Welcome to the boonies!
Meet a few of the reasons we love it here:
August 30, 2019
“This is not your Dad’s fly shop,” David Stelling laughed as we sat down to talk fly-fishing and outdoor recreation. Located in the heart of downtown Boone, David owns and runs the fly and bottle shop High Country Guide Service.
“The whole reason that I have a bottle shop attached to my fly shop is because of accessibility,” said David. “I am attempting to and trying to bring into the fold a person who would not necessarily walk into a fly shop.” The shop has been a physical entity since November of 2018, but was long before in operation with Stelling running it out of his basement.
When David was in high school in Greenville, South Carolina, teachers urged him to apply to Appalachian State University because he was so passionate about outdoor recreation. With their advice, he attended the university and has been here ever since, apart from his summers. “I haven’t spent a summer in Boone since 2004,” he explained. “Although I’ve lived here full time since 2000.”
And just where does he go when the tourists come to play in the High Country? Over 3,000 miles away, to southwestern Alaska. David was offered a job as a charter boat captain for Beyond Boundaries Expeditions, where he leads wilderness float trips down the Kanektok River. “There’s basically only twelve humans on Earth that are doing what we do out there,” explained David. These charter boat guides take their passengers down a 100-mile float enveloped by a six million acre wilderness area.
From his summer experiences in the last frontier, Stelling carries some perspective home. “Something I try to impart in all of my guides is to not get carried away with just the fish and the net,” he said. “There’s a much bigger picture than just going out and catching some fish. We are sharing a resource with somebody, and communicating to people that it is a very precious resource.”
We discussed the charge that the people of Boone have – both tourists and local residents – to protect and respect the rivers we utilize. “We have to really show our guests and patrons that it’s valuable and deserves to be protected by the Riverkeeper and Mountaintrue.”
While the summer may be wrapping up with vacations coming to an end, it is still a responsibility of the people in the High Country to realize just what kind of impact is on the ecosystem around us. #Boonies may be soon retiring their aquatic activities for the season, but we can always protect the water and the land we so often use.
Home Is Where the Heart Is
August 9, 2019
“I feel like I’ve established myself in two very different, very loving communities.” As a professional singer-songwriter, Melissa Reaves spends half of her year in Bisbee, Arizona and the other half right here in Boone, North Carolina. While the two locations hold vastly different landscapes and ways of living, Melissa feels they are equally filled to the brim with love and support.
Melissa moved to Boone when she was just in tenth grade. “It’s my home and where my people are,” she explained. This is the time of year that you can find her in the High Country, but not for long. This Friday, she will be kicking off her tour with a performance at the Jones House Cultural and Community Center with three more shows in the Carolinas before heading back out West. In conjunction with her tour, she is also in the process of releasing her new album - ‘Bitter Pear’.
So why the back and forth every year? It was when she was living in Boone with her partner that they first listened to rock band Calexico’s song ‘Bisbee Blue.’ This tune caught their ears, and after researching a little into this desert place, they felt the call. So Melissa booked a tour in Arizona and they visited the artist community for a week. Then one week turned into two. The next time they came they stayed for a month. Then one month turned into a six month stay every year. “Bisbee took us in immediately. Wrapped us into their arms,” Melissa laughed.
With two places to call home, Melissa pulls inspiration for her music with the varied stimuli and input from the different communities. She feels artistically challenged because of this, and thrives because of it.
We asked her to describe the kind of music she plays. “Quickly I could tell you I am a roots based rock-n-roll artist, with a propensity to improvisation,” she explained. She is well known through these parts for her deconstruction of the blues and rock-n-roll, and her spontaneous improvisation during live performances. She believes that life is extreme, and uses her music to reflect that.
Keep your eye out for performances throughout the region by this wildly talented #Boonie!
PHOTO BY: ZOYA GREENE
Falling for Farm Life
July 19, 2019
“I don’t care where we go, as long as there are trees.” River Neff only had one simple requirement when his partner, Sarina Roscigno, was looking for farmland in the High Country. Living in Southern Oregon at the time, the two had a plan to raise sheep but wanted to settle somewhere more affordable in a temperate climate.
Sarina would fly out to the North Carolina/Tennessee area to scout for possible plots. In Trade, Tennessee she toured a piece of land that won her over with its abundance of water and shade. “Just take pictures of all the trees,” River asked. With River’s reaction to the beauty of the photos, they quickly bought the land and moved down to start their farm - Mezzaluna Farmstead.
With no previous experience, the thought of becoming farmers always seemed like a far off possibility. But they took the plunge. “We got the land, put up some fence along the road, and then brought home some sheep,” Sarina laughed.
Besides the amazing land, there were several things that drew them to the area. With the local farmers' markets and now High Country Food Hub, they could see that folks were trying to improve local food networking and opportunities for farmers. They store their lamb at the Food Hub and sell 65%-70% of it through the service. “It made this weird little pipe dream of ‘I’m going to farm some Icelandic sheep’ actually function,” Sarina said.
When River isn’t working retail in Boone or helping Sarina on the farm, he can be found carving wooden spoons. Before his farming career, he used to work with computers and web development, even dabbling in programming. But all of the time in front of a computer screen took a toll on his hands, giving him tendinitis that could potentially turn to carpal tunnel.
While trying to figure out how to work without injuring his hands, his friend told him of a man in the U.K. who made a living carving and selling wooden spoons. Baffled by this, River went home, watched some Youtube tutorials, and soon was carving his own spoons. “It’s been an experience,” River explained. “I’ve gotten into spoons, learned about woodworking, and because I’m carving all the time I had to learn about sharpening my tools. And now I’m making my own tools to carve bowls.”
Sarina does her own crafting using the wool she hand shears from the sheep. Products that she handmakes include everything from practical woolen pot holders to fashionably warm shawls and collars. She works with Icelandic wool through an incredibly labor-intensive process to produce unique pieces of art.
Between grass-fed lamb, woolcraft, and wooden spoons, Mezzaluna Farmstead has found its place in the High Country. To support Sarina and River, head on over to the King Street Market or try the High Country Food Hub. Farmers contribute so much to this little community, and we #Boonies can, too.
Birds of a Feather
June 7, 2019
“Some of it was accidentally intentional. We all came from a bar heavy background,” said Scott, explaining how they initially intended to open a bar with a food menu. “It took about three weeks and we realized, ‘Oooh...we own a really busy restaurant.’”
Say hello to Seth Sullivan, Scott Williford, and Chris Varipapa. Just over three years ago, this palsome used their bar experiences to open up The Cardinal. “This was an inevitability,” Scott said. Today they straddle the line between bar joint and burger restaurant.
“There are different populations in Boone. It’s pretty stratified. The ticket here is to cover all of your bases,” Seth explained. “Our aspiration from the very beginning was to be an institution. A place that is around for a long time. I think the best places up here appeal to tourists, students, and the local community.” Because all three of those bases desire different things, @thecardinalboone must be a jack of all trades.
When asked how they field managing staff and being a partnership of three, they shared their Tension-Resolution Model. “When a decision needs to be made, there’s tension, like on a rubber band. So when that tension is formed, everybody has an opinion or feeling or something invested in the solution there,” explained Scott.
So Seth, Chris, and Scott created a set of founding principles: Community, Respect, Fun, and Craft. When they are making a decision, they use those principles to bring them to their solution. “Ideally you set those principles and mission statement at a time when you’re not in conflict so that when you are in conflict you can go back to this objective model to resolve that conflict.” Seth explained. “ It’s been super successful.”
An integral part of their business model is that the three remain friends no matter the difficulties and decisions they face. “There’s nothing that can’t be said. No matter how offensive,” Chris chuckled. The preservation of friendship is a driving force.
The Cardinal recently paired up with Jessica Dale of OASIS to create a training program for bar and restaurant staff to intervene in situations concerning sexual harassment, violence, and consent. “We want to change the culture,” Chris emphasized. “Someone needs to be paying attention.” “The goal is to build a training program that is provided to local bars and restaurants to spearhead an awareness towards those kinds of situations and also hopefully encourage places to build policies around how to deal with that stuff,” Seth explained.
Whether they’re serving up cocktails and burgers or discussing important issues in the service industry, these guys are working to better their Boone community. Make sure to keep an eye out for the opening of Lily’s Snack Bar - their newest local endeavor!
Everything’s Coming up Daffodils
May 3, 2019
Seven years ago, Dave Walker of Daffodil Spring Farm came to Boone for the Appalachian Studies grad program to study geographical landscapes and their relationship to forming a regenerative and equitable local economy. His research specifically focused on first generation farmers and how they become successful.
“Farming is really hard,” Dave explained. “And if you don’t come from money or from land or experience in farm chores, then it’s really hard. If you can make it work, then that can be instructive for other occupations and the community as a whole.”
While interviewing other farmers, Dave began the position of Program Manager and Grant Writer of High Country Local First's entrepreneurship program, Ascent Business Network. This position led him to Blue Ridge Women of Agriculture. As the recently appointed Interim Director of BRWIA, he learns about farming by working closely with local farmers.
After working alongside the farmers, Dave realized this was something he wanted to do as well. He leases his land from FIG Farm owned by The Valle Crucis Conference Center. This land is shared with other farmers and designed to provide beginning producers with a relatively low-risk entry into farming by providing land, production and marketing infrastructure to help farmers establish lasting farm enterprises in the High Country. Even closer to Dave’s heart is his grandmother’s home place within view of the farm.
