H: Alright, so we’ve been gone a while, but we have hella stories to tell you guys cause so much has been happening. Dria will pop in on us in a little bit but I cannot wait to gossip with y’all.
So let’s hop right in! The lease for the apartment we were living in expired and we needed somewhere to live. We started looking for cheaper accommodation, because we are about to start building on the land and we didn’t want to go bankrupt. We thought about moving to an apartment in Batesville or renting a cheaper house there, but because Batesville really doesn’t have any industries most people who live there own their houses. So there was very little in terms of options. So you all remember our farmer, Mr. Brown, right Now that I think about it I don’t know if we’ve mentioned Brown. (D: I’m not sure if we have, but if you know the Oxford markets, you know Brown!) If we haven’t we will definitely have to do a whole blog post about him. He is how our journey began. It’s how D and I met each other.
Anywho… we’ve been farming on his farm for over one year now and for some reason, I think because of the stress of starting this new business with D and trying to balance life, he remembered that there was a house on the farm that had been abandoned for about 20 years.
Well, he showed it to me and suggested that if we fixed it up, we could live there while we built our house. It took some convincing cause my husband is not about being uncomfortable especially with kids, but we went on a 30 day mission to move into the house. We are currently in the house and we moved in with the inside mostly completed and the outside still needing a sh*t ton of work. I mean it will be a while, because we kept our circle very close (thanks COVID). We had Brown and a pastor friend as the consistent workers along with my husband, Dria’s husband and her brother and a few other friends replacing a roof and renovating the whole house. Now it’s just too cold so we are going to have to finish whenever we have the motivation. I’ve decided that having things and being settled does not happen in one day. I am not living to present myself in a way that gives anyone the perception that I have it all together, so being in a house that isn’t completely finished and having the patience to know that I can’t have everything in it at once is a good lesson that I am learning everyday.
One of the days we drove past the house I noticed a giant greenhouse on the other side of the street. It is beautiful and looked like nobody had ever done anything in it. Of course I called D immediately after asking Brown about it and suggested we talk to the lady who owns it. I’m telling you guys, community is huge factor in the success of a small business! People are inherently good and usually if you ask you will receive. One of the reasons I absolutely LOVE having a partner is that you are bolder and braver because you know you are taking risks with another person. So of course, because I’ve been looking for an opening I was driving by her house (albeit very slowly) and I noticed an AT&T truck and the owner of the house outside. She waved and instead of waving I pulled up and took the opportunity to introduce myself . After pleasantries, I mentioned that I had noticed the greenhouse. She mentioned that it was just sitting there and that she had planned on doing something to it but never got the chance to before her health got to her. Then like a miracle she said I could use it if I wanted to.
Yo… you guys all know what we are trying to do in a greenhouse right? I didn’t want us to set up a whole tea factory and she would ask me what the hell I was thinking. So I told her I had a partner and that we had just started a tea business and that we would love to come and talk to her. I went straight to home to call D, and we started screaming. We have been beyond blessed with every opportunity that has presented itself.
We spent the next few weeks after I met Ms. M, the owner of the greenhouse, finishing up the inside of the house so we could move in there and not be homeless. One Saturday, when D came to help out we snuck into the greenhouse and guys it is beautiful. I mean, brand new and huge with an opening in the front and the back. We stood there sneaking around for about ten minutes while we planned and discussed what we would do when we got it (positive reinforcement right). After we were done we walked a straight path through thorny bush from the greenhouse to my new house and that’s how we got the idea of asking if we could just clear a path from my house to the greenhouse. (Ohhhh and as you all know D was in the wreck where her car was totaled so in that period she got a new car! A sweet sweet car. One with seat warmers and all kinds of techy stuff.
So we moved in the first week of November and last week D made a pecan pie that she insisted had to be homemade in order for us to go talk to Ms. M. We walked there nervously and rang her doorbell and after what seemed like an eternity, she opened her door and invited us in. We talked about this new community we just moved into, we talked about our people and how we wanted them to be more represented in this neighborhood. She mentioned that she was glad we were moving to the farm and that she hoped we would stay. She talked about her late husband, all the neighbors, past and present and she asked questions about us.
