive to have more made in America items and pair those with unique fair trade gifts & jewelry. I feel this keeps us fresh and ahead of our competition by offering unique gifts that you just don’t find everywhere.

The fair trade movement dates to the 1940s, when a Pennsylvania Mennonite named Edna Ruth Byler traveled to Puerto Rico and was shocked by the poverty. She set up a business to sell the needlecrafts of female artisans she met on the trip; it later grew into the nonprofit retailer Ten Thousand Villages.

The movement began to blossom in Europe in the 1980s and since then has gone global, with coffee its leading commodity.

Companies looking to affix a fair trade label to their products go to an independent third party, such as FTUSA or Fairtrade International, to get certification that their products are coming from sources that meet certain standards.

Fairtrade International, based in Bonn, Germany, with affiliates in about two dozen countries, has standards for the sort of “small producer organization” preferred by companies like Equal Exchange. Among them: “Democracy. Profits should be equally distributed among the producers. All members have a voice and vote in the decision-making process of the organization.”

This is important to me.  I think that the artists and workers creating an item should be paid fairly for what they are doing.  It enables them to provide quality homes for their children and also enables them to learn other skills as needed.

Take coffee for example, Under fair trade rules, farmers get a $1.40 per pound “floor price” for coffee — a minimum maintained even if commodity markets go lower; a 20-cents-per-pound “social premium,” which pays for communal benefits like health clinics or schools; and an extra 30-cent premium if the coffee is organic.  Now they are talking about adding larger plantations into this system.  For me the whole reason the system was put into place was to give the small businesses an opportunity to compete and thrive regardless of size.  This strikes home for me as our fabulous US government system constantly poops on the mom & pops that built this country.  I have to spend countless hours researching and trying new things to separate me from the big chains and department stores.  Thankfully my customers are looking for unique different items that tell a story.

If large plantations are allowed into the fair trade system, critics say, they could become eligible for premiums they don’t need to be profitable. There’s also widespread concern that the small farmer cooperatives could be squeezed out.   The concern is that “large companies will use the fair trade seal to do what they call ‘fair-wash,’ to get the halo effect and perhaps confuse consumers about their overall practices,” said Daniel Jaffee, an assistant professor of sociology at Washington State University who has studied the movement.  I would compare this to the large Fortune 500 companies who have charitable donations and programs to help ease their pain and help their image when they move into a town and destroy the economic infrastructure of a small town like Wally World.

For now, I look forward to the hunt of finding those unique gifts, jewelry and items both made in the USA and those from other countries that help to better someone’s quality of life.

How to Roll and store your Montecristi Panama Hat

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As many of you are aware, we have been striving to feature more handmade items in the store and on our website (www.scentsations-online.com)  This week we got in a gorgeous shipment of Montecristi Handwoven Panama Hats. Perfect for men and women of all ages and a great way to help keep the heat and the sun off your noggin!

I have had a few questions about how to care for them so thought it would be a fabulous idea to give you some helpful care tips.

One of the reasons why I love these hats is that the weave fines and the softness of the toquilla straw allow this class is Panama Hat to be to be rolled up for easy packing.   Although the panama Hat is very flexible we recommend to roll hats up only for travel reasons because the straw may crack if this practice is used too often.

Follow the following rules for a safe care when rolling your hat:

1. Roll not fold.  Panama Hats can be rolled but be careful not to fold it because it may result in cracking the straw or damaging the weave.

2. Roll Up your hat just for travel reasons. The longer the hat remains rolled, the longer the time its going to take to return to its original form.

3. It is not recommendable to roll budget or standard Cuenca hats since the straw is thicker and easier to crack.   The finer the weave, the better to roll.

4. Do not roll dried out hats. Panama hats love Florida and  need a little of humidity in order to be rolled, that is why if the hat is exposed to a warm and dry weather the hat can dry out and rolling it under these conditions might result in cracking.

