My personal commitment this holiday and Christmas season is to purchase my gifts from small business owners and, better yet, from small business owners I personally know. I invited my entrepreneurial friends to share with me their personal and professional goals so I could share them with you.
Each of these women featured brings a unique gift to the marketplace. As you consider your gift purchases this holiday season, I hope you will consider my friends and their services/products as a choice you could make to help support small business and hardworking people in our local communities.
For 37 years, my friend Donna Bauer has been helping people make their surroundings more beautiful. When I bought my first home nearly 25 years ago, I was inexperienced in decorating an older home. I was inexperienced in decorating. Period. Added to the challenge of a first-time decoration project was that my 1920s-era home had plaster walls and four layers of wallpaper. When I asked Donna if she could help me, in her characteristic way she said absolutely.
Donna scraped and prepped and painted and re-papered my two-bedroom bungalow and helped me turn it into a home I was proud to own. In a field that tends to draw more men than women because of the physical work involved, Donna is one of the hardest-working individuals I have met. She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty and she sticks with a job until it’s done.
From her early days of working primarily as a house painter, Donna has expanded her business to refurbishing and up-cycling pieces of furniture that others have declared as useless. Donna has the heart for saving what others have given up on and the creativeness to draw out the beauty of a piece that has been covered by the wear and tear of life.
“In 2004, I learned the art of decorative and faux painting and in 2012 we expanded our painting abilities once again when we discovered the beauty and joy of refinishing antique trunks,” said Donna of how she learned the art and craft of upcycling furniture.
Donna currently sells her pieces in two stores in central Iowa; however, she is able to show you all of her work through her website and can make arrangements for delivery.
She also produces her own artwork and for the holiday season she has hand painted winter scenes on vintage screens, hand painted wood signs and “a few other goodies”
“With our years of experience, we know how to work efficiently with as little inconvenience to you as possible while still delivering a final product that surpasses your expectations,” said Donna of her approach to customer service. “From the initial consultation to the last walk through, we keep you abreast of our progress, so you know exactly what we are doing and how much it costs.”
Donna gives back to her community by donating her furniture and other pieces to local charities and fundraisers. The philosophy which guides her the most and is evident in her kindness to others is a strong relationship with God. Through this relationship she has developed a personal philosophy to “never give up, to do my very best always.”
I met Sandi when the universe asked me if I would extend my stay as a mental health therapist at the local hospital in the town in which I lived up until October. I’m glad I followed the universe’s bidding because otherwise I would have missed the delightful experience of Sandi Browne.
As is characteristic of mental health therapists, we got down to brass tacks in sharing about ourselves in our first day. When I mentioned that my first career was as a journalist, Sandi shared about the book she recently authored, “Touch the Sky.”
”I have had an unusual life as an Airshow pilot and wing rider during earlier days of aviation. I wanted to share the adventure of flying and the choices of balancing career and family,” Sandi said of her motivation to write the book. “I am a creative person who enjoys challenges and learning new things. Writing was a new area to explore.”
Now deceased, one of Sandi’s mentors was Tracy Pilurs, who “was an airshow pilot, built her own airplane and wrote a monthly column for a national aviation publication. I wrote about her in my book,” said Sandi. Sandi also took numerous classes and worked with a writing coach to ensure she offered a professionally prepared memoir.
Since Sandi is a mental health counselor, she contributes positively to her community nearly every day. (That’s a whole other story!) She mentored me during the time we worked together as therapists. Sandi’s other ventures include jewelry making and spending time with her beloved family.
Whether or not you are an aviation aficionado, you will enjoy reading about the adventurous spirit of Sandi and the other air show performers in her book.
Someone needed to take my place at my last position when I moved to Houston, and I am happy to say the universe sent Tracy D. Haynes. With her hearty laugh, Tracy has a centeredness about her that lets others know it’s going to be okay. As a social worker, Tracy has contributed to the world around her by working with kids in the foster care system and in her spare-time as a mentor for at-risk kids. But a woman has to eat and social workers aren’t counted among the overpaid in our commerce-based economy, so Tracy is earning extra income with Younique, a direct sales company for cosmetics. “I chose to start selling Younique makeup for the extra income as I am single parent,” said Tracy of what prompted her to begin this business in August of this year. “My goal is to use my earnings to help pay off my student loan debt as well as purchase a home.”
Tracy chose Younique’s products because they are “mineral based and last longer than the competitors. The makeup is made of natural ingredients and the best part is the money back guarantee,” she said.
With my eyes nearing 50 years, I decided to give Younique’s popular 3D Fiber Lash Mascara a try. And, wow, the promoters weren’t overselling it either when they said it boosts lashes by “300 times their natural length.” For the month of November, Younique is including a free lip stain for every $150 in purchase. I say stuff the stockings with Tracy’s products. Everyone will be happy with the quality of the product and the experience of Tracy.
Katrina Fuller and I met at a social gathering for which the purpose was to raise our experience of spirituality in our daily walk around in the lives we live. There, I first learned about the commitment Katrina has to Natural Nesters, her business that provides pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, and breastfeeding education and support, and integral therapy services to families. Since 2009, Katrina has worked diligently to spread her message that natural approaches to child rearing are the best and she has invested a large amount of time and resources to earn several certifications and credentials, including her Ed.D.
What motivates Katrina to work as hard as she does is the knowledge that when best practice is used in pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, breastfeeding and parenting, she is influencing positive growth for families and their children and that it spreads exponentially. Katrina quotes Sheri Dew about her impetus to advocate for mothers and children: “Perhaps having influence is not about elevating self, but about lifting others.”
While most of Katrina’s in-person clientele is located in Lea County, New Mexico, she is available to consult through email and phone sessions. Except for professional trainings, Katrina is offering a 10 percent discount on her fees for the month of December.
But you don’t have to be a woman about to give birth to work with Katrina. Katrina offers a robust menu of services designed to provide more awareness of the mind-body connection. She offers the following slate of services:
- Silhouette Painting
- Plaster Casting
- Digital Photography
- Birth Art & Stories
- Mommy & Me
- Guided Meditation
- Infant Massage
- Meal Preparation
- Tincture & Salve
- Prints & Keepsakes
- Burial Consultation
“I learned the most important life lesson not just from the families I serve, but from my own family as well,” said Katrina. “I have experienced the joys and challenges of pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, breastfeeding, and parenting and am able to utilize my own experiences and professional trainings to help other families be successful in their own efforts.”
I am ending this with a shameless plug for myself. I am a founding member ambassador for Barefoot Books, an award-winning publisher of children’s books. I chose to do this because of the company’s core values of offering an “authentic alternative to the commercialization of childhood. Barefoot Books encourages parents to make time for make-believe, and to share stories from all over the world with their children, so that they can glimpse the simple truth that the human condition is universal.”
My goal is to earn enough money to pay for my younger son’s attendance at the Westview School, a school for children with special learning needs. I need to earn money in such a way that it gives me the flexibility I need to care for my family, including as a caretaker for my mother.
The most important lesson I’ve learned, so far, in this endeavor is that if I stand up and ask for what I need the Universe is grace-filled to deliver.
Small Business Saturday (the Saturday after Thanksgiving) is an American Express sponsored day set aside to remind consumers that the lifeblood of our economy is a small business. None of us featured above have a personally owned shop on a Main Street, U.S.A. (yet). However, we all have a small business from a brick and mortar home and big dreams for our lives to provide economic security for our families. I invite you to explore my friends’ websites and I trust you will find many special Gifts of a Great Life among them.