Thursday, April 11, 2013

Infused Oils

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, Brown Barn is so excited to begin production of a new line of herbal oil infusions. These oils will be used in our new All Natural spa product line, in our soap production, a line of Mommy and Me products and sold individually. We have been away from the farm for too long and cannot wait to get back to growing and drying our own herbs and using them in our products.

Rosemary bundles drying in the Brown Barn.

What is an Herbal Oil Infusion?

Herbal oils have been used for a variety of purposes for hundreds of years.  This is a type of oil in which whole dried or fresh herbs have been “soaked” in an oil base for a period of time. This process draws the “power” of the herbs into the oil, creating a fusion.  It’s different than using essential oils, the oil infusion process binds herbs to a “host” oil where essential oils are oils derived entirely from the herb plant. To begin we will primarily use Soybean or Apricot Kernel oil in our infusions.

How are they made?

Brown Barn will use organic herbs that are either purchased from reliable USA growers or organically grow its own herbs in our greenhouse on our Wisconsin farm.  There are several different approaches that can be used in creating an oil infusion but the main process involves allowing herbs to “steep” in oil for a period of time. Once the oil has been infused it must be carefully drained off the plant material, bottled and either sold directly as oil or used in the making of our other products and soaps.

Calendula Flowers Steeping in oil during our trials.
Herb Liners waiting to be potted up in our Greenhouse.

Why is this good to use?

Herbal oil is a rich blend that brings to the body the therapeutic benefits of the chosen oil and herbs. Brown Barn’s goal is to eventually grow all of the herbs used in its oils on its own farm. We believe that each plant is the product of its environment and being able to participate in the growing process including selection of the soil, fertilizer and cultivar will allow us to develop unique and more highly effective formulations.

What will they be used in?

We have been using our own Trauma oil blend in our popular Rejuvenating Lotion Bar for the past year to great success.  It was the many customer testimonials about the powerful effects of this bar that have resulted in our researching this process further and taking it to the next level. Our new All Natural Spa line uses infused oil in several of its products. This line will be introduced soon. We also plan to incorporate the oil into our soap bars and into a line of Mommy and Me products coming soon.  The oils will also be sold individually for use as a massage oil, bath oil or body oil. 

We will soon be posting these new items on our web-site as they become available.  We hope you try them out and let us know what you think!

Have a wonderful week.  On Monday we will be launching our Mother's Day gift boxes!

Chris Untiedt
The Brown Barn Company llc

Saturday, April 6, 2013


"To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often."

- Winston Churchill

If Winston Churchill is correct in this quote then The Brown Barn Company has to be nearly perfect. 

Since opening our flagship store in Holcombe, Wisconsin in the summer of 2011, Brown Barn has undergone nothing short of a metamorphosis as it grew from a home-made, hand-made company into its more professional and larger shoes. This has been a journey of ups and downs, successes and disappointments, gain and loss.  I cannot count how many formulations, employee names, label designs, product scents, marketing ideas and renditions of the Brown Barn have passed across my desk this year. 

When Alyssa (my business partner and daughter) and I sat down to sketch our initial vision for the company we had specific goals in mind.  We wanted to be eco-friendly, to offer a safe haven for our customers, offer a safe and uniquely fabulous product line, and to provide a calm and relaxing workplace for ourselves and employees. We wanted to make a difference, to educate, to share ideas.  We wanted to develop a company that would allow us to grow as individuals and would positively enhance our lives, the lives of those around us and those of our customers.  We wanted to contribute at home, in our community and to the world.

We opted to start out with our own retail stores.  One thing we did not realize in starting retail stores was how very demanding they are as a whole.  Even our quietest location requires constant vigilance to maintain the required cleanliness and “look” that Brown Barn demands.  Add to that the hustle and bustle of employees and customer sales and a store becomes all-consuming in and of itself, leaving little time for important product research and development.

In running the stores we realized we have been pulled far from our first love and the very reason we started this company – making great bath and body products.  After a lot of reflection and analysis we have come to the conclusion that the only effective way for us to build the life we want, not only for ourselves but for our company, employees and products is to downsize our retail stores and devote ourselves fully to product development, Internet/web-site sales, national marketing and wholesaling.

In this way we will be able to bring forward better and more interesting product lines; introduce Brown Barn to many more locations faster and we’ll be able to reach the goals we cherish – supporting ecology, providing funding donations to causes we believe in and bringing nature to customers through our products.

The challenge now is how do we accomplish our hefty goals when we are so busy with the daily running of retail stores?  How do we survive as a business without this growth?  How do we accomplish these goals without the cash flow of retail stores?

After much reflection we came to the following conclusions:

-  We must ramp back the company in order to apply what we learned, make needed changes and grow our future.

- We must make changes that will allow us to move to the next level in terms of product sophistication, offerings and marketing.

- Our mental and physical health must be of high importance in order to allow us to focus and accomplish these goals. We must form a business environment that allows room for us to nurture ourselves so that we may give to others.

- We want to bring the Brown Barn and Honest Balance product lines to people everywhere, not just in a few select places.  The Internet and Wholesaling is the most efficient way to do this.  We need to focus our energies on developing these areas.

- The Retail Stores are drawing all of our energies and focus far from our ideals and company goals.  While we absolutely LOVE chatting with our customers, seeing their lovely faces and spending time in our adorable stores, the stores have actually become a weight on the company, distracting us from our goals.  (A lovely distraction, but a distraction all the same.) 

- In order to provide much needed time for development we need to close our Steamboat Springs, Colorado store but we will always continue to have our “outlet” store at our “home” location in Holcombe, Wisconsin.

- So our customers will be able to purchase Brown Barn products closer to home, we will work to develop wholesale relationships in areas throughout the United States.

- Because education is so important to our vision, this year our customers will be able to enjoy a much larger and user friendly web-site with more information available.  More time will be spent sharing information with our customers thru our blogs, e-mail and social media.

- We value our farming heritage and feel we can only provide the very best products if we grow them ourselves.  An additional lab will be added to Brown Barn at our “farm”.  Brown Barn will be back to growing its own herbs and making oil infusions which in turn will be added to our products, making uniquely beneficial formulas that can only be found in Brown Barn products.

We understand that some of you are accustomed to shopping at our stores and will not be happy that your store has been closed. We hope you understand that growth and change is necessary to us as a business.  We thank you for trying us out, your input has been invaluable to us.  We consider every customer a unique part of Brown Barn and hope you will continue to visit our web-site and blogs.

Thank you for cheering us on and giving us the courage to continue to grow!

Christine Untiedt
The Brown Barn Company llc