Welcome to the boonies!
Meet a few of the reasons we love it here:
Overflowing with Gratitude
September 21, 2018
“Do you work full time?” “Is this how you make a living?” “Are you starving?” Melina LaVecchia Daniels and Jacob Daniels, with the success they have made from owning and running #OverflowStudios, have bought a house, are raising two beautiful children, and are flourishing in life and love. And yet, as is common with most working artists, still are often asked these sorts of questions.
“We’re breaking off this stereotype when it comes to artistry.” Melina explains. She and Jacob are bringing artists together from all backgrounds and giving them a platform to gain exposure and sell their art. By making a living from creating and doing what they love, they have been able to shatter the stigma of the “starving artist”.
Melina, from Charlotte, and Jacob, from High Point, met as Jacob was graduating from the Appalachian State University Art Department and Melina was just beginning. The two slowly got involved with a group of students that wanted to paint and make art outside of school and work. When the two started Overflow Studios during Melina’s last year at App around six years ago, this was the opposite of what she envisioned for herself when she first came to Boone.
“I wanted to leave Boone immediately - I was not a mountain girl. Secretly I could not comprehend living in the mountains. I told myself I would transfer the first winter it got hard!” However, the community quickly absorbed her. She fell in love with the people and community of Boone.
Overflow Studios is a multi-tiered artistic business encompassing art, ceramics, woodworking, and fine art reproduction. They developed Overflow Studios out of the notion that your fullness can only be measured by your overflow.
“We got our name because we discovered that you can’t do anything unless you’re doing it from the overflow. So if you look at your life like a cup, and your cup is half empty or half full, what can you produce? Even when your cup is full, what can you pour out to others on the community when it’s at capacity? Because then you become drained. The only way to really create and thrive and live is to do that out of the overflow that is in our lives.”
There are many changes and new projects that the team of two plan on taking on in the next couple of years, so be on the lookout for the future of Overflow Studios!
Sweet Tooth, Sweet Story
August 24, 2018
If you drive by Blue Deer Cookies, you might be surprised to hear they only just opened in late May. Their camper is always swarmed with a large group of hungry customers looking to satisfy their sweet tooth. “It’s been crazy. People have just been so supportive” remarks Callie Idol, co-owner of Blue Deer with fiancé Austin Northern. “People have loved on us so well and that’s what makes living and opening, running a business here so special.”
The newly engaged (congrats!!) couple are both 3rd generation boonies and attended Watauga High School. Their history and love for their hometown is what compelled them to start an ice cream cookie business. So, after falling in love with an ice cream cookie place in Virginia, they knew they needed to start their own back home. They noticed that are a lot of cookie places and ice cream places in Boone, but none that put them together. So they purchased a vintage camper, completely gutted it to the frame, and built it all the way back up. Strings of soft lights and cute picnic tables are scattered around the camper to provide a space to enjoy not only the sweets, but the High Country atmosphere too.
Their biggest drive was to bring something new to Boone that could reach any market - tourists, college students, and especially locals. Callie explains the significance of the local presence. “We want Blue Deer to be a place where you can get a treat and run into your friends from around town.” And what a treat it is! All cookies are baked fresh in the camper each morning and their ice cream comes from Homeland Creamery, located in Julian, North Carolina.
Callie and Austin currently attend Liberty University in Virginia while also running their business. How, you ask? Since opening earlier this year, these two overachievers have been building a reliable workforce to manage and run Blue Deer while they are away at school during the week. “I miss Boone when I go to school.” Callie says wistfully. While most young people count down the days to move out of their hometown, Callie and Austin can hardly stand to stay away.
In Search of Something Else
September 14, 2018
“When I die, sprinkle my ashes on the Blue Ridge Parkway,” Tracy Schindler, teary eyed, told her three sons one day. “Mom, why don’t you go live there now?!” This made a little more sense, so she threw a dart on the map of North Carolina, and Googled this town called “Boone.”
