Updates & Upcoming

Oof!  What a crazy year it’s been (I say as if the last several years have been remotely normal) and I’ve gotten a million questions about what’s next. I feel you lovelies come to NightBlooming, in part, because you like buying from a person and there’s a lot of personal things threaded into all this.

This is going to be one of those meandering grab-a-cuppa posts, and I will have questions for you on some things. Part of the reason I’m doing this as a News update rather than an email is that I value everyone’s opinion, and I love reading the comments on a post like this–they really help me find my bearing because ultimately my job is to make you happy. 

The big understanding I ask in return is that I am one (clearly crazy) person trying to do my best. I have a full time career on top of NightBlooming and on top of writing, a house, a husband, and they have all suffered in my distracted, overwhelmed absence these last several years. 

Melissa Lynn Herold owner of NightBlooming

It has been a crazy last few years...

All while working full time and running one of the top stores on Etsy.

... and while I've made good steps towards establishing a healthier balance, there's a long way to go yet.

The biggest checkmarks are done. The Iyarri Chronicles are published, and NightBlooming.com is launched. I’ve bled so much time and money into those two projects alone that I feel like someone who’s been at sea for years finally coming back to shore and trying to stop swaying where she stands.

The other factor at play is that NightBlooming means long hours on my feet, both making products and packing orders, and my foot is in a state. 

Some of you will remember I had surgery in 2020 to remove a piece of broken bone from the center of my ankle and repair the place where the chip had fractured off from. This year, I started having wild amounts of pain again and a recent MRI showed that the site they fixed in the last surgery is trashed. Fixing it again is going to require a second surgery and a bone graft. The recovery from this is going to be even longer and more arduous than the first one and I’m putting it off as long as humanly possible and just looking to manage the pain in the meantime. I cannot tell you the number of orders I’ve packed limping around with ice on my foot, and I know the marathon production to get Lassëa into the store didn’t do me any favors. Between the spike in orders on Halloween and my foot pain, it took me nearly a week to get some of my orders out the door and that’s almost unheard of for me. I had a cortisol injection Monday and woke up Tuesday unable to stand or walk. It’s getting better (I had a not-uncommon rebound reaction to the injection and am doing much better today), but I have to be a bit kinder to myself and look after this foot (or my husband is going to nail the door to my craft room shut and tape me to my desk chair).

A lot of this post is going to be my thoughts on what’s next, why, and how you can help. 

NightBlooming.com > Etsy

Having my own storefront was always the goal, but after the latest Etsy fee hikes that were downright predatory and motivated by greed and infinite stockholder growth, it  became a necessity. 

The great news is that since launching NightBlooming.com on April 20th, slightly more than half my sales dollars have come from there, and saved me literally thousands of dollars that Etsy would have otherwise pocketed.

The bad news, of course, is that the other half of my sales dollars is getting taken to the cleaners while Etsy continues to promote itself as the feel-good-handmade-ethical company it stopped being years ago

The middling news is that I’m way down sales wise compared to 2020 and 2021, which I expected, but I am very slightly ahead of my 2019 sales, which is what I’ve been using for benchmarking.

I’m immensely proud of NightBlooming.com. It’s allowed me to:

  • Have clean, informative listings that link to my other content. I want my customers to feel informed and confident, as opposed to low-information high-pressure to convert way Etsy listings are now.
  • Offer loyalty rewardsMoonseeds have proven as popular as I hoped they would, and it really does reward my repeat customers. 
  • Offer exclusive products. There are some items that I just get hammered on fee-wise on Etsy. The 16 ounce Paperbottle Selkie Refill, and the 500g bulk bags of my herbal hair colors are two great examples of this. Offering them only here also encourages people to make the jump if they haven’t already.
  • Connect more directly with you. There’s a sense of community here that Etsy just cannot touch, and it makes me glow.

I had to enlist professional help to get the site up and running, and to make sure all the really important stuff like site security, payment processing, and shipping integrations were set up properly. That cost several thousand dollars (on top of buying the domain from the person that owned it, (which was another few thousand dollars), but was worth it, and will continue to be a wise investment in the future of NightBlooming. The bones of the site are solid and running two storefronts is a pain in the arse and sucks up a lot of mental bandwith, but I’m getting better and better at managing it.

