Friday, September 19, 2014

5 Brown Barn Products that will Change Your Life (Or at least maybe you'll enjoy using)...

Lately we've seen so many Facebook posts with the title "...will change your life" that we couldn't resist using this title for this week's blog! Here are our top five picks for "must try" products:

1. Brown Barn Sugar Scrub - Exfoliate and Hydrate while Increasing Circulation! The formulation of Brown Barn's sugar scrub is unique. This is a sold "emulsified" scrub made with a fantastic solid oil combination - no messy watery oils floating on top, just solid oil and scent. Sugar serves to exfoliate, leaving the way for skin loving oils to sink in deeply. The solid oils in this scrub melt the second the scrub hits warm skin, leaving you drenched in oil.. Simply apply a small amount of scrub with fingertips, scrubbing in a circular motion from fingers and toes to promote circulation while bathing/showering, scrub until sugar has completely dissolved, rinse, pat dry and go! Available in 100% all natural essential oil blends, in "nearly natural" fragrance oil blends and in our blending bar areas.

2. Soap Pouches - Extend the Life of your Soap Bar and Exfoliate! Soap pouches are bags that hold bar soap. They come in boucle, ramie and nylon mesh (like a pouf). Place a bar of soap in the bag and use the entire bag to wash with. You will experience great exfoliation and your bar soap will foam up much better. These bags work great for extending the life of your bar soap and are awesome for using up those little bits and pieces of bar soap instead of throwing the soap pieces out. Just pop them in the bag, you'll have a beautiful one-of-a-kind scent and save money at the same time!

3. Solid Lotion Bars - Solid Lotion Bars are one of the best kept secrets at Brown Barn. Great for everything from cracked heels to taming eyebrows. These solid beeswax based bars provide a barrier against the elements that will protect and soften problem skin spots. They also work great for taming little fly away hairs and other issues. We love them for adding a sexy sheen to arms and legs! Just rub your fingers on the bar and use as you would any hair paste. Choose from a variety of scents and our uber-popular "Rejuvenate" bar made with Brown Barn's exclusive Trauma Oil blend for extra strength.

4. Facial Scrub - This is my personal favorite facial skincare item. I keep this little jar of facial sugar scrub handy and grab it up every day during bath time. This scrub if formulated based on our solid sugar scrub recipe but uses oils and essential oils specifically selected for their skin care properties. Simply wet face, scoop out a tiny bit of scrub and apply with fingertips in circular motions. Scrub until the sugar dissolves. Rinse and pat dry. Your face will glow, old skin removed and leaving fresh skin ready to accept all the other Brown Barn facial goodies you apply!

5. Perfect Pedi Products - No matter which product you choose from Brown Barn's foot care category, they will improve your life. Our feet are so often neglected and ignored but so important to our overall daily comfort they deserve this bit of extra attention. My favorite is the Energizing Foot Scrub followed by the Perfect Pedi foot lotion. This is an easy quick treat I can apply daily. My feet free cooled and refreshed and provides a mental lift. Another fav is the foot soak, this is an easy treat to perform while watching television at night!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fall Update 2014

Hi All!

What is it about September 1st that leaves me feeling as though the "Fall" button has been pushed? Does this stem from spending so many years of my life on a public school schedule? Is it that certain crispness to the air here in Wisconsin that heralds Fall weather? Whatever the reason, I often feel this particular season descend upon me every September 1st.

We've had lots of excitement around Brown Barn lately from adding new stores to new lines. With so much activity I thought it might be handy for our customers to get an overview of all that is going on!

NEW BATH LINES/Line Changes:

1. Goat Milk Products: Alyssa Untiedt, Brown Barn's formulator and co-owner, is busy putting the final touches on the formulas for a new line of Goat Milk lotions and Body Butters. Goat Milk is a wonderful lotion base, carrying with it many skin healthy properties. I've had the chance to test the new body butter formulation over the past few weeks and am absolutely in love with it. It's rich, creamy and oh so good.

This line will launch with three signature scents: Oatmeal, Milk & Honey (Brown Barn Style!), Japanese Cherry Blossom, and an as yet un-named Gorgeous floral custom essential oil blend from Alyssa's personal "vault". The line will become part of our "permanent" collection and be available year round. The body butter will replace our previous formulation and be available for custom scenting in our blending bars as well.

We are looking for a launch date on this in early October.

2. Gem Infusions: Those of you who have been Brown Barnies for a few years will recall our test launch of this line under the name "Gem Aesthetics". For those of you who are unfamiliar with the line, this is a line of lotions and washes made by infusing gem/crystals into the water phase of the product. The stones are hand selected by Brown Barn owner Chris Untiedt and the process is carefully overseen by her to ensure the greatest purification during all steps of the production process.