Why heritage pigs? “Pigs are a good enterprise because of their size and impact on the land,” he explained. “Daffodil Spring Farm practices regenerative agriculture, growing food that is good for the land, animals, and community.” Dave’s pigs are Certified Animal Welfare Approved, which was important to him because he could convey to customers the kind of production practices that he uses and also work with other growers so they could become certified too. “It’s important that multiple farms are certified because we source from the same growers,” he said. “It supports the whole system.”
We discussed the struggles that many farmers face, especially the first generation. “One of the hard things for beginning farmers and for direct to consumer farmers is connecting with the consumers.” Programs and events such as the High Country Food Hub and the weekly Farmer’s Market make it easier to overcome this difficulty.
How can we boonies show our famers love? Glad you asked! Check out the Farmer’s Market (starts back up this Saturday and Tuesday!), Be Natural Market, High Country Food Hub, and so much more! If you know of other local businesses or markets that utilize local farm products, let us know!!
The Boone Buzz
March 29, 2019
To say Uijin Park is a multi-tasker would be a bold understatement. During our interview, the Espresso News owner was also roasting coffee beans and timing out the entire process. However, this focus and dedication did not prevent him from being his passionate, entertaining self.
The story of how Uijin came to own Espresso News is one that is bittersweet. The coffee shop was founded in 1994 by Mark DeBroder and Uijin started working for Mark in 1997 while attendingAppalachian State University. “This business was like his child. He built it, it was his passion,” Uijin remembers. In 2001 Mark was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and was given a year to live. With this news, Mark asked Uijin to buy the business from him. “It was important for me to continue his creation,” Uijin explained.
With his passing in January of 2003, everyone who knew Mark continued to honor his memory any way they could. Uijin honors Mark by carrying on the traditions he instilled as owner both in roasting and camaraderie. “I like the environment he created. It was just fun to come to work,” Uijin remembers.
While running the local coffee shop, Uijin spends his free time with family, outside on adventures, or at his metal fabrication studio. All of the counters in Espresso News were handcrafted by him. He officially came to Boone for the Appalachian State University Art Department to focus on sculpture, but he admits that the real reason he came was for the great outdoors. He loves practically every type of outdoor recreation, and grew up traveling to Boone for skiing and other activities from his hometown of Winston Salem, NC.
While he often does not have too much time to spend in his studio, he feels like he still is able to flex his creative muscles with his job. “Working here, I’m making things every day. It might just be a cup of coffee, but that’s still something,” Uijin explains. “Everything that we have here is made from scratch, roasted fresh. All the pastries are made from scratch in that tiny kitchen every day.”
With the coffee shop just being a stone's throw away from our office, it’s become a much anticipated daily routine to grab a cup of joe before starting our day of work. So thank you Enews, for providing a place for us #Boonies to flock together, and for fueling our caffeine addictions.
Staying and Claying
March 2, 2019
“A lot of times when you work in creative fields or the artistic world, you think you have to go to a big city because you think that there’s more opportunity, but I actually feel the opposite. Maybe it’s A) more important and B) kind of easier to start something up in a small town where what you’re trying to do doesn’t exist yet.”
Michelle Miolla had big plans to move to Seattle, WA right after she graduated from @appstate this past December. With a potential assistantship lined up with a studio artist, Michelle actually flew out to the big city in August for a tour of her soon-to-be home. But then she thought, “Why move when there’s something so special happening here?” And so, Michelle kept her own special here in Boone: @miolla_ceramics.
Her ceramics business grew with the introduction of @popupboone and the @artisanmarketboone, and while these types of creative markets may exist in abundance in larger cities, they truly flourish here. “I’m meeting people, and I’m feeling each month that when the Pop Up or Artisan Market happens I feel closer and closer to the community. I don’t want to give that up.” Michelle commented.
Because of her friendship and professional relationship with @claybyjane of Pop Up, Michelle has been able to work with and participate in the creative process. Since the first event she displayed her work, Michelle has been setting up, breaking down, and helping out with everything in between. “It was a weekend party, basically. Each day was so much fun, and I met so many people. I worked the register with Megan so we were able to come in contact with everybody.” Michelle remembered, “We got to look at all of the work everybody was buying and talk to them about it.”
The two also want to start a community based art studio where local artists can rent out the space for their own creative works. With limited space in town, it can be difficult to find such a space other than what the University offers. So Michelle wants to change that. “A lot of times people feel like they’re not artists. Everybody absolutely is an artist. But not a lot of people know where to go or how to get it out or what to do. I just want to offer the ‘everyday person’ to get that opportunity to really feel like they can be creative and expressive. I think that’s very important.” This creative space would open to anyone who wants to bring their art into existence by any form.
While creating her ceramic pieces for her business, Michelle also serves at @melaniesfoodfantasy in her spare time. The restaurant is part of her extended family, with both her coworkers and customers. Many times when she’s serving a table, she’ll recognize a patron wearing her ceramic earrings, or someone may recognize her from the art fairs.
“There are so many really cool people here who I have the wonderful opportunity to call an actual friend, and it’s because of all of this community and everybody being so open.” In Boone, friends are anywhere and everywhere. So to all of our friends, make sure to check out Miolla Ceramics’ Instagram page @miolla_ceramics!
The Earl of Artemis
March 8, 2019
Meet the newest addition to the Artemis family, Commander Earl. Yes, you read that correctly. But maybe we should use her real name for now: Ashley Wright. Wanting a little backstory on that official title? We’ll provide.
When Ashley moved to Southern Pines, North Carolina, eight years ago, she was hired as a military contractor, specifically for the Army Special Forces. Her position was with the SFQC (Special Forces Qualification Course) as a part of the final phase of training called Robin Sage. So for two weeks at a time, Ashley would live in the woods leading the training camp. “We weren’t allowed to use our real names because of security clearance, so people in the camp gave me the nickname Earl.”
The only female out of 40 military trainees, Commander Earl held this position for two years. Without access to electronic devices, she turned to journaling and writing songs for entertainment. The guys at the camp would notice her humming or writing and would inquire about her talent. They would ask, “Oh are you like a music performer?” and she would respond, “Well I’m not one yet but maybe one day.” So the soldiers told her that if she ever performed music publicly she would have to include ‘Earl’ in her stage name so they would recognize her since they didn’t know her real name. And so, Commander Earl transformed into Earleine.
After moving to Boone and meeting up with local musician Lauren Hayworth to share music and play together, Ashley realized she was craving music collaboration with women. She asked herself, “Why am I just now linking up with her? Why haven’t I been doing this all along?” As a female musician, she recognized it isn’t always easy to offer yourself and your work up to the world, and sometimes we could use a little push. This sense of vulnerability is what led to the birth of the Women’s Music Collective of Appalachia (WMCA); a safe space for women identified artists to connect, create, celebrate, share, explore, and empower fellow artists and visionaries through music, community, and collaboration. Look (or listen!) for her around town, at Hatchet Coffee and other local hot spots.
The Man Behind the Poster
February 15, 2019
We honestly can’t stop drooling over our #Boonies poster. Derek Wycoff, you are truly talented, and we can’t thank you enough for our little masterpiece. With such appreciation in our hearts, we chatted with him this week about what being an artist living in Boone is like.
Born and raised in Hildebran, North Carolina, Derek came to Boone for Appalachian State University. He majored in Interdisciplinary Studies, with a concentration in Internet Studies. Years later he still roams the Appalachian campus, but now as an employee for the University. Officially, he is a web developer for University Communications. His job includes creating with photographers, writers, and social media gurus for the University’s marketing department.
When asked why he planted his roots in this little town, Derek said staying was easy. “I like the ability to live a simple life if you want to,” he explained. “The advantage of living in Boone is being able to live a rural or quiet lifestyle but still being in a bigger conversation in terms of the graphic arts and music community. It doesn’t require me to move, and I like having that option.”
In addition to working for App, Derek owns a freelance business; a graphic design studio called Maple Fortress. He creates websites, interface design for equipment, and posters for different events, artists, and even Boonies premieres. We were introduced to his work through his wife and Artemis employee Lindsey, and have been in love with his art ever since.
Not only does he work in graphic design, Derek is also the drummer for local band Naked Gods. He is able to overlap his passion for music and design by creating posters for his shows. Derek credits the atmosphere of Boone for giving him the confidence to thrive artistically. “A lot of people gave me a chance early on,” he said. “I feel like I had the chance to practice in our community, before branching out to other places.”
While we agreed that our little town has lots of room for improvement in opportunity and diversity, Derek emphasized the advantages of living and creating here. “In Boone, there is a community of artists and like minded folks you can reach out to and connect with.”
It’s people like Derek (and little baby Eno!) who celebrate the High Country, and also encourage it to grow in a mindful way. So on the last Thursday of this month, come celebrate Derek, local business, story telling, and this little town we call home at the Boonies Premiere. Can’t wait to see you there.
February 1, 2019
“My name is James Bance, and I do a lot of things.” That may be the understatement of the year. So what are those things, exactly? We sat down with James at @ransomboone for Silicon Hollar’s Pop-Up Coworking event to discuss his professional background and his visions for the growth and development of Boone.
Why not start at the beginning? @bancejames was born and raised in a small town in Wisconsin named Baraboo. He attended the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point, leaving after three years to launch a startup in Silicon Valley with friends. Unfortunately, their company dissolved after 18 months. “You got to fail in life to learn. I did that young, so it was a low risk proposition for me.”
