Are you a maker in the Wichita area (or beyond?) who wants to be part of the 2018 Craftacular Handmade Market? Then get excited, because registration is now open!
This Craft Show is exactly that: a shopping experience full of wonderful, handmade goods. No resale items or MLMs. The vendors not merely salespeople; they are representing their own work. They take their time, talent, and hands to create soulful items that are beautiful and unique. (If you’re reading this, you probably already understand why handmade is so important.) But that’s why I am so proud to be able to organize this show.
Today, I am beyond thrilled to be able to bring you an interview with Quinn of Reformation Acres! I’ve been following her blog and facebook page for sometime, and it is such an inspiration. She is a homesteader, blogger, and also crafts all-natural skincare items. Quinn has been gracious enough to take the time to share some of her insights with me, and I am excited to pass them on to you. If you are interested in the homesteading life, read on…
Moth & Rust: Tell me about your name, Reformation Acres; is there a story behind that? Quinn: The name Reformation Acres was born of a purpose more than from a story. Whether it’s our lives or our land, we want to always be reforming. We want to evaluate not only ourselves but our farm practices, to continually be making improvements. We want to steward, heal, nourish, and regenerate the land… leaving it better than we found it. The healthier our land is, the healthier our food and herbs will be, and the healthier and more productive we will be! M&R: How long have you been involved with gardening/homesteading?
Q: It’s hard to believe it has been that long, but we’ve started our first garden 2006 and pretty much started building a homestead from there on. The “gateway livestock”, chickens, came the next year, pigs the year after, and then a family cow the following year. What can I say? We were hooked.
Every year has its challenges and I’m always impressed by how much I still have to learn. We designed our first herb garden around that chicken coop and it sparked a fire within me to constantly be building my knowledge of herbs, particularly the health benefits found in medicinal herbs, flowers, and roots. With a family of 10 I’m given plenty of opportunity to discover new ways to use herbs to improve our health and well-being! M&R: What motivate or inspires you to pursue and continue homestead life?
Q: When you grow and raise your own food, it has 3 secret ingredients that can’t be found in any other food on the planet. Your own blood, sweat, and tears. Those 3 secret ingredients make every single thing you eat taste better! I don’t understand how that magical process happens, but it’s totally true! That’s motivation enough alone!But it is indescribably satisfying to have such a close connection with the earth and your family, all working together to put food on the table. We want our children to learn where their food comes from and understand what goes into their food, the sacrifices that are made so they can eat. Even if they don’t do the work themselves one day, I want them to appreciate the ones who are! We want them live balanced lives and hopefully create a good work ethic that will serve them the rest of their lives.
Also, we’ve come to realize that, in most facets of the homestead, we couldn’t afford not to homestead. To buy meat and milk raised with the care we give our animals, and vegetables grown as naturally as we grow ours would be devastating to our budget.
M&R: How did you become involved with making soaps and balms? How did you learn the process?
Q: When I had babies, I started reading labels on everything. I stumbled across The Environmental Working Group (EWG) and their Skin Deep Database. It really made me think about everything we were exposing our bodies to through our largest organ, our skin. I learned that most soaps you’ll find in the store aren’t really soaps, but are synthetic detergents. I wanted better for myself and my family. I learned from seasoned soap makers how to make real, cold-processed soap. I was nervous at first, but it didn’t take long before I was hooked! It is so much fun discovering new ways to incorporate the things we were making on our farm into our soaps! I’m always brainstorming new ideas and combinations. The only downside is my soap-making can often be limited by the seasons. We moved to a new and larger farm a few months ago and we’re planning to grow a larger volume of botanicals and herbs that can be preserved for off-season use.
M&R: Can you tell me about the ingredients you use? Q: We use only natural ingredients in all of our products. No artificial fragrances, no synthetic dyes in anything we make! Whenever possible, we incorporate local ingredients in our products, preferably those from right off our farm. Whether that’s milk from our Jersey cow, Holly, jewelweed growing down by the creek, produce from the garden, or comfrey under the apple tree. Those herbs and flowers that we don’t have on our farm but use in our products, we are in the process of getting established to the point where we can sustainably harvest.We have chosen to be 100% palm-free. This is so important to us! Palm oil is one of the most common, versatile oils you’ll find in handmade soaps. It’s also one of the largest contributors to deforestation and habitat loss for native species where the trees are grown. Instead, the base oil used in most our soaps is local purified tallow made from the suet of cattle grazing the hillsides in Amish country, Holmes County Ohio. Instead of being thrown out, we are able to take what would end up as waste, saponify and redeem it to make the most creamy & bubbly, moisturizing & nourishing soap for your skin!
M&R: Which products are your favorites and why?