Goals for NightBlooming.com

The big future goals are:
  • Getting more existing customers converted from Etsy to here. 
  • Writing more content in the Articles section and fine-tuning SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for it. This is a huge driver of traffic to the site (the article about How I Lightened my Too-Dark Henna to Natural Ginger Copper is one of the top ways new people find their way here). I have a giant list of content for this, but this got set on the back burner because of the new site and publishing.
  • Establishing an actual marketing strategy including Google Ads, Pinterest, and continuing to do features in places like Enchanted Living (like my articles on Pre-Raphaelite &Victorian Reds and How to Care for Mermaid Hair.)


Etsy is going to trend away from being a main storefront to a place for new customers to find me. That will mean: 
  • Streamlining my product offerings and listings there to the ones most likely to be attractive to new customers. Lassëa Shampoo & Conditioner bars are great example of a product that will do well on Etsy as Zero Waste Beauty and shampoo and conditioner bars are ranked highly in search.
  • Making my listings there as eye-catching as possible by adding video content to them.
  • Converting as many of them as possible to buying from NightBlooming.com instead. 

Yes yes, but what about hair salve and other new products?

Killing my hair salves was the singular hardest decision I have ever had to make in my nearly 16 years running NightBlooming. To say that caused a huge financial hit to my business would be a screaming understatement, but I know it was the inevitable decision that had to be made, and the new goal of a One Salve to Rule them All is a much better, and much more sustainable choice.

What I can’t promise you is a timeline for it. I opted to launch Lassëa Shampoo & Conditioner Bars first because I knew they’d do well on Etsy and they were closer to the finish line than a new salve.

The longer post about killing my hair salves goes into the challenges with this project, but what needs to be done to make The One Salve to Rule Them All a reality includes:

  • Perfecting the homemade conditioner base (this is going to be the biggest step as I’ve done this mostly to my satisfaction exactly once).
  • Perfecting making the handmade conditioner base into salve in a reliable, repeatable way.
  • Deciding on new packaging and sizes.
  • Creating labels and branding for that packaging.
  • Photography, including all those hand-scale images, promo shots, listing images, etc.
  • Creating the listings (including assigning shipping weights and all the back-end stuff).
Because of the aforementioned foot, and some other big personal projects that need my attention, I will promise you that hair salve is next*** but I’m not willing or able to put a timeline to it.

***by “next” I mean the next, and probably last from the ground up new product. There might be other things like new oil blends between now and then, but I consider those recombinations of existing ingredients than a wholly new product like
Lassëa Shampoo & Conditioner Bars or One Salve to Rule Them All. Every new product is another plate I have to try to spin, and it’s already deeply challenging to keep up. [ Spoiler: I am not keeping up at all. ]

My short term focus is going to be on getting my existing products and inventory restocked. I waste a lot of time one-offing products for orders, and packing orders goes much faster when I have all my products made, packaged and in stock. This has not happened for nearly the last decade, and it’s the first and most important step to make this all feel manageable. 

Continuing to focus on Sustainable Packaging

I’ve made huge strides to change my packaging to eco-friendly, compostable, and recyclable options. I wrote an article about Zero Waste Beauty at NightBlooming, and there are other products I want to convert yet. For example I’m exploring my options for moving Moondust Dry Shampoo from the glass and plastic spice jars and plastic sifter samples to paper tubes, and considering alternatives to the plastic tubs Thriae currently comes in. 

All these planet-friendly options are the right thing to do, but they’re also way more expensive. A plastic baggie for an herbal hair color would run me about 3 cents, but the compostable pouch is 35 cents. I put a lot of thought into how to navigate these changes without raising my prices much, and being transparent about why, when I have to,

Returning to the world of the Iyarri on Patreon

Publishing The Iyarri Chronicles was my heart’s dream and I gave mightily to see those three books into the world, on my terms, independently.

To steal some words from Dear Sugar, these books were pulsing in my chest like a second heart, formless and unimaginable…and were the story I couldn’t live without telling. I didn’t know if people would think my books were good or bad or horrible or beautiful. I only knew I no longer had two hearts beating in my chest. I’d pulled one out with my own bare hands. I’d suffered. I’d given it everything I had. I’d finally been able to get to this point because I’d let go of all the grandiose ideas I’d once had about myself and my writing—so talented! so young! I’d stopped being grandiose. I’d lowered myself to the notion that the absolute only thing that mattered was getting that extra beating heart out of my chest.