James met his wife while in California and they moved to Austin, Texas together, where James worked in finance for ten years for businesses like Merrill Lynch and @johnhancockusa. It was around 2010 that he jumped back into the technology world and has been doing sales and marketing for startup tech companies ever since. After moving to Boone seven years ago, James came across a grad student paper about poverty in Watauga County, where the most recent US Census data shows that 20.5% of residents live below the poverty line. “I had no idea how many people were living below what is considered the poverty line. It’s high.” James said. “That, to me, was an eye opener. From what I saw, people seemed to be living okay. You forget about that there’s a whole group of people who may be struggling. So I wanted to work on job creation and figure out how I can contribute.”
So when he met @samlglover who had the same dreams for this community, they got together to figure out how to foster more professional high paying jobs up here. This was the conception of Silicon Hollar. Three and a half years later, this dream has transformed into @startup_highcountry, Velocity Labs, and the High Country Impact Fund. “We get people the training they need and want, find avenues for that, and take the entrepreneurs who already have ideas and help them,” James explained. “If we can support them in that way, we help everybody else to learn a little bit more and bring them all together at the Silicon Hollar.”
In addition to spearheading all aspects of the Silicon Hollar, James continues to work remotely for a cloud based software company in Texas and serves on the committee for the Boone / Blowing Rock - Watauga County Economic Development.
He emphasized the importance of connecting with the college student population here in town. “I think as a business community we really haven’t played that up enough. So part of our charge at the EDC right now is to really emphasize the connection with Appalachian State University and the business community. We are trying to pave those roads,” he said. “Citizens here need to be more proactive about reaching out to college students. That hits home with the entrepreneurial stuff. The students have this energy level, and this creativity and curiosity level that helps feed a lot of the entrepreneurs that are trying to do things here. Whether it’s to grow a big business, or maintain a lifestyle business, that student energy and creativity can really be helpful. So we’re trying to facilitate those interactions with Silicon Hollar.”
All told, James Bance is a marketing director for Lean DNA in Austin, Texas (he travels there once every six weeks!), a founding member of Start Up High Country along with Jeffrey Scott, Madelyn Hjertmann, Chris Grasinger, and Sam Glover, and an active member of the Economic Development Commission for Watauga County. The drive and passion James has for the professional community of Boone is unmatched. So we want to thank you James, for being a leader of our locality and this week’s #InstaBoonies.
Boone’s Creative Outlet
January 18, 2019
Anna Mills Welsh lived in 11 different places across the country before settling down in Boone. Despite her vast travels, she credits Boone, North Carolina as one of the most unique places she’s ever lived.
Anna taught children for 18 years, 9 of those at Hardin Park Elementary, before deciding to take a break from the education system. Over the years, she has seen her students deal with the anxieties of testing and technology, and really struggled with that asa teacher. How could she do what she loved most and help children slow down and connect with creativity? After graduating from The Art of Education University, she wondered what she could do for the children of Boone. That was when The Blue House Art Studio came into the picture.
Children of all ages can come to Blue House to take classes, create art, or just play. Anna wanted to foster an environment for learning in more nontraditional ways, encouraging kids to produce their own works of art and feel a sense of accomplishment.
“I keep the classes small, because half the time, they [kids] just want someone to listen to them. During the teaching day when there are 24 kids and you have all of these objectives, you don’t have time to really listen to them. I just love to be around kids and hopefully inspire them to be their best self, and know that it’s okay to think outside of the box.”
In some of her classes she loves to teach her students about different artists and art styles. During our interview Anna gushed about the Yayoi Kusama Exhibition in Atlanta where she was about to pay a visit. She shares her passion for a polka dot Japanese artist with her kids and shows them how to make their own polka dot creations.
Adults are welcome to take classes as well. Blue House has hosted bachelorette parties, baby showers, and small get-togethers. “Adults are so much harder to work with than kids,” Anna laughs. “I always have to give them a speech, ‘There’s no negative self talk. It’s okay if it doesn’t look like Pinterest.’” She believes it’s just as important for grownups to be regularly creative as it is for kids: “I think people forget that just creating something with your hands rather than just typing on the computer is a very powerful thing.”
Blue House Art studio not only offers different classes and all kinds of parties, but also involves itself in events that benefit local charities and nonprofits, such as Brushes and Brews with Appalachian Mountain Brewery and Cidery.
If you’re feeling like your creativity muscle could use some exercise, why not head on over to the big blue house and take some time for yourself?
A Beautiful Future
January 4, 2019
The year 2016 was barely a day old when an epiphany was born – one that will soon change the beauty industry. The instigator of this shift, Miah Zimmerman, has been dedicated to the beauty profession since high school. The first person she told of her dream was Heather K. Rogers, her partner at Canvas Beauty Bar, located on Howard Street in Downtown Boone.
This epiphany was Canvas Social, a network platform capable of aiding and providing stylists with a cleaner and a more efficient method of communicating professionally. In the form of an app, Canvas Social will provide opportunity for professionals to display their work through a social media network by advocating services such as hair, dresses, and beauty on a platform accessible to the public.
The birth of this idea came to Miah much like the idea of opening the hair salon in Boone four years ago – over a concept drawing on a napkin at their kitchen table. May 2015 brought the actualization of this idea, with the opening of Canvas Beauty Bar. “Boone is such a special place with an amazing community and so much support,” says Miah. She remembers thinking, “If I am actually serious about starting a salon, I should do it in Boone.”
Because Heather and Miah grew up here, they found a solid foundation of support within the community. “Everyone who played a part in building our business were people we knew, and I don't think we could have achieved that anywhere else,” Heather explains, “I think our network of people and our community are the reason we are successful.”
While the support of the community helped the pair tremendously, they still ran into many unnecessary difficulties when running the salon that they felt other businesses didn’t have to deal with. When trying to determine what hair care products to use, who to hire on the team, or just general education about health and beauty, they realized that their sources were slim to none. “That was a struggle I was not expecting, because a lot of businesses don't have those problems – they have resources and business support like LinkedIn. The beauty industry doesn't necessarily have that,” says Miah.
Enter Canvas Social, which you can currently view at canvassocial.com for a preview of what the app will offer. The new year always harbors new ideas and perspectives, so take a page from Mia and Heather’s book this year by paying attention to your vision. Who knows? Maybe 2019 will be the year you have your own epiphany.
One for the Books
December 14, 2018
Something about this snowy weather makes us want to curl up with a good book, a hot cup of coffee/cocoa/tea (pick your poison), and not worry about parking meters. But where does one go for such an idyllic winter scene? To satisfy our snow day desires, we visited Foggy Pine Books for this week’s instaboonies (and free downtown parking!) to meet with owner Mary Ruthless and store kitties Jane and Kell.
Mary, whose roots are from just down the mountain in Marion, North Carolina, received many college letters of acceptance, but only had eyes for Appalachian State University. After earning a degree in English Literature, she tried leaving the High Country but quickly returned after realizing her true love was in the mountains.
For a time she managed Black Bear Books, a local bookstore. After moving on to another management job, she still found herself visiting Black Bear quite frequently because of her love for books and friendship with the owner, Karen Walker-Hall. Karen is a well established writer, television producer, and creative consultant who has written for shows such as M*A*S*H and The Good Wife. It was in April of 2016 that Karen told Mary that she wanted to move back to Florida to focus on her writing. However, Karen didn’t want to leave the town without a bookstore, so jokingly Mary said, “Well, if I had the money, I would buy the store from you.” But to Mary’s surprise Karen seriously replied, “If you buy it, I will finance it.”
Exactly thirty days later on May 23rd, 2016 Foggy Pine Books had its grand opening. “Everything just fell into my lap. I found the perfect place to start and it just kind of seemed silly not to go for it. Sometimes you’ve gotta make moves.” She credits much of her success to her former boss and friend Karen, who not only provided her with a starting ground, but also has mentored and supported her all along the way.
“I’m really grateful for the outpouring of support from people,” Mary says. “Downtown, the community is really supportive, specifically the business community. When I want to do events and include other businesses, people are generally pretty eager to jump onto that. It’s awesome to know that people in your community really support what you’re doing and you can also support what they’re doing.”
Besides selling new and used books, Foggy Pine Books has a plethora of events each month, and many partnering with other local businesses and causes. They have three book clubs with one supported by Hatchet Coffee, author events, story times, and also partner with Out of Your Mind for an event called “Foggy Minds” that encourages young people via open mic to share their poetry, music, standup, and even miming. And these events don’t even scratch the surface of everything they’ve got going on. It is Foggy Pine’s mission to support local business in anyway they can. “This community creates a unique experience for entrepreneurs that you probably wouldn’t get in other small towns, and definitely not a city.”
“I really, really believe that a bookstore is the bleeding, bloody heart of the community. It’s where everything that matters to the community is reflected on the shelves.”
“I want people to love books and love reading. And when you think of Foggy Pine Books, that it’s a positive connotation. That you think of the good stuff we’ve done in the community, or I helped you find that perfect book for your really picky sister-in-law, or I helped your reluctant reader find a series that they just devoured and sparked their interest in reading.”
Not too many small mountain towns these days can say they have a thriving, local bookstore. Three cheers for Foggy Pine, Mary, Karen, and the kitties!
