Posts

6 Back to School Marketing Ideas

Summer may not be quite over yet, but back to school time definitely signals the beginning of fall for many of us. As the season turns over, it provides a great excuse for new marketing campaigns for your small business.

Here are 6 marketing ideas for getting ready for back to school:

Offer Exclusive Deals or Back to School Discounts

The back to school shopping season is super competitive, so students and parents are always looking for the best prices for the items on their lists.

If your business sells clothing or school supplies, make you stand out with a sale on essentials. If you operate a coffee shop, cafe, or bakery, you can still get in on the back to school buying craze by offering special deals for parents and students in the morning (like breakfast and coffee) or after school.

Be sure to promote your deals through in-store signage, newsletters (email marketing), and on social media. We recommend starting these sales around August 1, but note that most people tend to procrastinate—so starting now is okay, too.

Show Your Love for Local

Small, local businesses are part of the integral fabric of every community, so be certain to capitalize on the local advantage. There are tons of ways to do this, including hosting fundraisers for local sports teams or music programs, throwing shopping nights that benefit schools, and donating items for raffles.

By reaching out to local public schools, you can take advantage of participating in events that will be planned with or without you. Schools must fundraise to generate money for programs, so why not fundraise in collaboration with your business?

If not yours, it will be someone else’s.

Get Social Online

Busy people (like parents) are generally huge lovers of online shopping. Shoppers are increasingly turning to social media over small businesses’ websites in order to get the most up-to-date information on sales, events, and special store hours, so it makes sense to focus your marketing efforts on public platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Offer your followers a discount when they mention a special code that you post on social media, or when they tag their friends, comment, or re-post something.

Tip: continue to offer deals after back to school. Let your followers know that sales and special deals with your business are not just a one-time offer.

Specifically Promote Back to School Essentials

If you operate a clothing boutique, a cool idea is to create Pinterest boards and lists of the season’s must-have back to school trends, essentials, and gear.

On Instagram, you can post daily images (up to 4-5 times per day at different times) of your top 10 trend picks for fall, or the newest and coolest school gear your small business is carrying.

Incentivize Customers with Gift Cards

A great example of this is what Old Navy routinely does—they provide their shoppers with coupons on future purchases when they spend a specific amount in-store.

Back to school is an expensive time for students and parents, so thank them for choosing to shop with you by offering gift cards for your business when they spend a certain amount during a specific window of time. At the same time, collect their email information to add to your newsletter list.

Then, when you have new merchandise and sales, or when the holidays are approaching, email a reminder or newsletter to these gift card holders and give them a reason to visit you again.

Collaborate with Other Local Businesses

There is strength in numbers when it comes to successful small businesses. Get together with other local stores, coffee shops, and restaurants for back-to-school promotions and events.

When you collaborate with other local businesses, it also means great cross-promotion opportunities through email marketing and social media. It’s a win-win!

And remember: these suggestions are not just for back to school…use them to formulate fall or holiday marketing campaigns, too!


*If you’re interested in having your social media managed, or fun, energetic, and informative blogs written for YOU by Fresh + Fit Vancouver writers, click HERE

Go Farm to Table in Vancouver

The concept is simple: know where your food comes from.

Knowing where your food originates helps to support local farmers who practice clean, sustainable, and humane farming methods. It also increases the likelihood of a healthier meal, because when food is locally sourced, it’s typically less likely to contain weird ingredients, like preservatives, and additives.

Vancouver is a prime location for a large selection of restaurants that can boast their farm to table ideals. With more restaurants per resident than any other city in Canada, the assortment of eateries in Vancouver that place emphasis on fresh, sustainable, healthy food is pretty impressive.

Here is an inexhaustive list of seven restaurants worth checking out, if you’re interested in farm to table:

Fable Restaurant

Everything here is locally sourced, from the fresh and wild BC salmon to the Yarrow duck. The restaurant only uses farm fresh eggs, and locally grown and in-season produce. Cooking from scratch and food culture are two things that chef/owner Trevor Bird tries to emphasize every day.

Located on West 4th Avenue and serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Fable is definitely an amazing place to go to receive a delicious and healthy meal for those who are food conscious.

Graze Vegetarian

Everyone’s heard me say it: I love to graze here. Located on Fraser Street, Graze is an experience for the senses. The restaurant itself is unassuming, and the meals that are prepared here are incredible. I strongly suggest you make a reservation, then enjoy the vegetarian and vegan fare that come your way as a result.