I deeply neglected everything else to make that happen. My health, my husband, my house, and NightBlooming. When Ascension’s Reckoning was out the door, I went ditch-to-ditch getting NightBlooming.com off the ground and all the things that came with that.

But I miss my characters. Other people miss them, too, and I imagine the lack of Iyarri in the last year has been hard on others as it has been on me.

I won’t be publishing more books anytime in the foreseeable future, there’s just not the time or money for it. Heaven’s Silhouette has paid for itself, Mourning’s Dawn has about $1500 to go to break even, but Ascension’s Reckoning still has about $20,700 to go before it earns itself out.

But, I do want to continue to talk about the books and my inspiration for them (I have so many posts I didn’t dare make right away because they were spoiler-central), do a Chapter-by-Chapter walkthrough of the entire series, and write some short stories. For example, Corat talks about the Iyarri relic thief in Mourning’s Dawn and Ecanus mentions the captured Iyarri with the broken wing forced to fight in the Gladiatorial arena in Ascension’s Reckoning. These are stories I have in my head, that I want to tell. 

All that content is going to be exclusive to Patreon, and I want to work out a schedule for regularly posting Iyarri-related content there

How you can help

So many of these things also get you Moonseeds as rewards, but they’re a gigantic help to me as I navigate everything I’ve talked about in this post. 

  •  Register for an account and shop at NightBlooming.com instead of Etsy
  • Encourage others to do the same! At the bottom of the rewards page is a form you can use to send a $5 NightBlooming coupon to your friends. You’ll get Moonseeds when they become a customer and place an order.
  • Promote via word of mouth and keyboard. So many of my customers found me because their sister recommended one of my products to them, or they heard about NightBlooming on The Long Hair Community, Reddit, etc. If you see someone who could benefit from what I make, point them here!
  •  Write reviews. You’ll earn Moonseeds for every review you write, and this inspires confidence in new customers to try my wares. You can review any product so long as you have an account, so anything you’ve tried on Etsy, or the Iyarri Chronicles books you got through Patreon? You can review those all on NightBlooming!
  •  When I get my Pinterest game up and running, I’ll be asking you to pin content to help it gain visibility.
  •  Become a Patron. You come out miles ahead with the 15% off EverGreen Discount, get bonus Moonseeds every month, and have exclusive access to the Iyarri Chronicles and other content I post there. And honestly few things make me feel as warm and fuzzy as getting a new Patron or seeing someone return to it :]  
  • Introduce fantasy readers to The Iyarri Chronicles. My books are still very unknown outside a small circle of dedicated readers. You can get the books into your local library, recommend them for a book club suggestion, or just offer them as a suggestion to fantasy readers you know!
  • Gift NightBlooming goodies this holiday season. I’ll be putting some of my favorites on sale around Nov 18 / sending out a discount code–details TBD I’m still trying to get my head around the fact that it’s already November. There will be a sale on Etsy, but I’m hoping that’s new-customer focused gift shopping. The discount / sale at NightBlooming.com will a great time to pick up some stocking stuffers and introduce others to NightBlooming! One of those items will be the Collector’s Edition of The Iyarri Chronicles with the Until the Skies Fall bookbag. It’s so eminently giftable. But you can’t go wrong with a gift-wrapped bag of samples, either!

Thoughts and comments?

I know this was a bit of stream-of consciousness and a lot to unpack, but I always value your thoughts, feedback, comments and questions. 

Questions for you

– If you haven’t moved from Etsy to NightBlooming.com, why not?

– What can I do to make NightBlooming a better site for you to shop at?

– Any thoughts on the paper tubes for Moondust?

– If you’re not a Patron, what would encourage you to become one, even at the $2 tier?

-What else do you just want me to know? I laid a bunch of stuff out in this post! Tell me your thoughts / feelings / reactions.