Coffee and Community
November 30, 2018
Like all great businesses, Hatchet Coffee began in a basement. Yes, you read that sentence correctly. Jeremy Bollman’s, co-founder and co-owner, basement to be specific. Along with partner Jeremy Parnell, the two roasted five pounds of espresso every day for Stick Boy Bread Co. for nine months before expanding to the space they inhabit now. And if you’ve been following along on their journey, you know they’ve recently expanded their roastery and will open their brand new coffee space this Saturday.
When they got the kick in the pants from Carson Coatney of Stick Boy to transition from only servicing Stick Boy and becoming the independent venture of Hatchet Coffee, they already knew what values they wanted to uphold for the new business. “Our goal from the beginning was that we want to be an authentic reflection of the experience in Boone,” Jeremy Bollman (JB) told us. “For me, it doesn’t matter if you go to Food Lion… when you walk into Food Lion people actually look at you… nobody takes an interaction for granted.”
“So that’s how we developed our service model here… everybody knows when someone walks in the door it’s a big deal, don’t take it for granted. They came for a reason, find out why.”
Located in East Boone in conjunction with Center45, the two businesses have been able to grow and flourish together, blending two communities into one. JB tells us of how the spaces compliment each other. “We didn’t foresee the culture of the gym before we moved in. But it’s worked beautifully because you can walk back to the coffee space and get a great experience. And then you can go to the gym and not even be a climber and if you just stop for five minutes and sit down next to somebody you don’t know, you will have a conversation. And by the end of it you’ll be blown away that you met somebody cool. Every time.”
When we asked JB about the success of Hatchet, he emphasized how it was truly the help of the community, both business and local, that led them to where they are today. “All along the way we’ve had these angels show up. And they’re like, ‘Alright, we think you guys are going to do a great job with this so we’re going to help you.’”
“At the end of the day I really want it [Hatchet] to be all of these partners that came around this idea and supported it, and now we do have an awesome community, and the space is coming to reflect that.” Want to see the space JB is referring to? Hatchet’s new coffee shop grand opening is 7am December 1, 2018 at the same location of 200 Den Mac Dr. Boone. Warm up with delicious local coffee and who knows, you may just meet someone new and for sure cool.
Keeping Boone Connected
November 9, 2018
This week’s #instaboonies will be a little different. With all of the new and old businesses that make up a town such as Boone, it’s important to have a group of people who can be both a resource and connection. Meet the leader of that group, the President of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, David Jackson.
As a graduate of Appalachian State University, David also served as the radio play-by-play announcer for Appalachian Football, men’s basketball, and baseball teams for 16 seasons. However, after a couple of years he felt he needed to switch things up. “I wanted to be involved with something that I felt like I could make a little bit more of a tangible difference in.” In August of 2016, David was named president and CEO of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce. When asked what he does on a day to day basis as president, David said “I do a lot of listening.”
In our discussion, David talked of his vision for Boone and the relationships he has with business owners across the High Country. “Our goals are to be more advocacy based for our businesses and on behalf of our business community. We want to be a connecting agent and to bring people together.”
“The vision for Boone would be to continue to evolve as a town without losing the charm that makes people come here… there are certain amenities and certain expectations that people have within their communities. With that, there is a very specific reason why people come here. People come here from Charlotte and Raleigh to lose their connection to all of the things they are connected to. So you have to walk a thin line of not wanting to develop the next Charlotte suburb. It’s trying to, within the character of the community, sprinkle in those things that make it viable for people to thrive here, and to utilize the resources here,” David says. “We can continue to get better. We can continue to get more diverse. We can continue to have different business sectors move here and thrive here. We need to keep an open mind.”
David Jackson’s vision is to encourage growth that celebrates the magic our community already fosters. When we work together and listen to one another, we can help Boone grow in quality, not just quantity.
The Smell of Success
October 19, 2018
Who knew that showing up to work smelling bad could ultimately lead to a successful business?
“I was all stinky because I live in a house where I have to take the garbage to the dump myself,” grins Zak. Thanks to that, Vixster - Waste & Recycle, a waste and recycling collection service, was born. Confused? Let us explain this odoriferous transition.
When Zak Ammar, whose father immigrated from Libya to Texas where Zak was raised, attended Walker College of Business at Appalachian State University to earn his MBA in Supply Chain Management, he was invited to participate in a social entrepreneurship competition to solve a problem for western North Carolina. Leading up to the event, he really didn’t know what to do, and the day before the business plan was due he found himself with no ideas. He arrived that day, late and pungent because he had just come from the dump, where he had to go to drop off his garbage. He and Erich Schlenker, the Director of the AppState Center For Entrepreneurship, bonded over the fact that they had to do this physically demanding and time-consuming task. That’s when the light bulb went off.
“I realized there was a significant need for this service through studying in the MBA program, talking to family, and knowing an emerging market for a sharing economy. Peer to peer, Uber, Lyft, Taskrabbit; basically pairing one person with a resource and other people who have the resources,” explains Zak.
So he took his idea of waste collection services for rural North Carolina to the social entrepreneurship competition. But it didn’t end there. In the Spring semester, the MBA program allowed him to use his practicum (which is mandatory in order to graduate) to start Vixster, and he began to work on that full time. From February 2nd, 2016 when he made his first sale, to today, with haulers in 17 counties across the state, Zak has the Boone community to thank for his success.
“We have a really strong entrepreneurial community. I think there are a lot of resources. If you have any interest in starting a business, there are several different organizations that would be there to help you out. For me, I found the best resource was App State Center for Entrepreneurship because my mentor was the Director, Erich Schlenker, who had started and sold his own business in the past. He was a pivotal mentor through the process of starting my business,” says Zak.
From this mentorship and what he learned in App’s MBA program, Zak has developed a business philosophy for his haulers and himself. He explained, “There is a big difference between a good company and a great company. I think a good company is something that offers a solution to a need or problem – but a great company has an additional purpose. For us, it’s really going above and beyond to have a strong impact on our community. I think we are achieving that by offering jobs to people in the area and solving a need for people who have to take their garbage to the dump themselves. Not many people know that a third of America is rural and a very high percentage of that rural population has to deal with garbage themselves.”
If you are one of the households in that percentage, consider heading on over to Vixster’s website for weekly or bi-weekly pickup!https://vixster.com/
Chip, Chip Hooray!
October 5, 2018
There are a number of instances in which David Holloman and his fiancee, Grace Neely, have been confronted by small droves of children screaming, “YOU MAKE COOKIES FOR A LIVING??” And these little ones are correct, the owners of Appalachia Cookie Company do make cookies for a living, but there is also so much more to their story than that. And so for our weekly #instaboonies, David and Grace shared their story with us.
Have you ever created something for a class project and then used it for something else? Well David took it to the next level by using a business plan he curated for one of his entrepreneurial classes atWalker College of Business at Appalachian State University and transformed that into a real business - Appalachia Cookie Co. “I have an insatiable sweet tooth and thought cookies would be easy to make,” David explained. “The numbers started making sense, so I figured I should probably figure out how to bake cookies.”
And so he did. For six months David developed his completely made from scratch original recipe cookies. Then he simply changed the hours on the business’s Facebook page, hoping to get a couple of customers.
A couple customers turned into quite a few, which led to the opening of their second store in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2016. “In Boone, if you have an idea, everyone rallies around it.” And rally we did. In return for this community’s support and generosity - including Stickboy Bakery (the only competing bakery in town) letting David and Grace use their ovens when their own had quit suddenly - App Cookie Co tries to be involved as much as possible. They love to cater local events and support Boone entrepreneurs.
From the beginning, almost 4 ½ years ago, David’s number one goal was to make the best cookies ever. “What is most important for us is to make the best product we could possibly make and deliver that to our customers with the highest level of service possible while being a member and a neighbor within the community.” he explains. To help alleviate hunger in Watauga County, they created The 30 Thirty Project that provides a local family in need with 30 pounds of food every month for every $30 subscription from a customer.
If you haven’t had a chance to sample their delicious cookies, we suggest you try the vegan and gluten free Yosef or in total opposition, the bacon and Jack Daniels infused Ron Swanson. Happy (tr)eating!
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!
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’.”
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.
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.
Happy to be Hair
July 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.”
Welcome to the boonies!
July 9, 2018
As part of the 'boonies' project, we're starting a social campaign called 'insta boonies', where we will be interviewing locals/businesses on what they think it means to be a boonie, and why they choose to live here.
Our first insta boonie is Megan Ward of Kindly Kitchen! Kindly is located downtown, serving organic locally grown produce.
Megan and her husband Caleb Crowell own the restaurant together, are both Boone natives, went to Appalachian State University , and have two children. They expanded their passion for healthy and raw food by launching Kindly Kitchen. Megan & Caleb have been vegan for 13 years and wanted to offer the community something they loved themselves and wasn't here yet.
They also love Boone's outdoor culture and say it's a "perfect place to raise kids". "Our church is being outside". Boone offers a home for both their business and family.
The mission of Kindly? Megan says it best; "Local, simple, and delicious". One thing is for sure, you won't be leaving Kindly Kitchen hungry. #instaboonies
Ramble on Over!
September 20, 2019
When Dave Brewer arrived in Boone he took the High Country by storm as a working musician. “Boone is an un-fancy, come-as-you-are type of place,” Brewer told us. Over a decade later, Brewer and his band @possumjenkinsband began the mission of celebrating this funky vibe with friends & family. In 2014 the annual @carolina_ramble_reunion hosted by the Brayshaw farm began. “The earliest thing I had in mind was that The Ramble could serve as an excuse for people to come back to The High Country, relax, & be themselves,” said Brewer.
