Wednesday, 28 January 2015

NEW! Washed Out Soap Co



Very excited to announce Little Miss Delicious now stocks beautiful handmade cold process soap from Washed Out Soap Co. Both The Classic and The Barista are available from www.littlemissdelicious.com, and are both luxuriously nourishing and vegan friendly!

Did you know that most commercial soaps have actually had some of their most effective and skin-positive properties removed? That's what is to blame for the dried out, grainy feeling that you feel after using them. Natural soaps are packed with all of the properties that soap is supposed to have, making for a refreshed and gentle wash that leaves skin feeling soft and smooth, with no awful squeaky dryness!


The Classic is a beautiful nourishing handmade cold process soap packed with a blend of lovely oils that leaves the skin feeling soft, smooth, clean and lightly moisturised. The fragrance is a light, vanilla cream; smooth, luxurious and sweet.

The Barista is a beautiful nourishing handmade cold process soap fwith an invigorating twist - this all natural delight is made with a concentrated espresso base and packed with delicious brewed Arabica coffee grounds! The natural acids in the coffee help to smooth and firm the skin, even skintone, and the grounds provide a gentle but very effective natural exfoliant.

With a creamy coffee fragrance that is rich but not overpowering, this cleansing soap is great for detoxifying and it can also help alleviate certain common skin issues such as eczema and acne.

All Washed Out Soap Co. soaps are completely handmade and cut and stamped by hand. Vegan friendly and cruelty free, they're the perfect addition to any home and make a beautiful, unique gift!


Now the only question is - which one will you be treating yourself to first? Shop now.


Thursday, 22 January 2015

Throwback Thursday

I've been considering posting this for a while, but I keep wimping out! I started Little Miss Delicious 5 years ago as a hobby, and I've come a long way since then. I spend hours working on each individual piece and due to the handmade nature of my pieces, over the years my techniques and processes have changed a lot and (hopefully!) improved along the way. I try and re-photograph pieces over time so the website shows a current representation of the product, but I always keep the old shots to help show me how far I've come. I've always been too embarrassed to share them, but I thought I'd give you a little insight into the journey of LMD designs from when I first started to now!


 





Everyone has to start somewhere, and it's really interesting being able to see my journey over the past 5 years in picture form. When you're buying a handmade product, you aren't just buying that finished result. You're buying all those years of trial and error, all the experimentation, experience and hard work that led to the final product, all the upgrades in tools and equipment (including cameras!). You aren't just buying an item, you're buying a piece of the artist and their journey.

I'm excited to see how LMD designs evolve even more over the next 5 years!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Today's Workspace: New Studio Space


I realised that I haven't actually taken any pictures of the new Little Miss Delicious studio since we moved in October because I haven't really been happy with it. Since the day we moved in all I've done is work - I hadn't even really finished unpacking everything, so there was just no order at all! With the rush of Hallowe'en then Christmas, I hadn't had any time to sort it, so I've been busy this week trying to get it in some sort of order. While the space isn't as big as my last studio room, I think I actually quite prefer working in a smaller space - it makes it a lot easier to get to everything, especially considering I manage to lose my scissors at least 3 times a day. And it's meant I have to be a little more savvy when it comes to storage, especially since we have a little kitten now so anything that might be a toy needs to be kept in a box!



I still need to buy a couple of extra shelves for the units and picture frames so I can get some art up on the walls which are looking very boring at the moment - by the time I'm happy with it, it'll probably be time to move again! I'm also due a big restock of all the fun extras I now stock from other companies, which is why some units are looking a little bare, but overall I think I actually prefer this in terms of practicality. It's nice having a separate table specifically for packaging, as well as a unit for bookkeeping and other boring business things tucked away in the corner.




I'm trying not to get too comfortable since our contract ends in May, so we aren't here for too long but I'm definitely a lot happier with it now, and thanks to Pinterest I've been collecting plenty of ideas for my next workspace already! Sorry some of the pictures are a bit rubbish - perks of living in Newcastle in winter, we rarely get sunshine.

What would your ideal workspace be like?

Sunday, 18 January 2015

FAQs Series: Understanding Tax Returns

For many self employed and small businesses owners, January can be a very daunting month thanks to the looming tax return deadline. When I first started, I was ready to hire an accountant because I just couldn't get my head around it all, but after a bit of research, list making and lots of organisation, I realised it's not as hard as you'd think!

While I'm by no means an expert and I only have experience of doing my own Self Assessment form as a sole trader, I thought I'd share some tips with you to hopefully help you understand how to keep track of your expenses, what you can claim for and how easy it can actually be if you keep on top of it.

Do I need to do a tax return?

