Thursday, August 30, 2018

Moved our blog

We updated our website and moved our blog along with it. You can continue to read articles on skin care that include formulating and ingredients as well as information about our farm/gardens, herbs, and business in general here

Hope to see you there!


Sunday, March 4, 2018

Three Tips to Grow Your Business

Starting a business is one thing, growing it is another. As business owners, we are dependent on finding customers, relating our story to them and looking for opportunities to serve them to increase our sales. You can build it, but that doesn't mean they will come. Here are some tips that we have used to grow our business.

1. Get out there. 
Getting in front of customers is the most important thing. A business owner has to look for the opportunity to get their product in front of other people. Who is your customer and where do you find them? One way that we have found successful is doing farmers markets on a weekly basis. Granted, our farmers market is consistently ranked as the best farmers market in America (Boulder County) which makes it easier. We don't always have good sales at farmers market though, especially when we first started out, but it is still a way to promote our business. I think customers find comfort in knowing that we are there week after week. It helps build trust and lets them know that we are serious about what we do and if there is a problem, they know where to find us.

Other ways that we use to get out there is looking for opportunities to network. Some of these do not amount to much, but as long as I can tell one other person about my business and how we can help them I feel like it is a success.  This includes Chamber of Commerce, coffee groups, etc.

Teaching, whether direct to your consumer or to colleagues is another way to get out there. No matter how shy you are, meeting people and making connections is important. Having a business gives you a good talking point and the more you talk about your business, the easier it gets.

2. Use Social Media. 
Having a website is an absolute must for a business now and ecommerce is a good way to sell your product. But you have to help people find that website. Social media is one way to funnel people to your website. Use social media to give your brand personality. Who is your target and what are they interested in? You could use your posts to inspire the lifestyle your products promote, to educate consumers on the benefits of your products or to share things that you are passionate about.

Consumers want to know the story behind your brand and this is your chance to tell that story.
Don't feel like you need to participate in all social media outlets; there are too many. Pick a few that you like and can manage. We initially got on Twitter and Facebook because they were pretty much the only one's initially.  Then things exploded and I could not keep up with all of them. Lately though, we have enjoyed Instagram. You can also have posts to one social media automatically forwarded to another to save time. So I can have my Instagram post forwarded to Facebook and Twitter.

3.  Diversify. 
How can you diversify your income streams? Sagescript Institute initially started out just doing microbiology testing for homecrafters of cosmetics. Since then we have expanded to doing various types of consulting including formulating and small scale manufacturing. In fact, I have formulated product lines for several small companies that we now manufacture for. I've also written two online classes for download and sell some of the herb extracts and hydrosols we make on our farm to other businesses. We also have our own line of products, Colorado Aromatics.

Many people will diversity by teaching and writing. Be careful that however you diversify is closely related to your core business though otherwise you become too diluted which is different than diversified.

How have you grown your business?

Monday, February 19, 2018

10,000 Steps A Day

Do you have a step or exercise goal each day? Mine is 10,000 steps. I received a Fitbit 
for Mother’s Day last year and I also got a new phone with an exercise ap so both of these 
have helped to encourage this goal. Walking that much each day is said to reduce the risk 
of chronic disease including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.  Ten thousand steps is 
equivalent to about 5 miles.

I have trouble with fitting in regular exercise programs so walking works for me. I’ve found 
that I have no trouble at all in the summer with 10,000 steps. I farm, so as many times as I 
walk out to the fields and back, I naturally get the steps in. However, winter is a different 
creature. When the weather is nice enough, I get out on the street for a walk, the park or go 
for a hike. If I don’t get my steps in, I know that what I have to do before the end of the day is 
to get on the elliptical machine we have. I don’t like doing that but will turn on the TV and 
watch short clips, usually monologues from talk shows, to make the time go faster. If I 
don’t have a lot of steps to catch up, I will jog in place.

Walking helps me keep my weight down; I love to eat and to drink beer. I saw it estimated 
that one burns 100 calories per mile. With 10,000 steps being about 5 miles that is 500 
calories.Walking also has been shown to improve mental health and well-being. It sure 
improves my mood, both to exercise and to be outside. Even in the evening when I feel 
too tired to exercise and I know I need to get on the elliptical, I always feel better and less 
tired after I’ve exercised.

Much recent research has centered around the health dangers of sitting for long periods of 
time.These risks include obesity, diabetes, heart disease and more.  A recent meta-analysis 
shows that even for people who exercise for one hour per day, the risks from sitting too long 
still exist. A meta analysis carries more weight because it pools data from several other 
similar studies to develop a conclusion. People who sit for prolonged periods of time had a 
higher risk of death from all causes. So spreading my 10,000 steps out during the day keeps 
me moving too.

So since I first started tracking I have made my 10,000 steps a day except for two days that I 
think I was traveling and spent all day on an airplane. I'm determined to stay healthy as I age
and this is one thing I've been able to do.

Here is some additional reading if you are interested in the studies on sitting for too long.

