Colorado Collaboration: How Lemongrass Spa Grew Out of Pine, CO

I’ve just washed my hands for the 15th time this morning. It’s not quite 10AM. It’s part of a life with animals, but my hands get eczema every winter. Does this happen to everyone who keeps chickens? Probably.

Chicken1

Last winter, my friend Misty started selling Lemongrass Spa products. I liked that they were made out of ingredients I could recognize, but I’m always reluctant to use products made outside this state when so many great products are made right here in Colorado.

“Nice,” I said. “Where is it made?”

“Oh!”, she exclaimed. “You’ll like this. It’s made in Pine, CO!”

I was hooked.

In my endless search for something to stop my feet from itching just as I’m drifting off to sleep, I bought a foot spa kit.

Lemongrass Spa Foot Spa Kit

You know what makes feet stop itching? Soaking! So I developed a strange habit of soaking my feet while working at my desk. I do the whole routine, from the soaking to scrubbing with the walnut hull & salt scrub to slathering peppermint foot balm on my feet. And then I put on socks. The socks are important, even though the kit doesn’t come with them. They keep the balm on your feet long enough to soak it in.

Now, back to the hand-washing problem.

Since the foot kit worked so well, I figured I’d try something for my hands. Here is the routine:

I don't think there is any actual soap in here. It's very gentle.

I don’t think there is any actual soap in here. It’s very gentle.

Then I use this. The scented ones are nice, but I prefer unscented because the cats hate when I pet scents onto them.

Then I use this. The scented ones are nice, but I prefer unscented because the cats hate when I pet scents onto them.

At night I use these. The Body Creme is an unscented heavy moisturizer, the nail balm is an unscented oil mix that prevents hang nails and the Healing Elements Balm is good for the eczema spots.

At night I use these. The Body Creme is an unscented heavy moisturizer, the Nail Balm is an unscented oil mix that prevents hang nails and the Healing Elements Balm is good for the eczema spots.

It’s working. I won’t say I have no eczema, but it’s a lot less than most years!

I don’t know how they make this stuff, but I do know where they make it. Heidi Leist started this business in 2002 in the mountain town of Bailey, CO. Her idea was that she could make spa products in her home to sell and then she could stay home with her baby.

A lot of people have ideas like that, but Heidi did it! She sold the products by demonstrating them at home parties, like she’d seen people do with products from big corporations. The model worked and when she was selling enough that she couldn’t do it all herself, she stuck with it and started signing up consultants.

You can tell this is a Colorado company. Where else do people take spa products camping?

You can tell this is a Colorado company. Where else do people take spa products camping?

It’s not a bad deal, all in all. Consultants can make $400 a month by doing a party a week. I signed up the Chickens and we do online parties (since they aren’t allowed to leave the yard.)

Lemongrass sells makeup too. I started using it now that I spend as much time in business meetings as on farms. It doesn't get all my clothes, but I can still get it off easily at night.

Lemongrass sells makeup too. I started using it now that I spend as much time in business meetings as on farms. It doesn’t come off on my hands all day, but I can still get it off easily at night. It also doesn’t have a lot of preservatives, as you can see.

Many of the products are still made in Pine, although the company is big enough that it has another facility in Florida now. The headquarters are still here and we’re planning a visit for spring.

If you’re looking for gentle, mainly organic skin care and makeup contact us. You can use your skin care dollars to get a great local product and support the Hungry Chicken Homestead Chickens at the same time!

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copyright 2017 Hungry Chicken Homestead

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Three Reasons to Love Direct Sales (Please Don’t Hate Me)

I once met a doctor who badly wanted to sell a particular product. He had done a lot of research to find a supplement that would help the brains of people with a particular disease and finally, after scouring the medical world, he had found it. But there was a problem.

It was sold through direct sales, also known as multi-level marketing, and this doctor, like so many people, hated direct sales.

This was such an obstacle that the doctor almost didn’t offer the product to his patients. He almost let this chance to help them go by simply because of the sales method.

Why was this such an obstacle?

Why Do People Hate Direct Sales So Much?

This is an unscientific assessment, but as far as I can tell from observation, there are two reasons.