Blue Water Café and Raw Bar

This award-winning restaurant is committed to sourcing sustainable seafood, and that’s what makes this venue interesting and worth visiting. Located in Yaletown, Blue Water Cafe is a favourite of many, and there’s even a cookbook to prove its food is delicious.

Farmer’s Apprentice

Farmer's Apprentice

Located on West 6th Ave, Farmer’s Apprentice is a little slice of heaven. Serving brunch and dinner and boasting a predominantly French wine list, this small venue produces some amazingly fresh eats.

Wildebeest

This one’s not for vegetarian folk.

Operating in Gastown, Wildebeest is the place to go if you believe that every part of an animal should be consumed; no parts wasted. As the winner of the 2013 Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards for Best New Restaurant  and Best New Design, Wildebeest defines itself as producing “meat-centric, off-cut farmhouse fare simply prepared with immaculate ingredients and thoughtful creativity.”

This brave and bold restaurant is located on West Hastings.

Forage

Boasting zero waste efforts and minimal energy consumption, this Vancouver restaurant has actually partnered up with BC Hydro and Live Smart BC! Forage is the winner of Diner’s Choice 2015, and offers breakfast, brunch, and dinner. The menus change with the seasons, and every ingredient is homemade and carefully and mindfully sourced. This Vancouver digs is definitely one to check out.

The Acorn

Located on Main Street, The Acorn is a stylish eatery featuring lovely fare with signature cocktails and local craft beer and wine. Vegetarian, vegan, raw, and gluten-free options are all plentiful here. Praised by the New York Times and Huffington Post as being an incredible vegetarian restaurant, this is one farm to table not to pass by.


*If you’re interested in having fun, energetic, and informative blogs written for YOU by Fresh + Fit Vancouver writers, click HERE.

Wanderlust Whistler for Vancouver Yogis

While yoga on the Burrard Street Bridge may have gotten the ax, there are plenty of other Vancouver events to participate in this summer that feature downward dog. While I started off writing about 5 of them, I found myself narrowing it down to just one–because that’s how cool the following event sounds.

(PS- I really want to go.)

Wanderlust Whistler

From July 30-August 3rd, yogis, hippies, outdoors-men, and general life-lovers alike will participate in a celebration of wellness. Whether you are there for the yummy organic food, yoga and meditation classes, music, or top chefs and winemakers, this family-friendly festival is not to be missed.

Live music will be a massive part of this festival, and confirmed artists for 2015 include Michael Franti, Thievery Corporation, Lake Street Dive, Lee Fields and The Expressions, The Barr Brothers, Rising Appalachia, and MC Yogi.

The Venue

Wanderlust

Taking place in scenic Whistler Village, this festival promises to boast amazing atmosphere. There will be music, speakers, incredible food prepared by some amazing chefs, performers, and of course, a whole lot of tree pose.

Maybe a little mermaid.

Have kids? The Wanderkind children’s festival will also be available for the entire weekend for kids aged 4-10. Activities include yoga (obviously!), arts, crafts, hoola-hooping, and music making.

The Yoga

Wanderlust Whistler brings together the world’s most renowned yoga teachers, and draws participants from all over North America. Confirmed instructors for 2015 include Seane Corn, Shiva Rea, Elena Brower, Rod Stryker, Rodney Yee, Colleen Saidman, and Sri Dharma Mittra.

Between their various teaching styles and the broad spectrum of yoga disciplines, Wanderlust is hypothesized to feature some of the world’s best yoga. If you’re a yogi, you need to be here.

Actually, it doesn’t really matter if you’re a yogi.

Aside from yoga, there will be guided hikes, meditation, zip-lining, rock climbing, cross-country bike riding, rafting, and paddle boarding–something for everyone!

The Food

Wanderlust Food

The Farm to Table Dinner is supposedly an unforgettable dining experience. Local farmers and chefs collaborate to create an inspired assortment of sustainable, eco-friendly, fresh, and local foods that come together in one incredible meal.

There will also be a Farmer’s Market in the Upper Village for participants to check out.

The Drinks

Local winemakers will be present at the festival to showcase their newest varieties. Termed ‘Wanderlust Uncorked,’ the festival organizes small gatherings featuring local wine, craft beer, and fabulous company.

Want tickets?! Thought so–you can get them HERE, but keep in mind that the price goes up July 1st.

Namaste!


*If you’re interested in having fun, energetic, and informative blogs written for YOU by Fresh + Fit Vancouver writers, click HERE.

