Category Archives: Columns

Virginia Made

Meet April Chavez of 704 North Design Co. 

The holiday season is upon us. The hustle and bustle of November is welcome as plans are made for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The last two months of the year are here with promises of warm gatherings with family and friends, food and laughter. There’s a mood of festivity in theair as plans are made and gift shopping begins. Makers like April Chavez, owner and artist of 704 North Design Co finds herself especially busy during this time. Her painted signs of Blue Ridge inspired mountains and inspirational sayings are in high demand during theseason. 

As a stay-at-home mom, art is an outlet for April. Born and raised in Iowa, when she moved to Lynchburg 15 years ago for college, her family came right along with her. Now married with two children, family remains at the top of her priority list. While her children are at school, the ins and outs of 704 North keeps this maker busy. Beginning the business with more than just wood signs, April has now found her niche and business is booming. 

Lynchburg is known for having a strong community who support local business owners and makers. That support along with a growing social media following and requests for herproducts in local stores and boutiques set April on the path to owning her own business. Realizing the demand for her work, she soon found herself with an Etsy shop and setting up at local markets. The recurring theme of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains is one of 704 North’s most popular designs. April’s inspirational signs also stand out as a declaration of her faith and personal motto to live a life worthy of the gospel ofChrist. 

April prides herself in the work that goes into each piece. From start to finish the designs are cut, sanded and painted by the maker. Other aspects of the business such as photographs and social media are all a part of her hard work. Local shows sometime become a family affair as her children and husband tag along to help set-up or simply just to bring meals or support. Much of the business was learned by trial and error. Fortunately, her parents who run a small business as well as her husband who also has a business provide sounding boards for ideas. 

Running the business is not all fun and games but what makes it worthwhile is the joy of customers as they fall in love with a piece and joyfully take it to its new home. 

All work and no play makes a dull day but even while painting April finds entertainment listening to conspiracy theory podcasts. Binge watching CW shows or Netflix is usually on the agenda with her husband on off days. Surprisingly enough, April is an avid sports fan and dreams of a vacation that includes going to the Masters. You can find her with her children taking trips to the skatepark with her son or taking her daughter to dance. Spending time with family is a priority most days because, as rewarding as 704 North Designs is, family is the greatest reward of all. 

For more details, find 704 North Design Co on Facebook and Instagram.

Written by Faith Jones

Faith Jones is a local entrepreneur, creative, and believer. Her businesses include Faith Inspired and The Hill City Handmade. Faith has a degree in Art and Photography and is a former high school art and culinary teacher. She enjoys spending time with her family and travelling. www.thehillcityhandmade.com 

Virginia Made: Urban Flora

Urban Flora

Meet Katelyn Summerville, specializing in French garden-style florals.

Written by Faith Jones, Hill City Handmade

Beautiful colors are beginning to emerge as we transition from one season to the next. Cool breezes are a welcome replacement of summer’s intense heat. The change is gladly welcomed as sweaters, jackets and boots make their debut. French-garden is not the first word that comes to mind when you think of business and psychology but to Katelyn Summerville, the key word is change.

As transitions in life brought Katelyn from Oregon to Virginia she found herself drawn to a more creative side of life. Searching for connections in a new place, she found herself searching within the floral industry. For years before moving Katelyn freelanced with well-known floral designers. From Oregon to North Carolina, she took notes as a young designer and learned all she could about the industry.At the age of 22, it was finally time. Time for Katelyn to branch out on her own and dive into the business world of flowers. Urban Flora is a Virginia-based design company specializing in French-garden themed arrangements. Simplicity, romance and femininity are words that immediately come to mind when looking at Katelyn’s work. Leaning towards more muted and saturated colors in her designs, her creations are made to fit any venue.

Although Urban Flora embodies many aspects of creativity, Katelyn still finds a way to use her degree in both business and psychology. As someone once advised her, “Empowered women empower other women.” Her relationships with her clients reflect that motto as she strives to build healthy relationships with each person who crosses her path.

The serious time spent in creating beautiful garden inspired arrangements requires a little comic relief during her downtime. Being a huge tv nerd, Netflix and Hulu often find their way into date nights. Investing in a good series is the name of the game with Modern Place currently in the cue. Katelyn’s secret talent of being able to name all the actor/actresses’ voices behind cartoon characters is one that never fails to amuse her husband. Walks with the dogs along Blackwater Creek and collecting plants add to her list of life’s happy moments.Now settled in Lynchburg, Katelyn believes that the key to her success is a strong community. She embraces the idea that there is room for every creative. Given the same supplies and the same amount of time, each will create something unique and beautiful. Katelyn’s passion and creativity are certainly reflected in her arrangements as is her heart for people.

For more details visit www.urbanflorava.com.

