Tag Archives: maker

Meet the Maker: Thistle Hill Botanicals

Rhonda Withington has pursued natural products since her late teens. She’s passionate about taking care of health-related issues naturally, and has spent most of her life researching her options. Today, that research is something that she shares with the community in addition to handmade products that have changed the lives of her customers. Before she moved to Virginia, she spent time working off room and board on an organic farm in Connecticut, learning as she worked.
“In a way,” she recalls, “the experience pushed me to be independent. I decided to start making a couple of products.”
Her first two, a healing salve and a dental cleaning powder, went over so well that she could barely keep up with the demand. Today, as Thistle Hill Botanicals, she makes and sells these two popular creations in addition to several natural products including Drawing Paste for Bug Bites and Poison Ivy, Foot Soak, Beard and Mustache Oil, Body Scrubs and Butters, Goat’s Milk Soap Bars, Natural Deodorant, and even Dry Shampoo!
Rhonda sells primarily wholesale now, placing her creations in stores around Southwest Virginia and other nearby states. Although she misses the direct interaction of farmer’s markets, what she makes often lasts so long that setting up at one every week is simply not ideal for her business. Fortunately, she’s found that the interaction with the community has not disappeared. Customers still call and request things from her, and she is very active in Floyd, where she lives and works. “The direct customer contact was, and is still, invaluable to me,” she explains. “When customers call to place an order personally, I’m thrilled to talk to them.”
Between the sustainability and quality of her products, and her dedication and appreciation for her customers, Rhonda is making an excellent impression on the community. Floyd has a reputation for being one of the most open and accepting places for diverse groups of people pursuing their dreams, so it is no surprise that they have welcomed her with open arms.
“There isn’t a lot of judgement here, and there are so many people in town that like to help one another. That’s the way the world is supposed to be,” she says.
The Floyd C4 Business Development Series and Competition is proof of that statement. They offer prizes, funded by grants, to local businesses. In 2015, Rhonda won first prize in the com- petition. This gave her a cash prize to boost her business and a discount for a spot in Floyd’s Innovation Center.
“It was a help in expanding the business and making it what it is today,” she says. “Up until then, I was making products in my little yurt. I didn’t have a lot of space. Being able to move it into the Innovation Center, and having money to buy containers in bigger sizes, larger quantities, and redesign labels gave me the push over the edge to get there.”
If you’d like to meet Rhonda and try out samples from Thistle Hill Botanicals, she will be set up at the Roanoke Natural Food Co-Op on Saturday, May 13 from 11am to 2pm. You can also find stores that sell her products via a store locator on her website, or order directly at www.thistlehillbotanicals.com.

Meet The Pie Lady

In late 2015, Cindy Bailey became an empty nester. Her daughter was a student at Virginia Tech, and her son would soon be leaving for West Virginia. As the reality of these changes began to set in, Cindy looked around her family’s home and thought it might be time to make a few changes of her own.

“I was a stay-at-home mom and worked part-time across the street at Ikenberry Autumn Adventure. My friend, who works at Ikenberry, told me that The Pie Lady was selling her business. She encouraged me to buy it,” Cindy recalls.

Cindy and her husband met with the original owner of The Pie Lady, Lisa. They decided that a business out of their home was ideal and convenient. In the fall of 2015, they began transforming their family room, initially a garage with a beautiful fireplace, into The Pie Lady kitchen. Perhaps it is the lingering family atmosphere, or the fact that Cindy and her husband live in the house adjacent to the kitchen, but it is reminiscent of a simpler time when families gathered around stovetops to share recipes and secrets. The large, open space is welcoming from the moment you walk through the door.

Although Cindy enjoys the cooking aspect of The Pie Lady, her passion is in the marketing of the product. Selling the pies gives her an opportunity to connect with her customers. As Cindy explains, people don’t feel guilty about spending money on food. Not only is it something they will use and enjoy, it often encourages their family to gather around a table together—free from the distractions of daily life.

Of course, The Pie Lady’s pies are different than the ones you will find boxed up in the freezer section of your grocery store. While they are convenient to prepare, they are also homemade. Cindy’s friend, Debbie, is her kitchen manager. Together, they work hard to produce quality products made from scratch.

“They are not the American Chicken Pot Pie,” Cindy explains. “They are a meat pie, like the French variety. It is more meat-based than gravy-based. The chicken is shredded. It is kind of like a quiche.”

There are nine varieties of dinner pies including Just Chicken, Buffalo Chicken, Chicken Fajita, Chicken and Vegetables, and Chicken Cordon Bleu. Customers can also purchase a Chocolate Pecan dessert pie.

You can find Cindy at events throughout the area, and her pies may soon be in some of your favorite local stores.

“Ikenberry’s wants to carry them, and so does Heritage Family Market. We have locations in Lexington and Radford that want to carry them too. We just have to be able to keep up with the supply,” she says.