  • Sometimes people who sell direct sales products are inexperienced salespeople and they are come off as aggressive. They don’t understand yet that selling is a matter of finding people who want what you have, not convincing people who don’t want it to buy it.
  • Some direct sales products are kind of … absurd. I’m not going to single anything out, but I’ve been the target of direct sales people trying to sell what we used to refer to as “snake oil”. One product essentially claimed that it was vital to human health even though none of the things it “cured” had any symptoms and the consumer would have no evidence that it was doing anything.

All of this has made me very nervous, but direct sales has some interesting advantages.

Good Direct Sales Companies Offer a Lot of Education

Education is a critical part of self-sufficiency. It costs more than most people can afford to reinvent the wheel and experiment until they figure out how to make a living. A good direct sales company teaches you how to be a salesperson and, even better, they utilize the relationships between recruiter and recruited to offer mentoring.

In other words, your friend who signed you up is the same person who helps you learn to do this for yourself and the community of consultants support each other.

I admit that some companies are doing this badly or perhaps some people aren’t taking advantage of the educational resources available to them. Nonetheless, the opportunity to learn a marketable skill should not be sneezed at.

Serious Sellers Can Make a Living for Themselves

I learned something interesting after I signed up. People who approach direct sales seriously and who choose their product carefully can make a living. If it’s a good product and people want it then the seller isn’t that much different than any other salesperson except that they run their own show. They’re not working for anyone but themselves.

I take this seriously. Many smart people dislike or are not suited to working for someone else. A person who struggles in an office may do very well on her own with the right resources and support.

The Path To Promotion Is Very Clear

When you work for a big corporation, no matter how hard HR tries to build a clear path to promotion, it’s still very political. Sometimes your boss just doesn’t see you as promotable and sometimes there is simply no opportunity for promotion. I can’t speak for other direct sales companies, but the one I signed up takes the politics out of promotion. If your sales reach a certain level and you sign up a certain number of new salespeople, you get promoted. End of story.

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How did I learn this? I signed up with a direct sales company that makes a product I love right here in my state. Despite direct sales’ reputation, I’m not sorry. I’m learning how to sell a product without annoying my friends & family, spending time with people I like and getting to do something that doesn’t involve sitting in a chair for 8 hours at at time.

And once I’ve gotten what is essentially free training, I can use it to sell anything. My “Colorado Local” store dream is one step closer to reality.

To sum this up, I’m not telling you to quit your job and sign up with a direct sales company, but next time someone asks you to come to a jewelry party or participate in a Facebook nail wrap party, try not to roll your eyes. By all means, say no if you’re not interested in the product, but if it’s something you like, give it a try.

Your purchases from that individual help build a world where independence is really possible, a world where people can support their families without spending half their lives in a cubicle.

It seems to me that the real obstacles to opportunity haven’t changed. Can you get the education? Do you have community support? If so, then you have the power to choose how to live.

Choose wisely, do your best and you might be pleasantly surprised at how much there is to be grateful for.

***

copyright 2017 Hungry Chicken Homestead

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How the Chickens Set Out To Start A Colorado Local Store

“I hate MLMs,” said my friend, referring to multilevel marketing companies like Nerium and Amway.

“Uh oh,” I thought. “How am I going to do this without making enemies…”

Let me explain … Hungry Chicken Homestead doesn’t just exist to be a Chicken Old Age Home. It’s our way of finding the middle ground of economic survival. We’re too exhausted to work in the corporate world anymore, but we have resources and want to support ourselves. This website and our corresponding content marketing business, Writer for Hire, keep us off the government welfare rolls and out of the cubicle.

We like to do this in the most self-sufficient way possible, which means having goals and values that help us treat people right.

  • Self-reliance: Take responsibility for ourselves and our needs
  • Humility: Don’t let our egos take us over
  • Simplicity: Don’t make things too complicated and overwhelming
  • Integrity: Treat people thoughtfully, kindly and respectfully while remaining true to our values
  • Modesty: Don’t go hog-wild with ambition and take more credit than we deserve
  • Curiosity: Find out about a thing before judging it

In this case, we were curious and we had a need for improved self-reliance.