Don’t forget, you also get Moonseeds for commenting on this update 🙂 

21 thoughts on “Updates & Upcoming”

  1. Hi Melissa! Thank you for taking so much time to lay out your thoughts and plans, as well as ask for feedback! I have already switched from Etsy to your Nightblooming website, simply because I know from other creators that Etsy keeps raising their fees, and it’s become a losing proposition for so many sellers. It’s really sad that Etsy has morphed such a “feel-good, creator supportive” emporium into such a false illusion for buyers. I fully support artists & creators who are making the switch from Etsy to their own websites! I’ve been away from a lot of the shops I love, including yours, for awhile due to medical issues & a couple of surgeries. (I can completely emphasize with your bumpy road to getting your ankle pain under control. NOT fun 🙁 I just recently ordered a couple of things from Nightblooming, and I do have some questions/comments about products I’ve tried in the past, but those are more individual, one-off/personal experience type questions/comments, so I’ve been planning to reach out to you directly on those. I commend you for all of your hard work & dedication, especially since other parts of your life were sacrificed for your books & your Nightblooming line of products. Congratulations on meeting so many goals you’ve set for yourself! <3

    1. Please do reach out to me about anything you have questions and comments about with all the products 🙂 And thank you for the congratulations, it sometimes feels like I’ve some so far, but have so much more to do, and I am admittedly awful about taking the time to appreciate the successes.

  2. To start with, while reading this post, I’m sitting in my sofa, drinking Miruvor herbal tea, out of my Nightblooming mug.
    Just that, I can’t express how much joy I feel from it.
    Literally has tears in my eyes.

    I think I’ve made my thoughts about the etsy Scrooge’s quite clear, so I won’t repeat myself, but I do appreciate all you’ve done to make this site as user friendly as possible.

    Switching from etsy and buy solely on nightblooming wasn’t a strange decision for me.
    It felt like the natural step for me to make, and I’m happy to know that it benefits you.

    Something though that I’ve thought more than once, is that I wish you could be as kind to yourself as you are to us.

    Much love
    / Moon

    1. Aw :] That made me so happy to read! Especially about the Miruvor and the mug!

      And I am awful about being kind to myself, and that’s not one of those shortcomings I’m trying to waive off as a virtue, it’s something I know I need to work on but I think I’m at least heading in that direction.

  3. Hi Melissa,
    Thank you for the update. I really appreciate knowing what’s going on, and you’re right- a huge part of why I personally love shopping at Nightblooming is knowing there’s a real, live person behind it. Updates like these are awesome for that!

    To answer some of your questions:
    1) I already moved to shopping at Nightblooming. Mostly it was because of the issues you’ve already laid out, but also, etsy just sucks to shop on anymore. It’s hard to find what I want through all the things etsy thinks I should want.
    2) I personally can’t think of what would make the site better. I love shopping on it as is! I would tease and say having the One Salve available, but I don’t want you to stress over it more.
    3) Paper tubes for Moondust would be cool, or any other sustainable option that works. Your dedication to being and becoming more sustainable while still being fully functional is one thing I really like about the Nightblooming products, so I trust that you won’t just throw something our way. To me, that’s worth paying a bit more for.

    Beyond that, just try not to push yourself beyond what you can handle. Having our favorite Nightblooming products in stock, having the hair salve, and having more Iyarri content is exciting, but more than that, I think we all want you to please take care of yourself.

    1. Thank you for such a detailed reply! Man did you hit it on the head with the “it’s hard to find what I want through all the things Etsy thinks I should want” comment. That’s exactly my experience.

      And aye, I’m trying to get better about the taking care of myself thing. A big part of this is I have some huge, positive things going on personally, and I want to make time for them 🙂

  4. goldenphoenix92@yahoo.com

    Hello! Thank you so much for all that you do, from sustainability (I’ve begun a no-plastics journey in the last few years so I know it’s both exhausting and expensive) to hair education to interacting with your customers. Your Eventide scent is refreshing and delicious. I’m picky with fragrances and usually prefer no fragrance but that one I enjoy huffing!

    Your explanation of Etsy fee increases through the years and their poor management is the best reason to swap to Nightblooming. It’s the same reason I try to buy as little from Amazon as possible: they treat their workers like commodities and I have not read a single positive review from their drivers.

    Please take the time to let your ankle heal! Even if it’s sticking one of those “taking a break” signs on your Etsy. I really think people would understand and if they don’t, I believe some simply have their priorities flipped around.

    I always enjoy reading your updates; the longer the better haha.


