Last summer, I went to Central Market, a fabulous Austin institution.  When I was there, I saw tiny little round tins of pure shea butter being sold for $4.95.  We are talking 1/4 ounce tins.  Highway robbery, I thought to myself.

Around that time I learned about this website called From Nature with Love, a wholesaler for quality beauty ingredients.  So at some point in the following months, I decided that instead of giving out bookmarks, I would have a promo product that I would be  interested in receiving.  I would offer the public little tins of pure shea butter–which otherwise cost $4.95–with the cover of my new book on it.

Fast forward to March.  Well, if I was going to have little tins of shea butter to give away at RT, I’d best get started.  I ordered a gallon of organic shea butter, five hundred 1/4 oz slide top tins, and a box of high-gloss labels just the right size to go on top of those little tins.

And I got to work.

Here’s that one gallon container of organic shea butter.

With sterilized craft sticks, I filled the slide top tins.

Those went into the oven and came out clear and beautiful.

Then cooled.

Of course I have labels ready for them.  The top:

The bottom:

And here are some finished products.

If you click on the image to look at the larger picture, you’ll see that the tins are in little plastic sleeves.  That was because when I was telling my friend my idea, she asked if I had any means to show that the product hadn’t been tampered with.  So I bought shrink wraps for them!  And I loved shrink wrapping, which basically involved me pointing my hair dryer at a tin in a plastic sleeve and presto, the plastic shrinks and wraps.  It even comes with a perforated strip for easy opening.  I’m telling you, these little tins are unbelievably cute.

And then, toward the end, I ran out of shrink wraps for a while.  So I looked at the couple dozen or so tins that are left, and I suddenly realized, wait a minute.  Of course I was being selfish.  So I asked Meredith for a high-res image of the cover of her upcoming release–in one week!–and made some more labels.

(The label is off center for a reason.  Properly centered, the E gets cut off by my printer.)

Unfortunately, the lovely deep purple did not get rendered very well.  But still, I think these are pretty sweet, non?

Now that’s a collector’s item, if I’ve ever seen one, as there are only 36 of them in existence

So, you are shaking your head in disbelief.   I know what you mean.  500 of them!  I look back and shake my head too.  What was I thinking?  I’m surprised His Hawtness didn’t tell me I’d lost my marbles.  Instead, awesome dude that he is, he rolled up his sleeves and helped.  At one point, all the three men in the house were working on it–without me asking.

But yes, even so, there were some long hours when it was just me against the work.  Thank goodness I’d found The Movie Preview Critic, who deconstructs previews, and sometimes entire movies–in audio.  So while I was filling tins or wielding my hair dryer–which saw more action in the past couple of weeks than it had in the 15 preceding years–I was also going to a story and character workshop.

So it wasn’t too bad.  And it could have been a lot worse.  I could have done 1000 of them, like I originally envisioned!  o_O

And thus ends this account of my crazy, which strikes rarely, but boy does it strike hard.  :-)

Also, if you are going to RT, keep your eyes peeled.  I hear my publisher will be drop-shipping about 100 copies of HIS AT NIGHT directly from the printer, almost a month ahead of the street date.

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38 Responses
  1. Janine says:

    Wow. That is such a cool promo item!!! I bet you’ll have no problem at all giving them away.’

    :: Yellow (and purple) with envy::

  2. SonomaLass says:

    For this (and dirty bingo with Alyssa Day and Victoria Dahl) I wish I was going to RT!

  3. I don’t suppose you ship to India? 110 degrees and my skin ain’t lookin’ so lovely anymore. Ha.

    More seriously, it’s time that I issued to you my highest compliment, heretofore reserved exclusively for the BFF: Never change, Sherry. Never change. ;)

  4. etirv says:

    Naturally, a writer extraordinaire like you would dream this up and beautifully pull it off! Will any of these be shipped to Hawaii? What a fun post!

  5. That’s such a great idea, Sherry! They look fantastic and they actually sound fun to make.

  6. seton says:

    Those tins are worth the trip to RT just for that. Now I wish I was going.
    Love shea butter. Love your dedication. Love the pics and the post! Awesome.

  7. Miss Portinari says:

    That is so awesome! How do I get one of these? This is definitely a collector’s item. :)

  8. Karenmc says:

    How great to drop in here and see something joyful. Great post (and I hope your hair dryer has recovered).

  9. Tumperkin says:

    It’s the sort of thing bridezillas (bridezillae?) do when they get married (individualised favours!) – and then everyone else copies them.

    Very cute indeed.

  10. Very cool idea! They turned out great!

    Sad I won’t be at RT. I hope all the cool kids go next year, too. I’m determined to make it there!

  11. Vi says:

    I want one too. But I cannot make it to Columbus to get it or the book early. Can I say, contest? (hint, hint)
    :)

  12. catie james says:

    Now that is a kick-ass promo item. Love it!

  13. Kim says:

    That’s impressive. I can’t believe how hard you had to work on this project. Doesn’t an idea always seem easier in the planning stages?

    I keep saying I’ll get to a RT Convention one of these days, but it hasn’t happened yet.

  14. April says:

    ACK!! I want, I want, I want!!

  15. Evangeline says:

    That’s adorable–and very practical too!

    So…when are you and Meredith going to stop by Edwardian Promenade again? I’d love to host either one of you when your books are released. ;)

  16. Kiersten says:

    LUSCIOUS – your covers, your tins and even your crazy! Makes me so wish I was going to be at RT. Can you save some for NJRW in October? Maybe hide one in a corner somewhere…

    So looking forward to the new books! I even have their dates earmarked in my calendar.

