Tag Archives: meet the maker

Roanoke’s Kid-Made Market

In January of 2016, one of Chad Young’s sons had a dream.

“He came to me and said, ‘Hey, there is a nice Star Wars Lego set I want to buy.’ I told him that was great, and we would go see how much it was and see if we could make it happen,” Chad recalls. “I hadn’t bought a Lego set in 30 years, so I didn’t realize how expensive they were.”

At the store, both Chad and his son were shocked to see that they would have to pay $80 or $90 for the toy. Even with the money his son earned from doing chores around the house, he was still far from the hefty price tag. They would have to come up with another way for him to raise the money he needed to fund the purchase.

“We decided to take the farmers market idea that is so big right now and do it for kids. That way, they can make their own stuff, sell it, and make their own money,” Chad explains.

So, the Kid-Made Market was born. Now in its second year, the monthly market allows kids ages 6-17 to come and sell their creations to the public. Unlike many local markets, the event does not charge the children who participate. The creativity at this event is second to none. One child went as far as to convert a bicycle so that, when pedaled, it turned a rotor inside of a blender and made smoothies. Customers had the opportunity to make their own smoothie on-site. The harder they pedaled, the more it mixed.

Another girl used sections that her father cut from a fallen tree in their yard to create tic-tac-toe boards. She painted them by hand, and sold one to Chad himself.

“I’m a throwback guy, so I like old nostalgic games and toys,” he says. “I’m also a Fruit Loops junkie. If it’s Fruit Loops, I’m all about it, because it reminds me of my childhood. There is a young lady who has been coming since we started, and she makes her own bath salts, bath bombs, scrubs, and lotions. She makes this bath scrub that smells like Fruit Loops. I bought a little jar of it and use it all the time.”

“That is what is so rewarding about putting this function on,” he adds. “The smile on the kids’ faces when people come taste and test their products and buy their stuff.”

Chad hopes that, in addition to providing a platform for children to express their creativity, participating in this event will allow kids to learn valuable life lessons. For example, understanding the value of money and learning to interact with the public. There is something for everyone at this market, and as the holidays approach it is also a great place to start looking for and purchasing gifts. The next market will take place this Saturday, September 16 from 9am-1pm. Find them at 3716 Colonial Avenue, Roanoke. Follow their Facebook page for up-to-date information on future markets and participants!

Meet the Maker: North Mountain Candle Company

Callie Altman, owner of North Mountain Candle Company, has been making candles for twelve years. Her journey began one Christmas while trying to come up with a way to make gifts for the holiday budget-friendly. She decided to take her love of candles to the next level and make a few herself. They were a hit with her friends and family, and over the next year she transformed the experiment into a business that continues to reflect her love of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

North Mountain Candle Company takes its name from an actual mountain in a small former mining community called Longdale, where Callie grew up.

Photo Credit: Brittany Smejkal, Eccentric Photography

“Almost all of my childhood memories involve the outdoors in some way, shape or form,” Callie recalls. “From hiking along the Appalachian Trail to camping at Douthat State Park, or fishing on the Cowpasture River. The main driving force behind my business is to share my love of the Blue Ridge Mountains around the world. It’s a wonderful place to live, grow up, and raise a family. Our scents are inspired by this area.”

With scents like Mill Mountain Magnolia, Hotel Roanoke Spoonbread, and Smith Mountain Lake House, just lighting one of these unique creations is enough to take anyone back to their best memories of Southwest Virginia. Every candle is 100% handmade. Callie and her family try to get everything they use for the candles locally to support local sustainable businesses. They don’t mass produce anything, and there are no machines. Every inch of the process from making the candles to printing off labels is done by hand.

When she isn’t making candles, Callie can be found throughout the community teaching classes at the Omni Homestead or set up anywhere from small school fundraising events to large vintage or antique shows.

This summer, North Mountain Candle Company can be found on and off at the Grandin Village Farmers Market. Currently, they are a fill-in when other vendors are unavailable, but it is a placement that Callie hopes will become permanent in the future. Customers can also find her products in The Hodge Podge across from Lord Botetourt High School, in the Local Artisans section at Natural Bridge State Parks, and The Flower Center in Clifton Forge. Of course, if you cannot make it to any of these locations, you can always check out her selection and order online at www.northmountaincandles.com.

All photos in this post courtesy of Brittany Smejkal, Eccentric Photography. 

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.

 

 

Meet Maker: Tinker Creek Handknits

Photo by Amanda Malone at Amanda Kelly Photos

Lisa Uotinen, of Daleville, Virginia, began knitting right after she graduated from college in 1993. Back then, she was working full time at Colonial Williamsburg and needed something to do on breaks between shows. There were no classes available then, so she learned by watching people around her and from books. She took a break when her children were born, but picked the hobby back up almost a decade ago.

As her talent developed, she decided to sell the items that she was making. In April of 2016, she opened her business, Tinker Creek Handknits. Most of her yarn comes from Cascade Yarns and is ecologically-friendly, made from natural fibers and minimally-processed wool that hasn’t been dyed using chemicals.

Photo Dec 08“When you buy minimally-processed wool, some people really do fare better when they have it on their skin because there are no chemicals or dyes. You are also choosing to support a sustainable industry in an environmentally-friendly way,” says Lisa.

Of course, wool itself is a sustainable industry. It is one that has proven to be useful for centuries. Lisa harbors no ill will against yarns that are processed, because the sale of that wool also helps the farmers who raise the sheep that provided it.

“People are becoming more aware of the impact they have on the environment. This is just one way that I can choose to support an ecologically-friendly industry. There are people who have made chemically processed yarn, and there is nothing wrong with that. Whenever you are using wool, you are supporting a sustainable industry,” she explains.

Tinker Creek Handknits is operated out of Lisa’s home, where she also raises three young daughters. All three know how to knit, but it is something they have pushed to the back burner as they have grown older. Instead, they help Lisa in other ways—like modeling her creations and giving their opinions on what will and will not sell.

“Their sense of style is usually right on point,” she says. “If they don’t like or wouldn’t wear something I make, chances are that it isn’t going to sell. They are teenagers, so they are on trend and know what will look right for people their age.”

Instead of buying your knitted items from big box stores this winter, make sure that you are supporting small businesses like Lisa’s. Not only are you putting money back into your community, you are also creating a relationship that will allow you to own unique and personable items. Lisa is happy to create custom lengths and knit with requested colors for her customers. That, of course, is the difference between something that you can specifically request and something that is mass produced.

Lisa will be unveiling new products and styles in early 2017! Follow her on Instagram (tinkercreekhandknits) or visit her website, www.tinkercreekhandknits.com to stay up to date on the latest products and to purchase something new for your winter wardrobe!

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.

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!