Tag Archives: Virginia

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

 

Young Female Writers Club

Better on Paper: An Introverted Teen Writer 

Written by K.L. Kranes

Hannah stands in the middle of the hall and pulls out a notebook, fumbling for a pen. She can’t wait. She has to write it down now. 

Pressing the notebook against the wall, she begins to write. The idea flows out as her hand scribbles fast across the paper. When she’s done, her shoulders relax.  She stuffs the notebook back in her bag and sets off to class.

At 16-years-old, Hannah Mullen of Mechanicsville, Virginia often feels this grip of an idea and the compulsive need to get it out on paper. On paper she can be herself. On paper is where she feels safe.

“I definitely use writing to work through my emotions,” she explains. “I use my notebooks for everything. I have a reading log in the front. I doodle. I write. It’s usually just whenever and wherever I get inspiration.”

Although Hannah is a writer, she doesn’t necessarily want to make an impression. She would probably rather tiptoe through life making no noticeable divots in the fabric of the world, at least not until she first gave each step a great deal of thought. But, whether she wanted to or not, Hannah made an impression on the Hanover Writers Club. Even three years after she stopped attending meetings, they still remember her, the 12-year-old girl working on her first novel. 

When I ask Hannah why she decided to write and publish a novel, she replies, “I just woke up one day and decided this is what I wanted to do.” 

Two years after starting the novel, at age 13, Hannah self-published Experimentals on Amazon. She didn’t think anyone would read it. But attention and accolades do not seem to matter much to Hannah. 

In fact, it becomes clear early in our interview that Hannah doesn’t like to talk about herself or tout her accomplishments. I get the sense she would rather have her nose in a book than be on the phone with me. Regardless, she is gracious and witty, even if a bit reticent. 

“I’ve always loved books,” she says. At the beginning of our interview, Hannah answers my questions with these types of brief answers. 

I quickly realize, Hannah, like many writers, is introverted. I ask her, “You don’t trust easily do you?” She answers, “No.”

I feel an instant kinship with Hannah as I too have introverted tendencies. By the end of the interview, I think I have won her trust, but I’m not certain. 

Once Hannah gets more comfortable with me, her personality begins to shine through. Although I can’t see her expressions, I imagine she is not quick with a smile, but when she gives one, it is meaningful.

“Sometimes I will go a whole day without saying a word,” Hannah tells me. “People expect me to talk. I don’t mind presentations or anything of the sort but socially I’m a wreck. People think just because I don’t talk to them it means I don’t like them.”

Writing helps Hannah cope with the social pressures of being an introvert in an extroverted world. When she writes, Hannah can carefully craft her words in a way that eludes her when speaking. 

“I can erase my writing and I cannot erase what I said. Sometimes I don’t think before I speak, but writing forces me to think,” she says.

Although introverted, Hannah doesn’t spend her days hiding in her room. She has starred in theater productions since she was 8-years-old and takes part in her high school theater program. It isn’t the spotlight that unnerves Hannah, it is not being prepared for it. 

“In my head, things aren’t really thought out. It’s big word vomit,” she says. “I like acting because I don’t have to think about what I say.”

Hannah’s thoughtful mind translates to a thoughtful person. Once Hannah opens up during our interview, it becomes clear she has a big heart. 

“I’ve always been drawn to helping people,” she says. 

In fact, although Hannah finds writing therapeutic, she doesn’t want to be a writer as her profession. It is partially practical. She knows the obstacles and difficulties writers face. Hannah is content writing for herself and pouring her emotions into her notebooks or her poetry blog, https://angsty-teen-poetry.tumblr.com. 

Hannah is more interested in helping people than gathering followers on Snapchat or Instagram. She donates her time at a nearby hospital, assisting with discharges and stocking the pharmacy, while dreaming of one day becoming a pediatrician. Her voice thrums with excitement when she talks about being accepted into a program called SODA (Student Organization for Developing Attitudes), which helps teach 4th graders how to deal with peer pressure. 

Speaking with Hannah reminds me that writing is not just about getting published or how many people follow your blog. Writing is a deeply personal experience. Hannah doesn’t want to just be known as a girl who wrote and published a book before she was even in high school. She would rather be known for her thoughtfulness and how she helped people. She may feel better on paper, but I think we would all feel better if we viewed the world a bit more like Hannah.