  17. Elisa says:

    That is FANTASTIC! Add me to the list of those who wish they were going to RT!

  18. Lauren says:

    Sherry, those are adorable! This post made me smile the whole way through.

  19. willaful says:

    That is some awesome crazy! I have terrible skin problems too, so I crave one. :-)

  20. Janine,

    Lol. I sure hope I won’t have a problem giving them away, since shea butter, unlike bookmarks, does not keep forever. :-)

    SonomaLass,

    Dirty bingo? I’m so going to check it out.

    Meredith,

    Nope, no shipping to India. Shea butter can’t withstand that sort of heat. It would have all oozed out and stuck to the inside of the envelope. :-(

    Which is why I also decided against making another batch for Nationals in Nashville–not that I really need a lot of motivation to say no to another 500 of those babies–because I’m afraid they’ll all melt en route and get terribly messy.

    But I’ll keep a few for you as mementos and give ‘em to you in Jersey.

    Etirv,

    Thanks. But am afraid to ship to hot places!

    Ellen,

    That’s the thing. I am interested in skincare stuff, so it wasn’t a terrible chore. And I actually enjoy doing repetitive things, so soothing–as long as I can listen or watch something at the same time, which I did.

    Seton,

    Lol, not sure I’m dedicated. More like just nuts. And I like giving away useful stuff.

    Miss P,

    Well, they’ll be there at RT. If you know anyone who’s going, have them grab you one. Otherwise, stay tuned.

    Karenmc,

    I have the oldest hairdryer in the world. My mom bought it at a garage twenty years ago. I don’t ever blow dry my hair so it has been enjoying a very quiet retirement. Then this. There were times when it overheated and just stopped working for a while, but then 20 minutes later it would start up again like a trooper.

    As you can no doubt guess, I am very proud of it. :-)

    Tumperkin,

    You comment made me laugh out loud.

    My husband and I put together our wedding in like a day and a half. But these gosh-darn book launches are so much work.

    Although I have to say, comparing to launching PA, for which I spent a whole month on nothing but publicity related stuff, shea butter is easy–and I don’t have to think of anything to say!

    Sandy,

    I’ve been reading the RT conference schedule and am now quite intrigued by what’s going to happen. A ball every night, can you believe it? Am seriously dragging out all the dresses in my closet.

    Vi,

    (wink wink) I’m thinking.

    Catie,

    Lol, I don’t know about kick-ass, I thought it’s quite ladylike. :-)

    Kim,

    Actually, this is something that turned out easier than I thought. It looked really daunting in the planning stage, especially because I didn’t know where to find the proper labels or how I would design those labels. But the online label place I found has this great software that does a fabulous job, and they have just the right size for my purposes too.

    Although of course there were frustrations along the way, such as shea butter that looks perfectly smooth and beautiful when it’s just solidifying becoming all wrinkly and wacky looking when completely dried. (The trick, I think, is to fill the tins as full as possible, less room to shrink and wrinkle.)

    April,

    Maybe you can has, if u iz lucky. :-)

    Evangeline,

    I have no idea when Meredith will be free, but you know, I never have anything better to do. See this post. lol.

    Kiersten,

    Are you going to be at the NJRW conference? Cool, I’ll save a few then.

    Elisa,

    I wish you were going too!

    Lauren,

    :-) Me, I’m still shaking my head at my crazy.

    Willaful,

    That’s how I got onto the idea in the first place. I was in Central Market to visit their beauty bar–freshly made cleansers and scrubs sitting on ice like a salad bar!–because I was having such trouble with my own skin.

  21. Karenmc says:

    Sherry, our family heirloom, a toaster purchased in the 1950’s, finally gave up the ghost in the early 80’s. I completely understand your hairdryer pride. In honor of small appliances (including microscopes) that have served their owners well, I’ll be re-reading NQAH this weekend.

  22. Ying says:

    These are adorably cute!! This is a great idea for a promo.

  23. I just finished reading Meredith’s latest book (loved it!!) and found the link to your joint blog and am so glad I did!

    These shea butter giveaways are so cool – I’m tempted to try to make some myself, though I’m not sure what I’d do with so much shea butter….

    Did you add fragrance as well?

    More power to you, Sherry!

    • Nope, no fragrance. Why mess with natural perfection? :-)

      You can order much smaller quantities of shea butter. At From Nature with Love, the size starts at 4oz.

  24. Jane Sevier says:

    I love this story, Sherry! There is no one else like you.

    • Lol. At times, it is an unusual crazy–especially given that I am so, so resolutely sane otherwise.

      [Edited to add] And did you notice I already put up the RT review for HIS AT NIGHT on the sidebar? Thank you again for sending me the text of it.

  25. Lexi Connor says:

    GREAT idea, Sherry!

  26. Jane Sevier says:

    Yes, I did see the RT review in the sidebar. As ever, I am happy to be of service.

    I loved this shea butter blog so much that I posted it on my Facebook page. Everyone needs to know where to order a gallon of it.

    And everyone needs an occasional burst of crazy.

  27. CupK8 says:

    These are so awesome! What a fabulous idea!

  28. Lily Evans says:

    Shea Butter can really promote great health.’,~

  29. Jose Perez says:

    Shea Butter is also good on your skin. We use it a lot for treating dry sin or scars.-”‘

  30. oh by the way shea butter tastes good too”:”

  31. [...] ever since the shea butter episode, I’ve developed an obsession with hand-making beauty products.  Not for myself, but [...]