You Can Take It Back Home With You

Do you ever go to the beach and wish you could bring something back home with you?  Other than the tons of sand in towels, beach toys, and shells, that is?

When I was growing up, we had really hard well water.  After a while, of course, the minerals from the water would build up on our hair.  Every time we went to the beach, Mom would luxuriate in how the soft beach water made her hair feel – soft, light, and conditioned.  When my parents built their house some 20ish years ago, one of their top priorities was a water softening system, because Mom wanted her hair always to feel soft and not weighted down.

Also when I was growing up, my grandparents had the best water.  They lived 20 minutes from us (so nowhere near the beach), and that water made the most amazing coffee!  It was so good and turned this one-cup-a-day drinker to a 3-cup drinker while I was at Grandma and Grandpa’s.  When I was in high school, my grandparents got a place at the beach so Grandpa would have someplace to stay when he was fishing.  Welcome beach water!  It had the same sweet flavor of my grandparents’ water, but even better!

Fast forward several years to my meeting Peter and spending time at his parents’ beach house.  I was living in a place with awful municipal water; I had to add lemon juice to make it palatable to me.  But the beach house…  One sniff and I knew the water would be as incredible as at my grandparents’ home.  I tasted it and was sent back to their house while I was growing up.  Cup after cup of the smoothest coffee went down while I sat or stood on the dock, savoring the delicious flavor dancing on my tongue.

Fast forward a few more years, and since we couldn’t bring enough water back to keep me satisfied, we went to where the water is.  We moved to the beach, and the water is almost as smooth and soft as what my Grandparents had.  (And I certainly drink enough of it!)  A little farther east, and we discovered the water at Kure Beach is reminiscent of that which was at the beach house.  I can bring a little of that back with me, and I do every time we’re there.

Moving to the beach isn’t an option for many people.  Some can’t afford it, some prefer living elsewhere, and still others love the idea all the way up to hurricane season, when the idea doesn’t seem quite as winning.  When you can’t turn your vacation into something more permanent, you can bring the beach back home with you (no vacuuming required).

Wherever your vacation takes you along our glorious North Carolina coast, we have a soap for you so you can savor those vacation memories just a little bit longer.  Starting on the northern part of the coast takes you to world-class surfing, wind-swept dunes, and wildly primitive beaches.  Outer Banks Storm captures this area with its rustic cedar-shingled homes and the sharp tang as a storm blows in from the sea.

Outer Banks soap
Outer Banks Storm


Go south just a little bit and the southern Outer Banks takes you to Crystal Coast Morning.  You know those mornings at my in-laws’ beach house I mentioned?  I captured them in this scent – sans coffee.  Zippy and fresh, this scent is like waking up on a late autumn morning to an empty beach in the off-season when the air is pure and crisp and all that tickles your ears are the sounds of waves kissing the sand.

CCM soap
Crystal Coast Morning

Keep going a little further south and you arrive at our gorgeous Cape Fear beaches.  The Cape Fear River meanders its way from mid-state to the ocean and lends its name to this region.  Surf City, Topsail, Wrightsville, Carolina, Kure Beaches… Each wonderful in its own right, depending on what you’re looking for.  We generally go to Kure Beach.  It’s a quiet beach with a fishing pier and lifeguards, as well as a public bath house and free parking.  And I mentioned the water, right?  Kure Beach Afternoon is pure ocean with a slight tangy zip underscored by a whisper of sunscreen.  It’s hanging out at the beach with a bunch of other local home educating families on a beautiful late summer day as clouds scuttle overhead.

Kure Beach soap
Kure Beach Afternoon

And finally, we come to Ocean Isle Beach, easily one of the jewels of our Brunswick County Beaches.  This island is paradise just after the season ends when it’s still warm enough to enjoy the beach but the isle isn’t thronged with tourists.  My teen and I enjoy weekends away each year to a resort on the island.  Wide, powdery, sandy beaches; calm waters; and the rustle of palm fronds overhead as we sit on our balcony or float in the pool.  It’s a beach vacation made for chillin’ and sipping something cold and fruity while all the stress melts away.  That moment became Ocean Isle Beach.  A crisp ocean scent mingles with sweet fruits as you remember what it was like to watch your cares blow away on a warm breeze.

Ocean Isle – Weekend in Paradise

Which one of these jewels of the beach would you want to bring back with you?  What memories will you love to capture in your shower?

Time for a Little Caretaking

As most of you know, not only am I an entrepreneur and CEO of a growing bath + body business, but I’m also a mom and a home educator.  My days are often busy, but I don’t declare that to make myself look superior; it just is what it is, and most days, what may look like busy work to some people is productive hobby time for me.  With all these responsibilities and duties, there must be time to completely unplug, relax, and unwind away from it all.  A little over a week ago, Mary, Vice President of Product Development and COO of Girly Arts Made by ME, and I struck off to the beach for the weekend.