After looking through pictures and watching drone videos of the four seasons of Boone, Tracy packed up everything she owned and moved all the way from Houston, Texas to the High Country. Originally from New York, she moved as kid to Texas and spent 32 years of her life there. But after one fateful year at Western Carolina University when she was younger, Tracy fell in love with the state and knew she had to return.
With the aid of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, she took a business class and found a space for her new store, Something Else Gifts, right on King Street. Her store is so spacious that she’s been looking for new businesses to share it with. She wants to be just as helpful to new entrepreneurs as the community was to her when she moved here two years ago. “You can’t get a better combination between the scenery and the weather and the feel from all the people, whether they are tourists or local. Every person that walks in this store is nice,” explained Schindler.
Something Else Gifts houses items Tracy finds at estate sales, antique stores and markets. She also makes and refurbishes many of the items on the sales floor herself. When she goes shopping for gifts for her store, Tracy emphasizes the importance of “...showing people how they can take something old and incorporate into their modern life. Stuff should not be packed away, you should enjoy it. Trash can be treasure.”
Currently, her shop houses art from eight local artists, but she’s reaching out to younger creators to encourage them not only to sell online but in her store as well. “In a tourist town, people shop and can physically put their hands on your work, and that’s something a website could never offer,” says Schindler.
Since her one year anniversary last month, Something Else Gifts’ sales have doubled. “If it does well, then I will buy some property, build a home, and live in Boone forever. Happily ever after.” Tracy, we hope these dreams come true!
August 31, 2018
It was a dreary day when we sat down with Jack Sharp. Sharp, owner of Sky Valley Zip Tours, which prompted our outdoor interview to move quickly into his new office as it started to rain. This is where we spent the next two hours deep in conversation discussing Jack’s history, passions, and philosophies.
“We have roots here and they go deep, but next to that I’m putting down my own.” Jack’s roots trace all the way back to 1946, when his grandfather purchased the 140 acre plot that Sky Valley Zip Tours now resides on. From then until 2008, the family ran Camp Sky Ranch as an outdoor camp for children with disabilities. While Jack grew up in Greensboro, his childhood memories are nestled in Boone and the summers he spent at the camp. This childhood nostalgia is what brought him to live and raise a family here.
A couple of years after the camp closed, Jack was approached with the idea to use his land for zip lining. While skeptical at first, the engineer soon built his own iconic structures and is now celebrating the park’s 7th year anniversary. To pay homage to the history the land holds, Sky Valley also hosts iCAMP, “a five day camp for those with disabilities to gather together and celebrate God’s love.”
Jack’s passion for mentorship is a huge part of his life and business. “We try to use our faith as a guide to conduct our business, we are constantly growing and it’s an ongoing process.” He explained that the older men in this community were nurturing, strong Christians. He admired them and began his own path of faith. “I was thinking about how important those male relationships are. We are raised to be tough breadwinners and go getters, and we’re not raised to think its okay to hold your best friend’s hand and cry with each other. The strength it takes to be weak is milked out of us. Being vulnerable with other men or anybody is so powerful. I have a strong passion for those type of connections because of what it’s meant to my life.”
He describes Boone as the perfect place to foster those connections and relationships. “I feel like Boone is a very strong spiritual place - regardless of what you believe, you feel the connectedness. That connectedness creates the ‘boonie’.”
August 10, 2018
“Boone is not a blank canvas, but a journal marked with an exploded fountain pen. And we’re all just finger painting in the ink.” We asked Katherine Grace, founder of Out of Your Mind for #instaboonies what living in Boone meant to her. A performance poet and lover of all things creative; naturally this was her answer.
Originally from New Jersey, Kat found herself chasing adventure on a road trip to North Carolina with one of her good friends after college. While riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway - taking the scenic route, of course - from DC to Asheville and then back again, Kat became lost. It was foggy and as part of the adventure they decided to use an atlas for direction instead of GPS. They pulled over to break in none other than Blowing Rock, North Carolina, and got some ice cream to settle their nerves. While Kat was enjoying her cone on that lovely summer night, she felt an overwhelming sense of happiness. So she finished her ice cream, drove back to Jersey, packed up everything, and 15 days later moved to Boone. “Everything about Boone is fertile,” says Kat, “Where else to plant your roots?”