Q: Oh my goodness! This is such a tough question because I love them all (or I wouldn’t dare sell them!) Right now, it’s the dead of winter and my dry skin is so thankful for my Calendula Butter Hand Salve. But when I burn myself in the kitchen, my favorite product is Burn Salve. It instantly soothes the burn. When my face breaks out, I grab a bar of Tomato Soap and it’s cleared up in days. In the summer, when we start getting bug bites and poison ivy, I’m reaching for the Jewelweed Salve to bring relief from all the scratching. But I’m a lover of simple things and my favorite soap, after all my creations, is still Cream
Line. It’s such a great bar of soap! I love everything about it- the fresh scent, the lather, how extraordinarily well it cleans without drying out my skin, and especially how long it lasts compared to other handmade soaps I’ve used!
M&R: How do you hope your products and blog will influence others?
Q: You know what would be truly awesome? I would love hearing a story one day about someone who used our herbal, farm-based products and it sparked a connection with the land. They were drawn to experience it in a closer, more real and tangible way. Perhaps then a visit to our website would encourage them to take that first step. Not to look at the obstacles that might be in their way, but to get their hands dirty (literally) and learn the satisfaction of being a producer. Is that too much to wish for? I sure hope not!
M&R: How has your community (online or offline) impacted your homestead journey?
Q: I have the most amazing community building me up and encouraging me! I am so humbled every day by the love and support I get! Early on in our homestead journey, I realized how dependent we become on God. Through the influences of nature, we only have so much control. The rest is up to Him. Some years He provides and other years He doesn’t, but we find it’s always balanced in another area of production. It makes you realize what a misnomer “self-sufficiency” really is.
But as we continue on our journey, we realize we are even less self-sufficient than we at first thought. Though we know more now than we have before, we are just as dependent on our community for encouragement, support, wisdom, and often-times the hands to make it all possible! M&R: Does homestead life ever become overwhelming? How do you recharge and keep things balanced?
Q: Does it ever! And I’ve learned that the feeling of overwhelm ebbs and flows with the seasons so on one level I know that it will get better soon. But I’ve also learned that I don’t have to “do it all.” We have chosen to do the things that best suit our families needs and passions and focused on them instead of being rockstar homesteaders. Still I struggle with getting overwhelmed. I used to push through and run myself ragged, but I now know that in the end it will only burn me out. I’ve really had to force myself to take care of me too! When I find myself stressing, I head to the woods and pray! (Or spend a little extra time brushing and talking to my cows.) Being creative helps keep me balanced and my passion for soap making allows me to be creative and productive at the same time!
M&R: What advice would you give to someone who wants to become more self-sufficient but believes they don’t have the enough resources?
Q: Learn something. Don’t make excuses. It really, truly doesn’t matter where you live. You can build skills. And the things you learn to do with your own two hands, no one can ever take that away from you! And in those skills you’ll find empowerment! It’s the little things, the baby steps you take that create a more self-sufficient lifestyle. Look around and find one thing in your kitchen you could make yourself instead of buying and learn how to make it! There is large and powerful network of people on the internet eager to help you take that first step!
+ + + I am, again, so grateful to Quinn for taking the time to do this interview with me. Please be sure to visit the Reformation Acres website for insightful articles, how-to posts, resources, and more; and be sure to stop by the Reformation Acres Etsy shop to check out her amazing products.
[Featured photo: gorgeous entomology/taxidermy work by Jennifer Blundon]
I am so very excited to announce that after a two year hiatus, Craftacular will be coming back in September 2018!
Craftacular is a little show I started back in 2012; we did it once a year, usually in the fall. There was no show in 2016 or 2017 due to so much going on those years (well, truthfully, 2017 was more about taking a break from being previously overwhelmed…) However, this September, it’s happening again and I am thrilled.
It’s a privilege that means so much to me, to be able to organize such an event; from the beginning, the show has been about craft and art: making, dreaming, connecting. I am so grateful to each person who has participated in the show and hope to see lots of familiar faces, and new ones, on September 29.
As more details fall into place, I’ll be posting on the Craftacular facebook page. I’ll also post the vendor application to this site as soon as it’s available. (If you think you might be interested in being a vendor, let me know and I’ll email it to you directly as soon as I can!)
Often times, I am torn between my desire to create and my desire to sit on my backside and stare at books (…or the internet…a lot of times, the internet, if I’m being honest…)
Anyway. I mean to work on that. I want to paint and just make more cool stuff. If you know me, you know I have an obsession with zines. I’ve only made a couple myself. But there is something so indescribably attractive to me about these little books. Maybe it’s all the possibility for freedom and expression in these often minuscule volumes. Who knows.
As I’m scanning online sources (ironic, eh?!) for inspiration, I’m coming across some interesting-looking zines and other handmade books. What about you? Have you ever created one, or would you like to? Do you have a favorite zine?
Is #moreart on your list of goals for 2018? I’d love to see what you’ve been working on!
Today I am trilled to bring you an interview with Tayla Mace, artist, entrepreneur, and owner of The White Peacock Tea and Coffee Company in the lovely town of Lindsborg, KS. I’ve been a fan of Tayla’s work for years and am truly excited about her latest venture. Read more here, then visit for yourself!
M&R: Can you tell us a bit about your background and previous work?