    1. hahahhaa well I’m glad you enjoy the long updates! I think I might do that with the Etsy store for my end-of-year break (put it on vacation mode, but not NB). That seemed to work really well, but who knows, maybe I’ll be nice to myself and give myself a full week off 😛

  5. Make sure to take care of yourself! Your foot sounds like it’s asking for a break. I’m on a college campus, and when people have ankle/foot injuries and have a medical boot on, I often see them rolling around on little wheeled devices that have wheels at the bottom, a pole, and then a cushioned platform at just below the knee so that the person can rest their bent knee on the platform, and put weight there rather than into their foot. I think they’re called leg scooters, or knee scooters. Maybe, for when your only option is to be on your feet, that would be helpful? Or some other kind of home-made stand to take your weight off of your foot when you’re standing?

    Also, I’m glad you mentioned bags of samples for the holiday season! That’s one of the things I missed, having curated sample packs, since for me trying something new (new to me) in a small amount is most of the fun.

    1. I actually do have a knee scooter! I used it post surgery and a little the other morning after my shot 🙂 The problem is that it’s still unweildy and packing orders is a whole lot of “two steps this way and seven the other”. I’m not stationary and pivoting and turning the scooter that much is just vastly more hassle than it’s worth.

      The sample packs are something I want to have come back 🙂 I’m thinking an Eventide-scented one (so, Lassea bar samples, Selkie, a vial of Eventide oil, and later when it’s done, the One Salve sample).

  6. Thank you so much for all the updates!
    I pray your surgery goes well and completely understand that this is quite the transition. I have no problem buying here verses Etsy 😉
    So excited for all the new things coming (especially the new hair salve which is my favorite!) 😀
    Thank you for all you do Melissa!!!!

    1. You are so welcome! I’m going to push the surgery off as long as I can (possibly another year or two, at least, depending on how long my cortisol injections hold up), and I hope to have things in a much more stable place by then (lol–that’s not meant to be punny). I do have high hopes for the salve, but I don’t want to over-promise if I run into snags 🙂

  7. First of all, thank you for everything you do, you’re a powerhouse and a real inspiration to chase your dreams!
    Answering the questions:
    – If you haven’t moved from Etsy to NightBlooming.com, why not?
    I won’t be using etsy anymore, especially since you brought to light how they’re taking advantage of you. I signed up here as soon as I could and plan to continue buying from here!

    – What can I do to make NightBlooming a better site for you to shop at?
    Honestly it’s perfect just the way it is, it’s very easy to navigate and visually beautiful.

    – Any thoughts on the paper tubes for Moondust?
    Heck yes! I got the sample of it in the small plastic sifter for my purse to carry with me, but having a zero waste refill would be awesome.

    – If you’re not a Patron, what would encourage you to become one, even at the $2 tier?
    I’ve been really considering it, but I’m a bit apprehensive about Patreon as a whole and if you’re getting fees taken out of the contributions.

    -What else do you just want me to know? I laid a bunch of stuff out in this post! Tell me your thoughts / feelings / reactions.
    I was wondering something, is there a plan to have a zero waste 8oz version of the Selkie refill down the line? I have the sample mister bottle to carry with me in my purse, but I’m not sure if I’m ready for the behemoth that is the 16 oz… I’d probably go through it, but I digress lol I don’t want to stress you out by giving you another zero waste thing to worry about, but I was just curious is all.

    Please take care of yourself, you do so much already! I hope your second surgery goes well and that you can finally get that taken care of for good, chronic pain sucks 🙁

    1. Aww thank you! It is pretty wild at times, but I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that I’ve also tried to stay very stable and grounded while I chase those dreams. (i.e. always having a stable ‘real’ job, etc.

      I’m a Patron for several people and obviously use it myself as a creator and honestly I don’t think the fees are that bad. They ARE more punishing for lower donation amounts. Because every donation has a processing fee, for example, I get less as a percentage of a $2 donation than the $7 ones. I’ve had people give me other suggestions for platforms, but it’d also be one more thing to manage, so for now Patreon seems to work well and I don’t find what they take too egregious 🙂 Honestly, with Patreon, what matters the most to me is just that people think I’m worth throwing a little pocket change at–it’s the show of support that matters, not the amount, if that makes sense!

