4.28.2010

An Experiment in Buying American Made (giveaway post)

Hi lovely readers! I am starting a periodic interview series featuring companies that are proudly "Made in the USA". There is a certain charm to shopping small town America that is being bulldozed by mega box stores who care only of their bottom line. I will be attempting to track down and interview small business' that:
  1. still stand by their products AND
  2. make quality products to be proud of right here in the good ol' USA. 
 Of course living in this day and age where you can hardly find shoes made in America, our small town America is ALL of America. SO if I can't buy shoes made in my home town maybe I can buy shoes made in your home town or the next town over. Who says WAL*SHMART is the only place to shop? I have a computer and I can easily access hundreds of small producers right online. With a few savvy customer reviews and referrals I can find exactly what I want while sitting in my jammies at two in the morning. Kind of like shopping from the old Sears catalog, you have to wait a couple weeks but the wait is worth it.

I want to help  support these business' so please do go check them out, bookmark their sites and think who will benefit from your dollar, mega corporations supporting quasi slavery or small business owners keeping it real everyday? I know where I want to spend my dollars and I make a statement every time I commit to buying from fair trade small producers of quality goods. Won't you join me?

Our first interview is with Carmela of Clear Hills Honey Company 

Why don't you tell our readers a little about your family company history-
Certainly!  I have a background in studying herbalism and I have made salve for about two decades.  I moved to Oregon in 1999 and met my future husband Andrew.  He and his parents are beekeepers and sold honey at the local farmer’s market in Eugene, Oregon.  I started helping out with the business and that is when I discovered propolis, a bee product.  Actually, my mother-in-law introduced it to me.  It smelled wonderful and after doing research on it, I realized that it was a fantastic all natural bi-product of the beehive.  I started making soap using it as a gentle alternative to disinfect my hands as I am very allergic to commercial products.  I gave some away as gifts, and people started asking to buy it.  I started selling the soap and salve, our Bee Balm, at the market.  I also started making lip balm.  Meanwhile, I was learning about beekeeping and all about the honey bee. 
My father-in-law has been keeping bees for 40 years.  He started in Canada, and named his business Clear Hills Honey Company.  We sold honey at the farmer’s market for years.  We were even featured in the first season of the Discovery Channel show “Dirty Jobs” (the “Honey Harvester” episode)!  Now I sell our bath and body products online to customers around the world.  We no longer do the farmer’s market, but my in-laws are still active in that community.  My father-in-law asked me to keep the name Clear Hills Honey, and I have honored that.  We still use our beeswax, propolis, and honey in our products.


What products do you make with your honey and wax?
We have a lot of products!  I make lip balm, soap, salve, cream, Knitter’s Balm, and Mama Bee Belly Butter with our beeswax, honey, and propolis.  I also make non-toxic 100% beeswax crayons as well as bath crayons using only natural pigments and clays.  Our newest product is natural deodorant with a beeswax base.  It is very popular.  I use as much organic ingredients as possible, and all of the ingredients are natural.

Do you add other fragrances to your products?
I have a lot of allergies, so I create products that are either unscented or are scented with only essential oils and/or natural organic scents.  Our lip balms have natural organic flavor.  It took a lot of time to find a reputable company that makes all natural organic flavors and scents.  These are not only better for everyone, but better for the environment and our childrens’ future.


I saw the word propolis several times on your site but I don't know what it is and what it is used for. Can you explain it to me?
I am glad that you asked that!  I love propolis.  It is a resinous amber brown substance that the bees use to seal the bee hive.  It is what makes the bee hive the most hygienic environment known in nature.  The bees make it out of tree leaves and bark, their own enzymes, and other natural substances.  Propolis is naturally antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiseptic, and disinfectant.  Scientists around the world have done research on propolis for everything from athletes foot to cancer.  It heals the skin quickly, and that is why I add it to most of our products.    


Why did you decide to start making beeswax crayons? What's the difference between beeswax and petroleum based crayons?
I started making beeswax crayons because I wanted to create an affordable natural crayon that is safe for my daughter to use.  Commercial crayons make me sneeze and have an allergic reaction.  I discovered that the major brands use paraffin.  So I am still confused as to how they can call them non-toxic because paraffin is a petroleum based product.  Also, the colors in those crayons include pigments that are known toxins.  I have an Art school background, so I already knew a bit about pigments and toxicity.  I did research on companies that make art pigments and found a couple that do no adulterate (add fillers) to their pigments. 
Beeswax is an all natural wax that can be chewed and is not harmful if a child eats it.  Paraffin is toxic when burned, and there is conflicting evidence about whether it is harmful when ingested.  Frankly, I don’t want to take that chance.  So to me, it is a relief to have a crayon that I know is safe for my daughter to use.  As far as I know, our crayons are the only ones on the market that are made with 100% beeswax.  Even those expensive German crayons are made using only 25% beeswax.  I have not been able to find out what the other 75% of the waxes are exactly.