Writer for Hire is a great work-from-home business, but unless I want to work with corporations (which I don’t), I can’t charge enough to produce high quality work while supporting the household.

The solution? Product sales.

We promote Colorado businesses, right? Why not give them a platform to make more sales on Hungry Chicken Homestead? That’s been on our list of things we want to do for quite a while and now we’ve begun work on it.

It will be called the Hungry Chicken Homestead Colorado Local Store and you can follow it on Facebook. 

We’re negotiating with local authors, jewelry-makers, jam-makers and others to make this happen and our local Design Break Studios are working on building us a virtual store.

Now, back to the MLMs where we started.

The first product we can really make available is Lemongrass Spa. Lemongrass Spa makes soap, makeup and some other stuff in Pine, CO. Interestingly, it’s popular on the East Coast. How do they sell it?

Multi-level marketing. In other words, Uh oh.

Stay tuned…

Part II: Three Reasons to Love Direct Sales (Please Don’t Hate Me)

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copyright 2016 Hungry Chicken Homestead

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Happy New Year from Hungry Chicken Homestead

Well … here we are at another January 1st. Does anyone else find this shocking?

Colorado Springs Local Farm Hungry Chicken Homestead Little Red 5

Little Red Hen finds it perplexing, but that’s because she’s only about a year old.

We don’t really make New Year’s resolutions here on the Homestead.  After all, most of us are chickens.  And we could review the year, but that would mean talking about losing five chickens since December 2013.  We’d rather talk about the future.

The future always contains seeds of something bigger, maybe plants and maybe dinner.

The future always contains seeds of something bigger, maybe new plants and maybe dinner.

I like to think about what worked last year, what didn’t work, what we want more of and what we want less of.  Then we make a loose plan.  I say “loose” because everybody here; cats, dogs, people and chickens, are a little opportunistic.  Maybe we planned on eating nothing but feed that day, but then a nice, delicious worm pokes its head out of the ground.  We don’t like to miss an opportunity.

These potatoes that grew in the garden despite being attacked by chickens are a prime example.

These potatoes that grew in the garden despite being attacked by chickens are a prime example.

Anyway, here is what we want more of next year:

  • Blog posts & the newsletter:  These got neglected in 2014 in favor of more businesslike pursuits, but I think it would be better to write more of them.  They help local businesses get known, they help readers know where to shop locally and I like writing them more than I like some of the other things I did in 2014.
  • Food Preservation Classes:  Did you know people consistently ask me when my next classes are?  I love teaching them and besides getting to meet interesting people, I also get to teach people how to preserve the bounty from our local farms.  I’m going to try to offer classes year round.
  • Local Business Advertising:  I’ve done some limited paid promotion of Colorado Springs Local Business blog posts on Facebook and it’s helped people find out about these great businesses we have in town like PeakMed and C2 Alpacas.  It doesn’t cost much and connects local businesses & farms with people in town who want to know about them.  (So .. If your business is headquartered in Colorado and has a presence in the Springs, contact me if you’d like to talk about affordably getting your message out to Colorado Springs shoppers.)
  • Agritourism: The most amazing thing that happened last year was that the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) contacted me and asked if I wanted to be part of a program to help farms and ranches develop programs for tourists, like overnight stays and farm classes.  You bet I did!!  I signed up and they gave me a project to help C2 Alpacas develop their visitor programs.  I can’t believe how much fun that was!  I got to use all my interview and analytical skills AND I got to pet alpacas!  I want to do more of that this year.

(So, listen … if you have a farm or ranch and have started developing some sort of program for visitors, contact me.  I can help you get signed up with the CTO and they will pay for you to have an expert help you develop the program.  That expert may or may not be me, depending on what you need, but I’m happy to help regardless.  Your program helps our local economy and keeps our agricultural sector in business!)

And there we are.  That’s my loose plan for 2015.

Whatever your plan is, here is a New Year’s wish from the Homestead:  May your new year be full of opportunities, community and sweet-natured hens who lay lots of eggs.

