Farmer & The Belle + Milkmaid
Collaboration between like-minded designers is what keeps the creative wheels turning in the world of small business. When looking to create one-of-a-kind products, Milkmaid seeks out small businesses with a heart beat. The story behind the product is what grabs your attention, helps you connect and keep the dream of small businesses alive.
We stumbled upon Farmer & the Belle and instantly fell in love with their story, attention to detail & responsibility for craftsmanship. This small, family owned and operated company in Mooresville, North Carolina, specializes in crafting home fragrances. Together, Farmer & the Belle + Milkmaid have been able to create truly special products for you to treasure and bring into your home. We worked together to create two unique soy candles featuring our namesake- Milkmaid and our home, Sebowisha. These two scents are meant to capture the essence behind Milkmaid and trigger memories relating to family, friends and togetherness.
Milkmaid was lucky enough to be able to conduct an interview with the owner of Farmer & the Belle, Selena Gibbons. We hope that her inspiring words can translate into your own life!
farmer & the belle: interview
What inspired you to create Farmer and the Belle?
So many experiences and people inspired me to create this company. My entrepreneur- minded husband, my desire to create, the motivating female powerhouses I have watched fall and get up again, and my two boys that are watching their Momma. I knew I needed something for myself after having my second son. Although being a stay at home mom is a tremendous privilege and filled my days, there was something missing for me. I always knew I had a desire to create ever since I was a little girl. I loved art class. For a while I thought I would become a Disney Animator! After meeting a candle maker at a local event, I thought maybe I will try this! A youtube video and a lot of trial and errors later I started to get the hang of it. I realized how creative I can be, mixing and blending, designing logos, and packaging. I started to fall in love with the idea of having my own business!
Where did the name Farmer and the Belle come from?
It came to me in the shower...literally the only place I get peace and quiet for 10 minutes. My Nana has inspired me my whole life, she was always a big kid herself. She never gave up though, she worked so hard, using her hands, in a factory to create the life she wanted for her family. Although her job was intensive and her hands were worn she always embodied the ideal of feminine for me. She was strong, beautiful, loving, creative, funny, and brave. Her mother's middle name was Belle and I always thought I would use her name and her mother's if I had a little girl. The Farmer portion of the name is in honor of my grandfather. He is a retired Marine and Army soldier that fought in Vietnam. He has used his hands in the fields of Indiana and his home. He is an artist and a woodworker. He embodies hard work, courage, and creativity. I was singing the Farmer and the Dell song that day in the shower, remember I have two little ones, and it hit me! Farmer and the Belle!
What products do you sell?
We started over 4 years ago with 100% soy candles in mason jars. Today we have 3 sizes of 100% soy candles, room sprays, diffusers, and wax melts.
What do you believe is important in owning a small business?
GRACE! Grace for the people you work with, grace for your family, grace for your suppliers, grace for your customers, and most of all grace for yourself! When I forget to give myself grace, I remember the saying on the Magnolia artwork hanging in my office, " You Were Built For This".
What guides you to create your products?
I am so inspired by childhood memories, time and conversations with family and friends, and other quality companies that I feel align with our core values. Listening to customers also really helps me to stretch out of my comfort zone and try new things!
What is the process behind making your candles?
I would say the most important part of making anything is finding quality ingredients. Then with a lot of math, trial and error, and patience you come up with your formula for wax temperature, fragrance load, and pour time. My favorite part comes next, blending the fragrances together to come up with something new that is nostalgic of an experience, a memory, or a feeling. After blending and pouring I allow the candles to cool for up to 48 hours before packaging them for wholesale, inventory, or events.
Do you have a favorite scent? If so, which one and why?
I have two favorite scents, Christmas Morning and Hearth and Home. I love the cozy and warm feeling that Hearth and Home brings. Every time I light it, it reminds me of my childhood home and the Home Sweet Home Yankee candle my mom would burn. My other favorite is Christmas Morning for the opposite reason. It is bright and cheery and remind me of the feeling and excitement of Christmas morning. Scent is such a powerful memory trigger which is one of the reasons I love what I do!
What does a typical day for you at Farmer and the Belle look like?
Beautifully chaotic. As I am writing these answers, I have a dog trying to make me throw his toy and two boys walking around with a tape measure figuring out the length of everything in our family room. I work from home! It is a blessing and can also be tough some days but I would not trade it for the world. I get most of my work done during the hours my youngest is in preschool and my oldest is in school. It is only a few hours a day but I make sure it is productive. I am still learning everyday how to balance this season of life, that is where grace comes in!
Where do you see the business in the future?
This is exciting. I love to dream together with my husband. We want to buy a large lot of land, build our family's dream home with a large barn on the property to use as my workshop and a space for teaching classes and holding events for small business owners to come together sell, learn, and inspire!
Do you have any advice for someone starting their own small business?
I have five pieces of advice I would give to someone starting their own small business:
1. I just read, "Girl, Wash your Face", such a great book! One of the many things I learned from the author, Rachel Hollis, was that creating is a privilege, it is a gift that many people in this world do not get to experience. I think being thankful and remembering how special and an honor it is to have the time, resources, and opportunity to create something is so important. You don't have to create, you GET to.
2. Listen to your gut. It is conviction and will lead you to making the right decisions.
3. Good is the enemy of great.
4. Build a tribe. Surround yourself with people that are honest, hard-working, encouraging, and that challenge you.
5. Set your priorities and try hard to stick to them. Ours are God first, family second, business third. These priorities help us when we need to make decisions. We mess up, we are far from perfect, but that is what forgiveness and grace are for!
a note from the milkmaid:
We are so honored to have been given the opportunity to not only collaborate with Farmer & the Belle but to create some amazing products! Our custom candles will be featured in our online store as well as at our local events for the season! Please visit Farmer & the Belle’s website for all their products and information!
Photos: Farmer & the Belle