Thursday, September 10, 2015

Construct your Hops Garden

Well, our hops are sending out shoots and that means that we need to trellis them FAST!!!  There are a lot of different ways to do it (which I'll share in another post), but I wanted to share how Eric is building our hop garden out of old plumbing pipes we used for another home improvement project.

He started with a 14ft pipe that he hammered into the ground.  This pipe is the main pipe that all of our coconut rope runs from/through.  From there, he has created a 'spider web' from which all 11 plants will run up! It's a fairly simple project that takes all of 2 hours to create.  Below are our pictures of the re-useable pipes.  Scroll down to the bottom to see how it held up as the hops grew!  I'm impressed!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Meet Morgan From Buffalo City Jug Shop

Attention North Carolina, Handbrewed Soaps can be found at Buffalo City Jug Shop in Nags Head! (I think Eric and I are going to have to fly out and visit this fine establishment!!!)  I got a chance to ask the owner, Morgan Myshin, his inspiration behind the store (which opened about a month ago), what his favorite beer is, and advice for those that are thinking about going into the beer industry. Here is what he had to say:

Who you are and what inspired you to open your store?

Morgan Myshin- I grew up on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and after brief experiences in teaching elementary school and working in the film business, I moved to Tahoe to work at Heavenly. While in California, I fell in love with craft beer, and it became a real passion for me. After moving back to the beach in NC, I noticed that the craft beer business was booming in North Carolina. Currently there are over 90 breweries in the state. My small beach town was lacking a bottle shop that could showcase NC beers to the over 1 million vistors to the area each summer. After a year of traveling around the country looking at bottle shops and growler filling stations, Buffalo City Jug Shop was born.

What is your favorite beer / beer style and why?

My favorite beer style is Stout. Not sure why, just a dark beer kind of guy. I do love a nice punch in the face with hops from time to time too though.

What advice can you give someone who wants to go into the beer industry?

My advice is to ask questions. I have found that most people in the industry are really receptive to helping out others in the business, so pick brains!! The advice I have received from across the country has been priceless, and has allowed me to avoid a lot of common mistakes. Also, get to know your local beer reps and breweries. Those individuals can help make or break your business!

Thanks Morgan for your thoughts!  Looking forward to meeting you in person!!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

3 Effective Ways To Train An Intern

Meet our newest intern, Matthew! We are excited to have him as our newest addition to the Handbrewed Soaps Team! Over the next few months, we will be training him in the ways of soaping. We are pretty hard-core around here, so we will definitely be watching him to see if he’s cut out for the soaping lifestyle.  He’ll be going through some intense training that I can recommend for all businesses.

1) Find out what your intern is naturally interested in or wants to learn more about. You might find that he/she has strength in an area that you need to be filled.

2) Allow your intern to experience all responsibilities in your company.  There will be days when you really need to make your product, but priorities have shifted.  You need to get a large order out and write an article for a partner company.  By having your intern educated on multiple aspects of your business, you can have he/she do tasks that will free you up to do what you need to do!

3) Provide feedback in a reflective way.  Let’s be honest, no one likes to be yelled at when learning a new skill.  So phrases like, “What the hell are you doing?” is probably not the best approach.  I like to find about 10 -15 minutes at the end of each training session to talk to the intern about their learning. Most people know when they do not understand something and will most likely discuss it with you.  If not, you can constructively add it to the conversation.  Some questions I usually ask are:
  • So how did today go for you? 
  • What are your 3 biggest takeaways or ‘ah-huh’ moments?
  • What are some things you would like to know more about? 
  • What area’s do you think you need more practice? 
  • What questions do you have for me? 
  • If something that you want to point out doesn’t come out in the conversation, you might want to say,  “I’ve noticed that …..  I suggest you try it this way, as it has worked best for me….”

So now you might be wondering where our newest member fits into this?  We are pleased to report that Matthew is cut out for the life of soaping.  He currently enjoys working as the supervisor in our packaging department.  He serves as a great reminder not to drop the soap… or him!   lol

Friday, July 17, 2015

It Has Been 11 Years!

As I get older, I realize how time flies.  I remember back to my elementary days (first grade I think), standing in the lunch line thinking, "When is this year going to end?  I've been in the first grade FOREVER!"  (Note: I have no idea why I remember this, but it's very vivid!)  As I got older, and my perspective changed, especially about time, experiences started to fly by.

Thirteen years ago, I met my best friend.  We were both teachers at Thornhill Elementary School in Oakland.  I was a fifth grade teacher, and he was the music teacher.  When I first met him, I thought his last name was Swinhart (like a pig) and proceeded to call him that until my students corrected me.  I'm sure I actually called him Mr. Swinhart to his face, but he never said anything.  (Ahh, what a nice guy!)

After clearing up the situation about his last name, flaking on 3 dates with him, and giving each other awkward colleague hugs (once I actually showed up for dates,) we soon made plans to travel to Peru together and once we got back home, I proceeded to ask him to move in with me, and a year after that asked him to marry me.  Now, it's been eleven years since we've been married (today!) We have two very awesome girls (with a boy on the way), we've laughed (boy have we laughed), and we've cried.  It's been the quickest eleven years of my life, and it's the one area that I wish would slow down, because I'm having to much fun!