The stones are researched for their beneficial elements and paired with matching essential oils to bring strong emotional and physical benefits to users. We are just finalizing these scents but tentatively we are pairing Amethyst with a Lavender/Rosemary/Basil essential oil blend, Citrine with straight Orange (the most popular during our testing phase), Herkimer Diamond with a Grapefruit EO/Champagne FO blend (A little deviation with the fragrance oil but how can we resist combining Champagne and Diamonds??).

This line will be unveiled around November 1st to coincide with the opening of our new premiere store location in Chippewa Falls, WI. The line will also have it's own web-site with lots of information about crystals and other fun items.

3. Signature Line Retired Blends: We can't really call any blend retired since they will always be available in the blending bar, perhaps "put out to pasture" is a better term. With the addition of the custom blending bar we've found the following scents have received reduce sales and will be "retired" from our permanent Signature Collection: Lemongrass, Coconut Lime Verbena, Green Tea & White Pear, Orange Patchouli, Tahitian Vanilla, Orange Ginger.

Our Signature line will then consist of these favorites: Lavender EO, Bergamot Twist EO blend, Day at the Spa, Moonlight Pomegranate, Sandalwood Vanilla, and Black Raspberry Vanilla.

4. Build a Bath Bar (or what it will be called until we come up with a better name!): This super-cool display of individually packaged bath goodies will allow you to become your own formulator and create custom bath blends for yourself and others! It will include Brown Barn's new line of essential oils, a nice selection of clays, bath additives, Milks (such as Goat and Coconut), Salts and more - all individually packaged for home use. With this comes a selection of bath "recipe" cards. We'll also be offering pre-made kits designed for your own use and great for gift-giving. Look for this to launch first in our Medford location and on-line in about 2 weeks!

5. Bride's Line: With Alyssa (Brown Barn Owner/Formulator) getting married next year we are taking this opportunity to follow her lead and offer out for sale all of the wonderful items she creates and gifts for her own wedding. From Bridesmaid gifts to Pre-Wedding Relaxation're sure to love this new offering.

NEW "OTHER" LINES/Line Changes:

1. Look for more new Olive Oils & Vinegars to be added for some Fall Flavor. Most recently we added Sage & Onion and Cranberry Walnut which are sure to bring added flavor to your Holiday meals. We are working on providing more recipes and cooking information to our customers by November 1st.

2. Several new jewelry designers were recently selected to be added to our Brown Barn lines when Alyssa and Chris (Brown Barn Owners) recently attended a fashion buyer's show in Minneapolis. Look for these items to launch with the opening of the new Chippewa store location around November 1st. Also, look for expanded items in our current selection from Lizzy J and Gypsy Leather jewelry.

3. Wines and wine glasses are being added continuously. Medford store staff is currently obtaining their Server's licenses. As soon as all of them have been turned in we will apply for the seller's license and begin Wine sales. We have some very popular wine flavors and are working on pairing these with an expanded/revised food line for November 1st launch. Once all of the staff in both stores are fully licensed and trained we'll be learning/planning some wine tastings in the stores.


1. Medford, WI: As I'm sure you are all aware, Brown Barn added a new store in Medford, WI this summer. It has been doing great! It has been so fun to see our Medford customers more regularly and be able to provide them with easy access to their products while also making new friends. For those of you who are not aware, the store is located on the corner of Hwy 13 and Perkins in the location previously used by Eartha Naturals. This is a very very small store which poses some unique challenges in stocking. We keep saying the store acts like Hermione's purse from the Harry Potter books...we keep putting more and more items in it and the store keeps accepting the items!

Look for Medford store to see some new faces this fall as Lindsey Meyer moves to our Chippewa Falls location while she attends UW-Eau Claire and Megan Dallas moves to Chippewa in the role of Store Manager! If you are interested in applying for one of these newly vacated clerk positions please do so this week as we are interviewing now.

2. Chippewa Falls, WI: Our new Chippewa Falls, WI store location is tentatively slated to open November 1st. There is some renovation required in this location so pending all goes well our customers can look forward to a large, beautiful shopping space. The Chippewa store will then be Brown Barn's "premiere" location, launching what we hope will be a series of stores in more populated areas over the next several years.

This location has a dedicated private space which will allow Brown Barn to offer customer classes in Essential Oils, Soaping, Candle-Making and more. Classes have been requested repeatedly by our customers over the years so we are thrilled to have the space to not only offer the classes but be able to sell the supplies for use in home crafting as well.