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.

Local Festivals

Opportunities to enjoy music, art, and fun in the coming months!

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

Festival season is here, and we couldn’t be more excited! There is nothing better than spending a long weekend enjoying the warm weather, scenic mountain views, live music, and local food in the company of good friends and family. In addition to FloydFest, there are several festivals within driving distance happening in the next few months that we hope you will support! Check out our favorites below, and let us know your favorites on our Facebook page.

The 14th Annual Horse & Hound Wine Festival takes place on July 14 from 11am-6pm at Johnson’s Orchards & Peaks of Otter Winery! Enjoy local wines from Peaks of Otter Winery, Rebec Vineyards, Tamahawk Mill, Ramulose Ridge, and more! Live entertainment will be provided by BigBossMan at this dog-friendly event. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the town of Bedford and support small businesses and local food trucks. Previous years have included appearances from the Virginia Donkey Rescue, a Parade of Horses, a Kiddie Korral, agility dogs, and even muskrat racing! Visit www.peaksofotterwinery.com for more information on ticket prices and how to purchase them. 

Can’t get enough of Floyd? We’re in the same boat. That’s why we will be attending the Cirque Du Floyd at Chantilly Farm August 17-18! Featuring performances from New York City’s ImaginAerial, Cheeky Monkey Sideshow, Mountain Circus Arts, Juggler Erin Riley, Magician Nelson Oliver, DanceAFire, Imagine Circus, StoryUP!, Miss Kitty’s Cosmonauts, Gartrell the Great, live music from The Get Right Band and Music Road Company, and more! Enjoy a beer and wine lounge, local food, crafts and workshops, sideshow stage and roaming performances, along with a lot of outdoor fun. Arrive by 2pm on Friday to take advantage of free tent camping for the weekend! Visit www.chantillyfarm.com for more information on the event and how to purchase your tickets.

Microfestivus celebrates its 21st anniversary this year! On Saturday, August 11, join the festivities from 12pm-6pm in downtown Roanoke. This is the premier fundraiser for the Square Society, a local 501c(3) nonprofit established to raise interest in awareness of the arts, as well as cultural facilities and activities supported by Center in the Square. This annual event has grown to be one of the largest beer festivals on the entire East Coast, and is a great opportunity to enjoy the ever-growing craft beer marketplace at an event that strives to offer a wide variety of local, regional, and national breweries. www.microfestivus.squaresociety.org

Floyd Yoga Jam’s four-day music, yoga, dance, and art festival will return from August 30-September 2. This is a great opportunity for beginner to advanced yogis to relax, learn, and make new friends! The 2018 lineup will include musical entertainment by Oddisee, Phoebe Hunt & The Gatherer’s, The Get Right Band, Morgan Wade & The Stepbrothers, Seph Custer, Dangermuffin, and more! Floyd Yoga Jam is known for their excellent lineup of professional teachers who provide instruction for a variety of classes. Participants can also enjoy nature walks, meditation, art classes, and lectures. This festival is kid-friendly and includes a Kid Village that will host yoga classes specifically designed for children. The food trucks and beverage options alone are excellent reasons to attend this event. There are multiple options for camping, including a glamping package. For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit www.floydyogajam.net.

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.

Young Female Writers Club: Yasmeen Jaaber

Leading with the Written Word

Written by K.L. Kranes

The iconic Whitney Houston once sang of how children are the future and we should let them lead the way. Recent events have turned those lyrics into truth. Our children have stepped onto the world stage as the real leaders in the movement for equality and justice. Some speak out on television, such as the Parkland students. Others use a different medium, the written word. 

One such writer is 15-year-old Yasmeen Jaaber of Chesterfield, Virginia, who infuses her poems and stories with deeply personal experiences and ideas in the hopes of spreading a message of tolerance and love. It is the kind of leadership only our children seem to be able to achieve—honest, open and fearless.

Yasmeen started writing at a young age. In elementary school, she would come home every day and write stories on her sister’s computer. She’d always loved to read, but hated to finish a book. Writing gave her the power to continue stories as long as she wanted.    