You must always send a tax return if you are:
  • a self-employed sole trader
  • a partner in a business partnership
  • a company director (unless it’s for a non-profit organisation, eg a charity, and you don’t get any pay or benefits)
If you’re registered for Self Assessment, you’ll usually get a letter in April or May from HMRC telling you to send a tax return, and outlining the relevant deadlines. Even if you don't have tax to pay, you still need to send a tax return.

Record keeping

The key is to keep your records updated as often as possible. You must keep records of your business income and expenses for your tax return if you're self employed as a sole trader or partner in a business partnership. You'll also need to keep records of your personal income. Each tax year runs from 6th April - 5th April the next year.

I find it's best to use a spreadsheet that you can update at the end of each week (or month, if that's easier for you), with categories similar to those laid out in the Self Assessment form - although I separate them a little more to help me keep track of specific spending. I record income and expenses by the date I was invoiced or billed, with separate worksheets for online sales, wholesale orders and event sales, then separate ones for business expenses and capital expenses, with each worksheet being organised by month with an autosum adding everything together at the end of each month. 


The final worksheet is an overview putting all this information together, so I can see how much I'm spending on various expenses per month, what months I see increases/decreases in orders/spending to help me prepare for the next year, and simple figures that I can input straight into the Self Assessment form when it's time to do my tax return. It's also handy to have when you need to prove your income/expenses but for something that doesn't accept a tax return or needs something more in depth.

I keep all my receipts in a box, organised into little bags by month which is probably unnecessary but helps me keep track of what has been filed and what hasn't. Since most of my spending for supplies etc is done online, I tend not to print those receipts off but instead have separate folders in my inbox for each years tax return, so if I'm ever queried they're all super easy to find and print off, but until then I'd prefer to save on paper and ink if I can!

I do however print off 2 of every order form when I get orders via my website - one to go in the parcel for the customer, and one for my records. Since everything is sent via recorded delivery, I staple the proof of postage receipt to each order form so it's easy to find in case there are any issues. This means I have hard copies ready for tax purposes too. In terms of events, I take a notepad with me each time to mark down what is sold, which helps plan what to take next time while also giving me proof of income from event sales.

What you can claim for

Perhaps the most confusing part of doing your own taxes is actually knowing what you can and can't claim for. The gov.uk website has a helpful PDF listing all of these, but for ease I'll outline the most relevant below. While most are straight forward, some can be a little confusing, such as what portion of rent or bills you can claim if you work from home, and for this you can use simplified expenses (flat rates) for this. If you decide not to use this method, you must keep all the bills you’ve paid and show what portion of each bill is due to you working at home.

Allowable expenses

Accountancy, legal and other professional fees
  • Allowable expenses: Accountants, solicitors, surveyors, architects and other professional fees
  • Non-allowable expenses: Legal costs of buying property and large items of equipment; costs of settling tax disputes and fines for breaking the law

Advertising and business entertainment costs
  • Allowable expenses: Advertising in newspapers, directories etc, mailshots, free samples and website costs
  • Non-allowable expenses: Entertaining clients, suppliers and customers; hospitality at events

Bank, credit card and other financial charges
  • Allowable expenses: Bank, overdraft and credit card charges; hire purchase interest and leasing payments; alternative finance payments
  • Non-allowable expenses: Repayment of the loans or overdrafts or finance arrangements

Car, van and travel expenses
  • Allowable expenses: Car and van insurance, repairs, servicing, fuel, parking, hire charges, vehicle licence fees, AA/RAC membership; train, bus, air and taxi fairs and hotel room costs and meals on overnight business trips
  • Non-allowable expenses: Non-business motoring costs (private use proportions); fines; costs of buying vehicles; travel costs between home and business; other meals

Communications, stationery and other office costs 
  • Allowable expenses: Phone, mobile, internet, email and fax running costs; postage, stationery, printing and small office equipment costs; computer software
  • Non-allowable expenses: Non-business or private use proportion of expenses; new phone, fax, computer hardware or other equipment costs

Costs of goods that you are going to sell or use in providing a service
  • Allowable expenses: Cost of goods brought for resale, cost of raw materials used, direct cost of producing goods
  • Non-allowable expenses: Cost of goods or materials bought for private use; depreciation of equipment

Insurance policy
  • Allowable expenses: Costs of any business specific policy
  • Non-allowable expenses: Recoverable costs

Interest on bank and other business loans
  • Allowable expenses: Interest on bank and other business loans and alternative finance payments
  • Non-allowable expenses: Repayment of the loans or overdrafts, or finance arrangements