When Kat was 16, so began her drive to create a mental health organization for those who want to get together and freely discuss their passions and emotions, with no push to “get better.” Ten years after this idea sprouted in young Kat’s head, she has created a space that she wishes was available when she needed it most. Out of Your Mind hosts donation based events every month where anyone can gather together for potluck and creativity. Their mission is to combat social isolation through creative peer support and reframe mental illness as a mental opportunity.
“‘Boonies’ means freedom, to be here and have the confidence to believe in what I think is right and reframe mental health and hang on to childlike wonder. The magic keeps it safe. There’s always room for magic here, always a possibility for something good to happen.”
August 3, 2018
A little over seven years ago, Bryony Renouf and Joe Mager were traveling up and down the East Coast looking for a town to put down roots. They had a specific checklist of what they wanted: Vast mountains, a healthy environment, a thriving and safe community, and seasonal weather. Sound familiar? Welcome to today’s #instaboonies.
Originally from England but having moved from place to place her whole life, Bryony’s time in Boone has been the longest she has lived in one house. It was five years ago that she and her husband opened up shop for their hand-picked children’s consignment shop, Bluebird Exchange. With all of the clothes, books, toys, and gifts, they are able to support 30 different Etsy moms.
“We love being a part of the Boone community and serving our local families by providing a space for family-focused classes and parent support groups. It’s a very satisfying way to give back to a community that has given us so much.”
Because business has been good, they have been able to expand to include a new community classroom to further support families by offering educational classes, movement and yoga, emotional support groups, playgroups and everything in between.
Happy to be Hair
August 13, 2018
Say hello to Charlotte Baxter of Shear Shakti! Charlotte is the owner of the downtown hair shop, just upstairs from clothing boutique, Lucky Penny on King Street. For #instaboonies we sat down with Charlotte to discuss her passions and motivations for setting up shop in Boone.
Charlotte grew up in Chapel Hill, NC, later moving out West, but found herself missing family and wanted to live closer to her siblings (there are 5!). So she decided to initially move back to the land of Boone -- but only temporarily. 15 years later, 28607 is still her zip code!
To Charlotte, the word ‘boonies’ reminds her of the self-reliance, love of mountains, and the taste for music that she sees in her community. Like many others here, she calls Boone home because of the outdoor lifestyle the High Country offers.
When it comes to her career choice, she says “I’ve been legal and licensed for over 16 years, however I’ve realistically been doing hair for twice as long. When I was a kid I saw that hairdressers can look how they want, dress how they want, and be who they want to be. That was totally me and knew that was my path.”
“I’m such a geek for my industry. It is important to me that everyone loves their hair as much as I do. I also want every hairdresser to be wildly successful.” She adds, “I’m motivated by women and want to empower them, which is why Shear Shakti is a safe space for women.”
“I love being with people on their average hair days but also for major turning points in their life like weddings, anniversaries, proms. To have that sort of impact on someone is huge.”
Welcoming the Newest Boonies
August 17, 2018
Meet Allison Rollans and Samantha Wright of High Country Doulas. Before you type ‘what the heck is a doula’ into Google, let them define it for you.
“A doula makes the experience of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum positive, calm, and less stressful for new parents. Doulas are educators, support people, companions, childbirth educators, and just really good listeners,” explained Allison.
“I love metaphors so I liken doulas to a travel agency.” Samantha adds. “New parents get to pick the destination, where they want to go, and the experience they want to have. The travel guide makes that process easier.” Samantha and Allison exchange knowing looks and laugh.
The chemistry between these two was undeniable. Both born in North Carolina and residents of Boone, they met because Samantha was pregnant with her first child and Allison was her doula. The two were solo doulas at the time, but Samantha had a vision for an agency for doulas to provide families with everything they needed all under one roof, and she needed a partner. Enter Allison.
