*It’s the blogging dream, is it not, to ‘make it’; to follow in the footsteps of Zoella, Fleur de Force and A Sprinkle of Glitter, watching your stats sky-rocket and reaping the benefits of a successful site.
After getting back into blogging at the beginning of this year, I started to notice a vast amount of bloggers being ‘gifted’ products, and reviewing these products as a form of payment. Of course, the prospect of free stuff tends to interest us all. I’m pretty sure we’ve all played that game in IKEA, who can stuff as many pencils in their pockets/purse as possible while wandering around the maze of departments.
Blogging has become quite a lucrative business, with companies eager to send products to bloggers in return for a post featuring the product(s) usually in review form, allowing the companies to use the following the chosen blogger has accumulated, and the blogger to get some free stuff… win win.
That’s all well and good if you’ve got a hefty following, but for the little(er) bloggers, who don’t have as much time to dedicate to their online presence, they hardly ever get a look in. You could say that’s fair, if someone isn’t spending as much time on their blog than others, they can’t expect the same perks, and of course, I agree, to a point.
I’ve visited quite a few blogs over the past few years, and I find it incredibly frustrating when a blogger does not match your expectations. By this, I mean I hate it when I see a blogger has a huge following, but their posts are of a pretty poor standard. Obviously I realise I run the risk of sounding incredibly big-headed and generally unsupportive of fellow-bloggers, but how would you feel if someone was doing a poor job of something that you love?
Sure there’s a little bit of green-eyed monster coming out to play in this, but let me tell you, it’s pretty tiring watching other bloggers (namely, the ones I think are a bit poor) do sponsored review after sponsored review, and climb further and further up the ladder. It makes me wonder what the hell am I doing wrong?!
Nothing, I’m told. I think I’ve just generally been too busy to spend hours promoting myself via social media, or emailing companies directly, or rocking up to one of many blogging events where I’d know no-one and vice versa.
Still, that doesn’t stop the odd person popping up who is willing to take a chance on my writing and reviewing skills, my stats and my small social media influence.
Picture the scene: A cold, rainy winter’s night in the centre of student-ville, Chester. I’d just finished taking part in a blogger chat on Twitter and was in the process of pulling on my Ugg boots to head across the road and grab some chips (healthy tea, I know), when a tweet came through from a little business called Prairie Charms.
The tweet, in addition to a series of direct messages between myself and the business, revealed that they were looking for bloggers who would be interested in trialling out a new service they were planning on introducing to customers later on in the year. The service is (in my opinion) similar to that of the Graze Box. For those of you unfamiliar with a Graze Box, it’s basically a service where you pay a certain amount of money every month and the company send you products of theirs that they think you’ll love.
Sounds quite good!
I’ll be honest; when I was contacted by Prairie Charms I had to do a little bit of Googling because I’d never heard of them before. One doesn’t just say yes to something without checking it out first. Besides, the products may not have been right for my blog theme (though I don’t really have one), the company may have been in support of things I don’t agree with (seems far-fetched but still, it’s something to consider) and finally, it could have been a scam.*
Thankfully it wasn’t a scam, and instead I was quite happy to find that Prairie Charms are actually a lovely, small independently run business. Based in the north of England, they offer a range of handmade accessories, from hair ties and floral crowns to nail art and unusual stationary, Prairie cater to the quirky, colourful, girly streak in all of us.
In addition to this, they also kindly donate 10% of their profits to Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital Charity, an example a vast number of widely successful companies would do well to emulate.
After agreeing to take part in the trial there was some time between saying yes and actually receiving the product. Of course, I can’t hold this against them as the enormity of the task they had undertaken in organising over forty bloggers in one go, in addition to working to introduce new lines for the summer and processing other customers orders is quite something!
In spite of the time gap, Prairie made sure I was kept in the loop, emailing me frequently with updates. The beauty of this was that it became less of a business deal (in that I would write about them in exchange for them sending me their products) and more like I had almost become part of the company. Prairie Charms were kind enough to send us previews of elements of the packaging, asking for feedback every step of the way.
This made it all the more special for me when I did receive my Prairie Pizzazz, having been kept informed of the progress of the product for so long, it was difficult not to feel like I had contributed (in a VERY small way) to its production.
So there we have it, the first edition of the Prairie Pizzazz.
But what’s inside it?