The Carolina Ramble and Reunion is more than just a music festival. “We aren’t trying to throw a wild and crazy field party,” Brewer laughed. Brewer likens the feel of the festival to that of a “good, ole’ southern family function infused with a good dose of High Country funky people.” Growing up going to church picnics & reunions, Brewer wanted the Carolina Ramble to embrace family activities like a three-legged race, face painting, & the famous cake walk. Even Dave’s partner & mom participate with famous pound cakes or creative new delicacies like Guinness chocolate cake with toffee glaze.
If baked goods are not enough to get you interested in the Ramble, their 2019 lineup will! Featuring artists like @dorifreeman & @mommamolasses; there’s truly something for everybody to enjoy!
“We’re gonna feed ya, entertain ya, give you a chance to win cakes & prizes in one of the most beautiful corners of the Blue Ridge,” Brewer says. There’s nothing like the familial vibe The Ramble has. This can only happen due to “the generous group of people & their extreme support of hauling golf carts, standing in a parking lot for hours, & chopping wood. It’s an amazing group effort that makes my heart swell every year.” Even Brewer’s students from his Split Rail Records class at @appstate join in & volunteer!
While the Ramble is a big part of Brewer’s life, it isn’t the only way he celebrates the Boone community. If he’s not working, he’s performing with the Junaluska Gospel Choir or sharing the stage with one of his bands during a benefit concert for Area Musicians Experience Need. It’s this love of community that makes Dave a true #boonie!
Good Times Are Brewing!
August 15, 2019
A little over four years ago, Tim Herdklotz and Carson Coatney sold their first beer. It was the only beer they had on tap, and they sold their craft through Basil's. This weekend, Booneshine Brewing Company, Inc. will be celebrating its Grand Opening.
In the beginning, it was just the two of them. “We did everything. We brewed the beers. We sold the beer. We distributed the beer,” Tim explained. The two were both homebrewers in Boone, but after meeting through mutual friends they came together and decided they wanted to do something more.
Six years ago, that something more became Booneshine Brewing Co. “When someone first threw out that name as a possible name for our business, we kind of laughed at first,” said Tim. “But the more you think about it, the more it makes sense. We can highlight the things that make Boone and the High Country shine.”
Both Tim and Carson’s love for Boone spans back many years. For Tim, the “boonerang” brought him back to the High Country after attending App State and leaving for a job in Atlanta. Carson landed in Boone after school 20 years ago and has been here ever since. Along with Booneshine, Carson also owns Melanie's Food Fantasy and Stick Boy Bread Company and Stick Boy Kitchen.
When they first purchased the building for the brewery and restaurant, they sat down with fellow Boone entrepreneurs whose businesses resided on the eastern side of town; Jeremy Bollman of Hatchet Coffeeand Chris Grasinger of Center 45. They wanted to come up with an identity for that side of town, and all agreed on the name East Boone. Since then, they have been promoting it through their own companies.
The Booneshine restaurant space is like an Appalachian patchwork quilt; made up of many different products locally created in the town. The barstools and tables were made by Charleston Forge, the leather on the barstools came from Caroll Leather, and the ham on the menu is from none other than Goodnight Brothers Country Ham - all located in the Industrial Park where Booneshine resides.
“We feel like we’ve created a place where community can happen. That is the most exciting part for me,” Tim smiled. “We absolutely love Boone. That’s why we’re here. We’re both just committed to doing what we can to make it a better place.”
Haven’t visited the new brewery and restaurant yet? Head over to East Boone this weekend and join the celebrations and ribbon cutting for Booneshine Brewing Co.’s official Grand Opening! Lets make #booneshinetogether.
August 2, 2019
The official rite of passage for new volunteers at The Children's Playhouse - to make their own playdough. In doing so, they tackle key decisions: choosing what color it will be, and if they want to add glitter or cinnamon. Creativity and play are the foundation of the organization. This mission radiates throughout the rooms of the Playhouse - even in the playdough.
Kathy Parham, Ann Kiefert, and Beth Darnell first started conversations about founding a children’s museum in May of 2002. Less than six months later, The Children’s Playhouse opened. “We wanted to spend time with our kids. We weren’t necessarily looking for a daycare situation, we were looking for a place where we could have community,” Kathy remembered. “That’s what The Playhouse has been about since the very beginning.” Although Beth and Ann have moved on to other challenges, Parham has been the executive director for 17 years.
The Children’s Playhouse is a nonprofit children’s museum located behind Boone Unitarian Universalist Fellowship church that includes an art room, dress-up area, block area, train table, and more. Kids can run around in the outdoor play yard, or conquer the climbing wall in the indoor Romp and Stomp area. Is your inner child yearning for playtime as much as ours?
Not only is the museum designed with kids in mind, but parents, too. Lining the walls you’ll find numerous books and resources for parenting. “Our mission is to offer enriching educational activities for kids while at the same time offering friendly support to parents,” Kathy explained. “If your kid is having a good time, you can look around the room and start talking to somebody else and discover you have a lot in common.” Parham stresses The Playhouse could not function without financial donations, grants, and the contributions of hundreds of talented volunteers.
Families visiting can either pay admission for the day or purchase a yearly membership, but the children’s museum also offers free scholarship memberships to low-income families and agencies like the Department of Social Services, and the Children’s Developmental Services Agency which provides early intervention therapy for children who may have special needs. New grant-based programs offer free memberships to veterans or active duty soldiers and to first time parents up until their child is 18 months old.
The Playhouse also runs the Kids’ Corner at the Watauga County Farmers Market three Saturdays a month, May through October. On every second and fourth Saturday of the month, the Playhouse provides an opportunity for young budding entrepreneurs to sell their own items at the Farmer’s Market. Kids sell fingerprint paintings, intricate paper creations, and even beautiful hand carved wooden art pieces!
“So many things that have happened here have started as little conversations over the sounds of playing kids,” Kathy smiled. With the unending support of the Boone community, Kathy, Beth, and Ann were able to create something both for children ages 0-8 years and parents to enjoy. Each week The Children’s Playhouse brings new activities and opportunities for education, fun, and an ever-changing assortment of playdough. Come play!
Home Sweet Home
July 5, 2019
“Sometimes you have to rip the Band-Aid off,” says Sarah Long, musing on what it took to leave her job and start her own business. At the end of March of 2018 she left her job, signed a lease, and completed all of the paperwork necessary to start the business in just one week. This snappy transition brought about the birth of 828 Real Estate with Sarah as owner, real estate agent, and broker-in-charge.
Sarah first fell in love with Boone when she moved from Knoxville, Tennessee to attend App State to pursue a degree in Theatre Education in 1997. After graduation, she moved to Charlotte to teach theater. Fate brought her and her husband back to Boone and she started practicing real estate. In 2010 she helped to open a real estate franchise, but after eight years she felt the need to start something new. “As the franchise grew, I began to realize my desire to get back to my roots and have more of a local connection.”
“I think it’s really important that brokers are plugged into this community, have roots in this community, and understand it,” she explained. She also requires that her agents give their time or treasure to a local philanthropy.
Sarah gives her time to the Downtown Boone Development Association (DBDA) by serving on the board. What drew Sarah to this position was her love for downtown and desire for the preservation of history. “I care about this little town and want to protect it,” she said. Through the DBDA, Sarah hopes to come up with solutions to merge relationships with the university and local community.
“Growth is going to happen,” she noted. “The university is going to grow, the town is going to grow. People are actually moving out of cities again and want to be in smaller communities. So we need to figure out a way to grow and be prepared for it.”
Sarah Long calls to the people of Watauga County to lead the community by joining the DBDA, town council, or Chamber of Commerce. One of her goals is to see folks “step up and be willing to serve.” We love that.
On a similar note, we here at #boonies leave you with one of our favorite quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
Mountains and Metals
May 17, 2019
As an artist her whole life, Mackenzie Palladino didn’t begin diving into metal work until 2012, and she really struggled with it. But for her 2018 New Year’s resolution, she decided she was going to kick-start her metalsmith jewelry business into full gear. While Semplice Designs has been official since 2013, it wasn’t in full operation until last year.
She remembered taking a class for metal working when she attended Eastern Carolina University and just dreading it. Working with metal is intensive, meticulous, and can be really frustrating. “I’ve learned patience over the past seven years. You really have to plan out what you’re doing. You can’t just wing it,” Mackenzie said.
Since transferring from ECU to Appalachian State University, she has found unending inspiration in the High Country. The two muses for her jewelry – Nature and music, with which she believes Boone is full to the brim. “Even the relationships I have with people in town are just really beautiful,” beamed Mackenzie. “Everybody has a connection in a way. The connection really is that we all love being here.”
Before settling in Boone, Mackenzie never listened to bluegrass music, but now she can’t get enough of it. She pulls from this music and has developed a Western-style in her art. Enter her newfound love of bolo ties. While one could perhaps find a refurbished bolo tie at a second-hand vintage store, it can be difficult to come across modern handmade ones. This is where Mackenzie specializes. “I like to make things I’ve never seen before. To me as an artist, that is the most important thing – originality.”
