Saturday, December 31, 2022

Is that cottage industry overcharging you? Doubtful.

I've been giving this a lot of thought lately because my sister is finally forced to raise her prices for the first time in at least 10 years.  Even so, she has agonized over it to the point that it  resembles a self-inflicted wound because she should have done it years ago.  We have enough friends with micro and nano businesses to know that this is not unusual.  Most of us aren't actually in this to get rich.  We love what we do, and as long as we can make a go of it, we continue.

Some handy definitions...

Cottage Industry:  a business or manufacturing activity carried on in a person's home. In most cases, there is a partner providing substantial support. 

Pin Money: a small sum of money for spending on inessentials. Historically,  an allowance to a woman from her husband for clothing and other personal expenses.  What many women are still thought to be working for.

Micro-business:  a business that operates on a very small scale.  Most are sole proprietorships with 1 to 10  employees.

Nano-business:  Earn under $75K/yr (hahaha yeah, right), usually conducted as part-time side gig in addition to full-time employment. Similar to Cottage business without the outside support.

Small Business:  The US Census defines small business by firm revenue (ranging from $1 million to over $40 million) and by employment (from 100 to over 1,500 employees). For example, according to the SBA definition, a roofing contractor is defined as a small business if it has annual revenues of $16.5 million or less

Of the above business types, guess which one was most likely to get any sort of relief from COVID PPE loans?  In the meantime, every single raw material, all packaging, and each cost, has doubled or tripled.  All of the big corporations have doubled their prices and shrunken their containers.  Tiny businesses have very rarely raised their prices at all, instead offering incentives and gifts to encourage business! 

2023 will unfortunately be the year this will need to change for many tiny businesses.  Let me preface this to say that the magazine is NOT going up.  We were able to pivot to digital and save ourselves in the nick of time.  

My main purpose in writing this is to try to explain how all the people who have been making the small luxuries and delights in our lives have been hanging on by the skin of their teeth for a few years.  If we want them to be there next year, we have to allow them to raise their prices so they can survive.

Let me give you the example of an eco-dyed silk scarf. 
We spend time setting up the dye pots, scouring the silk, pre-treating, and hanging to dry between stages. Then we set out to find the plants we want to use, wandering around the fields for an hour or two.  Bundling the scarves might take a full afternoon for 4 or 6 scarves.
Just for the actual labor, 2 of us at minimum wage comes to at least $120.  Add to that materials, education, electricity, rent, etc, scarves that need a second go-round, and we are (happily) working for well under minimum wage.  This is the absolute reality for nearly everyone I know who works in a cottage, nano, or micro business.  

Hand-made items that you love are worth every penny.  That's the bottom line.  It is art, created by people who love what they are doing.  If you question it's worth, give it a little thought because I guarantee you that you will realize it is a bargain every time.


Wednesday, December 28, 2022

January February 2023 Essential Herbal

Every year when the first issue comes out, I am once again amazed at the (now) decades that have passed since this little hobby that was just a means of sharing a love of herbs has managed to hang in there and stay relevant.  I miss the print version, but the digital version allows us to continue.

This year is just as marvelous as the past 20!  We're still enjoying this ride and people with interesting things to share are sharing through The Essential Herbal.  Without further ado...

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 Single Issue


Crossword for a winter’s day

Field Notes from the Editor, Tina Sams
Shifting seasons, shifting gears

About the Cover
How we made the print on the cover

Mocktails for Black Bottom Saints,
Marcy Lautanen-Raleigh
Fascinated by a book, Marcy recreated beverages that were described.

 Cotton - Excerpt from “The Vessel: Women, Plants and Contraception,” Abrah Arneson 

A Midwinter Cordial, Heidi Shayla 
This version will support the digestive system with a blend of bitter, spice, sweet, and warm!

Is Native Plant Gardening for You? Jackie Johnson  ND
There are lots of good reasons to grow and encourage native plants. 

Ask the Herb Farmer, Kathy Musser 
Kathy shares the answers to some of her most frequently asked questions.

Sweets to the Sweet, Marci Tsohonis 
Peanut brittle that tastes like Butterfingers™ and rum ball variations – yes please!

Love is Mint to Be, Alicia Allen
A delightful 8 course menu using floriography (the language of plants) to convey love and affection.

A Musical Playlist for You (and Your Plants,) Susanna Reppert Brill 
A look at how plants used in language have been incorporated into popular music.

Yarrow, Rosehip & Wild Carrot Lip Balm, Amanda Gootgarts 
Lip balm packed with healing.

Weeds - A Tale of Two Tails, Barbara Steele 
Comparison of some similar weeds, and one that can hurt animals.

Lemon Verbena, Tina Sams 
So pretty, so fragrant, so many benefits!

And a little about our contributors!

With that, we're already working on the Extra!   


Saturday, October 22, 2022

Essential Herbal - November December 2022

This issue came together out of moonbeams, spider webs, magic, and the scents of wood smoke and apple cider.  In other words, we're not quite sure how it happened. 
Since we (sadly) gave up print, we've cut our deadlines paper-thin, and added the Extra! for the in-between months, so that every month we have a deadline with just 20 days to put it together.  For this one, that included a week-long vacation across the country and a little elective medicine.  It was so tight that we finished up after supper on the last day!  In 22 years, we've never been that close to the edge, and if you've been around through the years, you know we worked through some pretty crazy stuff.  But we did it, thanks to our wonderful contributors and Maryanne's skills. 
Look at this cover!  The artist has created this delightful herbalist to whom we all relate, and shown her throughout the seasons.  This cover is her 6th, so "Willow" has now shown up in every season.  We'll have to come up with some way to lure her back for subsequent issues.
The contents are listed below...

Cover, Debra Sturdevant
Beautiful painting evokes the kitchen we all dream of on some level.

Excerpt from “Herbalism,” Adrian White
I always love reading how others were drawn into herbs and develop their viewpoints and favorite herbs.

Field Notes from the Editor, Tina Sams
So many plants, people and things!

Side Dishes with Fall Flavor, Alicia Allen 
Delicious offerings for the upcoming holidays!  Several serve well as main dishes, too.

Astragalus Chia, Mountain Rose Herbs
Classic herbs and spices with added adaptogenic properties!

An Herbal Gift Basket, Debra Sturdevant 
Wonderful ideas including several tea blends, tub teas, and how-tos for herbed vinegars and honeys.  Oh – and cookies!

How to Make Items on the Cover, Tina Sams 
Debra covered the vinegar, but I give instructions and recipes for all the other gifties strewn across the cover.

Christmas Gift Ideas,
Jackie Johnson
Unique, thoughtful, and inexpensive gifts from the heart.  The Memory Jar struck a chord with us!

Seeds or Plants? Kathy Musser 
Are you a seed person or a plant person?  Sometimes it depends on the plant.  Kathy helps you decide.

Winter Warming Appetizers, Marcy Lautanen Raleigh
Cocktail parties, get-togethers and family gatherings are all opportunities to share delicious treats from the kitchen. Dips, puffs, cheese straws and pretzels are some of these tasty bites.

Herbal Holiday Gathering Recipes,
Marci Tsohonis 
Eggnog, spicy cider, herby stuffed mushrooms, finger sandwiches, dips – and just in case they spend the night, a delightful recipe for fresh ginger muffins!

Figs! Susanna Reppert Brill 
More and more people are growing figs.  If you aren’t, you might want to think about it!

Meet Our Contributors....
A little about the people you’ll find in the pages of this issue.

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