Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Herd of Goats in Eldorado!

For those of you who don't live here, Eldorado is like a "suburb" of Santa Fe--just outside of town, and pretty much all residential with a pretty serious set of covenants. This week, 213 goats arrived to clear their greenbelts of weeds, as well as be available for hire by residents at $50/hour. We had to go out and see them--they were just outside the soccer field--and WOW what a site. Quite honestly, I have never seen that many goats in one place. Watching them move like schools of fish--suddenly changing direction and shifting, was awesome. They are a mix of breeds, and very beautiful. The other noticeable feature was the sound of MUNCHING, which was constant! And seeing the effect the goats had on the residents--cars were slowing down, pulling over, kids and adults were in amongst the goats, kids finding a stray goat kid or two to pick up and carry around. Folks were just delighted, and it was indeed magical.

Monday, July 26, 2010

An Exciting Celebration with Senator Udall

(From left: daughter Roan, Senator Udall, son Simon, myself and Terry Brunner)

Our event this morning (see blog post July 23) was so lovely and exciting. The rain held off, while personal friends, friends of my business, folks from the USDA and even customers from the Farmers Market came to help me celebrate my new packaging and the receipt of my grant funds from the USDA.

Senator Udall was such a pleasure to visit with; so interested in my business, curious, supportive and engaging. It was a thrill to have him there, and I consider this entire event to be a blessing on my business!

I got to speak after Terry Brunner, director of the NM USDA, and Senator Udall spoke, and it was my opportunity to emphasize a core value of Milk and Honey: relationships. I just want to take a little space here to mention some of them. Present at this event were of course the folks from USDA who helped me with my grant, particularly Jesse Bopp;
Steve Wall and his family, who supply me with beeswax but who also helped me get accepted into the Farmers Market five years ago;
Miranda Gray, who painted the gorgeous portrait of my goat Sula (we are currently doing a trade for soap and goat cheese in exchange for the original painting!);
Stephanie Huerta, my sculptor;
Friend and currently Thursday market saleswoman, Elyzabeth, who showed me the matchbox she uses for her sewing notions, which led to a major turning point in my packaging design;
Friend Lorelei Kellogg, who housed my goats for me when I was transitioning out of Glorieta into Santa Fe;
Michelle Moser, my designer and marketer . . .
I can go on and on. You get the idea.

I finished my little speech about how exemplary our community is for working together and keeping it local by reading Milk and Honey's mission statement, which will be printed on our new boxes:

"Milk and Honey is founded on our love of goats and Mother Nature, and appreciation for things natural, handmade, sensual and beautiful; and the passion to create a meaningful life that will inspire others to do the same."

As I told my friends gathered today, these relationships are what make a life meaningful, and I hope through the growth of my business, to inspire others to do the same.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Nobby Organics Offering Our Mother & Baby Soap

Our soaps will be shipping out tomorrow to Nobby Organics--a charming new online organic baby store. Daria, the owner and "mother" of the site, will be carrying our Mother and Baby soaps in Lavender and Unscented. Visit their site and shop for your favorite baby!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Senator Udall Honors Milk and Honey's CEO and Milkmaid

Udall to meet Goats;
Milk and Honey to Celebrate Grant Award and New Packaging Launch

Monday morning, July 26, Senator Tom Udall will present me with a “certificate of obligation” for the USDA Value Added Producer Planning Grant. The ceremony will take place at the Arcos Iris Institute, the in-town farm and permaculture garden of Louisa Putnam, where my goats live. I have been awarded this $12,500 grant to create a strategic growth plan and feasibility study that will map out an exciting plan for Milk and Honey’s growth. This event will also celebrate the completion and launch of our new branding and ready-for-retail packaging.

Friends and Supporters: You are invited to come join us at this beautiful farm, meet the goats, munch on local food and rub shoulders with our Senator and other luminaries of the NM agricultural community. Feel free to extend this invitation to friends and family.

Contact me if you'd like to come and I'll send you directions!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

For the Love of Bees

Just want to put in a plug for my friend Heather Harrell's website--and her beautiful skin care products. She is a farmer and beekeeper (and one-time Milkmaid herself), and she grows the stunningly beautiful calendula flowers that I use to infuse the oils in my products. Her partner Les Crowder is the "Johnny Appleseed" of top-bar hive beekeeping in our community--thanks to him, there has been an incredible growth in back yard beekeepers--very good for the environment, and for the bees themselves. He teaches great classes--that is how I got started with beekeeping as well. Visit their site!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My Daughter, Resident Milk and Honey Editor

With all these exciting new changes in my business, I have been working on a press release to send to some local publications. I'm tooting my own horn about my new packaging, receiving a grant from the USDA, and wanting to attract micro investments to support Milk and Honey's next growth steps.

I just had to tell you that I asked my daughter to proof it for me, and she made a genius editing suggestion: she changed "stunning new matchbox-style packaging " to "charming new matchbox-style packaging ."

You better believe I took that advice. And then watched her swell with well-earned pride!

More on seeking micro investors soon!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Something to Think About . . .

Stumbled upon this in a design magazine-- very provocative.

"Burt’s Bees Canada, creator of distinctive natural personal care products, unveiled a series of provocative installations that demonstrate how products that are put on the body are absorbed into the body. . . "

"Research has shown that the body absorbs a significant amount of personal care products such as cosmetics, lotions and soaps, which can be particularly alarming for those using synthetic formulas. Larger-than-life displays were constructed to help consumers visualize the potential impact."

“The ‘natural’ claim has become a bit confusing to many consumers, as some products pose as natural, but do not actually meet the criteria associated with ‘truly natural’ – at least 95% all natural ingredients with minimal processing . . . We want women to think twice about what they are putting on their skin."