Tayla: Oh goodness, I have quite the varied background! But when I think about it, I would say it has all focused around creative work and customer service. I went to school for Web Design with the Art Institutes and fell in love with online branding and design. My “big girl jobs” were mainly in retail management and marketing before I took the plunge and started my own business, WildFire Studio – where I made jewelry, in 2012. It wasn’t until 2016 that I decided it was time to move on.
What made you decide to purchase a coffee shop?
In May of 2016, I could feel WildFire winding down and wanted to move on to something else. I knew I didn’t want the typical 9-5 but had no idea what direction I was headed. So, I was lucky enough to pick up a part-time position at one of my favorite stops in Lindsborg, The White Peacock. I had been using The Peacock as a mobile office for close to a year already so it was an easy decision to try and Fill the Gaps between projects there. I became friends with the owner and found out the shop was for sale. The rest was history! I purchased the Peacock that July.
I know you have handmade items for sale; what kind of things do you currently carry?
We do have some handmade items! I carry the penny jewelry I made during my WildFire days at the shop, along with some felt succulents that I’ve been playing around with. We also carry embroidered tea towels, hand-dyed scarves, illustrated coffee mugs, and more! The shop has a quirky, creative vibe, so we have a quirky and creative selection of handmade goods. :) Each month, we also have a featured artist who often has their art work for sale. From February 10th-March 9th, we’ll have our community sourced Heart Art up! 20+ artists have contributed so far.
What’s are your favorite drink and food offerings?
My personal favorite drink at the moment is our “Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberry Mocha.” It is amazing! We’re always coming up with new drink recipes though, and I’m always picking out new favorites. We also offer breakfast and lunch, but I’ve always been partial to our cinnamon rolls that are made right down the street at The Courtyard Bakery.
What seems to be most popular with customers?
Hands down, the Black Forest Mocha. Once you have it, you’ll never go back.
What is the most satisfying part of running the shop?
I’m probably what you would call a serial entrepreneur. I get excited about the big picture when it comes to organizing, managing, and promoting a business. But if I were to pick one thing, it’s that The White Peacock attracts such an interesting and creative crowd. I get to share my projects with my customers and they share theirs with me. It’s this constant flow of creative energy in here that I love the most.
What do you find the most challenging?
MONEY! Oh, my… I think that is a pretty typical answer, but managing our budget is the most challenging for me. With WildFire, I was a one person show, meaning that if we were short one month, there was only myself to blame and myself to face the consequences. Now I have employees and customers and we’ve got to stay stocked all the time… I’m feeling much more comfortable compared to when I purchased the business in July, but I think it will always be the most challenging aspect.
How do you hope The White Peacock will influence others in your community?
I hope that The White Peacock provides a space where you can come in, get yourself a delicious treat (that you can feel good purchasing – we’re all fair trade and organic and we use local Hildebrand milk!), and become inspired to do whatever it is you love to do. I try to keep the atmosphere bright and ever-changing and the community involved with small projects happening all the time.
How does your local community influence you?
I may be a little biased, but Lindsborg is the best small town out there. The community is full of people who really care about their town and the people in it. Each week, I get together with a group of business owners and residents to discuss what’s happening, how we can promote each other, and how we can provide a better experience to our visitors. Everyone is so inclusive and helpful.
I’m taking a break from the gift guides for a bit, to shift the focus from commerce to kindness. After the initial holiday shopping rush comes #GivingTuesday. While it’s a shame that this day of Giving comes after the shopping days and not before, you and I know that giving is truly something you can do all year round. Here are just a few ways to help out this holiday season (and every day…)
The Union Rescue Mission is the largest emergency shelter and life-change center for men in the state of Kansas. The Mission’s 28,000-square foot facility in Wichita provides overnight housing and meals for homeless men and hosts a 12-month addiction recovery program. They also distribute food, diapers and infant formula to families and single mothers in need. Donate cash, much needed items, or check out their numerous opportunities for volunteering your time and talents.
http://rmhcwichita.org Ronald McDonald House Charitiesare such a comfort and help to so many families; when parents have to travel to receive specialized medical treatment for their seriously ill or injured children, Ronald McDonald Houses are a home away from home. They provide rooms, meals, and support in a scary and stressful time. Even dropping your spare change into one of their collection boxes can be a huge help, but you can visit their website for more info on contributing.
You can help someone stay warm by donating new (or sometimes gently used) coats, hats, mittens, etc. There are lots of places where you can drop off these items, including all Wichita YMCAs, Wichita or Sedgwick County Fire Departments, or places like Inter-Faith Ministries. (Before bringing your items, please be sure to check what each place is accepting; depending on the organization, some will only take new items, some only coats, etc.)
A few other places to check in with are Open Door, a food pantry and shelter and The Lord’s Diner, where volunteers can serve hot meals to those in hunger. Both of these places have a need for volunteers and monetary gifts.
These are just a few ideas; there’s definitely no shortage of opportunities to give or help. How do you like to give? I’d love to know! Click here to shoot me an email, or message me on facebook.