 

Get Your Glow On with 3 Local Skincare Lines

‘Glow’ has recently become one of my favourite words. It implies health, vigour, youthfulness, and care. Pregnant women glow because they’re taking care of themselves and their growing bambinos. After a workout, your skin glows because you’ve been sweating and all that fabulously circulated blood tints your cheeks. For the same reason (plus one big extra), there’s the after-sex glow. And the suntan glow!

So many glows…I’m telling you—to glow is something to strive for.

Another way to get your glow on, is to invest in really amazing beauty products. If you truly want healthy skin (not just healthy-looking—actually healthy), you need to exercise, eat good food, and use honest products on your face.

We’ve sourced out some locally-produced, gorgeously honest beauty products for you to try, Vancouver. Check these out, and glow all summer long:

Twine Abode

This company was started by two busy mamas, hails from the Fraser Valley, and includes a kid line! Products include shampoos, soaps, scrubs, creams, soy candles, linen and room sprays, and more. Each product is chemical-free, and scented with only mild, natural, pure essential oils.

Visit Twine Abode for more details.

 cosmetics to glow

Affera Cosmetics

Made in Burnaby, this fantastic company makes 100% mineral makeup that is vegan and chemical-free. They have a full line of skincare products and makeup, ladies! Their skincare line is made with raw, natural ingredients and is completely free of preservatives, while their make-up includes products like lightweight foundations that contain a natural sun-block. (That same foundation line also contains anti-inflammatory/healing properties that helps to reduce redness and heals acne by gently killing and removing bacteria, while simultaneously letting your gorgeous skin breathe.)

Visit Affera Cosmetics for more information.

HAUT Cosmetics

“100% FRESH, ETHICALLY COOL, PLANTABLE PACKAGING, VEGAN LUXURY.”

This incredibly diverse makeup line is freshly produced in BC. “Free” is what they preach, and insist on all of their products being titanium dioxide, hormone disruptor, irritant, preservative, gluten, fragrance, GMO, and mica-free.

You have to love this dedication to quality, right?!

They also have an awesome blog that is uber-informative, which you can check out HERE. To find out more about this line of clean makeup and the inspiration behind it, visit Haut Cosmetics for more info.

Eat Your Greens, and Try Something New

This time of year is a goldmine for fresh, local, in-season lettuces and other greens in Vancouver. While studies have shown that most consumers like to stay within their comfort zones and usually only purchase one of the three most common types of greens in North America (iceberg, romaine, and green leaf lettuces), there are many species that boast more nutrients, and contain different antioxidants.

Also, the looser the leaf when growing in the ground, the more antioxidants it contains. For instance, cabbage, whose leaves grow tight, has much less than leaf lettuce, whose leaves grow separated. The more direct sunlight a plant receives, the more antioxidants it has to make to protect itself against free radical cell damage.

When we eat a plant that is high in antioxidants, we absorb them, thereby protecting ourselves against cell damage (like cancer), too. Since variety is the spice of life, we’re going to go ahead and recommend you try something new. Check it out:

Collard Greens

We understand that these can be intimidating. A large-leafed, tougher plant, these suckers need to be cooked with fat to lose their bitterness (which is actually indicative of the number of nutrients a plant contains—the more bitter, the more nutrients). In the south, collard greens are usually cooked with pork. But if you’re a vegetarian or are simply searching for a healthier alternative, we recommend sautéing the greens in extra virgin olive oil, instead.

For a vegan collard greens recipe from Martha Stewart, click HERE.

Swiss Chard

Honestly, Swiss chard is one of our faves—especially when you can find it in a variety of colours (rainbow). It makes a pretty salad, and also works extremely well as an alternative to the cabbage in cabbage rolls. It’s easy to grow and boasts great nutrients, such as 13 different polyphenol antioxidants!

For a recipe for Swiss Chard, click HERE.

Purple Kale

Kale

Okay—I’m sure by now everyone in the entire universe has heard of and tried kale. Hailed for the last few years as a superfood, this curly, yummy, easily grown (even in the snow!) green has been a favourite of many. And hey, any green that can produce a chip is definitely worthy of stardom. Kale can be found in green or purple, but we personally love purple. (It’s just prettier.) There’s also a popular Dinosaur Kale variety, which isn’t as curly, and has long, flat, broad leaves with a different taste and texture.

Click HERE for a kale chip recipe from Angela Lidden of Oh She Glows.