Colorado Springs Local Farms Hungry Chicken Homestead Free Range Hens 5

Why you should buy from small farms

I attended a lovely volunteer lunch last year at a Venetucci Farm. I had volunteered there all summer; helping kids look for bugs, weeding and generally doing whatever they asked, all for the privilege of visiting their chickens every week.  (I love chickens and take great pleasure from watching them whenever I can.)

During lunch, Susan, the farmer, asked me if I planned to sell food at the farmersʼ market again, the next summer.

“Oh, no,” I said. “Itʼs such hard work and I couldnʼt make any money.”

“You really learned how food is underpriced, didnʼt you?”, she responded, nodding knowingly.

I sure did!

Selling food is a delicate balance. I bought raw food from local farmers every week, along with ingredients from the grocery store, and sold an assortment of finished goods with at least one locally produced ingredient. Some weeks I sold goat cheese muffins, other weeks I sold local fruit smoothies, etc.

This experiment brought interesting problems. For one, government regulations created fixed costs that I could not avoid. I had to rent a commercial kitchen, buy product liability insurance and hire an accountant to explain the retail sales tax rules.

Once I did get started, I learned food growers and manufacturers of fresh foods donʼt sell everything they make. People wonʼt buy things without trying them and sometimes they donʼt buy them even if they do try them.

I gave away a lot of samples, which cost money. I also had to throw away (or give away) a lot of what I made because it would go stale or bad after a certain amount of time.

All in all, I sold just over half of the food I actually produced.

Now consider that people wonʼt pay more than about $2.50 for a muffin, even if itʼs hand made with locally produced ingredients. You canʼt charge more than the market will bear.  I had to decide where to cut costs. Should I buy lower quality (and thus lower cost) ingredients, such as refined coconut oil and chocolate chips made from hydrogenated vegetable oil? Should I add preservatives?

How would I make money without compromising quality and my values?

Think about what Susan said the next time youʼre in the grocery store. Food producers have to make a living.  Ask yourself how farmers keep their costs low enough to charge grocery store prices.  And what about ranchers?

I donʼt plan to sell anymore food. My interest lies in supporting local farmers and food producers. Those little businesses might not seem so important, but remember the big food companies have profit as their goal too.

I wonder where they cut costs.

***

Note:  A version of this essay appeared in the Venetucci Farm Newsletter last year.

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© 2013 Hungry Chicken Homestead

Want to read about locally owned businesses in Colorado Springs? The chickens want to tell you about them! Join them in supporting our local economy by signing up for our twice-monthly newsletter!

Why Animals are better than Computers

Daylight Savings Time has a way of wreaking havoc on computer systems.  I mention this because I set out to post about the Colorado Springs Local Foods Meetup March events this morning, but I can’t get WordPress to post the pictures.  What is a post about food without pictures?

I blame this on the time change.

Things like this used to happen twice a year at the big corporation where I worked for ten years.  The computers didn’t know what time it was anymore, and they got all tied up in knots.  Paralyzed with anxiety, they would simply stop or they would frantically start doing things that didn’t make any sense.

Computers are surprisingly rigid about these sorts of things.

This does not happen on the Homestead.  We are very adaptable.  The chickens were pleasantly surprised when I let them out earlier.  The cats and dogs merely wondered if I was going out of town, which is what usually happens when I get up early.

Even the coffeemaker adapted well, since we just push the “on” button when we get up.

Why do we change the time twice a year?  It seems like an awful lot of trouble.  What time will we eat?  How do we know when to get up?  How will we remember what time it is in Arizona?

I would write to Congress to suggest they pick a time and stick to it, but they never listen to me.  Instead, I’ll just post this pictureless essay and spend the day being grateful my homestead is not governed by confused machines.  Everything will go pretty smoothly.

Even if no one around here knows what time it is.

****

© 2013 Hungry Chicken Homestead

Want to read about locally owned businesses in Colorado Springs? The chickens want to tell you about them! Join them in supporting our local economy by signing up for our twice-monthly newsletter!

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The Chicken Chick

 

Urban Cupcakes: The Cupcake Girls Downtown

The cupcake flavors were ET Phone Home, Eat Your Greens, Pink Velvet and something we devoured before it had a chance to tell me its name.