She shares her work and life through her business’s Instagram, @semplicedeisgns. An important aspect of her work is that she can share her process and story with others. “It kind of connects people that are buying my product with what I’m doing in life and what I’m producing as well.” When she travels all over the country, she likes to pick up gemstones from local stores for her jewelry and highlight them on her page so each art piece has a story behind it.
Mackenzie makes everything by hand, from cutting sheet metal to making her own textures to filing her designs. If you haven’t seen her famous bolo ties yet, (country artist Tyler Childers wore his at his MerleFest performance!) we highly suggest you head over to her page and check them out. Mackenzie, we love your originality, your work, and your love for Boone!
A Natural Fit
March 15, 2019
“Our little catchphrase is ‘Supporting local, honoring tradition.’ We want to stay a grassroots retail with the focus of being an eco boutique,” says Lydiyah Sea.
For this Friday’s #InstaBoonies, we traveled up King Street just one mile west from the County Courthouse to eco-boutique FolkLore and spoke with the women behind the tradition. These women are Lydiyah Sea, Maggie Billing, and Sariyah Cray (Lydiyah’s daughter).
So what exactly is an eco-boutique? The title gives us a hint: it is a boutique that conducts business and uses certain products to minimize its impact on the natural environment. FolkLore sells local art and goods, organic and natural fiber clothing, fair trade products, gently used consignment, handmade jewelry, apothecary and botanicals, and crystals. And the list goes on!
Even within the name, Folklore focuses on going back to the basics. “We’re trying to work with companies and people who have high standards for environmental impact. We’re creating a wholesome working space,” Lydiyah explained.
Not only do they sell goods and art made my local artists, but they create their own products, too. Both Maggie and Lydiyah have been studying plants for a long time, so they use their expertise in making topical herbal creations such as salves, body butters, sprays, lip balms, and infused oils. They extend their herbal knowledge by hosting workshops throughout the year. “People love going to workshops because you leave feeling so fulfilled and inspired,” Maggie noted.
The ladies at FolkLore perform a balancing act of staying true to their roots and catering to new clients. They find themselves working primarily with women, especially mother and daughter duos. But they’ve recently remodeled their space, and hope to bring in more masculine energy and attract more male clients.
For FolkLore, supporting the local Boone community goes much further than selling local goods. They also host women-centric events almost every month. “We are really about drawing community together,” Maggie smiled. “Ladies’ Nights have been a huge success for us. Women love it. It’s a great time to come together, to connect, to heal. We always offer healthy, gluten free, vegan treats and herbal teas, kombucha, sangrias, wine and infused waters.”
River of Love
February 22, 2019
At twenty years old, Patrick Sessoms started his own guiding business from the back of a pickup truck with nothing more than two fishing rods. “It doesn’t get more bootstrap than what we did,” he chuckled. Since then, business has grown. Today Patrick and his wife Meredith own Due South Outfitters, a fly shop and guide service for the Boone and Banner Elk area.
Both students from North Carolina State University and North Carolina natives, the husband and wife duo moved to Boone so Patrick could pursue his love of the outdoors. Where did this love first blossom? Boone, of course. “I spent my childhood summers here kinda bumming around the rivers and streams and fishing,” Patrick explained. “I’ve always really enjoyed teaching folks, and at the same time I’ve always loved the outdoors. And so in essence, guiding is a way for me to kind of manifest that love of teaching and love of the outdoors.”
Patrick is a full-time fishing guide, working in the field 200 days out of the season. Meredith books all of their trips, makes sure all guides show up where they need to be on time, does all inventory and payroll, and manages the entire business and marketing side of things. “While he’s guiding…” Meredith started, “…she runs the show,” Patrick finished. However, they both credit baby Ruth and doggy Gus as the true owners of Due South. 😉
The team regularly posts videos to their Youtube channel Wild Fly Productions to educate viewers on fishing gear and guiding tips. With over 6k subscribers, Patrick reviews products, gives tutorials, and captures the experience of fishing in the High Country.
We discussed the business community here and they both stated they feel Boone is something special. “There’s a lot more individual business owners in the Boone area than anywhere else I’ve ever been,” Meredith noted. “Every time you turn around and meet somebody, they’re like ‘Oh yeah, I own Peppers’ or ‘I own Local Lion’. There’s so many local businesses in Boone, which is what makes it such a unique spot.”
We couldn’t agree more. We are beyond lucky to have business owners such as Patrick and Meredith (and Ruth and Gus!) who appreciate the magic of our town, and want to share it with others.
The Art of Making it Look Easy
February 8, 2019
With all of this talk of the #Boonies Premiere, we thought now was the perfect time to introduce y’all to the newest member of Artemis Independent. Who is this mysterious character and what does she have to do with the Premiere? Say hello to Lindsey Cero, our Event Maestro for Boonies!
The daughter of a hardworking UPS man, Lindsey spent most of her childhood moving all over the country. Born in San Francisco, California, Lindsey and her family relocated to Illinois, Nebraska, Connecticut, and Georgia. Once settled down in Atlanta, her mother began attending Appalachian State University every summer for a music program course. One year Lindsey decided to tag along with her mom and fell in love with the college immediately. So she applied, was accepted, and attended the University as a Studio Art major with a minor in Anthropology. After two years, she decided she wanted to switch things up and took a course with the National Outdoor Leadership School program, taking her to the Southwest for a semester. After this adventure, she came back to her beloved Boone.
For our upcoming big day, Lindsey has been the driving force behind planning the event logistics, all things promotion, and every technical detail in between. We talked about the entire process and how organizing an event in Boone comes with so much love and support from the community. “When you’re trying to rally people for something you’re excited about, it’s easy here. Other people in Boone want to experience the same things you’re involved in because they too love this place.”
Lindsey strongly felt this support and sense of community when she started working at Espresso News. “Espresso News is the reason I stayed in Boone,” Lindsey boldly stated. “It’s the most fun job I ever had.” She credits the local coffee shop as her home and people. After working there for five years, she moved on to work with Carrington Pertalion, a midwife and owner of Mountain Laurel Women’s Healthcare. Between the two of these jobs, she said has been able to get to know everyone in town.
Lindsey’s secret super power is she’s an artist. She once owned an art business called Paper Snack that featured her collages and paper artwork masterpieces. Her art style is similar to that of Eric Carle, with a heavy focus on animals. Along with this business, she sold her art at craft and trade shows and worked at a couple of galleries around town. More currently she places her creative energy into fixing up her house, raising her son Eno, and vegetarian cooking.
“I love Boone top to bottom,” Lindsey said. “I got really emotional when I first watched the Boonies films because you can feel that these people love Boone in the way that I do.” We hope that you can make it out to the Premiere on February 28th, and that our episodes will evoke that sense of love and belonging for you, too.
River of Love
January 25, 2019
“I’m in the water business,” was Andy Hill’s quick-witted response a few months ago when we told him he had to be a business owner to be an #InstaBoonie. Well, we finally relented. The new year brings new ideas, goals, and interesting people. Our 2019 goal is to seek out leaders of the High Country and share their stories. So, much to his (and our) delight, today’s story is brought to us by one of our favorite people on the planet, Andy Hill, the High Country Regional Director of MountainTrue and (best job title ever), the Watauga Riverkeeper.
What is a Riverkeeper – and why does that job title sound like a character from The Lord of The Rings? We’ll let Andy explain it for you. “As the Riverkeeper, I am the spokesperson, advocate and protector for the Watauga River watershed. Some days we’re down in Raleigh lobbying the General Assembly for clean water protection. Some days we’re out monitoring water quality, taking bacteria samples. And some days we’re doing our Kids in the Creek program, which is environmental education and outreach.”
MountainTrue is home to a total of four such mythical creatures; the Green Riverkeeper, Broad Riverkeeper, French Broad Riverkeeper, and Watauga Riverkeeper. With five offices across Western North Carolina, MountainTrue is officially the oldest environmentally focused non-profit in the state.
But their work and outreach doesn’t only stay local. This past year, Andy traveled abroad to Kenya and Uganda. “We have a global conference every other year, and we met some riverkeepers and concerned citizens from Uganda and Kenya who were interested in strengthening their riverkeeper programs.” Andy explained. “So I and my colleague, Hartwell, the French Broad Riverkeeper, raised money to purchase water quality equipment to help them build a lab and create a bacterial monitoring program and install some drinking water wells.”
When asked where all of this passion for the aquatic environment comes from, Andy said it first blossomed right here in Boone. Originally from Hickory Flat, Georgia, Andy and his family would drive up to visit the High Country for summer vacations. He recalls his happiest memories in the water up here. This love for the water took him to Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico, owned by the Turner Foundation, Inc. He arrived at the Ranch a fly fishing guide, but left a future riverkeeper. The following year he went to Appalachian State University for a masters in Outdoor Program Administration, and settled down in Boone full time. “I made my living as a fly fishing guide, environmental educator and trip leader, and we spent all of our time utilizing the resource. As the years have gone by, I started to see ways that we could give back through different service projects and it soon became my full time passion and career.”
Andy is giving back to his community by doing what he loves best. With the full support of his wife Betty, daughter Willa, and MountainTrue volunteer Aeon (pictured with Andy above), he is also currently training his new sidekick, Rosie, to detect pollution in the environment. Check out our Facebook page to take a peek at this professional pup’s first day on the job!