This was exactly what we needed.  You may have caught my write-up last week about the impressive guest care skills of Garison at The Winds Resort at Ocean Isle Beach.  That whole weekend was exactly what these Corporate Divas needed.  Just picture white powder beaches with warm water, lush tropical landscaping, and restful moments reading in a hammock under waving palm trees.  Yeah, it was that good.  There were cold beverages, good eats, and restful nights’ sleep accented by a friendly, accommodating staff.

That picture-perfect postcard that mocks you with, "It's beautiful.  Wish you were here."
That picture-perfect postcard that mocks you with, “It’s beautiful. Wish you were here.”
A peek at some of that luscious tropical landscaping The Winds is known for.
A peek at some of that luscious tropical landscaping The Winds is known for.

We enjoyed our time immensely and returned home feeling loose and mellow.  I truly haven’t experienced that much calm time in forever, and it was amazing!

It’s important, now that we’re home, to maintain that peaceful feeling, to take moments to do things that help promote a calm spirit.  Knitting is my mini-vacation of choice these days.  Studies have actually shown that knitting helps lower blood pressure.  I find having a cat lying beside me also helps me feel incredibly relaxed.  Between the two of these things, most nights it’s a serious struggle getting upstairs to bed, because I’m half asleep with my knitting needles in my hand.  My current project is a lace shawl.  This is it in process:

Sneak peek of the black and sequin lace shawl I'm knitting to go with a red dress.  And jeans.  And...
Sneak peek of the black and sequin lace shawl I’m knitting to go with a red dress. And jeans. And…

This is our secret for chilling out and relaxing, and in the process, we returned home with grand ideas and fresh energy for taking care of orders going into the busy holiday season.  How do you recharge your battery?

Customer Service Excellence

Part of being a business owner and home educator is giving myself permission to take breaks, like escaping to the beach on occasion.  There is, of course, great value to this, as I come back well-rested and refreshed, sometimes with new ideas for ways to serve my customers better.  When I can experience the epitome of excellent customer service in the search for a much-needed break, all the better.

I first encountered Garison online.  No, it wasn’t at any place sordid – no Ashley Madison dot com or match dot com-type places.  I first became aware of Garison through Trip Advisor.  Garison is the Customer Service Manager for The Winds Resort at Ocean Isle Beach, where Mary and I enjoyed a very relaxing weekend away this past weekend.

A view of the beach through the lush tropical landscaping around the resort
A view of the beach through the lush tropical landscaping around the resort
Mary and me in front of one of the cool, kitschy, totally necessary signs directing you places
Mary and me in front of one of the cool, kitschy, totally necessary signs directing you places

So, what made this guy stand out?  Simply put, it was how he handled all reviews, both positive and negative.  While Garison hasn’t been at The Winds very long (18 months or so), he made an effort to address reviews that predate the start of his tenure at the resort.  Dealing with complaints from what a predecessor did takes some integrity, and I admire integrity.  To reviews that end with, “I’m never coming back!” he replies with a smooth, “Even if you don’t stay with us, we hope you’ll come back to Ocean Isle Beach for your next vacation.”  A 5-star review got a response of, “Navigating The Winds’ many pathways can indeed be challenging. (There’s a reason we hand out maps! <g> ).”  There are winding paths around the property, so the maps are quite helpful.  To another 5-star review, there was this comment, which I found amusing, given that it was overcast and lightly raining until the morning we had to leave:  “I do apologize, however, that we failed to maintain sufficient control of the weather for you. I will speak with our staff about that and see if we can’t do better for your next visit.”  Garison did more than just blow off the reviews with a “Thanks for staying with us and we look forward to seeing you again soon”; he took the time to read each and every review, and he went so far as to accept responsibility on behalf of the resort for things that truly were their fault or failing and using well-placed humor on issues that weren’t.

My daughter and I were already looking forward to the trip, but looking at the online reviews (interesting to note that there’s only been one bad review in the past year) and reading what people were saying, as well as Garison’s responses, just heightened our anticipation and made me want to meet this guy.  As a business owner and one who wants to make sure every customer is happy (not just satisfied), I respect and admire that same quality in others in the customer service sector.  Garison helped at check-in, and he was willing to let me get a picture with him.  On top of that, he was extremely patient with Mary’s efforts to get a clear picture, even though it was time for him to go home for the rest of the weekend.

Garison and me (Photo credit: Mary Nesbitt)
Garison and me (Photo credit: Mary Nesbitt)

I have great respect and admiration for all that Garison has done as Customer Service Manager at The Winds – guest services, managing the staff (and giving them their due for good work), and also taking the time to deal with online comments.  The pleasure Mary and I had as we enjoyed our mom/daughter weekend led us both to declare, “We’re definitely coming back here!”  Garison and his top-notch staff sealed the deal on that.

When’s the last time you took a break from the hustle and bustle of your daily life?  What did you do?