5. Store your  Panama Hat in its original shape.

 

Best selection of Handmade Tagua Nut Jewelry in Florida!

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I finally finished unpacked and photographing all of the incredible handmade, one of a kind, tagua nut jewelry.  In case you didn’t see the last article about tagua nuts (aka palm ivory)  check out this article. If you are looking for one of a kind gift idea that are all hand made, these are perfect.

Tagua Nut Jewelry

Given trade restrictions in elephant ivory ivory palm nuts are often used as a substitute for elephant ivory today, and traded as vegetable ivory, palm ivory, corozo or tagua. When dried out, it can be carved just like elephant ivory.   Vegetable ivory furthers important environmental and socioeconomic goals by stimulating the local economies and in South America, provides an alternative to cutting down rain forests for farming, and prevents elephants from being killed for the ivory in their tusks.

The kernels are typically simply picked up from the ground after the ripe fruit has detached from the tree and forest animals have taken care of the pericarp, or harvested when ripe and the pericarp manually removed.

At Scentsations we are striving to offer more socially conscious gifts for all occasions.  These are all fair Trade and is a sustainable way for the Amazon Indians to earn a living.

Check out these pictures!  I know I have the best prices and knock the socks off the selection of colors and designs we have than any one else out there.  I will have every thing in the online store hopefully by the end of the day.

Bracelets run$15.99-$19.99

earrings $11.99

Rings $11.99

Necklace and earrings sets $24.99-$29.99

Hand crafted Panama Hats just arrived!

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A Montecristi Hat is a unique, handpicked treasure of flawless craftsmanship and classic style that is custom designed and fitted to your exact head shape and size and we have them at a fraction of the cost of big name department stores.

The straw in Panama hats comes from the leaves of the carludovica palmata or “paja toquilla”, a type of palm indigenous to Ecuador. The art of weaving the straw has flourished along the Ecuadorian Coast since the 1600’s. Over generations, master craftsmen perfected many of the delicate weaves we see in only the finest Panama hats. The exemplary Panama must be nearly flawless, of good color and consistent weave, exhibiting numerous enjiras, concentric or spiraling patterns radiating outward from the center of the crown. The body must be supple and delicate, yet strong. Unfortunately, the masters of this craft are now passing into old age and due to modern Ecuadorian economy, few are taking their place.

The quality on these are insanely good!  I have only 18 of each weave, fino and ultra fino.

You can pack these, reshape these and even clean them with a baby wipe.

Fino only $32.99 (compare to $82)

Untra Fino only $49.99 (compare to competitors at $180!)

Call the store today or I will have them all online by the weekend.
Montecristi Town

17th Century  – The Montecristi Hat
Spanish colonialist used native labor to produce European style hats, replacing the traditional Toquillas that covered ears and neck. Skilled weavers were located in the towns of Jipijapa and Montecristi (Manabi Province) and soon these villages turned into hat weaving centers and named their hats after their towns. Until today, the Montecristi Hat is recognized as the finest panama hats

18th Century – Scientific Name was defined
Spaniards started to use Toquilla Straw Hats and they became popular with the colonial nobility. Soon, the King of Spain ordered several bolts of toquilla straw for his wife. Botanist discovered that the straw that was used to weave the hats came from a palm species that only grows in the coast of Ecuador, between 100 and 400 meters over sea level, and they gave the palm the scientific name of Carludovica Palmeta in honor to the King Charles IV of Spain and his wife Ludovica

Eloy Alfaro1835 – First Modern Hat Business
After Ecuador gained independence from Spain, an entrepreneur called Manuel Alfaro settled in Montecristi in 1835 and established a hat production business using his own straw plantations and hiring skilled weavers. His business went well and soon he started exporting to Panama, since it was becoming an important commercial center. Later on he opened shops in Panama, which attracted the attention of buyers from around the world, who soon associated this Ecuadorian product with the country of Panama.