January 11, 2019
Remember attempting to make birdhouses in woodshop class back in high school? If you were born after the mid 90s you probably have only seen such classes on television, as they are not generally offered in public school anymore. Luckily for Christopher Capozzoli, his high school provided a curriculum that quickly culminated his love for building and creating. This access, plus his passion for guitar and a knowledgeable neighbor who loaned him “how to build a guitar” literature and advice, gave Chris the push he needed to build his first electric guitar for a high school project. And he’s been “making music” ever since.
Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, Chris moved to Boone in 1999 to pursue an associate’s degree at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute (CCC&TI) and started working at Vaughn Woodworking in Foscoe. During the ten years he spent working here, he fell more deeply in love with the craft. Instead of going home after a long work day, Chris would stay at the shop to build guitars until early the next morning. With the skills he obtained from the shop, he decided to go into business for himself and began Capozzoli Guitar Company in 2010.
Currently, Chris designs custom made acoustic and electric guitars, electric basses, and sometimes other stringed instruments such as banjos and ukuleles. While he has used copied designs for these pieces before, he mostly builds instruments using his own personal designs. “There is a big business in making copies of other famous guitars, but I’d rather just come up with my own,” Chris says.
When Chris is asked to make a custom guitar, he loves to include his client in on the process as much as possible. “Talking with the customers is fun because they’re excited about it. They feel very special that something is being made for them even if it’s a piece of furniture.”
It currently takes a year for Chris to create ten guitars, but he’d love for that number to double. In the meantime, he also builds furniture for local contractors or clients who have heard about his products through word-of-mouth. His dream is to eventually build instruments full-time.
All of the wood he uses for his works is Forest Stewardship Council certified, meaning it was cut down responsibly and not clear cut. It takes approximately one month to complete each guitar, and Chris uses mostly local woods that he finds in the area from old barns, buildings, or scraps. “I really love to use local woods because there’s a lot of beautiful available wood around here.” Chris smiles, “I love being up here and being a creator because the environment is conducive to me. There are like-minded people around here who like to create and build.”
Chris draws inspiration for his work from nature and the beautiful Appalachian mountains that surround him. See this inspiration in the physical with the Capozzoli Kuiper, a left-handed piece he made in 2017 and one of our personal favorites.
December 21, 2018
Aaron Parlier, Chris Grasinger, and Keith Shockley have all followed different routes in life.
Let’s travel back in time to early December 2013 at the Boone Saloon on King Street where an ‘interest meeting” was being held for a local indoor climbing facility. The first meeting was packed. It was clear the community wanted a gym for climbing. So Chris arranged a second meeting the next week and only two other people showed up besides himself. Can you guess who? 😉 “That started the mutual friendship and ideology that Boone needs a place to climb and train,” Aaron remembers. Fast forward two years and a lot of chalk and tricky handholds, and Center45 reached summit.
Aaron’s history in rock climbing originates from growing up in the vast outdoors of Virginia. From this childhood passion grew a love for discovering unexplored and unclimbed areas. When he finds somewhere new in the wilderness or on a rock face, he documents and shares it so that others can explore, too. Both Chris and Keith got involved in the climbing community in college, and have stuck with it ever since. Chris said he got into the sport because of its uniqueness. “It was new and challenging for me, but there was a level of independence to it that I really liked.”
All three went to @appstate and loved climbing at the recreation center. “When I started climbing at the SRC (Student Recreation Center - or just tag it) I realized from other people that there was so much good climbing in this area,” Keith says. However, once graduated, they couldn’t enjoy their Alma Mater’s gym without the sponsorship of another student. With such a deep rooted historical outdoor climbing community here in Boone, the need for an indoor climbing facility for non-students was clear.
“We want to continue to build a community here. I think a lot of that has to do with listening to the community that’s already surfaced.” Chris explains, “In conjunction with that we want to continue to create stronger and stronger climbers and provide the proper resources for people that want to accelerate in the sport to be able to do so better and better.”
Aaron adds, “A gym can build a community. But in reality when we opened there was already a super vibrant outdoor climbing community. So we have to be able to bring enough value and enough attention to detail to a community that’s already one of the best on the East Coast...we have to bring enough work to the table to where the Boone area climbers are going to want to be here. That’s a huge focus of what we do.”
The gym is not only a place for experienced climbers, but for those who want to cross train for other sports and those who just want to get started in the sport. Center45 strives to incubate an environment that is welcoming to everyone, no matter their experience. So why not stop by, do a little bouldering, meet fellow climbing enthusiasts, and maybe have a cup of coffee too.
Hooked on the High County
December 7, 2018
“Our goal... is to be inviting, to be friendly, and make sure folks see the fly fishing industry – the sport, the experience of it –- as not one that your granddad does because he’s old and rich… Instead it’s a growing sport in demographics and especially in those that are younger.” So make room y’all, the new world of fly fishing is here! Alex Dale, owner of Foscoe Fishing Company & Outfitters, has been pushing for equal representation of younger generations and women out on the waters for years.
Like many dwellers of the High Country, Alex’s father spent his summers working here and winters working in Florida. So the family traveled back and forth every year before finally deciding to move to the mountains full time when Alex was just 10 years old. At 12 his father first taught him how to fly fish, and he’s been hooked ever since. (Pun intended)
In fact, he owns not one but two fly shops and guide services; one in Linville called Highland Outfitters, and the one we visited for this week’s #instaboonies, Foscoe Fishing. He founded Highland Outfitters after realizing that fly shops in the area were scarce despite the large community. It was through this fishing community that he met Slate Lacy, owner of Foscoe Fishing, who was in the midst of moving away from the area to be closer to his family. So Slate offered the business to Alex. “He wanted to keep Foscoe in local hands,” explains Alex. “Foscoe Fishing has either been a guide service, fly shop, or both since 1985.”
After that conversation things moved pretty quickly, and Alex was the official owner by March of 2017. And with this new ownership came new perspectives and focus. “We try to be matter-of-fact about the responsibility we all share when enjoying the resources that are our public lands. Our guided fishing trips are a great way to experience the beautiful rivers in our area and we make sure our customers understand the value in keeping them as pristine as possible. The relationship between local businesses and their community should be more than supply and demand. It can also include discussion and awareness around the impact we have as anglers on the rivers.” Alex says, “Our goal as a guide service is to be aware of the strain we put on the local watershed and mitigate the damage that can bring. We try to educate those who shop and fish with us on best practices like cleaning gear and taking care of the fish before releasing them. We are always working to engage more with the community to develop a relationship that promotes open communication.”
Alex and his employees often deal with the popular misconception that fly fishing is expensive and you have to be an expert to enjoy it. “We want to simplify it and make it affordable,” says Alex. Foscoe Fishing offers many services including helping with new knots, sharing tips and tricks for keeping a rod in good shape, teaching different practices on how to fish, and offer clinics that teach you all of these things and more. The goal of their business is to invite anyone to come and feel comfortable in their shop.
“As this sharing generation comes through, we have this push of online experience that really exemplifies exactly what we do in the store. Which is sharing photos, talking about where you last went, and the comradery that comes along with that.” Alex believes that Boone is the perfect place to foster this comradery, because a sense of belonging exists naturally here.
“I grew up here, met my wife here, and we started a family here. I've always known this would be my home and knew that I wanted to run my own business. I simply saw a vacuum in the market that I was working in and decided to fill it. Since then it's evolved into a way for me and my family to be a part of something bigger. It's provided us with work, but also amazing relationships with other local businesses and professionals, some of which we now call friends. That is an invaluable bonus to owning a business in Boone.”
Popping Around Town
November 16, 2018
“That’s kinda how most things start in my life. I just say, ‘I can do that’.”
This weekend brings the fifth Pop Up Boone art show, so we couldn’t think of a better time to sit down with Megan Kelly, the founder and owner, and listen to her story for #instaboonies.
2018 has been nothing short of eventful for Megan. Originally from Houston, TX, she came to Boone for the sustainable development program at Appalachian State University. However, she came to the decision that an entrepreneurial path suited her best. In January she started her own ceramics business, Clay by Jane. With studio support from @jefski, Megan was able to create her own line of pottery. In the beginning she was having a difficult time selling her pottery on a regular basis in Boone. She thanks Artisan Market Boone for giving her a foot in the door to sell her work in the Spring and Summer. However, for the most part she traveled around the state to sell. Because of all of this travel, she wasn’t building a customer base. It was when she participated in a Pop Up show in Asheville that the lightbulb went off. Enter the can-do attitude Megan is so well known for. Enter Pop Up Boone.
“Most people, when they want to start a business, they think about it for a really, really long time. They come up with this business plan for it. They try to work out as many things as they can before they go for it. And then it becomes a step by step process, slowly getting yourself organized as a business. With Pop Up, it’s like I adopted this wild stallion into my life. I’m trying to tame the stallion...” Megan chuckles throughout her metaphor, “Pop Up just does what it wants. I watch it and I take notes and I see what’s working. I see what people like. I see what the vendors like and then every single month I just change it a little bit. But I really never know how I’m going to change or adapt until I do.”
Megan thinks that if she tried to launch a monthly Pop Up such as her own anywhere else it wouldn’t be nearly as successful. “That’s why Boone is such a sweet place of opportunity because you can try things out here… People just want something different. So as long as you deliver them something different then they’re all about it, they’re super stoked on it, they want to talk about it, they get excited every month for it.”
A driving force for her motivation to keep the Pop Up popping up - pun intended - is the students and new artists who get the regular opportunity to sell their work. She loves to empower people by giving them opportunities to see the reward they get from putting effort into what they do. “It’s been great to bring together a community of makers.”