Faith Jones is a local entrepreneur, creative, and believer.  Her businesses include Faith Inspired and The Hill City Handmade. Faith has a degree in Art and Photography and is a former high school art and culinary teacher. She enjoys spending time with her family and traveling. www.thehillcityhandmade.com

Save Smarter

Six Tips for Keeping your Smartphone Secure

How your device could be just as vulnerable to hackers as your computer. Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

What’s shiny, contains some of your most precious memories, and is rarely out of sight? No, it’s not your child after being slathered in sunscreen at the beach. It’s your smartphone. You hear about the importance of securing your computer from hackers, but are you aware of how vulnerable your smartphone could be too? In honor of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we’ve rounded up tips to help keep the sensitive data on your device safe. 

1. Set a personal identification number (PIN) on the lock screen. While it may be more convenient to keep your phone unlocked, setting up a PIN is one of your first lines of defense against fraudsters in the event your phone is lost or stolen. Many devices prompt you to complete this step upon setup. Pick a PIN that’s difficult for a criminal to guess but easy for you to remember. 

2. Make sure your software and apps are up to date.  Many devices will send a push notification when a software, app, or security update is ready to install. When you receive those notices, install them. It’s also a good idea to occasionally visit your phone’s settings to look for any updates you may have missed. 

3. Log out of applications when you’re done using them.  If you access mobile banking, email, social media, or websites that contain personal data with your phone, get in the habit of logging out when you’re done. You’ll be thankful that fraudsters won’t have easy access to your personal information in case your phone is lost, stolen, or hacked. 

4. Understand what apps you’re downloading.  Before installing an app, consider reviews from previous customers and look over the permissions before downloading it onto your device. Try to stick to only downloading apps from the mainstream app stores or from developers that are well-known and have high ratings. 

5. Be cautious about public wireless networks.  As a rule of thumb, never connect to an unknown wireless network. Cybercriminals may set up a network name that looks very similar to one established by a legitimate venue, so it’s best to ask staff for the network name and password. Avoid opening apps or visiting links that contain your personal information while connected to a public network. 

6. Don’t click on suspicious links.  This includes links sent through email or text messages. If it’s an email, flag it as spam or junk. If it’s a text informing you that you’ve won a prize or have a special offer awaiting you, delete it right away. Unless you’ve opted in to receive notifications by text, a legitimate company will typically not contact you with important information this way.

Taking a few simple precautions now to protect the data on your smartphone could mean fewer headaches and heartbreaks if your phone is ever lost, stolen, or hacked. Our smartphones aren’t nearly as precious as our children, but they contain plenty of sensitive data that needs to be secured. 

Join Member One here each month for more money-saving tips and financial advice! Be sure to visit their website, www.memberonefcu.com, for more info on their products and services. Member One Federal Credit Union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration.

 

Virginia Made – Guy Piper

Meet Marion Hedgepeth

Written by Faith Jones of Hill City HandmadeEvery day our social media feeds and timelines are full of hilarious memes. Most of the time they’re attached to instant thoughts of “that’s so me!” or a flash of a friend’s face who fits the description to a tee. “The mind of a creative person is like a web browser that has 2,857 tabs open all the time.” One would be hard pressed to find a maker who would debate this popular quote to be untrue. Marion Hedgepeth is one who agrees wholeheartedly. 

Marion’s maker journey began at the age of ten years old when she learned to knit. During her senior year in college, she opened her first handmade shop on Etsy. As with all things after college, life happens. A full-time job and being a full-time wife and mother took priority until 2015. Things began to change as she and her husband moved to Richmond from Lynchburg and she became a stay-at-home mom. Marion knew that this was her chance to begin rebranding her knitting business into Guy Piper (Handmade + Vintage). 

Inspired by the middle names of her daughters, Rebecca and Olive, Guy Piper has taken off in the last three years. Marion’s one stop shop for clever mugs and handmade accessories (including tote bags), speak to customers through pop culture and current events. If you’re a fan of those quirky ladies of the Golden Girls, you’re sure to find that quote from Sophia, Rose or Blanche on a mug. Yes, the one you wouldn’t dare say aloud. The handsewn tote bags of Guy Piper provide inspirational quotes on the outside and bold patterns that reflect her love of fabrics on the inside. A recently renovated sunroom in the Hedgepeth home serves as her studio and workspace. Yet another creative DIY Marion took on herself. 

As if she doesn’t have enough on her plate with one successful business, this maker is also the co-owner of Merry Bee Photobooth Co. “I have always described myself as a ‘restless creator’—meaning I’m always moving from one project to the next. I’m not quite happy if I’m not working on something.” Though it’s often tough to juggle homeschooling, running a store, photo booths and being a mommy, the future looks bright. Marion envisions Guy Piper expanding beyond her online shop and local craft markets and into retail stores.