Read more and see the other exhibits . . .

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Creativity and Running a Business--and a Business Tip

{My dad Jack Lee and daughter Roan drawing together}

I come from a family of artists and creative people. Both my parents are artists; my mother has been a craftsperson since I was a child, first as a fiber artist (spinning, dyeing, weaving), now as a papermaker and bookbinder. My father is a fine artist as well as a commerical illustrator--and of course I was surrounded by their creative friends growing up. Being an artist sounds infinitely more romantic than being a business person or an entrepreneur (at least to me)--it sounds more poetic, more heartbreaking, more sensitive, more human, somehow. But I am discovering that the entrepreurial impulse is just as human, just as primal--as Muhammed Yunis (founder of the Grameen Bank and pioneer of microfinance economics) has said, people are inherently entrepreneurial--and I think this impulse is another manifestation of the drive to create.

I have been surprised at how much I love running a business. Obviously, I love my goats, and I like making my product, but I am finding the business-running part to be the most exciting and fulfilling--because I find it so creative.

In other words, running a business is not just accounting, working on the computer, figuring out how to make a product efficiently and earn a profit, etc. In a dynamic and juicy process we entrepreneurs pull all the pieces together into a whole vision, we breathe life into it--making it more than just a product or a service. Our customers encounter our business (or our product) as an experience, as an entity that they can relate to personally and emotionally. This is not shallowness--trying to sell a product through emotional manipulation--but when done from a place of authenticity and passion, is actually real, meaningful and fulfilling--for both the entrepreneur and the customer.

So! Here's my tip of the day (full disclosure: as first recommended by my friend Barbara) for running a business: take an afternoon off and go to the bookstore and just browse. My latest favorite thing is browsing through business magazines, or design journals. Today I discovered HOW Magazine, which had a great article called "The Creative Process Illustrated." The article focused on three (all male) ad designers and how they come up with ideas--how they allow the creative process to flow. Great stuff. One of them said repeatedly "don't think." Also, to reiterate my own tip, another designer pointed to how much he seeks other influences of all kinds: listening to NPR, seeing movies, visiting galleries, reading, etc etc. It's all grist for the creative, business mill. I have found this to be true in my own life and business, but thought I was letting myself get distracted at worst, or at best that those activities were merely "personal"--when in fact it feeds my business!

Other great tips from these creative thinkers:
Think with your body
Muzzle the critic
Don't think
Go see a movie in the middle of the day
Allow your mind to work on the idea as you sleep--and be prepared to get up in the middle of the night and take notes for yourself
Listen to the feelings

etc etc

Your ideas?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

"Your Lotion Bar is My Best Friend"

Getting an email like this always makes me feel so good!

"...Just sending you a message to let you know how much I love and am impressed with your lotion bar I received as a gift from my best girlfriend who lives in Santa Fe. She just came to Austin, where I live, for a visit and brought me the lotion bar. I thought the lotion bar was the most unique thing! I truly adore it. Makes those elbows, feet and cuticles soft soft soft! She gave me the petroglyph spiral citrus.
I am so impressed with your web site and products...natural ingredients, earth friendly and your generous spirit of giving back.
Continued success with your business. So glad my girlfriend turned me on to your lotion bar which has become my best friend!!!!!" ---Sheree

Another customer recently said to me, "Last summer, I had a love affair with one of your lotion bars."

Thank you, dear customers!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Goats on NPR!

Yes, Weekend Edition Saturday has a great story on goats! Favorite quote:

"In a steep hillside city park on Bunker Hill, right next to the world’s shortest railway, 120 goats are about to be deployed. "Oh my gosh, they're so cute," Nate Giddings says as he makes his way to work in a nearby skyscraper. "

Monday, July 5, 2010

Sula is recovering

It's been a tough week at the barn. My beautiful goat Sula contracted a severe eye infection--one which seemed like it might leave her blind. It completely infected one eye, and was starting in the other. I called my beloved vet from Pecos who set us on an aggressive antibiotic regime, in combination with keeping her completely indoors out of the sun and wind. On Friday there was a serious question as to whether or not she would pull through. She was in pain, squinting her eyes, with tears running down her cheeks. Heartbreaking.

We went into full crisis-care gear--I say we because I had so many people supporting and helping me care for Sula. Louisa, Carrie Jo and Elizabeth, all of Louisa's farm, as well as her house guest Susan, were apprised of Sula's condition and asked to check on her, and of course, pray for her. Carrie Jo recommended apple cider vinegar, which I deployed right away. I called my beau, who, with my son Simon, quickly built an elegant and efficient gate/latch to secure the goat barn door closed to keep the goats inside. My friend Janeen, who milks the goats two days a week and has become a partner with me, gave me over the phone advice and checked in regularly--she is a family practice physician, and her brother is a vet, so she was very calm, and also understood all the medical stuff happening with her. And the other two goats were kept in with her, as they are herd animals and need each other, and I really felt that they were very aware of her illness and were supportive as well.

As of last night, and again this morning, her energy was back, she had both eyes open (although the one eye still looks bad--but it seems some of the swelling has come down), she was eating again, and she was her usual talkative self. What a relief! I fear that she may be permanently blind in one eye, but if she can fully recover from this, I will be so grateful. She is about to make her debut as "employee of the month" on my new soap boxes . . . and we love her so.

A sick goat is so distressing, but it is so rewarding to see them respond to care and regain their health and spunk. Thank you to my sweet circle for all their healing support. We still need to pray for her continued recovery.

The painting of Sula (at the top) was painted by the artist and my friend, Miranda Gray.