So Eric, this year on our anniversary, I'm not writing how amazing you are in a card... you get a whole blog post!!! Thank you for teaching me to:

1) Take risks:  This guy moved out to California, got a day job, and started playing in multiple bands.  My favorite band he played in was STUNG: A Tribute to the Police... They still play (minus Eric), but you should still check them out!
2) Follow Passions:  Eric has BIG IDEA's.  Whether it be growing 12 hops strains in our backyard, raising the back of our house, or starting a Music Education Research Project for the kids of Oakland, he does it.  Eric is amazing at seeing a problem, making a plan to try to fix it, and implementing it.  
3) Be Kind to EVERYONE:  Eric is one of the nicest people I know.  He can turn anyone's frustration or bad day into a great one with his corny"Middle School" jokes, smile, and damn those dimples... apparently he's been getting out of trouble since preschool by flashing those dimples!
4) Give Loyalty/Support to Others:  Eric is a great supporter.  Without his support, Handbrewed Soaps wouldn't be here.  He pushes me to focus all of my energy on my passion of beer soap!  He comes up with new ideas for me, and is usually the brains behind our shenanigans.  And he sticks with you, through good and bad times. He does this for all of his friends and family
5) Laugh:  I have never laughed so much with a person.  Eric has a talent for using  his corny-ass humor to deflate conflicts and brings humor to serious situations that may not need to be so serious (if you know what I mean.)  He is goofy ball.
6) Care:  Eric is very caring, so much sometimes that he worries himself to death.  He cares for/about things that many people would look over.  But this is what brings him back to his passions.  And if it's a passion, Eric will pursue it!

There are many more things he has taught me, these are the big six!  Thanks Eric for these past 11 years...  I can't wait to see what the next 11 will bring! Happy Anniversary!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

How to Travel with Your Favorite Handmade Soap

Are you going on a road trip or traveling this summer?  Well we sure are, and the biggest thing I struggle with is keeping my skin happy! Depending on the environment, my skin can be dry one minute and oily the next. That's why it's important to me that I bring my soap (Handbrewed Soaps) with me. But I'll be honest, REAL soap doesn't always travel that well because it needs to dry out between uses or it will turn into a soggy mess. To keep that from happening, I like to cut my soap into small chunks (like a pat of butter) for single uses. I transport them in a sandwich baggy. When I'm ready to wash -up, I take one pat of soap out of the baggy, use it, and then dispose of it after a single use. My skin is happy, and so am I as I don't have a soap mess to worry about!!  What traveling tips do you have?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

How to Make A Calculated Risk In Life

There come times in your life when you have to make choices that involves risk.  These choices are risks because they have an unknown outcome such as job/ career changes, relocation from family and friends, leaving or starting a relationship, following your dreams when others think it's silly.  Taking a risk is exciting, but scary.  By taking a risk, you are entering uncharted water.  Depending on your personality, you may thrive by risk taking or be scared to death of it.  Either way, you know you need to take the risk because you hope that by following this choice, you will be happier and more fulfilled then you currently are.

I'm in the middle, I love risk taking because it's exciting and challenges my creativity.  However, I'm also scared of it because I I need to think about how it with affect my growing family. Over the past week, I have had to make a choice that involves a risk regarding Handbrewed Soaps.  The biggest question I had was, "Why would I take this risk?"  To discover the answer, I took out a piece of paper and did a brain dumb on the following four sub -questions.

1)  How does this risk match with my mission and goals for my business and personal life?
2)  How does this risk challenge me in a creative, fun-way?
3)  How will this risk open me up to new opportunities and experiences?
4)  What fears does the potential risk bring up for me?

Questions 1-3 are more about practical application.  My family and how I structure my business life around them is VERY important.  If it fits into our family/business lifestyle, then it's a go!  If it's a fun challenge that will open doors for me, then count me in!  Question #4, however, is the most important sub question because this is usually my "NO!" instinct!  This is what threatens my comfort zone. By naming this fear, it has been acknowledge and the "sting" is taken away!  If #1-3 point to yes, but #4 points to a no, well then, I'm taking the risk!  But if there is any concern in #1-3, it's a no go... no matter how tempted I am.

Again, I am no expert, but this worked for me! And yes, I am taking the risk... (details to follow!) What process do you go through when contemplating a risk?

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Great Day at Rogue Farms

I must say, I am falling in love with Oregon. It's beautiful country and the people are super friendly! The food is amazing! I ordered a side salad expecting iceberg lettuce with carrots and tomatoes, but instead received a bed of fresh mixed greens with beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, garbanzo beans, croutons, corn, and carrots! Then when I ordered milk for the kids, the server asked, "Cow or soy?" "One of each!" I responded as my lactose intolerant daughter beamed because no restaurant EVER has soy milk! I can go on and on about how awesome Oregon is (there are gas attendants that pump your gas. I mean they tell you to get back in your vehicle if you try to pump your own!), and I just did!!! The day kept getting better. We then went to Rogue Farm in Independence, OR. Basically, everything they grow is what they put into their beers.  We were greeted with acres of hops fields. As you enter the actual farm, there is a tasting room on your left that offers food with a kids menu.There are picnic tables that line the perimeter of lawn where you are welcome to play corn-hole, frisbee, giant chests, or giant scrabble! You can take a tour with an employee or walk around yourselves (just make sure you don't go into any areas that say Employees Only). We spent a good two hours there and would have stayed longer had the heat not gotten to us! So the next time you are in Oregon, stop at Rogue Farms! It's a very chill, family beer environment!

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