At first, Yasmeen wrote what she called “silly stuff,” just for herself. As she grew older and entered her teen years, she started to view the world differently. “More issues became more prevalent to me,” Yasmeen explains. She suddenly found herself writing about her fears and hopes for America. 

As a Muslim-American and a black woman, Yasmeen feels it is important to talk about the issues facing minorities. “I need to use my voice as an artist to talk about something that really matters,” she says.

Talking to Yasmeen is like talking to a ray of sunshine. Her voice rings with positivity as she tells the story of how she made a video as a young girl in which she told her future self she would have a book published by the 9th grade. “My old-self was telling me what I could do,” Yasmeen says. This time-bending pep-talk exemplifies Yasmeen’s fearless, can-do attitude. 

Her younger self was also right. Yasmeen could do it. She recently published her first book, a picture book, through the Richmond Writer’s Workshop called Flea-Man. The book is about how a boy’s love of a superhero teaches him to learn to be himself. It can be purchased via the Richmond Writer’s Group website (http://www.richmondyoungwriters.com/picture-book-project/).

Although Yasmeen reveled in seeing her name on a book for the first time, it was one little boy’s response to her work that truly impacted her. “When I handed it to the little boy, he looked so excited and he ran upstairs to get his dad to read it to him,” Yasmeen explains. “That experience was really profound for me because it was the first time actually seeing the kids I was impacting with my story.”

Although Yasmeen oozes positivity, it does not always come naturally. “I often struggle with keeping a consistently positive attitude because it can be very exhausting.” It is not surprising. Prejudice has followed Yasmeen throughout her short life. “In school I’ve had many, many ignorant things said about my hijab,” Yasmeen explains. 

Like many minorities, Yasmeen feels as if she lives in a state of constant worry. The kind that makes her look over her shoulder or fear walking to the bus stop alone at night. “If I wasn’t Muslim or black or a woman, there’d be a lot of things I wouldn’t know. Being who I am, I’ve experienced things that have taught me lessons about being a minority in America.” 

Yasmeen channels these experiences into her writing, tackling topics many might view as controversial, such as homophobia and racism. Recently, she wrote a poem about burning the Confederate flag. It helped her sort through her emotions about the symbol, which she notes gives her shivers whenever she sees it. “When I finished it [the poem], it was more lyrical than I imagined,” Yasmeen says. “There was something so calming about it even though it was a crazy thing to write about.”

Yasmeen recognizes the importance of her role as a writer and how it can help change the world. “A lot of people just don’t know. If you grow up in a world where nobody tells you anything you’ll keep going as if what you’re doing is fine.” According to Yasmeen, writers have the power to open minds and change the world by sharing their perspectives in an intimate way, which is something Yasmeen does not shy away from doing. Yasmeen’s poems and stories tend to be intensely personal. 

One of the pieces Yasmeen is most proud of is a poem inspired by the recent #MeToo movement. In it, she writes a letter to the person who sexually assaulted her. “I felt the momentum from the #MeToo movement and I was so angry I had to get it out some way,” Yasmeen says. “I wrote the poem for myself, but I’m still insanely proud of myself for acknowledging it in such a detailed manner, and not breaking down. It’s really hard to talk about it, but writing about it is like going back in time.”

This type of raw strength to face personal injustice, prejudice and fear permeate everything Yasmeen writes. She is the type of fearless young woman needed not only in literature but in the world. She challenges the status quo, tries to help educate through her work and shares her own experiences to help open minds. Young women like Yasmeen Jaaber are our future and we will be lucky if they lead the way.

K.L. Kranes is a blogger and author of young adult novels. Her debut novel, The Travelers, was published in 2016 by Saguaro Books, LLC. See more from K.L. at www.klkranes.com/blog.

5 Tips for Getting your Finances Vacation-Ready

Learn how managing your money this summer can make travel season even easier

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

Planning for summer travel means choosing a location, booking your stay, and counting down until vacation time. It also means effectively managing and protecting your money so your anticipated getaway doesn’t turn into an unexpected staycation. Follow these simple tips for keeping your financial life in order before, during, and after vacation. 

Notify your financial institution before you hit the road. Nothing could ruin a vacation faster than a lack of funds due to a limited cash supply and/or a frozen credit or debit card because of suspicious-looking account activity. Letting your financial institution know that you’ll be traveling helps keep your accounts safe and avoids interruptions in your credit or debit card services, especially if you’ll be out of the country. Many financial institutions offer a simple online form that you can complete ahead of your travel.

