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Monday, February 29, 2016

February Ends On A Very Sweet Note Indeed And An Easy and Delicious Dessert Recipe

We have just completed our eighth month of operations with what is now the second highest monthly sales total. We sold just under $5,000 this month and I am just ecstatic! Most of the sales have come from a solid group of a few repeat customers, all of whom were completely new customers back when I went full time in July 2015. All of them started off small, and then bought more and more each time, and more often as they became more comfortable with my service and my stamps. Since July I have developed a healthy number of these steady customers. Usually only a few of them buy each week, but over the span of a month all of them will buy at least once. This is how the business is growing: the regular customers help to generate a sales level comparable to the prior month, while the new customers provide the growth. Hopefully, I can convert a percentage of the new customers today into tomorrow's repeat customers. I am trying to do this by hopefully exceeding their expectations, friendly communication and by writing and maintaining my blog, which will continue to provide lots of free and hopefully interesting information.

However, this is the reason why it takes businesses time to grow a steady client base. Even with me messaging my buyers each and every time I send them a stamp, and even with the blog posts, I would say that I'm lucky if 1 out of every 10 customers actually engages with me and responds to my messages. Most just want me to send them their stamp and leave them alone.  But it is those 10% that have a good chance of being repeat buyers. Sometimes I do get repeat customers who do not respond to my specific messages, but who come back anyway. By and large though, 80% of my buyers do not come back on a regular basis. I don't get the sense that it has anything to do with their satisfaction level, as I have very close to 5 star detailed seller ratings. No, I think it is simply because the buyers are very specific about what they are looking for and many of them are advanced collectors.

I can see the business picking up traction though, with each passing month and it makes me very happy to see the business model working. The $5 Jubilee that I bought last week sold in just one day to a repeat customer, and some E1's that I listed back in July, that had shown no movement since were all bought for my full asking price by a local collector on Saturday. All of this validates my business model, which basically is to price stamps at the high end of the market and wait for the right buyer to come along. They always do come eventually it seems.

Steph and I went for dinner at her parent's place yesterday and it was our job to bring dessert. I was in the mood for trifle and decided to wing it and make my own recipe. For those of you who have never had trifle, it is a layered dessert made of pound cake, or angel food cake, fruit, custard and whipped cream. Instead of using white sugar for the whipping cream Steph used about 3 tablespoons of Demerara brown sugar and about 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. The result was a heavenly and delicious dessert. To make enough to fill a glass dish about 8 inches wide by 4 inches deep you will need:

1 plain pound cake about 12 inches by 4 inches, cut into cubes.
500 ml carton of whipping cream, chilled
3 tablespoons of brown sugar (Demerara works best here - that is the very dark brown sugar)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 250 ml cans of Devon custard, or make custard using Bird's custard powder.
1 large container of fresh strawberries, sliced
2 pints of fresh raspberries
2 kiwifruits

Empty the chilled whipping cream to a large bowl. Add the sugar and vanilla. Beat using a mixer starting at low speed. Gradually increase the speed to high, and beat until the cream forms stiff peaks. This means that when you stop and remove the beaters, the peaks left behind on the cream should hold their shape. Once the peaks are stiff the cream is done.

Take an 8 or 9 inch glass serving dish that is about 4 inches deep and place a layer of pound cake cubes along the bottom. Top with a layer of custard and then a layer of fruit.Then on top of the fruit, place a layer of whipped cream. Repeat the layers until you have used all ingredients of the dish is full. Place in the refrigerator, covered for 2-3 hours to allow the cake to become infused with the juices from the fruit and the moisture of the custard.

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