Belle & Blaire Turns 5!

posted in: Business, Etsy, News 0


happy-birthday-to-us-5-years_blueOn December 3, 2011 Braquel’s Bathroom was officially opened on Etsy. After a name change and thousands of products sold, we are still here 5 years later, growing and thriving!

We are proud of what we have accomplished in a crowded handmade bath & body marketplace, but none of it would have been possible without our customers who gave our products a chance. We may not be as polished or as popular as some other handmade bath & body product shops, but we believe our products exceed in quality and our commitment to providing excellent customer service remains our top priority.

As we close out 2016, we can truly say this is our best year to date. We’ve expanded our product line to include skin care and personal care products made from all natural ingredients and the feedback from our customers has been amazing. We’re just as excited and passionate about sharing new products we have on deck for the new year as we were on day one.

Five years is major, thank you!


posted in: Business 0


After months of promoting multiple online marketplaces on, Tyra and I decided to open a Big Cartel account and redirect it to the main domain. Promoting several storefronts on this site did not serve the business well, mostly it confused potential customers when we directed them here to view and buy products.

Streamlining was necessary.

When the decision was made to promote one storefront, we chose to direct visitors to Storenvy to buy products because it is a free e-commerce platform with no sign up or listing fees—and it needed major promotion as we only had 2 sales on Storenvy since we launched in late December. It made perfect sense at the time until I started testing WordPress themes to create a stylish front page that would include a link to direct customers to our Storenvy storefront. Due to Storenvy having one basic template that requires heavy HTML and CSS editing, I had to find a WordPress theme that was similar to the Storenvy template.  Going into the process, I knew I wouldn’t find an exact theme to match, but I wanted something close with simple customization. After a week of testing more themes than I can count, nothing worked! Everything I tried looked fragmented and unprofessional, ugh!

All I want is a clean looking, functional site.

After not getting the look and feel I wanted and also the lack of sales on Storenvy (sadly), I decided to give Big Cartel serious consideration after dismissing it late last year due to the monthly fee. After checking out the options for a paid account – stats, inventory tracking, discount codes, use of own URL, and most importantly, ease of customization – the decision to sign up was easy. Between sales on Etsy, the bit of direct billing we do for family & friends, and attending craft shows—the monthly fee for the Diamond account should easily be affordable as a small expense of doing business.

It’s coming together.

I am very happy with the new setup of online store and I was able to find a WordPress theme for the blog and other featured pages that integrates nicely with the online store. For now, we will continue to sell independently on other online marketplaces until it’s time to re-evaluate their effectiveness. Lastly, we’re realistic that it will take time and a lot of effort for this site to come close to the traffic and sales that we get on Etsy, but having a professional looking, fully functional website to promote and sell our products directly gives us the confidence to continue to grow the business on our own terms, and that is priceless.


A learning experience

posted in: Business, Events 0

An update of our first event at Stevenson University is long overdue. Despite having over 2 months to plan and prepare, we spent most of Friday night finishing up a few last minute details — and when I say a few, I mean a lot of details that were left undone until the night before the event. It was poor planning on our part and it’s safe to say that we will never do that again! Some lessons were learned from this event and we believe the experience will make our future events better.

It took us nearly an hour to set up because we had so much product to unpack and organize. I’ve been eying this Neu Home Can Organizer from Walmart. Loading up the racks at home and then securing the products for transport will save us loads of prep time and it will keep for a more organized display table.

Whipped Body Cleansers

We lost a couple of sales due to not accepting credit cards. Tyra and I had discussions on how to accept credit/debit card orders, but for some reason or another neither of us researched the matter thoroughly. It wasn’t until an hour into the event we noticed the jewelry vendor across from us take a credit card order using a device that was attached to her smart phone. I rushed over to her to get the 411 and after I made it a priority to get a Square Card Reader for future events. Smart phone technology is amazing!

