Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Pete Coates from oakbarrelcreations.co.uk uses our clear and frosted glass votive candles and re-purposes old oak barrels to make the knave candle holders amongst other stunning items. Check out his website for more details. Or twitter @oakbarrelman.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Weighing Ethics Over Profits Is A No Brainer For UK Paper Bag Lanterns Ltd.

Ethics Before Bigger Profits In The Business Of Chinese Paper Lanterns.

A Scottish business owner based in Thailand selling paper candle bag lanterns amongst other things, trying to do the right thing. 

In today’s world where everything is about profits, margins, ROI, cost cutting and cheap labour, you may well assume that in order to run a successful business all of the above must be the pillars of that success.

“Not necessarily” says Oliie Brodie of UK Paper Bag Lanterns Ltd, a Scotsman who moved his head office to Thailand from where he runs his UK and Australian online wedding and party supplies stores. “It all depends how you define successful”.

Having shipped over 40,000 orders in the few short years since the website The Australian Paper Bag Lantern Store was launched, Ollie does not believe that the primary focus should be on ‘the numbers game’.

He explains. “I’m not saying you can ignore the costs and the margins etc., of course not. I do however believe that if you focus on ethics, your staff and doing the right thing, then you have the building blocks in place to be a success right from the get-go”.     
In 2009 the Australian government banned the sale and supply of Chinese Floating Lanterns, which had surged in popularity thanks to movies like The Beach with Leonardo Di Caprio.   ‘We were selling and shipping thousands of these every month from our warehouse in Thailand and the profit was excellent but when I heard about the Australian ban and looked into the ecological reasons for it, we stopped selling them immediately. We could have continued because it was only Australia who banned them but I just felt it was the right thing to do. We still have a few thousand of them turning to dust somewhere at the back of the warehouse’.

So what do you do when you lose a major product line like that overnight? ‘We moved sideways with what we already knew and stocked up on the round hanging rice paper Chinese lanterns and especially the wedding heart design candle bag lanterns’. “These now fly off the shelf so maybe everything really does happen for a reason”. 

Thankfully at the time Ollie already sold many other products so business continued as normal. However some items like the chair sashes used to tie bows around chair covers make no profit at all. But there’s a good reason for this explains Ollie. ‘Above a certain price point these just don’t sell at all. Where they do sell is bang on our true cost price’.  Then why bother selling them? “The first reason is that we buy the fabric from a tiny little shop in a local village so it helps the local economy. The second and more rewarding one is that we employ a local seamstress, who is a young mother and widow, to sew all the hems on the chair sashes”. “We might not make any profit but it puts food on her family table every day and she does a wonderful job”.

Ollie has two small warehouses and 7 permanent staff in Thailand. Some of them and their families live in the specially built accommodation on the premises. He says this serves two purposes. ‘We had the space and to be able to give staff free accommodation as part of their employment so it’s a bonus for them and also provides some security for the stock. “I could hire a security guard and charge the staff rent or I can let them live there for free and they make sure the inventory is secure”. It costs the company a little more but the good karma is worth the expense.   

Success is not something that has a definitive level or something can be measured while standing on its own. Ollie see’s it like this. ‘I could run the business in a ruthless manner focusing only on maximizing profit and growth at the expense of all else. Selling lanterns that float up and come down and cause fires or the wiring in them get’s into bales of cattle feed and the digestive systems of our farm animals causing pain and suffering and much more, and maybe I could achieve 25% growth per year’.

“Or I can settle for a lesser, say 10%, growth where everyone gets a fair wage”. ‘The staff are happy and will do the right thing by us and the team and I sleep well at night knowing I’m doing the right thing by the environment. I’m also providing jobs and housing in a poor part of the world to good people’.

“There will be good years and there will be tough years but when I look back I want to look back and say, I did the right things.”    

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Round hanging paper lampshades now in stock and listed for sale

We're sure you will agree that our new range of round rice paper lampshades are simply gorgeous.

Purple round rice paper lantern shades
We're very exited to have finally received our new range of hanging rice paper Asian style lantern shades.
White round rice paper lantern shades
Australian customers can buy these paper lanterns via our Glass Votive Candle website or our Paper Candle Bag website here. UK customers can use our UK Glass Wedding Candle Website. Customers outside the UK and Australia should use Australian Candle site here. 