Gold Rush1848 – The Gold Rush
In 1848 the Gold Rush began and people rushed to California by the easiest way in that time: crossing the Isthmus of Panama. While passing through, they often bought hats on their way and spread the word about Panama Hats in the USA. Eloy Alfaro, son of Manuel Alfaro and later the President of Ecuador, took over the family business and in 1849 Ecuador exported 220.000 hats to California

.World Fair in Paris1855 – World Fair in Paris
A Frenchman who lived in Panama exhibited the hats at the 1855 World Fair in Paris and since Ecuador was not mentioned as a participating country the hats were baptized as Panma Hats. The French fashion soon adopted the panama Hat and even Emperor Napoleon III wore a Montecristi Hat spreading the trend to other European countries. In Great Britain, the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) also became a Panama Hat

.Cuban Sugar Plantations1863 – 1898 Export Expansion
Ecuador continues to export panama hats to the USA and Europe but expands its market to South America, the Caribbean and especially Cuba, where hats were highly needed for the workers of the sugar and tobacco plantations and huge amount of hats were bought every year.

Spanish American War1898 – Spanish American War
The US Government bought 50,000 hats to protect its soldiers from the intense sun of the Caribbean during the Spanish American War.

Panama Canal1906 – The Panama Canal Construction
During the Panama Canal Construction many hats were bought for all the US workers and engineers that arrived in Panama. The popularity rose all over the world when a photograph of President Theodore Roosevelt wearing a stylish Montecristi Hat during a visit to the canal, appeared in the world press.
As a curious fact, in 1925, Turkey’s modernization laws banned wearing the traditional fez and forced the use of Panama Hats.

Hollywood Golden Age1944 – Hollywood Golden Age
The Panama Hat exports reached its peak during 1944 when it became Ecuador`s number one export item, also due to a decline of the cocoa exports. One of the main reasons for the sales to boom was the effect of the Hollywood Golden Age, many stars wore panama hats on and off screen popularizing the use of the stylish panama. The  panama hats appeared in movies such as Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, Key Largo, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Man Who Would Be King.

Fair Trade Tagua Nut (Palm Ivory) Handcrafted Jewelry from Ecuador

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In 2012 the top 10 jewelry trends are all about classic pieces for the spring as well as natural pieces for the fall collection. 2012 will be all about sustainability, recycled, raw pieces that will range from classic to exotic. We will also see that few trends that started out in 2011 that will continue to be hot fashion items in 2012, such as the big and bold rings as well as mix of vintage with a contemporary flair.

This week I have an incredible assortment of tagua nut jewelry coming in from Ecuador.  This jewelry is exquisite and when I learned a little more about it, I knew it would be perfect for my customers!  I find these little seeds on the beach when diving and walking a lot here in Florida.  The seeds which have inner cavities are very buoyant and get washed down to the Atlantic where they end up on the beaches here in Florida.   Never really knew what they were till today!  I have 4 I picked up from my last dive in LBTS just got I thought I could plant them.


Tagua Nut

Tagua nut is also know as vegetable ivory.  This is because the color, appearance and feel of an aged tague nut is like ivory.  Now we all know that it is ILLEGAL to import and sell ivory so in my opinion this is a fabulous way to get the same look without condoning the killing of elephants.  The endosperm (seed) istraded as vegetable ivory, palm ivory, corozo or tagua. When dried out, it can be carved just like elephant ivory.  The seed comes from a plant that looks similar to a palm.  It’s scientific name is Phytelephas Aequatorialis Macrocarpa.

Tagua grows in the tropical rainforests of some South American countries, mainly Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela, being Ecuador the country that fulfills most of the world’s demand.