I can’t take credit for this lovely picture. I’ve borrowed it from the Cupcake Girls website.

The Cupcake Girls, energetic bakers of creatively flavored (and named) cupcakes, have just opened a store at E. Platte and N. Weber.  I’ve been waiting for this store since they described the concept at a DivaDOM (Dessert of the Month Club) outing last year.  The Cupcake Girls have only been in business for a year or so.  They rapidly built their business through smart marketing, beautiful cupcakes and what I believe is sheer force of will.

The shop is cool, uncluttered and has wifi, making it the perfect spot to linger over a cupcake and a cup of Colorado Coffee Merchants’ coffee with your laptop.  It caters to its urban clientele and the interior acts as an extension of the neighborhood.  Andrea and Lisa, the owners, found lovely secondhand pieces of furniture, which they’ve used to create a shop that invites you to linger.  It’s a comfortable space, like an old house, which makes sense since most of their cupcakes come from family recipes.

They feature four flavors each day, which you can buy as mini or full size cupcakes.  They also have cupcake shaped cookies and brownies.  Want specific flavors?  Not only will they take orders for your party, but they’ll rent you a cupcake stand to display them!

 

I walked in and the conversation went like this.

Me:  “I’d like one of each, please.”

Lisa:  “Would you like mini or regular cupcakes?”

Me:  “Mini, please.  I’m overwhelmed by regular cupcakes.”

Lisa:  “I remember you from the DivaDOM event.  You only took one bite of each cupcake.”

It’s true.  I admit it.  A person my size can’t taste every cupcake in town without the risk of needing a new wardrobe, but I promise I carefully savor those single bites.  I’m just saving room for the next visit and the next batch of cupcakes.  Next time I’ll get all their names before biting into them.

The Cupcake Girls on Urbanspoon

“Purveyors of Fizzy Living”: Squeak Soda Shop

Let’s start with the name.  I love the name.

Squeak!  Makes you think of a kitten greeting you or a puppy chewing on his toy, doesn’t it?

Several fun loving members of the Colorado Springs Local Foods Meetup group met last Thursday for ice cream, sodas and sandwiches.  It was an eclectic group, ranging from a young military wife to a long lost friend of mine, to a friendly young man who reminded me of my late husband in our younger days.

My favorite thing about Squeak Soda Shop is the soda.  Not that I drink soda very often.  In fact, I just threw out a year old case of Pepsi someone brought for a party last year.  But Squeak’s 70 flavors always draw me in.  They’ll make the soda with sugar or Splenda or neither, to your specifications.  Ask for lots of sugar or hardly any, and they’ll make it just the way you want.  They will also make it with or without color.


I usually get the lavender soda, but this time I threw caution to the wind and tried a cucumber soda with minimal sugar.  It was so good!  I forgot to request no color, so it’s green.  Green makes a better picture anyway.

I knew about the soda, but what I did not know … listen up small business owners and wedding planners … is that Squeak makes custom sodas with custom labels.  In other words, I could order 50 or 100 or 1000 clear cucumber sodas and they would put my Hungry Chicken Homestead label on it.  (Cucumber is appropriate because chickens like cucumbers).

 

Just think!  I could hand them out at networking events or raffle them off at the upcoming Colorado Springs Community Alliance Community Dinner!  Ooo!  Good idea!  Maybe I will!

All in all, we had a great time.  The panini cheese sandwiches were delicious and don’t get me started on the Death By Chocolate ice cream.  Our hostess, Bethany, made it into a shake for me and I lived to tell the delicious tale.

We hardly even got to the retro candy and the Wii.  I had to ask for the Wii controllers.  Bethany explained that she had to cut a few youngsters off earlier in the day and had them behind the counter.  Oddly enough, we hardly saw any children that afternoon.  One adult after another streamed into the shop, keeping the place hopping!

Look for Squeak at Rockrimmon and Vindicator, in the shopping center with the Safeway.  You’ll know it when you see the cheerfully colored patio wall.

