I don’t know about you but I am always curious to know how a company got started so I thought I would share our story with you…
My husband Jody and I (Carmen) started a fernery back in 1980. We grew cut foliage (the greenery/fern used in floral arrangements) and sold it wholesale. We were quite content with our fern business as it allowed us to make a decent living and better yet, enabled us to spend time together working outdoors, something we both liked to do. That is until the overhead was more than we could make. This was due to several factors such as having to combat fern funguses, paying employees higher wages and increased costs.
Many other growers were moving their operations overseas, as the costs were much lower. As a result, we were not able to compete and had to lower our prices, yet expenses continued to rise so we decided to close shop.
We leased the fernery out for a couple of years until the four hurricanes hit back to back and did so much damage. As we were cleaning everything up, a gentleman from South Africa approached us to lease some of the land, as he wanted to plant onions. He planted 10 acres and while he had a bountiful harvest, he had no market to sell to and ended up losing all 10 acres of crop.
Funny how one thing leads to another…Jody said that he thought he could grow certain crops and felt like there would be a market to sell to so he planted 5 acres of southern peas (black-eyed peas, cream peas, zipper peas and Sadandy Southern Peas, also known as the Cowpea).
We began selling them at our roadside stand (the old packing shed from the fernery). For those of you that are not familiar with the fern business, a packing shed has a large walk in cooler that growers use to keep the fern fresh until it is packed and shipped. Anyway, before we knew it, we had people coming from everywhere to buy our peas.
Jody planted more and more acreage each year and lucky me (with his help of course) got to take care of maintaining, fertilizing, harvesting and selling, as well as doing the bookwork. Long story short, we are now up to 17 acres of peas. And every spring, we start getting calls asking when the peas will be ready.
As if I didn’t have enough to do, we also started planting pickling cucumbers, green peanuts and then added green beans and okra. Then before we knew it, we had a full-fledged vegetable farm. Our pea customers loved being able to buy these along with other fresh grown garden vegetables like cabbage, yellow squash, patty pan squash, turnip greens and more.
I know you must be thinking, what does any of this have to do with premium handmade soaps and lotion, right? Well, with the fern business, we didn’t need bees to pollinate however when we began growing fruits and vegetables, we did.
At first, I would hand pollinate. Then Mr. Fincke gave us a box (hive) of bees. Not only did I like the fact that I no longer had to pollinate the garden by hand, I loved harvesting and better yet, eating the fresh honey, so we bought five more hives.
Are you getting the picture? – Yes, all of a sudden we were now raising honeybees. Funny thing is (not really funny), Jody is allergic to the bees so I take care of them. And, since I no longer had to hand pollinate, I had time to raise the bees. I started harvesting and selling the honey at our roadside stand.
I harvested the honey and pollen but had all of the beeswax that we didn’t have a use for. Since we don’t like to waist anything, we began researching ideas to utilize the beeswax along with the honey and pollen of course.
In doing research, I saw some containers of hard hand lotion from a Beekeeping supplier and thought that was interesting as one of the ingredients was beeswax, so I bought some and gave a friend some to try too. My friend had hard, dry, cracked heels so she used the hard hand lotion to see if it would help. Mind you, she had tried numerous other concoctions throughout the years and nothing seemed to make a difference. My friend was so amazed at how soft and smooth the hard hand lotion made her heels that she asked me if she could buy some from me. I thought well, I could make this myself and so the business began…
I started researching, creating, testing and tweaking our recipes to get the hard hand lotion, handmade soap recipe and lotion just right.
I didn’t stop there. I began researching about the benefits of honey and other lush soap and lotion ingredients like the benefits of goat milk, products made from honey, how to make lip balm and how honey soap is made. From that, I formulated our own special recipes for C-Annie’s Premium Bath and Body Soaps, Lotion and Lip Balm. All of our beauty supply products are handmade with love and care to ensure the highest quality possible.
Thank you for shopping C-Annie’s! I am truly grateful for your support.