When it all boils down, Megan says she just wants Pop Up to be a celebration. A celebration of being human, making things, and sharing them with others. So celebrate with Megan this Saturday and Sunday from 9am-6pm at Hatchet Coffee!
Making a Different Kind of Difference
November 2, 2018
“I want to play up here for the rest of my life. How do I do that?” Kelsi Danielle Butler, originally from Iowa, found herself asking this question earlier this year. After some soul searching, what quickly followed was Wilderness Yoga Co.
Kelsi feels like her life in Boone, which began six years ago when she attended Appalachian State University, has always moved this quickly and smoothly. “Things seem to unfold really organic here.” Kelsi says, “When I moved here I found the perfect apartment, I found great roommates, I met my husband my second day in town.” It doesn’t stop there. “I got a professional job the week I graduated. Everything just flows so well here...”
However, in order to allow things to flow into place, we sometimes have to make a leap. And thus Kelsi leapt. “Like a trapeze artist, we must let go of one swing to reach the next. We can’t hold on to two swings, lest we exhaust and fall. As the old saying goes, ‘take the risk, or lose the chance.’” Kelsi spoke of leaving her incredible job at OASIS Inc. and starting a business from scratch. “Letting go of the part of myself that was determined to save the world through a particular calling in a particular setting was very challenging. I had to let go of the idea that I could only empower women or end violence in one way; I had to let go of the part that needed to be recognized for being ‘successful’ and in an ‘important field.’”
Officially launched in late May of 2018, Wilderness Yoga has been growing as more people learn about the experience. “Wilderness Yoga transcends the confines of a traditional yoga studio, connecting mind, body, and spirit directly to the natural world. So what that means is that we will go out on a guided hike or a serene walk,” Kelsi explains. “Once we reach the peak or the biggest opening or meadow, that’s where we flow through a yoga practice and mediation.”
She recognizes that Boone is the perfect place for such a business, and wants to share that with yogis and hikers alike. This past season she took locals, tourists, and students on hikes such as Moses Cone, Hawksbill, and Green Knob Trail. While her season has wound down due to the cold weather approaching, she plans to expand by adding new locations for trips.
“You can go to any tourist town and find the same kind of things, places, and people, but Boone is unique because you find a lot of different businesses beyond the typical tourist traps that are thriving. People care about what they do and they’re excited about the work. I think that Boone is just energetically different.”
High Country Adventure
October 26, 2018
“We got a pickup truck. We put a little mattress in the back and put curtains in the cab.”
“We had no mattress. We had sleeping bags.”
“Well, they were pads, okay?”
“We had some pads.”
Meet Ken and Beth Jacquot - owners of Challenge Towers, Aerial Adventure Technologies, and the aerial adventure park you all know and love, High Gravity Adventures. The couple has lived here in Boone for the past 25 years, but this was not always their intention. Originally both from Cincinnati, OH they decided to take a road trip all across the country, looking for a place where Beth could go to school for Fine Arts and Ken could enjoy the great outdoors. This is where the pickup truck and sleeping ‘pads’ come in.
They moved to Charlotte, which is when they discovered Boone and Appalachian State. So Beth applied for the Arts Program with the intention of living in Boone for a couple of years to complete her degree and then moving on somewhere else. 25 years later? “We never found a reason to leave,” Beth smiles.
Ken’s first business, Challenge Towers, is an international entity that involves building, designing, installing, inspecting, and training adventure courses. Aerial Adventure Technologies works hand in hand with Challenge Towers by selling the technology they use to other operators that would use this technology for their own adventure courses. High Gravity Adventures is a more recent endeavor for the Jacquots, celebrating its fourth year in 2018. “This is our little baby in Boone,” Ken explains. “Because we do it for everybody else all over the place, we wanted to do something kind of cool here for ourselves. So we created High Gravity Adventures.”
Ken stresses that the most important aspect of his business is the relationships he has with his employees and the experience they create for the people who come to the park. “I feel that I am trying to create the company I want to work for. I want to have great relations with the people who work with me and I want to work for a company that has that. These are my friends, these are people I care about, I want them to care about what we do. I don’t really want to hire employees or people who want to work for us that just want a job. It’s not that kind of thing, it’s my life energy and I am investing in it. I’m investing in them and they are investing in me.”
Beth also owns her own design company, Gear Up Graphix. She is in charge of all of the graphic design for High Gravity Adventures, and creator of the company logos.
“It has gotten bigger since we came here, but still there is a comfort and ease to Boone. It is an easy place to be,” Beth says. “It’s a comfortable place to live and it has all of the outdoor beauty you could want.”
It is their goal to tie that beauty they find in Boone into High Gravity. Ken explains, “I want anyone who comes here to have a great experience. Hopefully it’s transformative. Hopefully they learn something about themselves.”
A Love Letter to the Creative Process
October 12, 2018
If you asked couple Allison Langewisch and Belle Hissam of @lovelettercreative this time last year what their plans were for when Belle graduated @appstate in May with a Bachelor in Fine Arts, they would have quickly told you they were getting the heck out of here and moving to a big city. But this was before they were approached by Jeremy Bollman, co-owner of @hatchetcoffee, to start a design studio together. Now their entire perspective of their Alma Mater’s hometown has changed completely.
“We are in the best position that we could see ourselves being in for the time in our lives that we are in right now,” says Belle, originally from Wilmington, North Carolina. They both believe that if they had moved to a larger city their business would’ve been much harder to make happen, that they would’ve had to fight their way up the ladder. Due to the overflowing support and connections they’ve found in Boone, Allison and Belle can’t imagine themselves anywhere else right now.
Allison, who grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina and also went to App State, only ended up making art for a living by chance. She graduated with a degree in Sustainable Development and was working at @stickboybreadco when she met Belle who worked there, too. That’s how they met Jeremy Bollman, who also worked at Stickboy at the time and developed a design relationship with him. Allison has always been into art but never saw it as a career option. “I didn’t expect to get back into art again. JB (Jeremy Bollman) and Jeremy (Parnell) asked me to do some work for Hatchet and that pulled me back into it,” Allison explained. It wasn’t long after working on multiple design projects for Hatchet Coffee that Jeremey hatched (pun intended) the idea of Love Letter.
What makes this design studio stand out is it focuses on developing a personal and communicative relationship with all of its clients. For every project Allison and Belle work on, they want to sit down with their clients and show them the entire process of creation. “This is about understanding the value to visual art and the value it adds to your identity as a brand or a person,” Belle said. “Sure it takes us a couple of hours to draw on the computer but that is tens of hours of thinking, doing research, conceptual drawings, and bouncing ideas off of one another to get to the end goal.”
“This was a huge part as to why we wanted to have this more intimate design experience so that we could walk people through that process,” Allison added. They both identify with the social media campaign #MyTimeHasValue, which highlights how artists should always be appropriately compensated for their work and time. Belle explained, “Hopefully allowing people in Watauga County and the High Country to understand the value of good design and the process of it will also validate our costs and our job. We’re not just artists, but educators that help you understand this whole process.”
High Country Magic
September 28, 2018
The first time native South Floridian Briana Kidd saw snow was when she visited Beech Mountain for vacation growing up. The fresh mountain air and lush nature were so different from her life at the beach, she quickly fell in love with the magic of the High Country. These childhood memories at her uncle’s house had such a profound impact on her that she wanted to pursue her collegiate career here! Enter Appalachian State University.
After graduation, Briana found herself in that purgatory ‘what’s next?’ place that most post-college students find themselves in. “I was just waiting tables and didn’t have any direction,” Briana explained. So she moved to Charleston, South Carolina to pursue a job as an adventure camp counselor. While she enjoyed her time there, the whole time she was away she couldn’t shake this feeling that she needed to move back to Boone.
In the Summer of 2014 Briana found a yoga studio space for rent in Boone that only required her to sign a lease for one year. When she attended App she had taught yoga classes, and the space already had full wall mirrors, all she needed were some yoga mats. This was the call she was waiting for. High Country Yoga opened its doors September 5th of that year.
As someone with a background in outdoor recreation, Briana sees High Country Yoga as more of an athletic approach to yoga, focusing more on the exercise aspect of the practice but also sprinkling in “spiritual snacks” (a term she coined.) In her classes you will find yourself moving right away, while also being guided by spiritual intentions.
“I feel like I can be myself in Boone. It’s the size that I enjoy. I like going to the grocery store and local events and seeing familiar faces.” Briana smiles, “I feel like we all live in our own little bubble. If we can find peace within ourselves up here, it should be sufficient enough to radiate out into the world. Business is successful because the energy here is potent.”
“What’s important to me is making sure everyone that walks in feels comfortable and welcome and has a good enough experience to want to come back. No matter your skill level of yoga, there’s something in every class for somebody to feel like they were nourished from the experience.” When asked about her business philosophy, Briana said, “I try to keep the business approach really simple. When people come in here, they are coming into the yoga studio, not ‘Briana’s Business’. When you walk from the lobby to the studio, you know we are here for the yoga and that’s it.”
A little after its 4th anniversary, High Country Yoga now has 10 in-studio instructors and will host an (almost sold out!) yoga retreat in Costa Rica both in March and May 2019. If interested in signing up for the May Retreat, visit their business website for more info! Namaste!
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 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.
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.”