Monday, March 03, 2008

The Herb Sisters - Partners in Thyme

I write so often about getting into some herb/soap/foraging shenanigan with my sister. We have this crazy dynamic, where one of us will come up with an idea (aka scheme), and before we know it, we are off on another adventure, trying a new business, or producing a new product. Individually, we each will come up with grand plans and try things, but put us together in a room for 30 minutes, and something new will come of it.
Last week on a phone-in radio show for LearningHerbs.com (and the soon to be open Herbmentor.com), there was a discussion of the who, what, when, where, and how's of moving from a herb enthusiast into a herb business. I said that even when I don't want something to leave hobby status, it just goes there without my even making a conscious decision. Later, Maryanne and I were talking about it. It seems that business is always in the background of all our conversation.
Our mother must have given us this gene. Probably our father, as well. Both of them had it in their blood. I don't remember this, but together they started the first drive-in restaurant in our area. It was called The Little Pig, a tiny diner with only a few stools at the counter and carhops. Apparently it was a pretty popular hang-out where guys showed off their hot-rods, because it still comes up from time to time in the newspaper - even though it was 50 years ago. When our parents split up, Dad went on to open several pizza and steak shops around the country, usually selling them and moving on to start over. Mom raised us by starting a telephone answering service in our home. That might not make any sense to people who were born after the advent of answering machines, but back then, doctors, lawyers, oil companies, and businesses of all sorts paid to have their phones answered after hours. Along with that, she organized a babysitting service - Tot Tenders - after learning that her phone clients had a hard time finding reliable babysitters when they needed an evening out. Mom eventually sold the businesses and took a job where she could relax and only work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. It's frustrating though, when you're used to seeing a problem and being able to fix it. When you work for someone else, it is not up to you.
Our first sojourn into entrepreneurism began when I was doing a college paper on a local farm market. I didn't drive yet, so Maryanne took me to the interview. During an interview with the owner, the booth fee was mentioned ($8 at the time). My sister and I looked at each other, and our fate was sealed. How could we NOT do something with that?!?
Now I will say that success doesn't necessarily play a part in every scenario. That farm market fiasco meant standing outside for 12 hour days (in November) for an average of 25 cents an hour. But I got a great grade on the paper, which now resides in the local historical society library, and was published in their journal. As it turned out, Maryanne's father in law took part in the very first auction of plants held there, and I was able to interview and photograph him for the paper. A later horror involved 9 days with a mall kiosk. That one still gives me chills to think about. Much like the street fair where we set up under a tree, only to have a bird's nest full of eggs fall on our soap display. Ah.... such memories...
So... on we went. On to the Renaissance Faire as the Twisted Sisters of Herbs, on to our shop - The Herb Basket, on to Maryanne's soap company, Lancaster County Soapworks, etc... and on to The Essential Herbal magazine.
People often tell me how lucky I am to have someone to do this stuff with. Seriously, it wouldn't be any fun alone, and if it weren't any fun - why bother?

3 comments:

Laura said...

Love this blog! You and Maryanne have such an incredible relationship and it's great that you get to work and play together. And if it's not fun, why bother? EXACTLY!

Herbs~Art~Family~Love said...

awww....And I could not be happier for you both. Passionately pursuing what you love!

patti flynn said...

awwww, the twisted sisters are both looking extremely well and happy!
lovely pic!

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