Aside from working creatively, Marion enjoys her garden and hanging with her peeps. That would be peeps as in the four chickens she calls her BFFs. The surprises from this maker don’t end there. One of her life goals is to have a pet dwarf caiman someday to feed her crocodile/alligator obsession. That someday depends on a change of heart from her husband, which does not look promising in the near future.

For now, Marion is content spending time with her family and snuggling with her peeps as often as possible. www.guypiper.etsy.com

 

Faith Jones is a local entrepreneur, creative, and believer.  Her businesses include Faith Inspired and The Hill City Handmade. Faith has a degree in Art and Photography and is a former high school art and culinary teacher. She enjoys spending time with her family and travelling. Faith’s motto is, “Paris is always a good idea.”  www.thehillcityhandmade.com

 

Save Smarter

Financial Tips for Growing Families

How to maintain your family’s finances now & well into the future.

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

Whether you have a new baby on the way or already have children in your household, being financially stable should be a top priority. As vacation season winds down and the school routine ramps up, it’s a perfect time to reexamine your family’s financial situation to ensure you’re on track. We’re here to offer tips for setting your family up for success now and into the years ahead.

Ensure your household finances are stable. While it can be tough to determine what to make a financial priority, there are a few things that should always remain at the top of your list. These include meeting your basic needs like food and electricity, paying down debts, setting aside an emergency fund, and saving for the future. Maintaining a household budget is key to ensuring that you live within your means to meet these financial goals. If you’re finding it difficult to pay your housing costs or set aside savings, take a hard look at your budget to identify areas to cut down on expenses.

Take steps to protect your children financially. There are several ways to do this, but some options include investing in life insurance and establishing a will. Life insurance serves as a financial safety net for your dependents in case something happens to you or your spouse. A will ensures that the distribution of your assets and how your children are cared for after you’re gone are followed according to your wishes. While these investments in your future won’t yield a return right away, they’ll provide peace of mind and make certain that what’s most important to you is taken care of.

Save for your child’s future. It can be a daunting task figuring out how much you should save, especially when you add children to the equation. A good starting point is to decide what you’re saving for. For children, a popular long-term savings goal is higher education or even a wedding, but you may also want to consider short-term goals such as summer camps, family trips, or educational tools. All savings goals should be worked into your family budget to help determine what you can truly afford. To reach the long-term savings goals, look into education savings accounts, 529 plans, or even a Roth IRA. It’s important to research your options as each has specific criteria for contributing and unique benefits. Since there’s no best way to save for your child’s future, you may want to consult a financial advisor. As with any savings plan, the earlier you start the better.

Making sure your household is financially solid is one of the best ways to set your family up for success. It can be a difficult adjustment—in several ways—when a little one joins your clan. But following these tips could help guide you and your expanding family on the path to financial success.

Join Member One here each month for more money-saving tips and financial advice! Be sure to visit their website, www.memberonefcu.com, for more info on their products and services. Member One Federal Credit Union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration.

Save Smarter

Is Your Family Prepared for a Disaster? 

Being disaster-ready is easy. Follow our few simple tips.

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

From tornadoes to house fires and floods—all are disasters that can devastate our lives. If you’re ever in one of these situations, the last thing you want to be doing is picking up the disorganized pieces when a little preparation could have helped alleviate some of the chaos. Hopefully you’ll never experience a disaster, but if you do, our tips on what to collect and how to keep important documents safe could help put your mind at ease if the unexpected happens. 

Collect key documents. This includes personal identification for everyone in your household such as birth certificates, social security cards, passports, and pet identification tags. Also gather insurance policy numbers and the insurance company contact information for each type of coverage. You’ll also want to store a copy of property records like deeds and mortgage documents, medical information including prescriptions, estate-planning documents, and legal and financial records including taxes from the past few years. Record contact information for family and friends in case you don’t have access to your cell phone and need to reach out for help. 

Invest in storage. Select a way to store the items that’s easy to grab in a hurry. Options include a fireproof and waterproof safe, a binder with sleeves to hold all documents, or a safety deposit box at your local financial institution. You could also opt to store everything electronically on, for example, a memory stick, external hard drive, or the cloud. It may be wise to combine a few options—a safe for paper documents plus an electronic storage option. Whatever you choose, place it somewhere that can be quickly and easily grabbed as you head out the door. 

Take inventory of your possessions. This is especially helpful if you need to file an insurance claim. Go through your home, room by room, and record your belongings. Make note of household valuables, such as jewelry, antiques, or collectibles, and write down their worth. Take photos or videos of your home’s contents so you have proof of your possessions. Store your inventory list and photos or videos with your other important documents. 