That said, they are open to wholesale and fundraising opportunities. If you are interested in purchasing a pie for your family, or simply want to learn more about The Pie Lady, check out their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/thepieladychickenpies.

 

 

Woven for Mutts Helps Local Dogs

Ariel Lev has always loved dogs. She and her husband were able to rescue two, but they found that they were not in a place to have more than that at the same time. Still, like many animal lovers, she knew she wanted to do more.

Photo Jan 04, 12 33 53 PM“Donating money was one thing, but I couldn’t always do as much as I wanted to,” Ariel explains. “Volunteering and fostering are dangerous for me because I know that would mean a third dog for us, and we are unable to do that right now. Walking away from those dogs in need would be heartbreaking.”

With all of these things resting in the back of her mind, Ariel sat down last summer to watch a friend weave. Her friend let her try it out, and shortly thereafter, Ariel bought her first loom.

Ariel began posting pictures of her creations on social media and received an onslaught of support from her friends. The interest generated a new set of questions.

Photo Jan 04, 12 32 36 PM“I have a full-time job, and I didn’t want to commit myself to making a profit or selling my weavings to friends,” she says. “What would I charge them? What would I do with the money? At that point, I realized that I could sell them, but donate the money to senior dogs in shelters. Donating the money keeps the acting fun and fulfilling for me.”

As many of us already know, a lot of shelter dogs are seniors. People decide they can’t keep them, they move, or sometimes, unfortunately, owners die and the pets don’t have anywhere to go. Puppies are quickly adopted out of shelters because they are an easy sell. Potential adoptive families often avoid the dogs who already have someone else’s habits or illnesses. They forget that the dogs who are not always the most appealing also need and deserve a loving, safe, and warm environment.

“Senior dogs have lived their entire lives with a human and, all of a sudden, find themselves in a concrete cell wondering what happened,” Ariel adds. “As our dogs have gotten older, I’ve fallen more in love with their greying faces. When I see other little grey faces in shelters, it breaks my heart.”

Photo Jan 04, 12 31 46 PMLast month, Ariel hit her first thousand dollar mark and donated the money to Angels of Assisi. She has committed to donating every one thousand dollars she makes from her creations to a different shelter, and the next beneficiary will be Franklin County Humane Society Planned Pethood. Currently, she chooses shelters out of her interest in them. However, if the business continues to grow, she will be accepting nominations.

Ariel will also begin teaching weaving to the public this month in a series of classes at the Taubman Museum of Art on February 5, 12, and 19. Visit www.taubmanmuseum.org for more information on the class, and check out Ariel’s Etsy shop at www.etsy.com/woven4mutts.

Meet Essential Bliss!

Ten years ago, Cheryl Murphy started to look for ways to live a more environmentally friendly life. Like many of us, she started by investigating her cleaning products. The harsh chemicals that often make up these concoctions can be terrible for adults, children, and pets. She turned to essential oils to address her cleaning and household needs. Next, she bought an essential oils kit and began researching their benefits on the internet.

fullsizerender-3Of course, you can’t believe everything you read on Pinterest and Facebook,” she says. “I wanted to learn more, so I decided to seek a certification in aromatherapy.”

Cheryl began an online course from a school in Sedona. The course was rigorous, but that didn’t stop Cheryl or her friend, Tammy Ewen, who agreed to take the classes with her. Cheryl completed that training, and continues to take classes to this day at another school in Sedona.  The classes she takes now, however, she flies out to attend in person. Both Cheryl and Tammy are certified aromatherapists.

“There is a growing interest in this field. People want to take control of their health. They don’t always want to take a pill. They want more natural alternatives, and they want to have control,” she explains.

Cheryl and Tammy share their knowledge through their business, Essential Bliss. They offer consultations and workshops to help people learn how to use essential oils safely and effectively. Not only can Cheryl teach a client how to use their own oils, she can also mix oils to create a product that will specifically target trouble areas.

img_4497For those who want to take their aromatherapy on-the-go, Cheryl has developed aromatherapy bracelets. This concept is the result of merging aromatherapy and her jewelry-making business, Follow Your Bliss, to create a unique and beautiful product for her clients. With the addition of a lava bead to any one of her mindfully handcrafted bracelets, the jewelry becomes a diffuser.

Of course, clients who seek jewelry featuring symbolic charms and semi-precious gemstones without aromatherapy can purchase them through Cheryl as well.

Like her essential oil blends, her jewelry can be customized to target specific needs of the client. To help determine what will work best for an individual, Cheryl offers workshops on healing gemstones. Participants can attend these workshops and design their own bracelets as she talks about the metaphysical properties of gemstones. A bracelet created at one of these events can contain many different gemstones. It is not always about aesthetics, but instead about healing.

If you’re interested in learning more about gemstones, consider attending one of Cheryl’s upcoming workshops. She will be at Center of Gravity Yoga and Pilates on November 5 and Uttara Yoga Studio on November 20. To place an order or request a bracelet customized to fit your needs, go to www.fybbracelets.com.