Mustard Greens

Again, this one can be intimidating. But mustard greens should be revered! Their spicy flavour make a fab addition to any salad, and they’re great to juice with, too. Mustard greens are super high in potassium, fibre, and protein, as well as vitamins A and C.

Want a recipe for Mustard Green Pesto? We thought so–click HERE.

Fresh organic beet greens

Beet Greens

Aaah, beet greens. These suckers are extremely high in iron, calcium, and magnesium, and are fantastic to add to a salad or juice with. In fact:

“A recent study from Chile has shown beet greens to be one of the top 10 food contributors to iron intake in that country.”(1)

Wow.

It’s sad when people use the beets, then toss the greens—greens need love, too! With a nutritional profile like this, they shouldn’t be wasted. For a fabulous beet and beet greens salad recipe, click HERE.

Italian Parsley

It may have started with a juice recipe, but this herb has become our new fave salad green! They taste extremely fresh, and the flat, broad leaves are super pretty. You can add them to salads, or actually use them as the main green. Here are some facts about parsley:

  • “Parsley is rich in many vital vitamins, including Vitamin C,  B 12, K and A. This means parsley keeps your immune system strong, tones your bones and heals the nervous system, too.
  • It helps flush out excess fluid from the body, thus supporting kidney function. However, the herb contains oxalates, which can cause problems for those with existing kidney and gall bladder problems.
  • Regular use of parsley can help control your blood pressure. The folic acid in this herb is like a tonic for your heart.
  • Parsley essential oil, when massaged into the scalp, may reduce hair loss.
  • Use parsley daily, and you’ll feel relief from joint pain. That’s because the herb has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Parsley tea relaxes stiff muscles and encourages digestion.
  • Studies indicate that parsley—especially its essential oil—may have a role in inhibiting cancerous tumors. In fact, scientists have billed it a ‘chemoprotective’ food.” (2)

Click HERE for a parsley juice recipe.

Purple Leaf Lettuce

Purple Leaf Lettuce

Last, but not least, is purple leaf lettuce. We specify purple, because different colours contain different antioxidants. Because everything we’ve mentioned so far is green, we thought we’d throw you a change-up.

Or curve ball. You know, some sort of baseball term.

Green lettuces typically “contain varying amounts of potent phytochemicals, such as lutein and indoles. Benefits include a lower risk of some cancers, improved eye health, rejuvenated musculature and bone, and strong teeth.” (3)

Purple leaf lettuce has “anthocyanins, which have been linked with antioxidants and anti-aging properties in the body. Blue and purple foods help promote bone health, and have been shown to lower the risk of some cancers, improve memory, and increase urinary-tract health. The main benefit of blue and purple foods is increased circulation and microcirculation.” (4)

For a guide on how to grow your own lettuces, click HERE.

That’s it! Broaden your horizons, get out of your comfort zones, and experiment with different greens—your body will thank you, and you’ll get better dinner ideas out of it.

—————————

Quote References:

(1) “Beet Greens.” The World’s Healthiest Foods. Web. 2015. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=151

(2) Shubhra Krishan. “7 Surprising Health Benefits of Parsley.” Care2. Web. 2013. http://www.care2.com/greenliving/7-surprising-health-benefits-of-parsley.html

(3) “Eat Coloful Foods for Better Health.” EXOS Knowledge. Web. 2012. http://www.coreperformance.com/knowledge/nutrition/eat-colorful-foods-for-better-health.html

(4) “Eat Coloful Foods for Better Health.” EXOS Knowledge. Web. 2012. http://www.coreperformance.com/knowledge/nutrition/eat-colorful-foods-for-better-health.html

7 Local Products, 3 Kick-Ass Smoothies

 

Hey, Vancouver! Today is full of local inspiration–5 in-season fruits and veggies plus 2 local food products equals 3 variations of yummy smoothie recipes.

See, I can do math! Except 5+2=3 is probably alarming our more educated visitors.

Aaaanyway…let’s get started:

 

Strawberries. Ok, they’re not genuinely in season until June, but strawberries have been exploding in numbers at local grocers for the past two weeks, so I’m including them. Freeze them in clean zip-lock bags for easy access, and a foundation for an incredible summer smoothie.

 

Rhubarb. The first rhubarb sighting of the year always gets me excited for summer. Most people think of baking when they think of eating these bright red stalks, but I love to blend rhubarb in smoothies. It adds a tartness that I personally think is delicious.