Set money aside. If a disaster impacts your whole community, it’s likely that your local financial institution could be affected as well, making it difficult to access your money. Additionally, merchants may not have electricity, making a quick swipe of your debit or credit card impossible. Set aside enough cash to cover essentials for a couple of days, which might include a few nights in a hotel, food and water, and basic amenities like clothing. 

Join Member One here each month for more money-saving tips and financial advice! Be sure to visit their website, www.memberonefcu.com, for more info on their products and services. Member One Federal Credit Union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration. 

Save Smarter – Financial Fitness for Youth

6 Tips to Guide Children through a Healthy Relationship with Money

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

With school out for the summer, the kids are likely hanging around the house more than usual. Your little audience is watching and probably soaking in more than you realize—which includes how you manage finances. Healthy financial habits begin at a young age, so what better time to teach responsible spending and saving than during a break from the daily grind of school? Here are a few ways to help your kids get started on the path to financial success.

Set an example.  Parents who make poor financial decisions like impulse purchases, excessive credit card use, or have arguments about finances only confuse children about how to make smart money choices. Make a point to practice what you preach by not only explaining positive financial habits but demonstrating them as well.

Begin early.  Once children start saying, “I want,” it’s a good time to teach savings habits. While they won’t understand compound interest or annual percentage yield, you can explain how we sometimes have to wait for the things we want. Delayed gratification is an important lesson to learn.

Give commissions, not allowances.  There is nothing wrong with giving your child money each week, but it should be earned. Have them perform chores like mowing the lawn, taking out trash, or doing dishes. This will teach them the value of work and prepare them for adulthood, and starting a job outside of the home.

Make it visual.  For younger children, give them transparent jars to keep their money in so they can see their progress. For older children, it’s wise to open a savings account with a local credit union. Online banking can help them easily monitor their progress.

Set savings goals.  It’s much easier to put away money when you know what you’re saving for. If your child wants a game or pair of shoes, show them how much it costs and how long it will take before they can buy the item. You can also show them ways to reach their goal faster by earning more money through additional effort. 

Explain responsible credit card use. As a teenager, getting your first credit card can be very exciting. Make sure your child knows how to use the credit card wisely and warn them that they should only make purchases if they can afford to pay off the balance each month. It’s also important to explain what credit is and how it affects their future—from buying a car to getting their first mortgage.

Financial responsibility begins at a young age. Use these tips to help teach your child healthy money habits that will set the foundation for success now and continue well into the future.

Flavors of Summer

Our new favorite local, handcrafted hot sauce!

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

Ryan and Chrissi Scherer, the husband and wife team behind Zen Pepper Company, are making waves in the local agricultural community. Born in Texas, Ryan has always loved hot foods. He began growing and experimenting with different hot peppers in his early 20s. Through this experimentation, he was able to discern how their flavors came to life once blended with other ingredients. In 2010, he began small-scale farming Virginia Tech’s sustainability center in Catawba, researching forms of organic crop management and environmentally-friendly irrigation methods. 

“Virginia Tech owns the Catawba Sustainability Center,” Chrissi explains. “They have great land that they lease to people trying to start small agricultural businesses. The center receives grants for sustainable types of tools, equipment, and practices they are able to implement. Ryan took a course that the Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension offered a few years back called, ‘Growers Academy.’ [The course] was geared towards farmers who wanted to step into developing a small business. We both have been growing and gardening for a long time, and that was his first step in beefing it up a little.”

Zen Pepper Company’s hot sauces first appeared at the farmers’ market at the end of 2016. There, Chrissi and Ryan met new friends through the Local Environmental Agricultural Program (LEAP). This connection, in addition to the popularity of their products, encouraged them to continue creating and sharing their sauces.

As their popularity has increased, so has their knowledge and implementation of sustainable practices. All of their hot sauces are created in a commercial kitchen, and they consider the impact on the environment with every step in their development. Pepper seeds germinate in soil blocks that they keep in their home. The couple avoids using high energy grow lights, and puts their lights on timers so they can cut down on energy usage during the growing process. They also implemented drip irrigation practices, which reduces the amount of water they use.

“The sustainability center is a fantastic resource, because they supply the means for us to be able to do that,” Chrissi says.

2018 promises to be a big year for Zen Pepper Company. They are discussing expanding their presence at the downtown Roanoke Co-Op, and plan on attending a couple of festivals this year (TBA). Their business has taken off, and their most popular sauce, Ginger Habanero, is flying off of the shelves. Last year, they grew about four hundred pepper plants during the growing season. This year, they have expanded to about two thousand, and are encouraged by how receptive Roanoke has been of their products.

For more information on Zen Pepper Company including where to find them and the flavors they offer, visit www.zenhotsauce.com. Find them on Facebook at Zen Pepper Co.