Ecuador is one of the best places to see the trees, near the Napo River.  This river is a major tributary into the amazon.  The tree grows on under large rain forest trees along the streams and hillsides.  Large pinnate leaves up to 20 feet tall rise from the trunk.  Just like humans, they have male and female species.  The female ones are where the seeds come from.  They bear large fruit the size of melons or grapefruit.  Each fruit has studded horns and will contain four or more of the tagua seeds.  The fruit of the tagua tree is almost completely round measuring 20 to 50 cm in diameter with a blackish exterior. This fruit, also known as “mococha”, has many locular cavities each containing two or more seeds.  The content of the immature fruit is a tasteless crystalline liquid. When it starts to ripen this turns into a sweet and pleasant milky substance, transforming later to a gelatinous viscous consistency and finally becoming an extraordinarily hard product similar in color, appearance and feel to natural ivory.  The seeds are super hard and require a hacksaw to cut into one.
Tagua will take approximately 15 years to produce its first harvest and will not stop bearing fruit for all of the years and even a century to come. A 35 to 40 year old plant measures about 6 feet and produces, in the 3 yearly harvests, between 15 to 16 heads or “mocochas”.
Not only are the seeds of the tagua are used to elaborate buttons, figurines, beads, chess sets, napkin rings, cane and umbrella holders, door knobs, etc. but the roots are said to contain medicinal properties. The leafs are also used for hut roofing and the very fine dust from the “ojalillos” serve as a mix in cattle feed due to its high content of energy.
Another important factor to consider is that it provides work to thousands of people in these poor South American countries giving them and their families a better life and the opportunity of offering their children a better education.  Vegetable ivory furthers important environmental and socioeconomic goals by stimulating the local economies , provides an alternative to cutting doa stand in Ecuador which sells tagua nut cabezas.wn rainforests for farming, and prevents elephants from being killed for the ivory in their tusks.  n their native range, these palms are also used as a source of food and construction wood.  Again, in my opinion all three are a vital alternative to what we are doing to our planet by depleting natural resources that can’t be quickly and efficiently replaced.   The tagua nut is a sustainable and renewable source.  A sustainable material is one that meets the needs of the present population without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.  It is eco-friendly jewelry.  Cultural Survival, an environmental group has stated that natural rain forest products like the tagua nut can generate up to five times the income of cattle ranches and banana plantations that they are clearing to rain forest to make room for.

How do these seeds become jewelry?  Well, take a trip with me, First the kernels are typically simply picked up from the ground after the ripe fruit has detached from the tree and forest animals have taken care of the pericarp (outer brown husk) or harvested when ripe and the pericarp manually removed.  Have a look at the picture to the left.   As the nut shrinks when it hardens a small hollow cavity can form in the center. It is often not possible to know whether the inside of the nut will have a small cavity in the center until it is cut into. Therefore, when carving, it is common to either incorporate the hole or cavity into carvings or not carve deep enough to reach a potential cavity.  Each tree will contain several cabezas (seed pods).  The artisan will polish, sometime cut and sometimes dye each seed kernel into a work of art.  No two pieces I carry are alike.  Each one is unique and individual.  Also, like ivory, worn over time, it can pick up body oils and have a nice creamy luster to it.  The tagua nut contains natural swirls of color, rendering every slice totally unique.

So, again as you can see, I am super excited about this, look to see some pictures of all the new pieces late Wednesday and I hope to have the earrings, bracelets and necklaces made from tagua nut all on the website by Thursday end of day.  Here is a sneak peak.  Oyeah, I forgot to mention the price, sets of necklaces, bracelets and earrings will retail under $60!  For all 3 pieces…a fraction of what big designer houses are charging.  Andean collection sold in Chico’s charges like $26 for a bracelet alone!  I will have them for under $20.

Stay tuned this week when I unveil everything.


Going – going – gone! 2 Bella Taylor Patterns 50% off

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Ok, we have two new patterns that will be retiring from Bella Taylor Handbags.  Medallion and Summer’s Edge.

These handbags are very popular and ever so cute.  Machine washable quilted handbags at a fraction of the cost of Vera Bradley  under normal prices but with the discount…YIKES! a steal

I have marked these all 50% off while supplies last!  Sale just started so don;t wait, as many of you know, we sold out of Newport (the last pattern to retire) in under 3 days!