Science Daily

Summary of Sitting Down, Inquiries  Journal

And if you are concerned about the damage done to your skin from walking outside for long 
periods of time, check out  Colorado Aromatics skin care. These products are formulated 
to repair skin damage from the outdoors.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Ten Ways to #optoutside with Children

It seems we spend less and less time outdoors, leading to a generation that has respects and protects the outdoors less. We can appreciate things better when we experience them.

So how do we give out children good outdoor experiences? Here are 10 ways to help children appreciate the outdoors (and create memories).

1.   Visit the moon every night.  Before going to bed, take a step outside to see the moon. What phase is it in? How bright is it? Is it visible?

2.   Collect things outside to use for crafts or just a table decoration inside. You can do t his in your yard or a park. Look for unusual rocks, for seed pods, dried flowers, unusual shaped sticks, dried leaves, etc.

3.   Plant a garden. If you don’t have the space outside for a garden, plant something in a pot that can be outside or if absolutely necessary, inside.

4.   Go for the same walk at different times of year. Going for the same walk at different times of year helps children to recognize the changes that happen with the seasons from green leaves to colored leaves to no leaves.

5.   Visit a farm. Its easy to visit a farm in autumn when many have pumpkin festivals.  Better yes, volunteer on a farm. Organic farms are very labor intensive and often welcome volunteers. We certainly do on our farm.

6.   Learn a constellation. Look up at the skin at night and learn at least on constellation. The Big Dipper is one of the easiest to learn if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. Learn about the Big Dipper here. 

7.   Identify the parts of a flower. Take a really close look at a flower. Do you see the stigma, the petals, the anther? Here is a nice flower diagram.

8.  Find a nice looking rock. Bring it home and paint it to use as a paperweight.

 9.   Walk along a stream. Look for life in the stream. This can be small fish, algae, even crawdads.

10.   Take a short walk outside everyday, no matter what the weather. Even if its only for 10-15 minutes, being outside can improve health and bring an appreciation for nature.
Read the REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) Report “The Path Ahead”

Monday, October 9, 2017

Early Snow

After a beautiful 70 degree day yesterday, we woke up to snow this morning and so far its about 3 inches. We knew it was coming of course; modern meteorology has a way of knowing these things.

We spent the weekend preparing by gathering all of the squash we were growing. We picked about 12 pumpkins, 30 butternut squash and 10 spaghetti squash. I picked as many calendula flowers as I could. Because this is one thing we really use a good deal of in our skin care line, I covered as much as I could with plastic. The temperature tonight is predicted to be 21 degrees, maybe too low for plastic but I can always hope.

As I worked I watched the butterflies flitting about wondering if they knew of the upcoming frost and what they will do. We've got swarms of Painted Lady butterflies migrating though right now. The local news said that some will flee and some will die. Are they getting their last meal now? How sad.

We spent the morning today outside with brooms and poles trying to hit snow off the the tree branches still fully leafed out. We don't want the branches to break from the weight of the snow. I doubt we'll see colors this year as the frost tonight will probably cause them all to loose their leaves. The coming of winter is always bittersweet. I look forward to the lessened workload without the farming, however, I also miss the warm days and seeing the plants grow. This year it is sudden and I'm sure we will still have plenty of warm fall days. I'll enjoy the lessened work load, but look forward to next summer  and seeing and smelling the lavender.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Butterflies in the Garden

Gardens are a lovely place to enjoy birds, bees and butterflies. Do you want to attract  more butterflies to your garden? Besides being beautiful to watch, butterflies also pollinate our gardens.

Butterflies eat liquids that include the juice from fruit and the nectar of flowers. You can probably attract some by leaving out pieces of cut fruit for them to dine on. Butterflies eat, or rather drink through their proboscis.  Flowers that butterflies love include lemon balm, lavender, fennel, anise hyssop, bee balm, catnip and yarrow. These are all herbs that we grow on our Colorado Aromatics farm.

Be sure to feed the larvae, or caterpillars too. This early stage eats only leaves and includes many vegetable plants unfortunately, but also clover, fennel, hollyhock, hops, lilac and mallow.

Want a butterfly to land on you? They enjoy the salt in sweat, so exercise a little first to increase the likelihood of one landing on you. Butterflies are very active during the day looking for food. At night, they tend to sleep on the underside of leaves or in small crevices between rocks.You can also build them a house that has narrow openings where they can hide.

A butterfly has 4 stages to its life cycle. The egg,  caterpillar (or larva), chrysalis (or pupa) which overwinters on a plant, and the butterfly. The lifespan of a butterfly is only 2-4 weeks, so enjoy them while they are around.  There are 28,000 different types of butterfly species worldwide, find out about species that are common near you.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Colorado Lavender Growers

Lavender growing in Colorado has dramatically increased over the past 10 years and this weekend we celebrated a get together of lavender growers in Colorado.

From what I know, the first lavender farms started appearing in Colorado 10 years ago, about 2007/2008. We planted our first small field in 2008. At the time it was difficult to find good information or to network with other lavender growers. The Lavender Association of Western Colorado was formed in 2009, but I live on the front range of Colorado. The United States Lavender Growers association was founded in 2012, giving lavender growers across the country needed support. Our get together was for Region 4 of the USLGA. We were happy to host 18 people from across Colorado. 