 

Spinach. This leafy green is in-season, and ready to rock your next smoothie. There is almost zero taste to spinach in a smoothie (when mixed with other ingredients, such as blueberries), and adds a boatload of iron to your fave cold drink. Since most of North America is deemed iron-deficient (a condition called anemia), spinach is an important addition to your diet.

 

Kale. I know—you’re probably getting tired of this green. But kale has so many health benefits, it’s hard to just ignore it! Plus, it’s in-season, and easy to grow on your own.

 

Mint. Mint is such a fun ingredient to add to smoothies, and because I’m a pretty hardcore mint-lover, I use plenty of it. Again, in-season and easy to grow, the several varieties of this herb are no-brainers for when you want to add a kick to your smoothie. Also, they’re fabulous for aiding digestion.

 

Enough with the produce—want a booster? Check these two local food companies out: their products make fantastic additions to any smoothie:

 

Vega. A high-quality hemp protein supplement developed by Brendan Brazier, Vancouverite and former ironman triathlete, this product is available almost anywhere, and in a variety of flavours. It’s packaged and produced in our very own Burnaby, BC.

 

Nutracleanse. This high-fibre supplement is created in Mission, BC, about 75 km outside of Vancouver. I can personally attest to the quality of this product, and the benefits one can receive by adding 1/3 cup to their morning smoothie. It’s an easy, cleansing addition that is guaranteed to greatly increase one’s digestive health. (It’s sold at Save-On Foods, and you can visit the website for more info.)

 

Fruit Smoothies

 

Recipes:

Strawberry-Rhubarb Smoothie

Ingredients:

8 frozen strawberries

½ rhubarb stalk, chopped

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Method:

Combine ingredients together in blender, and blend on high until smooth.

 

Superfood Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 cup chopped spinach

2 kale leaves

10 frozen strawberries

1 cup water

Method:

Combine ingredients together in blender, and blend on high until smooth. Add a little extra water, if too thick.

 

Coco-Mint Smoothie

Ingredients:

6-8 frozen strawberries

1 banana

Handful mint leaves

1 cup coconut milk

Method:

Combine ingredients together in blender, and blend on high until smooth.

Local Bites: healthy snack companies that rule!

There’s nothing better than biting into a granola bar, knowing that it was created a mere mile away. Locally produced snacks are all the rage right now! Here are some examples of Vancouver (and area) food companies that are making a splash in the supermarkets:

 

Everyday Superfoods

This company began only a few years ago, and is situated in Vancouver. I’m sure you’d recognize their yogurt toppings—they’re delicious, and I’ve actually just shaken them out of the bag, straight into my mouth.

(Yep—I said that.)

They can be found in dozens of local retail locations, including Choices Market, and Urban Fare.

 

nutTea

local snacks nuttea

This brand new, local company was founded on the realization that most health food bars contain a lot of filler. The creators of the nutTea Bar wanted something better, and this meant organic, whole, and zero filler.

They offer a Cocoa Yerba Mate bar and a Matcha Green Tea bar, sans unnecessary, sketchy stuff.

 

Hippie Foods

I’m not going to lie, they had me at “hippie.” (Also at “foods,” but for an entirely different reason.)

This Burnaby-based food line began in 2005. They’re all about whole, great-tasting snack foods that possess a higher nutritional profile than the other guys. The company behind Hippie Foods is called Left Coast Naturals, which opened its doors in 1996. They employ about 50 people who all have the same values when it comes to food and nutrition.

Some of their products include granola, veggie chips, and cookies, but my personal fave is the coconut chips.

 

Nature’s Path Foods

Organic and Non-GMO verified, this Richmond-based health food company has been around for a while—since 1985! This year marks their 30th birthday, and they are considered pioneers in the health food industry.

Awesome snacks to try include Love Crunch, Qia, and any of their super yummy granola bars.

 

Happy Planet

Local Vancouver company Happy Planet

Ummm…happy Jen! (Because I love Happy Planet.) My refrigerator is currently home to their amazing Thai Coconut Soup (Costco, baby!), and I love their juices, too.

They’re a truly Vancouver-based company, started by two friends. Happy Planet products are sold anywhere from Save-On Foods to Walmart, and use only organic ingredients. They’re currently working on obtaining Non-GMO Project verification.

 

Westpoint Naturals

Also located in Vancouver, Westpoint Naturals produces snacks like fruit and nut mixes, seeds, and popcorn. They also specialize in anything you could ever need for baking. If you love to make your own snacks, this place can make you feel like a kid in a candy store.

Or health food store. Whatever.