Among other things, it says, “No Curmudgeons Allowed”, not that anyone could remain a curmudgeon within its happy walls.

Squeak Soda Shop on Urbanspoon

Shoo fly. Don’t bother me. I’m enjoying my coffee at Stir.

I didn’t ask the most obvious question.

What on earth is a Shoo Fly Pie and why do we call it that?  Does it contain raisins?  Raisins kind of look like flies.  I have learned recently that it is not a “shoe”-fly pie, which would suggest flying shoes, a concept that has doesn’t make sense at all.

 

 

Obviously, I had never encountered such a pie until I visited Stir, the new coffee shop in Bonn Shopping Center at Wasatch and E. Jackson St.

 

 

 

It was 7:30 AM, a bit too early for me to eat or think about pie and I’m sorry to say I didn’t try it.  I also have to admit I’m not sure which of these is the shoo fly pie, though both of them look mouth-watering as I write this after dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I did do was drink a lovely and delicious latte.  Stir buys the espresso from R&R Coffee Cafe, a shop in Black Forest that roasts as well as serves coffee.

The best part of the experience for me was meeting the owner!  I saw her behind the counter and said, “Hey!  I know you!”

Sabrina had worked at Colorado Coffee Merchants, another favorite coffee shop of mine.  She told me she had wanted to open a shop for some time and decided to take the plunge when the interesting space Stir now occupies became available.

I love that!  I love that a person can be working for someone else one day and the next time you see her, she’s the owner of her own coffee shop!  It’s the American Dream in action.  With hard work, good friends and a little luck, you can live the life you choose.

Here are Sabrina, her sister and a happy young man, living that life.

 

Stir is a comfortable spot with good coffee, and Sabrina and her sister make the pies.  (Uh oh!  See that statement corrected below).  I hope you’ll check it out.  If you like it, visit again and support this local endeavor.

And will someone please, please tell me what a shoo-fly pie is!  I’ll try it, but only if it didn’t get the name from raisins!

(Correction:  Sabrina wrote to give pie credit where credit is due.  Most of the pies are made by Jackie Conway, with the occasional experiment in-house.  Whoever makes them, they sure look good!)

Stir on Urbanspoon

An urban store for urban homesteaders: Buckley’s Homestead Supply

Remember the Great Pickle Experiment from last summer? I made fermented pickles in half gallon Ball jars, causing friends and family to be concerned about the science experiment bubbling on my counter. I made them in the jars because I do not own a pickle crock. So you can imagine my excitement when I attended the Grand Opening of Buckley’s Homestead Supply and they held a raffle for just such a crock!

That’s my kind of store.

 

 

I didn’t win the raffle, but I feel like I hit the jackpot with the shop. It’s hardly a mile from my homestead, in a friendly looking building at West Colorado Ave and 15th Street. They have everything I need, from chicken feed to soap making supplies and even a cheese press!

“I’m so tired of plain goat cheese,” I said on the phone. “Do you have the culture to make chevre? I haven’t been able to find it anywhere.”

“We do have that,” was the response.

See. Jackpot.

Owners Ed and Allison Buckley mind the shop, answering questions and sharing stories with customers. I mentioned my pickles fermenting in their jars and Allison shared her grandfather’s story.

“My grandmother made those same pickles in jars, but she screwed the lids on too tight. My grandfather said they were sitting quietly in the house when …

BOOM!!”

The fermentation gasses couldn’t escape and the jars exploded. It wasn’t just one jar, either. Since they were started at about the same time, they exploded at short intervals, like pickled demolition explosives.

“My grandfather loved to tell that story,” Allison said.

In addition to great stories, Buckley’s also has a great selection of canning supplies. They have beautiful, high quality water bath canners, and pressure canners too. They also have Ball and Weck jars, as well as the salts and pectins you might need for your recipes.

Sign up for my next canning class on Tuesday July 17th, if you’d like to learn how to use the water bath canner. Local farms have an abundance of fruit right now and it’s a great opportunity to save some money and eat local all winter!

And whatever homesteading activity you’re working on, check out Buckley’s for supplies. Especially if you’re making fermented pickles. Those pickle crocks might just be more important than we think!