Happy Customers = Happy Us

As a rule I don’t read our customer’s online reviews much.  I should – after all, how do I know we’re doing a good or bad job?  But in the day to day routine of running the business, I haven’t yet made it a habit to read what customers say.  But today I took some time to see what people think.  I’m glad I did!

‘Thank you very happy with product’

‘Very fast shipping and a beautiful product. Thank you so much’

‘What awesome, beautiful stones for my Sunday School class. I can’t wait to give them as Christmas gifts. Thanks so much. Beautiful job!’

‘all stones from this site are very professionally done… love them’

‘love it, they are really beautiful stones.’

‘They looked fabulous in the pictures and are even nicer up close! Arrived as promised.’

‘The pocket pieces were high-quality, and I loved the little bag– perfect for gifting.’

‘These are lovely! Thank you!’

‘Was so happy to find these. Exactly what I was looking for. Right price and great service! Will surely shop here again.’

‘Nice little coins to carry in your pocket. They are well made and perfect for a gift. Thank you!’

We love that you love our products!  We believe in them and apparently so do you!

 

An Angel For Your Pocket

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For the past 6 years, Bob has been calling me about once a month to order pocket angels.  He is a kind and likable gentleman from out west and we have built a rapport throughout our many phone calls.  He always says, “I need some more of those angels for your pocket” and then asks, “do you have a minute for a story?”

Bob buys and gives away our pocket angels as he crisscrosses the United States as a long-distance truck driver.  He tells me he never knows exactly what makes him give a certain person an angel but many times they have told him how much it means to them when he does.

He gave one away in Illinois to a cashier at a truck stop.  He happened to be back in that same stop 3 months later and she said, “Thank you for that angel you gave me” (he hadn’t remembered giving her one but she obviously remembered him).  She said, “I have been sober 3 years and the day you came in I had decided I needed a drink again, that angel stopped me from taking it.”

Others have told Bob of wayward teenagers needing some guidance, parents who were buried with the angel token, or many just pleased with the comfort of having it in their own pocket.

Bob lost his two children years ago to a drunk driver.  That is why the angels are important to him.  He lost his wife years later.  If I say to him, “Have a good day” his response is “That’s the only kind to have, I’ve only had two bad days in my life.”  And if I say, “Hey Bob, how are you?” as I greet him on the phone, his response is always “I’m better.”   I think I’d like to try and be a little more like Bob.

~Suzi

Navy Town

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As we ate lunch at the office today, we were treated to the (loud) sounds of the Blue Angels flying overhead.  Today is practice for the big show tomorrow, which is a standard part of commissioning week here in Annapolis.  Friday is the United States Naval Academy graduation for the class of 2017, and the week leading up to the big day is always filled with special events.

For us locals, this means traffic, tourists, traffic, road closures, traffic, tourists and more traffic.  This also means that restaurants will have longer waits, shops will be busy and downtown parking will be extra tight.

But mostly what this means is that traditions will continue, parents and family will be proud and 932 men and 274 women will officially embark on their naval careers.

We’re lucky to live in a city with such a rich history.  The academy grounds are stunning and they are surrounded by a quaint and beautiful waterfront town.  When I am traveling, and someone asks me where I’m from, the reaction I hear most often is “oh, Annapolis is beautiful!”

Indeed it is.  And a few extra cars, a few extra people and a longer restaurant wait is a small price to pay for all the rewards.

Congrats to the United States Naval Academy Class of 2017!  Go Navy Beat Army!

 

 

 

Persistence

I’ve had a sign hanging in my office at work for about 10 years.  It is on the wall directly in front of my desk and serves as a constant reminder:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone will bring success.  

~Calvin Coolidge

This word has made it’s way into the news as of late – the wonders of social media picking up on comments made by a male senator about a female senator during a senate confirmation debate.  ‘She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.’  These words have become a bit of a battle cry in today’s political climate, and can now be found on t-shirts, mugs, protest signs, and now…river rocks.

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In making decisions about themes and types of things we’ll carry, one of our goals is to not be particularly trendy or flash-in-the-pan.  Too, we like to remain apolitical.  While it’s important that we continue to add freshness and newness to our lines, we like to keep a baseline of solid, meaningful, consistent and non-controversial inspirational gifts.  We’ve been selling most of our products continually for over 10 years.

But, we do offer custom designs, so it’s inevitable that we get requests from our customers for the newest catch phrase or the latest and greatest trend.  The ‘She Persisted’ rock design caught my attention a bit more so than others, because not only is it current news, it’s a theme in my personal and business life.  Even when business is down, we persist.  When we’re not feeling particularly inspired, we persist.  When we have a difficult customer, or frustrating vendor, we persist.  To be successful in business, we must persist.

I love that we can rely on our customers to bring us inspiration.  The Custom Designed River Rocks are one of my most favorite items because it’s so fun to see what customers come up with.  And, we have fun conversations trying to guess what they are using them for.