Got any new products coming out soon?
We may be coming out with some new lip balm flavors soon.  And I have recently had a request for “hair wax”, which seems to be popular with the punk/rockabilly crowd.  I will be working on those soon.  I am always open to suggestions from customers and friends.  A good friend of mine suggested that I create a Knitter’s Balm, and that is how I came up with that new product.  A good customer suggested that I make Knitter’s Balm in convenient little tubes, so that is how Knit Sticks were created.

Where are your products available?
You can purchase our products online at http://hyenacart.com/clearhillshoney and at www.clearhillshoney.com.  We also have an etsy shop at http://www.etsy.com/shop/clearhills.  And I also belong to a group of WAHM artisan shops called KandF Shops.  We are at http://hyenacart.com/KandFShops.
There are a few yarn shops around the country that carry our Knitter’s Balm, and some of our products are in a couple of shops in Canada.  We also have products at the Oregon Maiden retail store in St. Helens, Oregon.  I will be putting a list of our retail locations together shortly.  We are currently doing more wholesale and I plan to put up a wholesale order page on our main website.  We also want to stay keep our retail business and co-ops of course!  We now have a new facebook page and if people would like to join, they will receive a discount code for our hyena cart through Friday!  Our facebook page is at  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Clear-Hills-Honey-Company/451012050596

Anything else you want my readers to know?
We are a small company and family owned business that believes in community sustained agriculture and saving the environment.  I am a WAHM (work-at-home-mom), and I love to support other WAHMs as many have supported me.  I love to take suggestions for new flavors, scents, and products!    
 
And Carmela has generously offered one of my LUCKY READERS a set of fantastic beeswax crayons! Non-toxic, safe, Made in America and smooth coloring crayons made from all natural beeswax. Mmmm lovely! I love coloring with beeswax crayons, they blend so well!

Busy Bee<sup>TM</sup> Natural Non-Toxic Beeswax Crayons

 So, why don't you head on over to her site, look around, bookmark it, find something you like and come back and tell me about it.
You can enter several different ways #1 is mandatory, leave an additional comment for each entry
  1. First visit the site and leave a comment about what you would LOVE to have from their store or suggest a new flavor/scent(make sure to check out what they do offer!)
  2. Second  followers get a second entry
  3. Tweet this "@whats4dinner An Experiment in Buying American Made (giveaway post) http://su.pr/1s5wTS
  4. Become a follower of Clear Hills Honey on Facebook
  5. Mention this company and giveaway in a blog post

 I am so excited to see what other quality products you can still get that are made in America. I want to have pride in my country not bow down before inferior products and slavery practice because I might save a buck or two.
Peace and Love-
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17 comments:

  1. I would love some of their lip balm, I go through that stuff like crazy!

    Maybe red velvet cupcake for a new flavor?

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  2. I mentioned your giveaway in my post today!

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  3. Not understanding my name that comes up - but this is Lori

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  4. love this idea... really just wanted to stop by and say HI!

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  5. I want to see that Honey Cream in a pecan or praline scent!

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  6. Also! I tweeted this: http://twitter.com/JodieBerseth, I'm your follower, and I became a fan on FB. :)

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  7. I'm not sure if Canadians may enter, but just in case: I'd love to try the Knitter's Balm or the Sweet Grapefruit lip balm.

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  8. Ooh I like this series and look forward to reading more about other made in America companies.

    I am a lip balm junky so that's what I'd be interested in!

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  9. Love those crayons too- I've never used beeswax crayons so I'd be interested to see how well they work.

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  10. Oh, I know, me, me, over here, with the arm dislocating itself from the socket!!!! I want the bath crayons!

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  11. yes, yes and i tweeted about it... am I too late?

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  12. Hi! Thank you for the comments! I am working on a red velvet cake or cupcake flavor now. Also, I can ship the beeswax crayons to Canada, of course! My husband was born there, so I love Canadians. :)

    Thank you everyone!

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  13. SweetandSavory, I am using your Red Velvet Cupcake idea for a lip balm. Please contact me with your address and verification of who you are, and I will send you one from the first batch! :)

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Am I talking DIRECTLY to you? Well then let me know!