Pastel pink round rice paper lanterns

These are posted from our warehouse in Thailand and take 7-12 days to Australia and the UK and most locations worldwide. It's actually cheaper to post from there than within Australia.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Irregular wire hanging paper lanterns in stock this week

Clearing customs right now are our brand new line of hanging round paper lanterns.
 So later this week we will have 20,000 of these stunning round paper lanterns in 20cm (8 inch) and 30cm (12 inch) size. These paper shades are a perennial favorite at parties and events as a super budget conscious way to use the empty space, filling it with light and colour. Compare the cost to say a ceiling fairy light canopy and you'll see what I mean.

These come in 9 different colours and are constructed with modern irregular wire design for that funky, contemporary look. Click here to go check out our hanging paper lanterns web store page. We also have the Chinese paper lanterns with battery lights and our stunning giant 60cm star lanterns with or without lights in white silver or gold. 
These stunning hanging paper lanterns will be available in the following colours:

  • white
  • beige
  • yellow
  • blue
  • red
  • green
  • orange
  • purple
  • pink

Sunday, April 8, 2012

How to DIY your own paper candle bag lanterns

Sure you can buy paper bag lanterns off the shelf in many colours and clever designs and they are stunning and super value for any party, wedding or event but here are some reasons to make your own designs.

Maybe you want to make a special message on a paper bag lantern for a loved one like I did for my wife with this water colour style design above. You can use many or just one as a table center piece during an intimate and romantic dinner.

Kids love painting or drawing and the added bonus of the anticipation of what their personalised candle bag lantern will look like with a candle inside, just adds to the whole experience. I know because my 9 year old twins have been making them for 3 years now and it's become a staple of any school holiday and we're running out of ideas to keep the kids entertained. If it was up to them they would use up all our stock of plain paper bag lanterns and there would be nothing left to sell.

Maybe you are having a little get-together to remember a loved one who has passed on. How you go about this is something you will probably have already decided but examples I hear are "he used to love to fish this lake so we came here just before sunset with a few picnic blankets, some prepared food and a barbecue and and lit the paper bag lanterns that we had placed, some around us and a few leading down to the shore and we didn't so much talk about him, the messages we had written on each of our lanterns did that for us. We just enjoyed the company of our family and friends and had the wonderful sense that he was all around us".
Or you can just leave one by the gravestone with a tea light candle inside. The paper is flameproof and it's also biodegradable  so there are no concerns about the environment.

Customers have also told me they used the paper bag lanterns to wish their friends, a young couple, bon voyage at a leading party when they were off to Australia for a working holiday. One person wrote to say that they had a garden party in their home and a friend had brought a pack of 50 plain white tea light lantern bags, a bag of Ikea tea light candles and a few felt pens. As the afternoon was turning to dusk they handed out the pens and the paper lanterns and asked everyone to write a message to the couple and wish them well. As the sun set they placed the lanterns with all their personalised messages all over the garden and said the effect was spellbinding. The couple collected them all the next morning and planned to take a photo of each message so they would never forget the words of their friends.

The possibilities are of course endless so I won't go on. However I will recommend some materials to use.

  • For obvious reasons always start with flame retardant plain white paper bag lanterns available here.
  • Kids crayons are the next obvious choice. The vivid colours go on quickly and will look amazing when back-lit with the candle.
  • Sharpie felt pens are probably the best on the market but if you have others then give them a go.
  • Colouring pencils are hard work. The art will look great in the daylight but for some reason they don't look so good at night with a tea light candle inside the paper bag lantern.
  • Any paint, even those little hard kids paints that you just add water too are very effective,
Finally I must recommend an iPad app simply called 'Paper'. It's free for the basic version with all colours but if you want to add more brushes or pencils etc they are $1.99 each and believe me once you try this you probably will. With this app you can paint or draw amazing pictures and email them to yourself from your iPhone or iPad and then print the picture directly onto a plain white paper bag lantern.

Well that just about wraps up my Easter Sunday blog on how and why to make your own DIY paper bag luminaries. Remember we have the plain white candle bag lanterns in stock in Australia here and the plain blank paper bag lanterns available in the UK here. Everyone else just visit either site and we'll ship worldwide.

Happy Easter Y'all.    

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Half Price Sale On Orange Shooting Stars Candle Bag Lanterns

That's right folks. We're trying to raise some cash so we can pay the GST bill next month so please help us out and grab a bargain at the same time. HALF PRICE and you can buy as many as you like!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Battery LED Tea Light Candles To Use With Our Paper Bag Lanterns.

Do you have your heart set on using our awesome paper bag lanterns but your function venue insists on no open flame candles. We have the perfect solution with these led battery tea lights with flickering flame. $0.89c from our Thailand stock if you can wait 7-12 days or $1.45 battery tea lights from our Sydney stock.