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~ Featured Business March 2010 ~

Sweet Harvest Farms

Sweet Harvest Farms

Cynthia Young-Jennings (CJ) is the owner of Sweet Harvest Farms. She is based in Tampa, Fl,. but originally from San Antonio, Texas (Go Spurs!!). We decided to find out a little about Cynthia and Sweet Harvest Farms as part of out Featured Crafter section.

How did your business begin?
I have actually been an artist longer than I can remember. Painting on anything that “doesn’t move”, including old cupboard doors, chairs and even my father’s old Army boots, made my offerings a bit eclectic. It would be sometime before people put the name “shabby” or “primitive” on this type of work . Many years of shows and markets finally led me to opening my own boutique in Destin, Fl, I decided to offer a little bit of everything from antiques, to handmade primitive dolls. Included in this eclectic mix was Potpourri and Handmade soap. Always being a perfectionist and wanting to give my customers only the best, I found the soap and potpourri I wholesaled in not up to my standards. I then set off on the quest to find out how to make my own and make it the best! What I found was astonishing! Commercial companies watering down and diluting oils to use on their Potpourri while choosing the least expensive botanicals and blends that last only a very short time turning brown and degrading quickly. The way “soap” is made was even more eye-opening! Most of it is not even soap but beauty bars! There are very few true soap makers left that stay true to the old fashion method of soap making used hundreds of years ago.

Orange Clove Soap
Orange Clove Soap

Please give us a short summary of your website?
An eclectic blend of Luxurious Homemade Soaps, High Country Primitives, Aromatic Potpourri, Folk Art and Whimsy!

What inspired you to launch your own website?
The need to reach as many people about the harmful things they put on their skin and the benefits of true homemade soap. Having a medical background has afforded me the ability to devise my own patented recipe that is not made by anyone else.

No More Eczema
No More Eczema Soap

When did you launch your first website, and what was it?
My first website was launched in 1999 but a move overseas forced me to close that site. The re-launch was in 2005 and has exceeded my expectations!

How did you decide on a name for your website?
That's kind of funny! When I closed my first website (Sweet Harvest), I accidentally let me domain name lapse! When I returned and saw that someone had grabbed my name so I decided to add "Farms" to it! People knew me as Sweet Harvest so it wasn't much of a stretch. Also, I do have a small farm back in Texas so it just made sense!

 Citrus Medley Soap
Citrus Medley Soap

What makes your website different from other, similar offerings?
The look first and foremost, the content (stories, writings etc.) thirdly the photography and display and last but not least the quality and uniqueness of our products! I knew I wanted a site to stand on its own that was like no other and I feel I have accomplished that. I spent 2 years researching other sites and knew exactly what I wanted. I hear that from those that visit my site all the time. It is quite a compliment!

What is your eventual goal? (To sell it, keep it for income, secure a book or other mainstream media deal?)
I will always keep my site. It does bring in income but more importantly I am constantly moved by the emails I receive from my customers on how much my product has actually changed their life! It’s amazing how a simple bar of a Sweet Harvest Farms bar of soap can make such a difference in someone’s life! Especially those that are going through chemotherapy, radiation or just have sensitive skin. Since I did have my own boutique before, I hope to eventually open another within the next few years.

Laundry Soap
Laundry Soap

How does your investment of time and money balance against your success?
When a customer tells me that their skin has completely cleared up using my soap and how they can see a huge difference in the way they feel because of it...well, to me that's success! Even if I don't make a lot of money and pour more into the business and site than I probably should, it's the testimonials that make it all worth it!

If you had an unlimited development budget for development, how would you change your site?
I would make sure there was a Gift Basket of my soap and lotion given to anyone being admitted to hospital. I would open small boutiques near hospitals where those that are suffering the ravages of chemotherapy and/or radiation would have easy access to my soap. I would provide soap to the homeless shelters. I would reach the masses. Many diseases can easily be controlled with simply washing your hands so why suffer with the dryness that simple beauty bars and cheap products leave on your skin when you can have a soothing cleanser instead?
If your site got really big, really quickly, would you be able to keep up with the demand?
Most certainly! Since the recipes I use are my own, I would oversee the production of my Bath and Body line at a manufacturer. I would be hands on 24/7 to make sure the end product is exactly as I would do it. I also have professional soap equipment where I could make larger quantities very quickly. In the end customer service and quality product should be first and foremost.

The Decadent Dog
The Decadent Dog All Natural Doggy Soap

What unexpected costs and headaches have you had to deal with?
Impatient people! People that place and order and want it yesterday! I try to explain that when they get to their last bar to let me know or place an order, but you know, we are all guilty of waiting until the last minute! I don’t blame them though because our a bar of our soap last so long (between 4-5 weeks) that you simply forget to order! As far as unexpected costs go well.....I have been known to wait until the last minute to order oil!! If it’s not budgeted it can be difficult so I am trying to get better at that.

What has been your biggest challenge?
Reaching the public. Doing outdoor shows, festivals and markets out in the heat, rain and wind can take its toll. I suffer from a condition that makes me extremely sensitive to heat but I plug away anyway. My customers expect to see me and it’s hard to let them down.

Apple Strudel Potpourri
Apple Strudel Potpourri

What method has been most successful for promoting your website?
Linking to other really good websites. I also belong to a handful that seem to hold the same values and ideas that I have. Plus I always carry a large wallet full of my company cards!

How has running your website differed from your expectations?
I expected it to keep me busy and challenging. I try to keep evolving so that it doesn't get stale. I try to keep myself ahead of the pack, if you will. I guess I always expected it to do well and it has. You not only have to believe in yourself but you have to believe in your product as well.

an original painting of an “Angel in Paris” by CJ
An original painting of an “Angel in Paris” by CJ

How long have you run the site already, and how long will you continue to keep it up if you don't enjoy big gains in traffic, income or popularity?
Sweet Harvest Farms has been up for about 5 years and as long as I have breath in this body it will be up for many, many more! I am now offering my incredible line of homemade soaps and lotions wholesale so I think it’s safe to say I am in this for the long haul!

What advice would you give others starting their own site?
A-line yourself with the best HTML gurus you can find that will fit your budget. Don't settle for their ideas-stick to your own! Set yourself apart from what others are doing-push the envelope and think outside the box. It will be all consuming at first but the rewards are worth it! Most important remember...customer service and quality products are key!

Hand painted Bench by CJ
Hand painted Bench by CJ

What is your website address?
http://www.sweetharvestfarms.com

  

FEATURED BUSINESS ARCHIVES
 
February 2010 ~ Poverty Hollow Primitives

July 2009 ~ Crow's Nest Primitive Shoppe
 
June 2009 ~ Homespun Hearts Soap & Candles

May 2009 ~ Rhoda Rose


April 2009 ~ Out of the Box Sampler
 

FEATURED BUSINESS

Sweet Harvest Farms
Sweet Harvest Farms

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