The Chippewa Falls store will also house a fragrance bar, the entire selection of Bar Soap scents (over 110 handmade soap scents to choose from!), expanded/full-size Olive Oil/Vinegar tasting bar, expanded wine selection (pending licensure), and expanded gourmet items, Full jewelry and personal care lines, Bath Robes/Pajamas and so much more!

Follow our Facebook page here to see the store's progress over the coming months:

3. Holcombe, WI: In what can only be described as an unexpected chain of events we find our Holcombe, WI flagship store in Growing Pains right now. This store location is actually part of our manufacturing process. Because of reduced sales due to its remote location/seasonal sales the staff of this store also act as product finishers, bottle fillers, Internet Order processors, and shopping bag/sample producers. In this way, the store sales are supplemented by the needs/sales of our other stores and Internet sales which allow the store to continue to remain open during the very very quiet September thru May sales period.

Brown Barn has experienced a fantastic growth spurt in sales this year resulting in increased demand on the manufacturing/retail production side of the Holcombe store. We anticipate the new stores will increase these demands even more thru Christmas. This is wonderful news for our Holcombe staff! We've even hired two new employees (1.5 FTE) over the last few weeks and increased other employees hours to full or almost full-time.

We now find ourselves in a "Catch 22" type situation. On the one hand we have increased sales in Holcombe over the summer and the clerks are busier than ever with their background duties and on the other hand we know that with the opening of two new locations relatively near the Holcombe store that the Holcombe store will experience reduced sales from our customers who travel to the store from these areas and also from the usual sales dip experienced Fall thru Spring.

We had intended to reduce our sales floor in Holcombe to half so as not to require two clerks during busier days and to reduce our rent expenses so they are more in line with the anticipated reduction in store sales. At the same time, the neighboring Pizza Parlor also left the mall. We'd been using an unused shared bathroom area between the two businesses for temporarily housing unsightly empty packing boxes awaiting break-down or re-purposing and for serving as a waiting dock for the boxes of products being delivered to the other stores. It worked great because the driver could back the van to the door, load the boxes out of the bathrooms and drive away.

When the pizza parlor left we received a call from the landlord telling us we would no longer have use of the bathrooms for this purpose as he would need access to the neighboring unit and be dividing the units out for individual use. This means we have nowhere to go with the unsightly boxes and the cases of products awaiting delivery.

Our only cost effective option, after considering all of the available Holcombe rental locations, is to temporarily close the Holcombe store until we either find another location in Holcombe that can adequately house our production areas and retail sales OR until we build a building (preferable for many reasons). This retail store has to stay in Holcombe as that is where our lab is located. We entertained moving the store to another nearby town in order to serve our regular local customers but it just is not sensible to separate the manufacturing arms of the company at this time. Local sales alone are not enough to support the store acting as a retail store throughout the entire year. Without the additional financial support provided by the Internet order processing and manufacturing support the store would lose too much money to make it viable.

NO staff members will lose their jobs in the store closure. In fact, as mentioned previously, we've actually added staff and increased existing hours. This will continue to happen. Manufacturing and distribution will remain in Holcombe. The retail store will be closed with it's last day being Sunday, September 15.

I know many of you are dear friends of this store and will want to know where your favorite clerks and staff members are going to be working! Here is where you'll see them:

Ashley Jones will be in our Chippewa Store. This has always been planned as Ashley lives in Chippewa.

Brenda Anderson will be stepping back into her role as the Brown Barn delivery van driver, which was also planned previously. Brenda will then work in the lab continuing to finish bags, soaps and make samples on the days she is not seen driving around the area delivering to the stores.

Shelby Justus will be relocated to the lab where she will assist in all areas and learn to make lovely Brown Barn goodies.

Chas Dixon will continue in her role as Lab Manager with even more employees working under her watchful eye. (We also just hired another new part-time lab assistant whose name will be announced later this week!)

Amy Albers will be busy training new employees, smacking the bugs out of our POS systems, overseeing retail store production needs and assisting as needed.

4. Web Sites: The Brown Barn web-site is currently being professionally rebuilt using what we've been promised will be a "state of the art" platform. We are hoping to a see a completely new, more user friendly and beautiful web-site sometime this fall.

So here we have our fall line-up! We hope you continue to enjoy shopping our stores and on-line. We could not be more excited with all of the new growth of Brown Barn. Thank you to all of our lovely have been so supportive and such great friends.

Chris Untiedt
The Brown Barn Company