Record card information and other important documents. Before you leave, record card numbers and customer service contact information, your passport, and insurance cards. Take photos of each item or write the information down on paper and keep it in a safe location, like a hotel safe. You can also store the information on your computer or email it to yourself. As long as you can locate an Internet connection, you’ll have quick access to this information in case you need to report that it’s been stolen.

Pay for larger purchases with cards. A credit card in particular offers the most security because, unlike a debit card, it’s not linked directly to your bank account—so there’s no risk of fraudsters gaining direct access to your money. Plus, purchases made with a credit or debit card might be replaced by the card company if the item is stolen. 

Don’t carry all your money at once. One tactic to keep cash safe is to split it up. Keep a certain amount in your wallet and another amount stashed away for later. Overall, the best approach is to carry a combination—a credit card for the majority of purchases, another card as a backup, and cash. While cash can be easily stolen, it’s a good idea to keep a small amount on hand in case you encounter a merchant or service that only accepts cash. 

Review your bank and credit card statements. Upon returning from your trip, look at your bank and credit card statements to check the accuracy of transactions. Get a receipt for every transaction made while on vacation and compare this to the total charged to your account. Receipts are also helpful to have on hand in case you have to dispute a charge with a vendor. 

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: TeTai

Meet Tabitha Venditti of TeTai

Summer vibes have finally arrived. Sunshine, warmth and vacations. Beaches are calling your name and cookouts on the weekends become norm. Fun in the sun is the theme for June as outdoor activities are planned for the entire family. Through all the chaos there’s one thing that sometimes takes the back burner. Skincare. That’s where Tabitha Venditti, founder of TeTai, a natural skincare line, comes in.

Tabitha grew up in Portland, Oregon and later moved to Pennsylvania. In 1993, she found herself in Lynchburg attending Liberty University. Twenty-five years, and a family later, Virginia is where they call home. Tabitha recently completed a degree in English from Lynchburg College. Raising a family, running a business and working for a local family as a personal chef while taking classes was not an easy task. Not a woman to back down from a challenge, Tabitha not only completed her degree but graduated with special recognition for her writing abilities.

TeTai began as a challenge as well. Named after her two daughters (Tegan and Taitum). It all started when Tabitha’s oldest daughter, Tegan’s, eczema became more and more problematic. An aunt in Hawaii sent the family a recipe for a scrub using oil and sea salt that helped but was too oily for the three-year-old. Tabitha took on the challenge of creating a product her daughter could use with success. The result was a unique scrub that combined seven unique oils, fine sea salt and essential oil of lavender. The natural product healed Tegan’s skin without all the harsh chemicals and created a demand among friends and families.

“Every product I make bears the names of my daughters and represent quality. I couldn’t sell it if I didn’t believe in its quality.” Each product created within the skincare line covers a variety of issues within the skin for both men and women. From extremely oily to dry, sensitive skin and acne, there’s a little something for everyone. Scrubs, bath bombs, toners, facial oils and essential oils are just a few naturally-based products offered. The newest additions of TeTai were motivated by Tabitha’s own need for a regime to combat large pores and sagging, aging skin. The TeTai Toner and facial oil combination of argan oil and organic lavender solved her problems better than any name brand skincare without costing hundreds of dollars.

Tabitha’s passion for her daughters and leading a natural lifestyle are what have built TeTai into a trusted brand amongst her clients. Her willingness to research, experiment, fall and get back up again are examples of the tenacity it takes to run a successful small business. As her friends were asked to describe Tabitha their words matched everything reflected in her business. Words like “passionate, young-at-heart, determined, quirky, vivacious and loving” were just a few mentioned. When she’s not experimenting for TeTai you can find Tabitha enjoying her college and high school-aged daughters, reading To Kill A Mockingbird, or watching Jumanji through tears. On Saturdays, catch TeTai at the Historic Roanoke City Market and various craft shows around Virginia.

Find TeTai:

www.etsy.com/shop/tetai   USE BELLA CODE: BELLA for 20% OFF

 

www.tetai365.com

Written by Faith Jones of Hill City Handmade

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