With the stockings almost hung, and gift giving just about to begin, most of us are looking for the perfect gift—something appropriate, something interesting, something a little different. Enjoy a look at these Sweet and Savory items produced by budding entrepreneurs in the Western Carolinas.
Each has taken the courageous step to produce a product that embodies their 21st century education. These items are healthy, organic, natural, and the result of dedicated and passionate people, who want to make a difference in the world. Their principles shine through into their product. I ask that when you find yourself in need of some extra stocking stuffers, please think of them.
A Magical Childhood Adventure Inspires a Business
Sherrye Perry’s concern and love for honeybees pointed the direction to a new business venture almost two years ago. She wanted to take her passion for beekeeping a step further by turning raw, unfiltered honey from her six hives in Madison County into an all natural skin and bath product, marketing under the Gypsy Bee™ brand name. She notes that, “The intrinsic nature of honey is ideal for the skin, acting as a natural humectant (it retains or preserves moisture) with exceptional antibacterial properties.” Thus including pure honey as an ingredient in her soaps, skin balms, sea salts for bath soaking, and loofah exfoliant, seemed like a sensible way to nourish the skin.
Many of the natural ingredients are taken from their garden and farm to produce these all organic products. The lavender, peppermint, chamomile, and thyme are harvested from the garden and dried for a botanical addition. For those who have a sensitivity to any essential oils or fragrances, there are two unscented soaps: the Buttermilk, Oatmeal and Honey bar and the Goatmilk, Oatmeal and Honey. There are traditional scents of lavender, chamomile, and a Persian vanilla bean soap. One of the local favorites is the North Carolina Tobacco Road bar, which has a very unusual fragrance. Both men and women enjoy it, but men are particularly fond of it. Tobacco flowers and caramel are combined to make an intoxicating fragrance. Other one-of-a-kind popular scents are Gypsy Wood and Malabar Green. The EKHO Balm, a rich emollient, is made with a proprietary blend of African shea butter, essential oils, and, of course, pure honey. It sinks into the skin and nourishes the cells. The soaking salts combine a variety of sea salts, botanicals, essential oils and honey and are packaged in a classic 16 ounce French square glass container with their unique fragrances—On the Shore, In the Desert, and At the Grove.
The honeybee theme is an important part of the marketing, and Perry is driven to share the message of the global dilemma facing all pollinators. Together with Jeffrey Barnes of J. Barnes Design they created the packaging and marketing plans for the product. Jeffrey is a graphic designer, whom Perry says “is wonderful and so talented.” Each bar of soap is created in a honeycomb pattern, and a custom designed bee box display is offered to retailers for a compact and visual point of purchase. Signature soaps for resorts and spas have been successful as a marketing idea. Perry has created signature fragrances for several retailers. The Gallery of the Mountains at The Grove Park Inn boasts their Sunset at the Grove fragrance and the Hot Springs Resort and Spa lovingly remembers a family member with their signature Sweet Melissa soap.
So how did Perry decide on the name Gypsy Bee™ Brand? A childhood adventure at the age of five brought this to pass. She explains, “One day while playing in the open fields, my friends and I began roaming farther from home (near Nashville, Tennessee) until we found ourselves at the edge of a nearby woods. Tucked in and around the giant trees that surrounded the bare patch of forest floor was a remarkable sight—ornately decorated wagons trimmed in crimson and ochre, horses with glittering red and gold harnesses, and gaily dressed people draped in azure-fringed shawls and dangling jewelry.” These were real live gypsies. It was a magical, unforgettable sight, which ended up giving her the inspiration for the name for her company: Gypsy Bee™. “I have clung to that vision that spoke of freedom, beauty, creativity and adventure, and I pray I never settle for anything less,” she said.
Perry’s natural bath and skin care products can be found in many stores in Asheville and the surrounding area: Mast General Store, the North Carolina Arboretum, The Compleat Naturalist, Carolina Moon in Lake Lure, and Twigs and Leaves in Waynesville. If those shops are not convenient, these fragrant and skin nourishing products can also be ordered online at www.gypsybee.com.
Biochemist Recycles Brewers Yeast into Tasty Treat
Asheville Brew Bites™
“Once a scientist, always a scientist” seems to be true for “Rusty” Bryant of Asheville Flavor Innovation, LLC. Having ended a long career as a biochemist with Schering-Plough Research Institute, Rusty and his wife, Mary, came from Princeton, New Jersey, to Asheville to help their son and daughter-in-law renovate and repurpose the Old Earl-Chesterfield Mill and Hatchery in the River Arts District into the Hatchery Studios, home to six artists’ studios and the White Duck Taco. Liking what they saw in Western North Carolina, the Bryants decided to move here permanently. Once here, Rusty became familiar with the problem the Craft Brewers were having with their yeast byproduct.
Having found a wonderful resource for pure water, many new breweries have sprouted up in the last few years, but what useful purpose could be made of the nutritional byproduct from the spent yeast used by these regional craft breweries? Could it be fed to animals or made into a healthy gourmet treat?