We had only been living in Durham for about a year and a half when we decided to turn a hobby into a business. At the time, the idea of "home" for me was still defined as 50% Pittsburgh and 50% Chicago. As I mentioned before, I was born outside of Pittsburgh (and a lot of my family still lives there), but I moved around a lot as a kid because of my dad's job. Chicago was the first city I picked as a place where I wanted to live. I also lived there longer than any other city outside of the first 10 years of my life in Latrobe. Scott had never lived outside of Illinois. Aside from undergrad and grad school, he lived in the Chicagoland area for most of his life.
We moved to Durham for the weather, the lower cost of living, and all the outdoor activities Barley could handle.
We have stayed because of the community. When we started Barley Labs, we were struck immediately by the support from both other small businesses and from our customers. From Sean, the CEO of Fullsteam, encouraging us and our business from the start to Jack, the owner of Gateway Building Company, who built our bakery and is now building our new retail space (and has patiently been dealing with me for nearly a year now) to Katy and Chris over at The Glass Jug Beer Lab who have been so incredibly generous in sharing resources and insights with us -- this business does not exist without the community of people we have met over the past five years.
To celebrate that, we are going to do our best to fill our shop with locally made products. We're still reaching out to local vendors, but here are a few we're particularly excited about...
Here's what I love about the small business community in Durham: There's this sense that there's room for everyone, which takes away an unhealthy competitive landscape and instead creates an incredibly healthy collaborative one.
If you've ever met Kahli and Eric, the co-owners of Oliver's, you'd know that even you wanted to dislike them, you couldn't possibly. Not only are they fantastic people, they have great treats and cookies. We'll be proud to carry their products in our shop. Barley and Hops are also happy customers of Oliver's Collar as we buy our dog food from their shop in Woodcroft Shopping Center.
We were at the Durham Farmer's Market one Saturday morning, and we wandered down Hunt Street to check out the local artist vendors. We saw a table filled with the most beautiful handmade signs/home decor/accessories made with reclaimed wood. I, as discreetly as I could, took a photo for my "reach out to these vendors for the shop" file. Many months later, I finally got to meet Taryn, the wonderfully talented owner of Strickly Handmade. She recommended these bottle openers for our shop, and we were SOLD. I mean, seriously -- how cute are these? We'll have them available for purchase in our shop once we open.
We have a love/hate relationship with social media. We're not huge fans of the negativity that can exist in the social world, but we do love being able to find great products. We did just that through Instagram. Tippett Creek Dog Soap was a recommended account, and the photos they posted were so adorable that we needed to learn more about them. We love the concept of their all-natural dog soaps (they have options for sensitive skin, long coats, and short coats), and we can't wait to sell them in our shop!
We'll have soap for dogs AND soap for humans! We met the lovely Lisa, owner of Carolina Soap Market, at an event at BottleMixx in North Raleigh. She specializes in handmade soap with quality ingredients, including NC beer and cider! We have a few bars in our house, and they smell incredible. When you pick up a bar of Tippett Creek Dog Soap for your pup, you also can treat yourself to a bar of Carolina Soap Market soap at our shop.
We are obsessed with these candles. Not only do they smell incredible, they use natural soy wax with a cotton wick AND owner Melissa donates to animal shelters and rescues with every candle that she sells. The jars are beautiful and the scents she creates are simply gorgeous. It makes a great gift for the dog and candle lover.
Again, these are just a few of the local vendors we'll have represented in the shop. We can't wait to share more of their stories and products with you.
And to those of you who have been a part of our journey -- thank you for making Durham home.
Until next time, pals.