It was an information gathering that started at our store, Colorado Aromatics. We talked about what type of business models we have and how we market the products we have. Lavender scones were a highlight! We then did a farm tour at our farm and talked a little about soil fertility and being part of the community.

We also enjoyed a great lunch! After that we headed to Heritage Lavender in Berthoud where Trudy showed us her lavender, greenhouse, still and bud cleaner.

 It was a full day that ended at the Pumphouse for dinner and beers. There is nothing like networking in person with growers that face similar climate/weather challenges and learning from each other.

We'll be attending the Lavender Festival in Palisade in July - hope to familiar faces there.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Everything Lavender

We headed to Mesa Arizona last month for the United States Lavender Conference (USLC) in Mesa AZ with my husband. This was the 3rd conference put on by the newly founded United States Lavender Growers Association (of which I am a founding member by the way). We had three tracks of speakers; for beginning growers, experienced growers and for people who may or may not grow, but do use lavender. Lavender is used extensively in aromatherapy, cooking and in skin care products as well as for crafts and availability of US grown lavender is growing.

Lavender can help with stress, anxiety and promoting sleep.  These are important applications because trouble in any one of these areas can lead to a host of other health problems.  Our keynote speaker, Nancy Baggett just released her cookbook, “Cooking with Lavender” which you can actually purchase in our store in Longmont now.

During the conference there was much focus on a common pathogen that is affecting lavender in our country now, Phytophthora. The goal is to stop the spread by controlling it at the source; small plants that are purchased for field planting. We learned about making products with lavender, cooking with lavender and more.  We learned about marketing our products from one of my mentors, Indie Business Network owner, Donna Marie Johnson. 

I gave a talk on cosmetic regulations for people who are making skin care products with lavender; “Your Product Smells Great, but is it Compliant?”  Maybe not the most stimulating topic there is, but one that indeed makers need to know about. Here is a brief overview:

Even though we know lavender is wonderful and a valuable contribution to skin care, the FDA requires that we make no claims, either for aromatherapy benefits or skin care benefits.  Doing so categorizes lavender as a drug and that is not approved by the FDA.

A cosmetic label has several requirements;
it must contain the name and use of the product
it must contain the weight of the product
it must contain the company name and contact information
it must contain the ingredients of the product.

I also addressed how to make a safe cosmetic, the use of preservatives and antioxidants (they are not the same thing) and good manufacturing practices.

Some of the best moments of the conference were the unscheduled moments when we learn from each other, by talking and networking.  There was a pre-conference farm tour as well as a farm dinner that we did not make. It would have been interesting to see farms in such a different climate than ours.

And then of course there was hiking in the Superstition Mountains. You can read about that on our other blog here.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The pH of Skin

The surface of human skin has a naturally acidic pH in the range from 4-6, probably averaging 4.7. This acidic nature of skin is called the acid mantle and is vital for the proper functioning of skin. The low pH helps to protect the skin from bacterial infection, protects the barrier function of skin and helps the skin enzymes function properly. If the pH varies greatly, skin problems arise which may include infection, dehydration, dermatitis, roughness, acne, irritation, and noticeable flaking.

For a refresher, the pH refers to the concentration of hydrogen ion. It is a logarithmic scale that goes from 1-14 with 7 being neutral, less than 7 acidic and higher than 7 alkaline (basic). The pH of a solution can be measured with a pH meter, pH of skin is more difficult to measure and requires more specialized equipment. Read more here.

 What can affect the skin's pH?
The most common thing that we do that can change the pH of the skin is cleansing the face with soap or other cleansers that have a high pH. Healthy skin can come back to its normal pH after a few hours, but not all skin can tolerate that challenge. Face toners are often used after cleansing to restore the skin pH back to acidic. Toners should always have an acidic pH for that reason. I like to use herbaldistillates/hydrosols for a toner.  Modern face cleansers though are typically not soap and are buffered to be an acidic pH. Soap however has a basic pH of about 10 which cannot be changed, that may work great on most of your body, but if you have problems with skin on the face, do not use soap there. You can find a good face cleanser here that is pH balanced to skin.

People have often asked me about cleaning their face with baking soda. This is a big no no because baking soda has a high pH between 9-10 (similar to soap) and is sure to disrupt the pH balance of skin due to its alkalinity. Even plain tap water can affect skin pH. Theoretically, tap water should be pH 7, but it is typically closer to pH 8 because of impurities.

Age also affects skin pH, increasing as we age. For this reason it is important that products for mature skin have a pH from 4-5. Skin moisture, sweat, sebum, anatomic site, and genetic predisposition also affect skin pH.

The skin's pH is maintained by secretions from the glands of the skin; both eccrine and sebaceous secretions.

Understanding the anatomy and function of skin can help you be a better formulator. If you would like to learn more, download our ebook “The Nature of Skin.”


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