Other business expenses
  • Allowable expenses: Trade or professional journals and subscriptions; other sundry business running expenses not included elsewhere
  • Non-allowable expenses: Payments to clubs, charities, political parties etc; non-business part of any expenses; cost of ordinary clothing

Rent, rates power and insurance costs
  • Allowable expenses: Rent for business premises, business and water rates, light, heat, power, property insurance, security; use of home as office (business proportion only)
  • Non-allowable expenses: Costs of any non-business part of premises; costs of buying business premises

Repairs and renewals for property and equipment
  • Allowable expenses: Repairs and maintenance of business premises and equipment; renewals of small tools and items of equipment
  • Non-allowable expenses: Repairs of non-business parts of premises or equipment; costs of improving or altering premises and equipment

Wages, salaries and other staff costs
  • Allowable expenses: Salaries, wages, bonuses, pensions, benefits for staff or employees; agency fees, subcontract, labour costs; employers' NICs etc
  • Non-allowable expenses: Own wages and drawings, pension payments or NICs; payments for non-business work

Capital allowances

Capital allowances are a little more tricky to understand, and tend to include anything you use in your business that has a useful life of over two years. This means you can claim capital allowances for certain items that don't fall under allowable expenses, such as:
  • Machinery: including cars, vans, computers and tools
  • Fixtures and fittings: including shelves, furniture and fittings
If you buy an item on hire purchase, you can claim a capital allowance on the original cost, but the interest and other charges count as business expenses.

And don't forget to keep receipts/invoices for everything!



Deadlines

The deadline for paper filing is by 31st October, but more relevant these days is for online filing, which is by 31st January. To file online, you must register for Self Assessment and it takes approximately 7 working days to receive an activation code by post.

According to HMRC, half a million tax returns were sent in on deadline day last year, but I can't stress enough how helpful it is to file it early and avoid the last minute panic. It's honestly a huge weight off your shoulders just filing it as soon as you can after the tax years ends (6th April), and if you keep a detailed account of incoming and outgoing expenditure in a spreadsheet like the one pictured above, it should be a breeze.

Simple mistakes such as forgetting to do the last step and submit your completed form result in an automatic penalty, so make sure you check it has been successfully submitted. I highly recommend saving or printing off a copy of your completed return to ensure it has been submitted, as well as ensuring you have a copy for your own records.
You must keep your records for at least 5 years after 31 January of the relevant tax year, and be ready to justify and sums and figures if queried. 

Again, I must stress I am no expert when it comes to taxes, but instead this is all based on my own personal experience. What tips do you have for any new sole traders filing their first tax return?
If you feel like you still need an extra bit of help, there is an HMRC helpline you can call on 0300 200 3310 or you can register for an online chat service to answer any questions you may have. 

Read more FAQs Series posts here.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Highlights of 2014

After a hard year last year, I decided to do a post of the highlights, and it's actually really nice to look back on so thought I'd do the same for this year! While last year was one of the worst of my life, this year has without a doubt been one of the best. 

Moving in with Ash

The main reason this has been the best year is definitely thanks to moving in with Ash, who is quite literally my better half. 8 months into living together, and every day is still just as fun as the last. 


He's helped teach me it's okay to relax and have time off sometimes, and I've just generally been a much happier person since we created our own home! Even if we did have absolutely awful problems with mould, I'm just happy I get to spend every day with my best friend in our own little corner of the world.


Doing London Tattoo Convention for a 3rd Year

London Tattoo Convention is always one of my favourite shows to do, and it was so exciting doing it again for my third year running. 


Although I didn't get round to blogging about it, it was such a fantastic event and it was great catching up with other businesses I love and admire, as well as amazingly supportive customers and lots of new ones too!


The Great North Run

One of the hardest but most rewarding parts of my year was definitely doing The Great North Run. 


I began training in March but it still wasn't enough to prepare me for how hard it was on the day! Building up to doing it with an invisible illness was extremely difficult since any time I pushed myself to hard, I got an IC flare up that set me back weeks. So I had to do it really slowly, starting with walks and light cardio, until I was ready to do 10 miles in August, and ultimately tackle the 13.1 miles of the Great North Run in September.


I never in my life ever, ever thought I'd sign up to do a run, nevermind a half marathon, but I wanted to do something to honour my grandad's memory, and running has become my way of staying close to him even though he's no longer here. When I run, I get time to myself to think, and remember how special he was. I still can't believe my dad, aunty and I managed to raise an amazing £3,083.66 (inc. Gift Aid) for The Brain Tumour Charity in his memory. You can view our JustGiving page here, and hopefully we'll be doing more events in the future for such a well deserving charity, to honour one of the greatest people I've ever known.