      I don’t have a good option for an 8 ounce Selkie refill at the moment. I could half-fill a 16 ounce bottle, though XD Selkie keeps great in the fridge, so if you got more than you needed, you could just keep the paperbottle in the fridge and it’ll last for months.

  8. Thank you for the update!

    You already know that I love your books, products and the new store.

    And that I think the new packaging is great! I am happy to pay more for sustainable packaging and I think that many of your customers agrees. And like I mentioned before. The paper bags actually feel more luxurious than plastic.

    I am sorry to hear about your foot! I know what stuff like this does not only to your health, but to your business, economy and life in general. I’m currently on sick leave myself, for a loose bone ship. But my foot should heal without further treatment. I got four weeks, but I still have work that I can’t put off and I really need to push myself to get back completely, before the four weeks. Because of economy, responsibility and care for my customers. You know what I’m talking about. So while I totally want to tell you to get the surgery soon, I also completely understand why you won’t. Things aren’t easy and running your own business will always be a hard balancing act.

    Like Moon I also love my NightBlooming mug! I feel proud and happy for the opportunity to support your work on Patreon and spoiled about the things that I’ve gotten. Like the opportunity to have used your conditioner bar long before the launch and testing a version of the new salve. While I can’t wait for the new salve to reach your store, I want to tell you that it’s no rush. It’s worth waiting for and I’m happy to do so!

    And speaking of products and hospitals… I was shortly hospitalised for an infection and during the worst of this infection, my hair had to suffer. Your selkie was a life saver! Making it easier to detangle the mess my hair had become and bringing the dry tresses back to life. No other product would have helped as much!

    And last I will keep nagging you to take care of yourself. Sit down, drink some tea. Be kind to yourself and listen to your husband when he tells you to slow down. You are worth everything good Melissa! <3


    1. Aww, thank you for such a kind, sweet message. I’m sorry to hear about your recent hospitalization, but grateful that Selkie made at least one aspect less challenging! The last few weeks I actually have been a bit better cutting myself a little more free time–just takes reminding myself that this is normal, and I’m not slacking when I do it 🙂

  9. Melissa, I love your products. I so appreciate your efforts to reduce plastic in the packaging. I buy refills whenever possible. My original containers have very faded worn labels but I see that as a gift because I have been using them for years. I would support a subscription for the products I use regularly. I don’t know if that is feasible for you because I don’t know the logistics of that.

    Please take care of yourself and do what you need to do to fully heal. Health can be a much more fragile thing than we sometimes realize. Protect yours please. 💗

    1. I know, I’m AWFUL at looking after myself. Thankfully my husband does a bang up job of it. XD There actually is a subscription for products baked into WooCommerce, but I wasn’t sure if it’d be something people were interested in. I’ll give it a look 🙂

  10. Oh dear the poor ankle again…aye it’s terrible news to hear! The cortisol injections can really kick your butt the day after…I have a profound shoulder issue that they’re trying to give time before surgery so I started injections the day before my anniversary. Suffice it to say, our anniversary was mostly me in agony. Ugh…good times. Blah
    Now as far as your questions, I went straight away to Nightblooming.com at launch but I think some people stay with Etsy out of convenience. Literally the modern laziness where you already have a site where you’ve added your payment info & you use it regularly so you don’t have to do it again & also it’s an app. Quick and convenient drive lots of the younger generation. Just an observation as the parent of 4 young ladies.
    As far as Patreon, I seem to see lots of content creators pushing others where they have special access to say, a private Facebook group or something similar where they have very regular back and forth with the members where questions are asked & their opinions on content help drive things. For lack of better words it’s the more access to the creator in a more personal way that seems to be a thing I’m seeing lots of right now.
    I’m rooting for you dear & can’t wait til you iron things out for yourself.

  11. I’m sorry to hear about your ankle. I’ll be keeping you in my prayers every day. I’m very grateful to you for this beautiful website and all of your hard work. My hair health has improved exponentially over the last year due to you. I can’t thank you enough for everything you do. I’m excited to try your new shampoo and conditioning bars but will have to save money because I just had to refill my henna and get some of your dry shampoo and anointing oil for my oldest daughter for Christmas! She fell in love with both and loves using mine when she’s home! Take Care, I’ll be thinking of you and praying for you that everything will be alright with your ankle and all of your endeavors. You’re such a light!

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