If someone were to describe me, I wouldn’t mind them using this phrase.  I hope you find inspiration in it, too.

~Brenda

Back in stock! Inspiration Stones

8900

Ask Believe Receive

Count your Blessings

Follow your Dreams

God Rocks

Hope Anchors the Soul

I Am

Let Go and Let God

Live with Purpose

Prayer Changes Things

This Too Shall Pass

Inspiration Stones – $2.95/each

How do you connect to us?

Did you know…

We have a retail site: http://www.courageinstone.com

We have a wholesale site: http://www.shopgivecourage.net

We have an Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/CourageInStone

We have an Amazon store: http://www.amazon.com/gp/browse.html?ie=UTF8&marketplaceID=ATVPDKIKX0DER&me=A3D3XC5WPNZHQI

We have an EBAY store: http://stores.ebay.com/courageinstone

We tweet:  @courageinstone

We’re on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CourageInStone

We’re on Instagram:  CourageInStone

Our blog is: www.courageinstone.blog

Whew! That’s a lot of social media.

And I’m sure in a couple of days/months/years, there will be something else that we’ll need to connect to or join.  Sometimes it’s just too much.  But most of the time it’s a whole lot of fun.  It’s very, very cool to be able to connect to all of our customers all over the world with just a few clicks!

And we love each and every one of you…no matter how you connect to us!

 

And Now Introducing…

Back in October, I wrote a post describing how a ‘Behind the Scenes’ day came to be.  You can read it here.  My talented photographer friend from Three Continents Photography came out to the warehouse and captured a ‘day in the life’ of CourageInStone.com.  I have to admit, it was kinda weird.  When you’re having your photo taken of your everyday actions, it’s terribly difficult to remember to act naturally.  But, all the dusting and cleaning and primping paid off and I think she created a perfect photo story of what life is like here at our offices.  Hopefully you’ll enjoy ‘meeting’ us and getting to know us a little bit better.

I will start by showing off a series of my favorites from the day.  These photos I think capture the essence of our business, personalities and philosophy.

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Come on in!
This is me, Brenda, looking through the glass window from my office into the front office. Suzi works at her desk in the background.
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A broader view of the pass through window in my office. Just to the right of me are several framed newspaper articles from 2002 and 2004 when the business was just getting going. I like that they remind me of how far we’ve come.  You can also see a few clues that my son spends time in the office with me!
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So lucky to work with these ladies everyday. We laugh. A lot.
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An integral part of the business. Both the truck and the dogs. Suzi’s Baxter is on the edge of the dock; my dog Louie is a cautious distance back.
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Beth is in charge of packing and shipping.
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Bins, bins, bins. We ship thousands of packages via the United States Postal Service.
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It took years to tweak a perfect packing station and this is the result. It’s roomy, efficient and custom built by my helpful hubby.
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I don’t get to do it much anymore, but I really enjoy pulling and packing the orders. There is a huge sense of satisfaction in seeing the order on paper, neatly packaging the items and sending them on their way. I know how much I enjoy getting packages delivered to me, so I like to think of how our customers will be excited when they see our package show up.
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Our entire staff. Some are squirmier than others.

Obviously, packing is a huge piece of our business.  Like the packing station, it took years of trial and error to fine tune our shipping methods.  Finding the right packaging materials and most efficient manner of shipping sounds easy, but it’s an oddly tedious undertaking.  Customers order all kinds of different combinations of items.  And the difference of a few ounces in weight or a day or two quicker in time in transit can mean a huge difference in shipping costs.  So over the years we’ve gotten pretty darn good at using each shipping method to our advantage.  So, while our shipping ‘department’ is only one person, it’s a very, very important and detailed part of the company.   Here’s Beth in action!

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One of the super fun parts of the job is bringing in or designing new merchandise.  It’s a tricky thing, though.  Even after years and years of practice, sometimes we just don’t get it right.  But, when we do, it’s super satisfying and exciting.  Once we decide on a new product, photos need to be taken and merchandising begins.  We have to think of descriptions, take measurements, and list them on 5 different websites.  It’s a process, for sure.  Here is Suzi and I working on a new project – these are our new Ceramic Stone Necklaces, which are only found in our Etsy shop.

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And what office is complete without a canine staff?  Surely we have the cutest and cuddliest 4-legged workers in all the east?!  Baxter is the worlds friendliest cockapoo and most definitely the favorite of the delivery folks.  He takes his job as dock door greeter very, very seriously.  Louie, on the other hand, is a mutt who is slightly suspicious of those loud trucks…but he serves as a great guard dog!  Of course, he can always be convinced to relax with a cookie or two.  The delivery people take great pride in winning him over!

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So, the next time you order, I hope it helps that we’ve ‘introduced’ ourselves.  Are we and this place what you imagined?

~Brenda, Suzi, Beth, Louie and Baxter