For information on aromatherapy, clients can schedule consultations at Laurel Hill Salon. You can also attend our Aromatherapy Lunch and Learn on Thursday, November 17. Visit www.facebook.com/bellamagazine for more information.

Chateau Morrisette’s Delicious New Cider!

Chateau Morrisette, Virginia winery and restaurant, unveiled its newest drinks this past Labor Day Weekend. Nestled beautifully within the town of Floyd, Chateau Morrisette now serves a line of three hard ciders: Barrel-Aged, Cherry Ginger and Chai Spiced.

“While we are winemakers, we are also farmers,” explains Keith Toler, Director of Marketing at Chateau Morrisette. “We maintain a good relationship with other local farmers for both our winemaking endeavors and our restaurant.”

Chateau Morrisette Winery and Restaurant is known for its wines, dog-friendly grounds and event hosting, but after careful consideration and talk of expansion, the concept of a hard cider arose quickly.

unspecified-1“From a marketing standpoint, we recognized a trend for wines with a lower alcohol content,” Toler says. “Our ciders are made from apple wine at the base, and through the development process, we were able to bring that alcohol content down to 6.9 percent, providing customers with a low-alcohol alternative to our other fruit wines. Handcrafted ciders work really well for people who do not like the bitterness of beer, but do not want the higher alcohol content of wine.”

Also playing a large role in the cider development at Chateau Morrisette is Brian Smyth, winemaker and cider connoisseur. Smyth oversees the decisions and tasks such as fermentation, picking, and fruit harvest times–all key elements in the development of Chateau Morrisette’s ciders.

“We’ve been trying to develop the ciders here for about a year, so we’ve spent a long time on the ciders just to get them together,” says Smyth. “This run is mostly a trial run, so the volume is relatively small. We’ve made about 300 gallons of each of the three flavors.”

The three new ciders are currently offered exclusively at Chateau Morrisette. Tastings can be scheduled throughout the week in the winery’s tasting room. Tickets are $5 a person, and tastings are held at the bottom of the hour.

“We want to hear customer feedback and gauge future demand,” Toler said. “If well-received, then we will use our distribution network to bring the ciders to retail outlets throughout Virginia—and possibly beyond.”

For more information about Chateau Morrisette, wine tastings, cider tastings, directions, or events, visit www.thedogs.com.

 

Written by Emily McCaul

Hudson Henry Baking Company

Photo Credit: Tyler Darden Photography

In 2012, Hope Lawrence and her husband, David, returned to Virginia in search of a way for Hope to go back to work and stay at home with their young sons Hudson, 8, and Henry, 5. After many months of searching, they found the perfect farmhouse for their family just outside of Charlottesville in early 2012. It included a separate commercial kitchen, and the Lawrences realized this presented a unique opportunity for Hope to be with her family and start the bakery she had been dreaming of for years.

Named after their sons, Hudson Henry Baking Company is the sole source of income for the family of four. And it is very much family-owned and operated. Both Hudson and Henry help their parents, and Hudson even accompanied Hope to the LLC meeting with their attorney. He also appeared in their video audition for Shark Tank.
“What is important to us is being home with the boys and working together to provide for our family,” explains Lawrence. “Our business helps us live a good life with our boys.”

When they aren’t baking, packaging, and shipping their delicious granola, the Lawrence family focuses on new ways to give back to others.

This outreach began when the business did. As Hope perused through websites geared towards entrepreneurs, she found several motivational thoughts that she considered putting on posters to inspire her.

HudsonHenry058“Then I thought, what if people read these things in the morning to start their day instead of the news? These sayings should be on cereal boxes!” says Lawrence. She realized she had the perfect way to get those inspirational words in front of her customers and incorporated them into their packaging.“The positive messages are as important to me as the granola,” she adds.

But she didn’t stop there. The Lawrence family works closely with their community by employing stay at home moms and participating in a work-study program with students at a nearby high school. They also put a lot of thought into the suppliers they choose for their ingredients. For example, their maple syrup comes from another family-owned and operated business, Mount Mansfield Maple Products, located in Vermont.

Their goal is to be a family business that helps others be their best. Whether that is through consuming their delicious granola, starting the day with their motivational quotes, or a combination of the two—the Lawrence’s want people to know that whatever their dream, a little positivity can go a long way. Their own success is the perfect example of this mentality. After just ten months of business, Hudson Henry Baking Company was featured on The Today Show in 2013 as one of Kathie Lee’s “Favorite Things.” Additionally, their products are available to a wide customer base throughout the country.

If you’re searching for that perfect Mother’s Day gift, this is it! Hudson Henry Baking Company is extending a special discount code to Bella readers for 10% off during the month of May. To take advantage of this deal, visit www.hudsonhenrybakingco.com and enter the code: bella10 when you check out!