Well first of all, it’s worth explaining that each series of boxes is themed, and our theme for this month was ‘festival’ (appropriate given that as I write this, Glastonbury is in full swing), meaning that we each received products that wouldn’t look out of place on someone right at the front of the main Pyramid Stage.
Prairie Charms were also considerate enough to ask us about our own personal likes and dislikes when it comes to accessories, giving the box a personalised feel to it, in addition to making sure we didn’t receive something that we knew would never be worn.
Inside my Prairie Pizzazz I received:
- Dottie Rocks Custom Gold Foil Postcard Print (a lovely guest contribution by Dottie Rocks who specialize in custom made foil prints. Guest contributions are expected to continue with each edition of Prairie Pizzazz)
- Esme Treat Bags & ZaraMama Popping Corn
- Arabella Fringe Faux Suede Pendant
- Erin Blush Floral Trim Garland
- Quinn Liberty London Fabric Updo Hair Wrap
- Mia Iridescent Czech Bracelet Duo
- Cassie Faux Leather Darling Bow
- Verity Paper Straw Sample Pack
- Lissie Custom Knot Ties
- Lightning Bolt Sample Nail Vinyls
(See the Gallery below for images of a selection of products)
So which of the products do I like best, and are there any I don’t like?
Honestly, the only thing I haven’t used (yet) is the bracelet duo, and that is simply because I’m not a bracelet person. Thinking back to when I used to order Graze boxes, there were numerous instances where I received something that I wasn’t a huge fan of, but really, you can’t expect a company who has never met you in person to know, in perfect detail, your likes and dislikes.
The beauty of Prairie Charms however, is that if you DO receive a product you’re not 100% keen on, the company are both easily contactable and approachable enough for you to contact them if you do have any issues.
My favourite products within the box are the Lightning Bolt Nail Vinyls, the Arabella Fringe Pendant, the Cassie Faux Leather Bow and the Quinn Liberty London Fabric Hair Wrap. I love these products in particular because as I spend the majority of time at work these days, it’s easiest for me to accessorize my hair and my nails above anything else.
I also love the Nail Vinyls because Prairie have a ‘DIY Challenge’, allowing for customers to show off their nail artistry by using the product and posting photos on Instagram. It’s important to remember to use #PrairiePizzazzDIY when posting the photo, as it enters you into a competition to win yet more goodies from Prairie Charms. Details of this can be found on the back of the ‘Toppings’ card insert, and is well worth checking out as you could win a nail vinyl hamper!
So after receiving the first edition of the Prairie Pizzazz, would I order again?
The short answer is yes.
The long answer is yes I would, but I think it would be a good idea to implement a small questionnaire for customers to fill out before sending out their first box. I think Prairie would do well to get to know their customers EVEN MORE by asking them their likes and dislikes, what they are most/least likely to wear etc, to really personalise each box and avoid customers receiving products that they know will probably never be worn.
On a more personal level, aside from the products themselves, I’m grateful to Prairie Charms for actually giving me this opportunity. As I mentioned earlier, it’s incredibly difficult to actually get a company to be willing to work with you. Focus tends to be on the figures rather than the quality of the writing. Thankfully Prairie’s ethos is such that they are enormously supportive of smaller bloggers, looking for quality in place of quantity much like the products they sell. Prairie Charms have been wonderful throughout, they have responded to every query I’ve had and responded positively to the feedback I gave them, and I would happily work with them again.
If you’re interested in bagging yourself a Prairie Pizzazz Box then be sure to contact Prairie directly on Facebook or Twitter. You could also head over to their online store, where the full range of products are available.
There are two types of box available, the Deluxe Prairie Pizzazz is retailed at £25 and will include all the items featured in my post, provided you use the hashtag #ASHLEYPIZZAZZ when contacting Prairie Charms. The second box is the Prairie Pizzazz Slice, retailed at £15 it’s obviously a smaller variation on the main box, featuring a selection of (full size) sample products. Once again, the Slice can be purchased by contacting Prairie Charms, using the hashtag #ASHLEYPIZZAZZ in doing so.
Until next time folks,
P.S. Don’t forget, #ASHLEYPIZZAZZ!!
*Sadly, as with everything in life, there are some who like to spread misery and abuse the system. It’s worth pointing out that my wariness was totally unrelated to this company.