The Shop @ A Mandatory Activity

May 24, 2020

Did I Accidentally Start A Company? Maybe.

I’m writing this post a little late, and so I apologize to those dear friends to whom I have not yet shared this news.  COVID-19 and staying at home has affected us all differently, but I am firmly in the camp of people who have been having the weirdest dreams (when I’m actually able to sleep, that is).  One morning, I woke up to realize that I had designed an entire product line in my sleep, and so I accidentally (?) started a company.

Ok, I’m simplifying matters a little bit, and nobody accidentally starts a company.  At some point I did have to get a business license and tax ID number and all of the things that don’t happen by accident, but it’s accidental in that it wasn’t part of the GRAND PLAN.

Ok, I never really had a grand plan.  I had a blog idea and things to share and teach and that was good enough, until quarantine. 

Let Me Welcome You to The Shop @ A Mandatory Activity

Please allow me to introduce you to The Shop @ A Mandatory Activity.  There is now a convenient little shopping link at the top menu bar, and that will take you through to the site if you want to have a look around. 

If you’re just here for the tutorials, that’s totally good.  These are still mandatory activities and nothing is going to change.  As I’m writing this blog post I’m also supposed to be working on a design for my nephew’s birthday card, so my projects have increased, but not shifted!

I’m very proud of my accidental little company, and I’m really enjoying the journey so far, which is why it’s felt so weird not to have shared the news here.  Honestly, I had to take a moment to catch up with initial demand, which was a fantastic problem to have (do NOT mistake that remark for complaining)…I just didn’t expect the initial volume. 

I’ve since restocked everything over the course of the last few weeks of evenings and weekends though….so no worries if you’re actually in the market for some candles or need to order gifts for someone. 😉

Let me talk to you a little bit about the genesis of the idea, and my vision of the future and where this all fits in…

Word Play At Play

While in my strange limbo between sleeplessness and vivid dreaming, I started having a game of word play in my head.  It’s not totally abnormal, but I can usually shake it off.

This whole blog is one giant play on words, and I think my brain does a lot of these shenanigans on its own that don’t make their way to paper or pen or blog or idea.  I blame my Dad, who was the same way.  Dad jokes for me were on a whole other level.

If you read my first blog post, The Blog Post Nobody Will Read, you will know that I started this blog almost in response to his death.  I decided life was too short to be scared to try to do the things that make you happy.  My mandatory activities.  

There are plays on words throughout a lot of my posts, and a warning shot in the “about me” section…I like a good bad pun.  

And I Am A Materials Girl

That header has been in the list of things I’ve been wanting to write about for awhile, so don’t be surprised if it makes its way to a blog post title too…but I need it here right now.

I am often thinking about what kinds of things I’d like to make next, or what I want to learn, or whose birthday is coming up and what I’m going to make or give them.  During the process of putting together this blog, I’ve run into SO many creative people, and creativity inspires creativity.

I’m really happy making cookies and cakes and papercrafts and a handful of other projects, but I also want to continue to learn new things.  

You might call me a materials girl. 🙂  For me, inspiration for something comes from an idea that I then need to think about how to communicate and in which material, OR I have a material in mind and I need to figure out what to do with it. 

Here’s an example.  I found this stupid pillow at CVS last Fall on clearance for $4.  It made me smile and I walked away from it, and by the time I had finished actual shopping, I decided I needed to swing back to the clearance aisle to bring him home.  

Because in my mind, he was a great-looking cookie.  See what I mean?  

CVS owl pillow

(Incidentally, this all happened before I started the blog, but not before I had the idea for the blog…so I will have some footage to share when we get closer to Fall project time!) 

In this case, the material to convert this owl pillow into something to share with friends and family, was to make him into a cookie.  That was the right “material”.

The more materials I learn how to use, the more ideas I am inspired by, and that’s what happened with my shop.

Some of the Products

What I was thinking about, lying in bed, was how difficult this time must be for people who were already unhappy.   I know how fortunate I am to be quarantined with 2 of my favorite people, but I started to feel so sad for those who must feel much more hopeless.

What came to mind was the idea of social distancing, and how I wish I could put some Zing into it for those who really needed some help.  

Suddenly, there was Social Distance-Zing.  A burst of grapefruit and mango to lighten your spirits. The right material for this project was wax.  20-40 hours of aromatherapy… 

I had most of the materials except the fragrance in my candle stash.  I designed the labels and branding myself, put in an order for the fragrance oil and some others I thought might be nice. 

 One of those scents was almond.

And a couple of days later, there was Marzipan-demic.  A nice, warm, nutty fragrance that makes you want to cozy up at home with a good book.

Marzipan-demic candle

Two other pandemic-related candles emerged as well.  Flat-tin the Curve (which was inspired by…you probably guessed it, the candle tins I saw when I was shopping for candle jars online.

And also, Shell-ter in Place, which in my mind was the nautical option.  We can’t go to the beach at the moment…but you can take a vacation with your nose.  This one smells like sun and sand and sunscreen and legit makes me feel like it’s summer.  I got playfull and made little shell embeds for the top, and did a little swirl of color to make some beachy waves before my wax totally dried. 

Shell-ter in Place will be the first candle that I show you guys how to make.  Embeds and all.  Coming soon…

Flat-tin the curve candle
Shell-ter in place candles with open lids

The embeds led to more embeds…and when I started working on my graduation gift set, On A Grad Hoc Basis, and Caps and Grounds…it seemed like a great plan to throw some wax coffee bean embeds on the top of Caps and Grounds.  When you melt the candle, the embed melts and the colorant disperses and turns into kind of a latte color when it cools and solidifies again.

More to Come

So, it’s safe to say that we have some new mandatory acvities, because man is this a lot of fun.  I have been working on my Father’s Day candles this weekend and then I’m halfway through ideas for the Fall fragrances and bubble bars and pumpkin pie soap slices and OMG THERE ARE SO MANY FUN PROJECTS TO BE DONE.  One. At. A. Time. 

I have also been making soap (and made soap cupcakes this weekend which I’m in love with).  If you saw my soap making post and video from last week, you will have seen the first soap that will be for sale in the soap section.  Soap takes 4-6 weeks to cure, so the soap will slowly pop up as it becomes available.

I’ll also get to show you how things are done!  I recorded the soap cupaking making, of course, so there will be more to come.  

More candles, more soap, likely a slight re-org of the blog (Lifestyle to candles and soap? What do you guys think?)

Sorry for the length of this post, but the longer I put it off, the more there was to share, so I’ve ripped off the band-aid now and I can just work on posting updates instead of a whole explanation of what the heck…

For those of you who already knew and have been so super-supportive.  Thank you.  Truly.  I’m trying to be brave and take chances, and follow this journey wherever it’s going, but it’s SO much easier to do when people believe in you.

Love,
Amanda

I'm Amanda, and I put the AMANDA in A MANDAtory Activity (and I like a good bad pun). This blog is a focused on baking and crafting for gatherings and gifts! I LOVE making things a little extra special and I love sharing those ideas with you. Have a look around, or read more here.

Amanda

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