Their agency acts as a connector to new moms and parents in the area. Their purpose is to increase the circle of support around the community. They offer free workshops as a way to get parents to meet each other and build friendships.
"The people that are drawn to Boone are the best damn people in the world,” says Samantha. “I love the people who live here and are transitioning into becoming parents and I get to be a part of that. It drives me."
Allison chimes in, “I think its super easy to make connections to all of the families. People here in Boone appreciate community and they want to be with each other.”
This is How Boone Rolls
If you haven’t seen them pedaling around town by now, meet local celebrities Caleb McGuire and Christian Houpe of Pubcycle of Boone! These two entrepreneurs are our latest #instaboonies, along with Christian’s dog Remington.
Christian is the founding owner and Director of Operations of Pubcycle, and hails from the tiny one stoplight town of Faith, North Carolina. He moved to Boone so he could pursue an education of sustainable technology at ASU. His passion for this program came from his desire to help those in need, specifically those in countries who lack the right resources.
Caleb has that same desire to help those in need, but on the other end of the spectrum. Throughout our interview together, he frequently emphasized how important mental health awareness is in his life’s work. He has moved around quite a bit but calls Asheville his homebase. His reason for living in Boone now is a fascinating tale of breaking his phone in Las Vegas with only $100 in his pocket, striking up conversation with a man at a bar, and being offered paid tuition to go to ASU to fulfill his dreams. Next time you see him, ask him about the full story!
Not only do the two run Pubcycle, they also work multiple part-time jobs and expand their passions in other ways. Christian is currently a project manager for Ceres Greenhouse Solutions where he produces and designs for their projects. Caleb is also the founder of a media productions company called Big Spin Creative.
While operating the Pubcycle is a fun and rewarding job, they founded it so they could eventually afford to start their own projects to help those in need. That is why they are so adamant about helping other businesses and charities in town. Their entire business philosophy is centered around helping the community. “We’re just two broke college students who can’t give back on our own. So Pubcycle helps us do that.”
“We are proud to be boonies because it’s a sought after thing to be a part of a tight knit community. We look out for each other. ‘Boonies’ describes a new generation of Boone. It describes this new direction Boone is headed in that supports these small startups like ourselves.”
If you see these two pedaling the partygoers around downtown, give them a wave! And be reminded that their whole venture is to enrich the community around them.
Lookin' Good, Boone!
July 20, 2018
For this week’s #instaboonies feature, we headed over right next door from the Greenhouse on South Depot Street (our homebase) to our neighbors Haircut 101 to chat with the ever colorful John Mena.
Originally from Brooklyn, John is the owner of Haircut 101 and has been since December of 1989. Over the years he has seen a lot of change in our little town of Boone, and attributes much of that change to ASU. However, while Boone has grown quite a bit, it has and will never lose its charm. “Boone is an oasis in a sea of turmoil. Other cities are overwhelming, while Boone is a sanctuary. It is more of a village than a city or town.”
If you see John walking around downtown, you might also see Nikki and Nukka, his two Alaskan Malamutes. He loves them for their calm nature, much like that of Boone.
Those who follow John and Haircut 101 might be familiar with “The Hairy Fairy”, but for those of you who don’t, it isn’t something you want to miss out on. “The Hairy Fairy” origins go back to 1984 when John entered - and won - a costume contest at local nightclub. And he made an appearance every Halloween since. “I tried not wearing the costume a couple of Halloweens, but people would get upset and I would have to go back in and change.”
One of the biggest challenges he faces on a day to day basis as a hairstylist is “Teaching my clients how to maintain their hair. If I can style someone’s hair that’s one thing, but if I can teach them how to do it when they get home, I’ve succeeded.”
We asked him about his business philosophy and he gave us his motto: “Be the best you can be each and every day no matter what it is. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, you can make a living out of it.” He pauses mischievously, “As long as it’s legal.”