Lately I've been a cheerleader. Not in sports, but in business. If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that there are several herb businesses close to me physically. Over the years, there are many that are not so physically close, but with the help of the internet they may as well be. Part of my goal in starting the magazine was to make it easier for small herb companies to make some noise. We do that, but lately it's been more hands-on (and fun!) than normal.
Radiance is at the top of the list. Sarah opened a year ago, and her shop has seen some amazing growth. I spend a day a week at the shop. The plan - give Sarah some uninterrupted time to make her products, and I get to play store. Right now it isn't working out that way. A year ago, there was so much space to fill. During the year, new items have come in, new products have been made, gorgeous natural fiber clothing has arrived, and the shop is FULL!
I remember this time from our own shop. Suddenly everything needs to be overhauled to display things properly. While once things were displayed in such a way as to spread out, now the real elements of display come into play. Does a table of low-ticket items make sense when the big-ticket stuff is out of sight? How does the eye flow? Is there enough color contrast? Do the areas flow into each other? This is my favorite part of merchandising (aside from the wholesale shopping, of course), but it is also physically demanding. It sometimes means moving one whole side of the shop, only to find that it won't work as planned. Back it goes until plan B shows up. The other day Sarah and I decided it was a lot like chess... trying to get everything to work together.
We have a lot of fun working together. We toss all kinds of ideas around until one sticks. The shop is changing. It's been beautiful since day one, and we are just increasing that and making it more shoppable.
Then there is the blog cheer. About a month ago a small group of bloggers, and some seriously thinking about blogging gathered and started swapping ideas and giving shoves. Within a few days, blogs for SunRose, Radiance (and Labyrinth Herbs), Green Spiral, Dreamseeds, Herbs by Sarah,and Whimsy Lane were on board. Some took a little pushing, some dove right in with no help at all. Then the Reppert sisters started their blog last week from The Rosemary House, and the herb farm down the road, Cloverleaf snagged one. Kathy at Cloverleaf isn't actually on-line herself, but will blog from the soap studio at my sister's. Some of the bloggers who'd been at it for a while (myself included) happily take energy from this group and come up with ideas for our own. It has been a very cool thing.
John Gallagher from Learningherbs.com has come up with a brilliant new concept for ... well, learning about herbs. He's put together a vast member site that will be announced soon. It has everything one could imagine - films, interviews, classes, a forum, articles, and TONS of information. He's gathered herbalists to offer insight and conversation. I am very excited to be a small part of it, and look forward to meeting many new-to-me and enthusiastic herbies.
Lastly is my sister's wholesale soap business. I've been giving gentle nudges and shoves for quite a while, and this has been a bang-up year so far.
I love being in the thick of things and watching these people who work so hard grow and stretch. This has been a very rewarding couple of months. YAY! Sis! Boom! Bah!