Starting the Off-Season

Hey everyone!

Every year, I have the great fortune of transitioning from my summer job to my winter job, where I work both jobs in the months of September and October. By now I’m pretty used to that transition, but I’d be lying if I don’t get slightly overwhelmed at the end of October. Then, when we finally close up the fudge shops for the winter, all of a sudden I have all of this extra time that I don’t know what to do with… so, I do nothing!

Really… I sleep! Naps rock!

Anyway, now that I’ve had lots of time to relax, I thought I’d skim through my camera and my phone’s camera and post a few pictures of Mackinac Island from now, and the past few weeks.

First of all, the fall colors up here have been completely stunning, and I always look forward to the smells of autumn. After talking with my dad, it turns out the fall colors were the reason that our season on Mackinac Island goes through October… back in the day (I’m not sure how far back, but back there somewhere), the tourist season used to end right after Labor Day, and no matter how long the hotels tried to stay open after that, most everything just closed down. But then bus tours from all over started giving a “Fall Colors” tour throughout Michigan, and it’s because of those tours that led tourists through to Mackinac Island in September and October, extending our season. I’m sure that the fall colors look amazing everywhere, but I especially like it here.




Second, Arnold line Ferry was bought by Starline, meaning that next summer we will no longer see the familiar Arnold line name anymore. It’s a sad day and quite a big change to see such an iconic part of Mackinac Island gone. As a kid, my brother and I would sit in the front of the red and green striped catamarans on a windy, wavy day, and pretend that we were steering the ship through a torrential storm. Sometimes I thought we were a starship fleet, steering though a comet storm in outer space (that might have been just me, but I’m sure my brother was playing along with me, too). My guess is that Starline will just rename the boats and keep everything running as usual for next year, but, maybe they’ll do something completely different? I don’t know, and I haven’t really asked around either, but I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.




Lastly, I do have to admit that part of the reason that I’ve been offline from this blog lately is that I’ve been working on a new one. Since my passion for candy making has gotten stronger this year, I’ve decided to continue it on into the winter months and try to make more candy and sweet goods at home, and being a blog lover, decided to document it all in a new blog. If you’re interested in seeing what I make and bake this winter, please check out my other site at Spoons of Copper – it should be up in the next few days, and if you’re interested you can sign up for email updates! It’s purely a candy and cooking blog at this point, but you may from time to time see a Mackinac Island pic or two…

Let me end this post with just a few more photos from around the island…

An empty downtown
So peaceful!

I’m never downtown in the fall because I change jobs and am at Mackinac Island Public School all day. So I always seem to miss seeing the horses leaving the island… one very lucky day I had some time to leave work early and check my mail, and on the way back, I ran into these beautiful horses! We’ll see you again next year…


~ Heather

A Season of Fudge 2015

It’s the start of another fall season, and I have purposefully been neglecting my blog writing all summer. I’ve been purposefully neglecting many of my normal summer activities with one main goal in mind, which was to put my all into running the family business here on Mackinac Island. There were nights where I’d go to sleep with fudge on my mind, and I’d wake up with fudge on my mind… and it’s still on my mind! Which brings me to the main topic of this post.

It took me awhile to decide how I really wanted to discuss my business experiences this summer because I didn’t want to share an inappropriate amount, but I do want to share, well, something! I don’t often like to talk about my work on my blog, mostly because I try to see this blog as a personal space instead of a marketing or business tool. I think I’ve been writing on a blog ever since college some odd years ago, and I’ve always found it a great place to get my thoughts out someplace. But since work has been the majority of my life these past couple of months, I can’t help but want to share some of the experiences that I’ve had.

I used to worry. As a naturally soft-spoken person, I worried about how much of a leader I could be running a business in a fast-paced environment found here in the summers on Mackinac Island. To help counter that, I’d sit and imagine myself in what I called a “perfect scenario,” and I’d be walking home early from work, knowing everyone was doing their jobs well and with little supervision, and I didn’t have one thing to worry about.

That day never actually came, but the visual was still incredibly helpful. Every time a difficult situation slapped me in the face, I had the strangest reaction. Calm. Suddenly I was back in my imagination, my “perfect scenario,” but instead of realizing that everything was fine, I knew that everything was going to BE fine. And from there, I was able to recalibrate.

Before the summer began I decided to spend some time reading the advice of Richard Branson, business mogul and owner of the Virgin Group. He put a big emphasis on putting employees first, so I did that as much as I could. In return, I ended up with my current crew of very motivated and happy employees! It was nice being able to see those ideas and work really come alive in front of you.

One aspect of this biz on which I focused was our social media outlet. We have Facebook and Twitter, but I wasn’t posting regularly, so I worked on adding more content to our sites. I also started an Instagram account for some extra photo love. And I really upped my game with getting more reviews on Tripadvisor, too. The extra attention to social media has been really positive for us so far, and I’ve had a lot of fun with it.

Probably the most online work that I’ve done has been fudge art! Now I’m not quite up to par with my artwork of my brother, Lee, but I knew that I could at least write names. And that’s just where I started! I first wrote all of the names of my employees, and you can see a few examples below:


  
 I then started to post fudge photos on my personal Facebook page, offering to write the name of the first person to like the picture. I wasn’t sure how interesting this idea would be to everyone which is why I started on my own page, but it turns out that this was a lot of fun on both ends. It made me realize how interactive I could be with people online. Friends on Facebook that I didn’t even think paid attention to my posts were liking my photos for a chance to get their name written in the fudge, and I made sure not to spell any names wrong, either (and I never did thank goodness)!


I eventually traded in my measuring cup for a squeeze bottle (a much more sophisticated form of writing) and was able to come up with more interesting fonts:


And a few times, I did try my hand at drawing pictures:

Let me leave you with a bunch of photos from around the fudge shops, and also one of the quotes that has inspired me this summer … “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.” ~ Winston Churchill

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Mint chocolate chip fudge

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Our 100 year old fudge mixer. Still in excellent working condition and going strong!

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~ Heather