Christmas Newsletter November 2020
Dear Hidden Valley community,
Wow, what a year! Is everyone exhausted? How has it been for you?
As the year draws to a close we at Hidden Valley would love to affirm how wonderful it is to keep connecting with our loyal, beautiful customers. And to congratulate you, and ourselves, for sticking firmly to our values within the chaos we see and feel everywhere.
What have we seen? It has been crazy, frightening, difficult, divisive, isolating, but also HUGELY creative, connecting and transformational too. What’s diminishing? We think selfishness, greed, separation, too much busyness, judgement, old beliefs, trust in governments and experts and institutions & mainstream media, and belief that we have to commute to work and learn. What’s arising? More understanding of mental health concerns, self reliance and sovereignty, we are thinking more, waking up, seeing how science & spirituality are connected, more HEART less mind dominance, more people creating their own work, improvements in virtual global connections, rebalancing the feminine & masculine, and above all, seeing the Earth as our Mother desperate for our respect and care!
So thank you for sticking with us in this journey of ours to create and use earth-friendly skin care products and find ever more effective and sustainable solutions based on plants! We see this as part of a better future world and you help us create it!
Hidden Valley News
Hidden Valley itself has seen enormous change! We have a new name – Hidden Valley Broome. We dropped the Handcrafts with its connotations of knitting supplies and switched to how we are mostly known. And we launched our new Shopify website on October 23, after nearly 18 months of development – a really huge journey, as our web designer Jenelle Reynolds in Geraldton will attest! We hope you are finding it easier to order. Our first week was massive, with several trips to the Post Office every day. Certainly it’s good to be mobile friendly and able to take payments immediately. We did offer Paypal as a payment option, but have decided to remove it as it is expensive and difficult to use. Credit card is easy, and direct deposit is a slower option. There are a few ongoing glitches, some photos need to be improved, and please let us know if you find anything amiss. However, do rest assured that we still love to hear your voices on the phone, and we can easily take orders that way or via email – anything that works for you. A couple of old friends still send us cheques or money orders by mail, and that is perfectly ok.
This year our Russian Valentina left us to have her beautiful baby Leo, and Adrianna also left soap production, but we were joined by sweet Rachel in the shop and admin & mail orders, and also by high energy passionate Katrin in production – our first full time staff member since early days. Rachel’s help with the website has been invaluable. Katrin is happily making beautiful soap with Smokey every Tuesday morning, and then learning all the complex skin care production with Ali on Wednesdays and other times. Both women are just amazing - intelligent, energetic and kind, and it is an absolute joy to have such shared values and easy energy. They understand that we are not just making and selling products but anchoring and sharing love in our small area of contributing to a better world. We are also grateful to have lovely Jan, who many locals will know as an ex-Broome hospital nurse. Jan actually volunteers to helping us with packaging and labelling for 2 afternoons a week, just to give her retirement some enjoyable structure!. Just recently our kind and capable ace business development champion and friend Taryn (from Business E3) has joined us to help implement all our new systems (whew, what a relief!). Ali’s sister Jenny in Geraldton continues to support us with fab bookkeeping & ideas. And young Hannah has ably helped Smokey each Saturday at the markets, so he can focus more on chatting to the customers.
The year started slowly with Ali just sneaking in a trip to Vietnam for new teeth in February before the borders shut. Then the crash came, we had to almost shut the shop, began delivering locally, made protective products, and experienced the strangeness of our first few months of Dry Season with Kimberley borders closed and no tourists here! We snuck in a great little family trip up the Gibb River Road, and almost had those fabulous gorges to ourselves, a rare treat. Business was way down of course, but we hung in there, were greatly helped by Jobkeeper and BAS support, and then Wham! The Kimberley borders opened for the July holidays and so many West Australians decided to visit Broome! Since then we have experienced our best year yet, and we are truly confident about our future. Not only are shop sales up, so are mail orders, particularly to Victoria and to WA. Many West Australians have wanted to send care packages to Victoria (isn’t that nice?). Most businesses in Broome have been as busy as we, and as grateful. With borders to most states opening soon, we know that all will be well. The most difficult dilemmas for us have been facing shortages in packaging and ingredients (eg. soy wax), and keeping up with demand! The soapmakers will need to continue well into the hot season just to have enough for Christmas!
Our Christmas Goodwill soap is back again, on its own or mixed with others in our 3 soap box Aromas & Colours of Christmas and as half blocks in the Christmas Giftlets. There are just a couple of new products – Sleepy Spray to help adults wind down and sleep, based on our Sleepy essential oil blend but also including hydrosols and lovely Australian bush flower essences to reduce worry and promote optimism. (This replaces our Mandarin & Orange Blossom spray, just too expensive to keep producing. For children we still make our Fairy and Hero Creams.) The old Lemonessence soap has now been replace with beautiful Gaia, our soapie tribute to our beautiful planet. We also have some cute and effective sisal Soap Savers – great for exfoliation or to store your offcuts and little bits of soap in. We did hope to have some lovely new Christmas candles for you, but unfortunately could not buy soy wax. Perhaps it will come back in stock soon.
Christmas Mailing, Hours and Wet Season plans
Although it looks like WA borders will soften a little soon, please remember that there are far fewer interstate flights, so freight is taking a lot longer than usual and is totally beyond our control. We aim to get paid orders to the PO within a day or two, but can’t give estimates of how long they take to reach you. We do notice that many people are choosing Standard mail rather than Express now, but please know these packages will not have priority on the planes. So our suggestion is to get in early with any orders meant for Christmas. We simply cannot give you a cutoff date this year.
We will close at noon on Thursday 24th December and there will be no shop or markets opening on Saturday 26th. Smokey’s birthday is on the Monday 28th (a BIG one folks!) so we certainly can’t open then. Ali will open the shop on Tuesday 29th to Thursday 31st 9-4pm. We expect there will be quite a few visitors in town at that time, for their Christmas break. After this, we will re-open from Monday 4th January with Wet Season hours, Monday, Wednesday & Friday 9-3pm plus Saturday 9-12 and Saturday markets if rain permits. This will continue until approximately April. The forecasts are for an early and possibly big Wet, with some predicting 8 cyclones. Let’s hope any damage is minimal.
Next year we intend to iron out any problems in our operating systems, get them really efficient but focused on being helpful and humane. And do our best to create more videos, blogs, and sharing of helpful information. At least that’s the plan! We will also have a Chat facility on the website soon, to help you with anything difficult or unclear, and to collect all your messages from any source.
Our Christmas Wish
May each of you find the courage, strength and joy to stand firmly in your own power and truth. Years of interaction with you has convinced us that the world is full of fine people. We are not going down the gurgler, we are changing for the better, finding more unity, love and tolerance for diversity and human frailty every day. When the collective feels chaotic and full of fear, all the more reason to be terrific anchors for love. Let’s do it! It’s our only future.
With great love,
Ali Southern, Brian Smoker, and the Hidden Valley Broome team