As much I was ready to just sleep at the side of the road on the 12th mile, for some reason I've signed up to do it again this year! I must be mental. I'm already dreaming of that magical beer at the end ;)

Woodland Creatures Collection

This year I've had the chance to try lots of new fun ideas through limited and mini collections, but nothing pushed me as hard as the Woodland Creatures Collection.


I've always mostly stuck to food based designs, but it's been so fun trying new themes but keeping the LMD feel, and while the Woodland Creatures Collection was one of the most difficult, it was also the most rewarding when I saw the finished results! Now I just have to decide what collections to line up for 2015...


Becoming a Cat Parent 

It's no secret I've always been a dog person, and cats have always unnerved me a little - all you ever hear is how they're so unpredictable and aggressive, but the second I met Salem it was love at first 'aww!'. 


He's only been in our lives for 2 months now, but he's already my favourite little side kick and I couldn't have asked for a more perfect little guy. He's from Westgate Ark Neutering Clinic, and was found in a box outside in the middle of a housing estate. It's been amazing watching him go from an underweight terrified kitten, to a confident, sassy little panther! 


Everything I ever thought about cats just hasn't been true, instead I've learnt if you treat an animal right and shower them with love and attention (yes, he's the most spoiled little guy ever), then they'll never be randomly aggressive or destructive. Not yet, anyway!


New Stock: Lip Balms and Bath Bakes

This year has seen Little Miss Delicious grow in exciting new ways, including lots of fun new stock.


One of my goals is to start stocking items from other handmade, independent brands and I began doing that with Maskitec Lip Balms and Miss Patisserie Bath Bakes, Bubble Cups and Gift Boxes - and they've gone down a storm already!



Going Back To Brown

After years (and years and years) of having bright hair, I've gone back to my natural colour. Rather than being a decision because I wanted to have brown hair, it was more a necessity as I was just too busy to keep dyeing it, and I was sick of always having mammoth roots.


I'm still adjusting to life without glowing under a UV light, but it's definitely nice not having to dye it weekly!


Our First Christmas as a Family

Usually Christmas means I go to my family for dinner, and Ash goes to his, then we pay extortionate money for taxis back home at night. But this year we decided instead of spending the day running around, we'd spend it together with the cat and hedgehog, in our little dysfunctional family. It was just absolutely perfect.


It was the most relaxing, lovely Christmas I could have ever asked for, full of champagne, yummy food and cuddles on the sofa. What more could a girl ask for? ;)


What were your highlights of 2014?

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Last Minute Beauty Gift Guide

Happy Christmas Eve Eve! I *think* I've just about finished all my shopping this year, but for those of you that are still struggling for the last few bits, I spoke to my favourite make-up artist, the lovely Sali from Ms Moo Make-up, to see what beauty treats she'd recommend!

"There’s SO much choice out there on the beauty counters at Christmas, I’m like a kid in the biggest sweetshop ever; I want it all and I want it now! That’s what Queen said, right? ;)

Here’s what would be on my Christmas wishlist, and what any lady in your life would be all too happy to receive!



I love No7. I’ve got oodles of their products in my kit and always hope to get some of their skincare stuff at Christmas. It’s all found fab for all skintypes (but they do specialist ones too!) and quality is fantastic. Also, Boots always seem to give away those £5.00 vouchers off No7 stuff, and it feels like you’re getting it for free every time you get a voucher. It’s vicious spending circle, and I love it!



I couldn’t possibly pick between the two of these, they are fab. You’ve pretty much got every brush you could possibly need in these kits, and the handy little storage pouches are a great touch. Keeps your brushes organised and separate from the no doubt deluage of products in your make-up bag. Just remember to keep the brushes clean after each use!




Oh me, oh my. This trio set is to die for. A gorgeous vintage brown shadow, renowned eyebrow gel to shape and fill your browns with a natural look and the absolute best gel liner ever. I mean it. The best gel liner ever. Practice sure makes perfect but you slick a line of that on at the start of the day, and I guarantee it’ll still be there at the end of your day; I use it on all my clients and swear by it.



Coming in a range of shades, slick a little of this notorious wonder product under your eyeshadow and it’ll stay put. Guaranteed. Each shade will have a slightly different effect on your eyeshadow but the original and sin ones are my faves. And the travel versions are dinky if you’ve not much space in your make-up bag :)





This palette is a little treat, and available from your local Superdrug and online. From daytime to nighttime in one palette, with great matte and pearl shades. Lots of people often discount neutral colours but they are becoming more and more popular at the moment. Which is great for me, because I love working with them!"

I absolutely love all of Sali's choices! You can find her on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. What would be your ultimate Christmas cosmetics wishlist?


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