Handcrafted Cold Process Soaps

Our shampoos & conditioners continued to be popular items, but the cold process soaps received a lot of attention and that was very encouraging. Tyra put in a lot of time and effort into make these wonderfully scented cured soaps and it was satisfying to receive positive feedback by way of sales and compliments.
For our first time out, we presented the products well and had okay sales considering the turnout was low due to a rainy day. We covered the cost of one table and counted the second table as a loss. Though we did not come out on top, the lessons learned were invaluable.

We’re excited for more shows and events this year! We will post them under upcoming events as they are scheduled.


Our new tumblr

posted in: Business, News 0

Introducing our new virtual thank you notes on Tumblr.

Virtual thank you note on Tumblr

This is our way of saying thank you to customers for supporting our new online store while using an extremely active social network to feature recently sold products and possibly attract new customers. More on this project later if it bears the expected fruit.

Now the real work begins

posted in: Business 0

Hello, Bre here… I’m Tyra’s sister and my job is to manage the website. I’m also supporting Tyra with marketing products online as well as locally in and around the Baltimore area.

Getting to this point has required months of planning, research, and hours of trial & error soap making on Tyra’s part. While she was in her creative element of making the next best bath & body product, I started setting up this website. I spent countless hours testing WP shopping cart plugins and theme designs to make an aesthetically pleasing website with a user friendly online store. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long to realize that my limited skillset will only get me but so far and I needed help without having to spend money to hire someone to create an online store or pay for a monthly subscription e-commerce system. As Tyra got closer to completing the product line, I needed a simple, but affordable (free) solution to manage an online store.

That brings us to Storenvy. I’m not sure how I found the site, but I remember glancing over it one night last summer without giving it much thought and then bookmarking it as I do with most websites that are relevant to my current interests. With the pressure of not having the website up & running after months of trying to figure it all out, I gave Storenvy a second look earlier this month and it turned out to be almost everything I was looking for in an online store service:

  • No setup fees, no monthly fees, no listing fees, no transaction fees – Check!
  • Upload unlimited products for free – Check!
  • Easily customizable templates (even with my limited coding skills) – Check!
  • Order management, stats, inventory tracking, discount codes and more – Check!
  • Flexibility to sell products without restrictions – Check!
  • It’s free – SOLD!

Learning everything that Storenvy has to offer re-energized my efforts to finish setting up the website again. I am most excited about the Facebook app which imports the store’s products onto a fb fan page, then Tyra can share products with her network and possibly grow a following of potential customers. We’re also considering the custom domain feature for a small fee of $4.99 a month, but it’s not necessary until the store has consistent sales so the cost can pay for itself. In the meantime, I am satisfied with the setup we have now – linking the store from the main website. Now if I can figure out how to make the main website and store design seamless, I’d be a very happy lady.

With the details of setting up a flexible online store behind us, the real work of driving people to the store to buy products is just beginning.

My featured products

posted in: Business, Products 0

Here’s a list of products I plan to feature in my online store. I can’t wait to share them with you! *Tyra

Whipped Soaps
Bar Soaps
Sugar Scrubs
Body Oils
Bath Bombs
Lip Balms
Body Butters

Preparing to open my online store

posted in: Business, News, Products 0

I’m not sure the date of my official opening, but I have gotten a lot of things in place for opening my online soap business.  So far I have spent many months perfecting my products as well as taking pictures of the products and creating descriptions. My sister is currently working on the main website For now I will use this blog to accompany the main website to give periodic updates about the business.  Thank you for reading and check back often. *Tyra

Natural Body Care Line

I am a passionate and creative person who enjoys making natural bath and body products for the natural lovers. I have created an impressive line of products that have been made from scratch. I use the best quality ingredients using organic herbs, spices, oils and butters. Some of my products are also 100% vegan! My products do not contain any parabens, petroleum, lanolin, or mineral oils. I use skin safe coloring and fragrance oil. I believe in giving my customers the best skin care line without all of the extra harsh chemicals that come along with a lot of products out there today! My website will be posted soon, along with an link to purchase my products. I am also a proud member of the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild, Inc. Thank you for visiting this site. Please come back for more information that will be available real soon! *Tyra