Well after about 30 mins of chit chatting we asked about the greenhouse and we decided on an agreement for how we would use the green house and what tools she had available to us. We talked about water and figured out how we would pay her for the water bill. We decided we would not need electricity in the green house at the moment and lastly, we asked her if we could clear a path from my house to hers so I wouldn’t have to walk on her driveway to get to the greenhouse. One of the thoughts we also had was to ask for about an acre of land to plant the herbs we wanted to put in the ground and we remembered that the house I’m currently living in, sits on about 20 acres.
So we have a greenhouse and we still get to work with Mr. Brown, because we are all on the same farm and we still are the faces of the Browns farm, so we have to stay connected to it. This has really taught us that asking is the first step to getting a YES.
D: So, quick personal update! As many of you know and we mentioned in a previous blog, I was in a terrible accident resulting in a shoulder injury and the loss of my car. Not having a car is definitely a life lesson in patience, humility, and learning how to be dependent. An errand that normally takes 30 minutes can take up to a week when you don’t have a car. Anyway, I finally have my own car now! Her name is Serena and I plan to keep her as long as she’ll have me (or until Justevia gets a company car lol). My shoulder has been continuously healing thanks to physical therapy (shoutout to Elite Physical Therapy because they’re so amazing). Shoulder injuries are no joke, I had to have help putting on pants for a while and it still hurts when I put on a jacket. Having patience with yourself is much different than having patience with others, trust me. Healing is slow and sometimes painful, but trust the process. I’m also not a generally patient person (ask H and my entire family lol) but 2020 has had other plans regarding this part of my personality.
And now, onto the business updates! Justevia having the opportunity to grow *without cost* in a greenhouse right across the street from H’s temporary house is really incredible. Like H said, it was a lot of manifestation, positive thinking, and hopes/prayers that landed us this opportunity. In our last blog post, we talked about how you can’t be afraid to ask and I need y’all to keep repeating that to yourselves. There have been times where we’ve been doubtful or worried about the future and that’s normally when we do something crazy. When we worried about the greenhouse, I practically harassed H out of the house telling her that we needed to go see the inside in order to plan our layout. I wish I could’ve captured us sneaking through about 100 yards of weeds, trees, and thorns just to peek inside.
Along with being bold, don’t be afraid to butter people up a bit. If you didn’t know, my mother used to sell baked goods at the Saturday market here in Oxford (shoutout to Sonja’s Taste of Heaven, she’s in Chicago now if you need catering/holiday meals/baked goods/etc.). Thank the heavens I inherited her culinary skills and know the value of homemade food, especially here in the south. I tried my best to explain to H why I couldn’t just buy a pecan pie and had to make it from scratch lol. I made Ms. M my mother’s renown pecan pie an hour before asking about the greenhouse. It was still warm when we handed it to her with our begging faces. She texted us about an hour after the visit saying how much she enjoyed the pie and if you know me, you know I worry about people enjoying my food. (Ask H, I almost didn’t take her the pie because I thought it was overcooked and called my mom 50 times to make sure I was doing it the right way.) Anyway, when you ask for something, make sure that you’re not the only one benefiting from the arrangement. I made sure to ask Ms. M what she originally planned on growing in the greenhouse so that we can give her some produce throughout the year. We want to make sure that we’re good tenants that aren’t burdensome.
Also, let me tell y'all about H’s house. Her 30 day mission was INTENSE. That’s the main reason we kinda fell off the face of the Earth in regards to the blog. The house was borderline dilapidated a month ago. Today, it is the warmest country house I’ve seen in a while. Our families came together to paint, roof, floor, and clean up this place on such a short notice. Even I was on the roof for a minute (mainly to be nosy and my knees were shaking the entire time). In high school, I took a theater production class and wanted to be a carpenter (I know, not similar at all to nutrition) so I was familiar with building/painting/deconstructing things with a deadline. I was still questioned by the men when asking for any tool outside of tape or a paintbrush lol. This remodeling project also gave us time to think and dream about the future of Justevia as well as handle some of the behind the scenes operations.
If you’re thinking of starting a small business, it’s important that you know the resources out there for you. Here, in Oxford, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council (YAK) in addition to the Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Development Center are great resources for information. These groups, in addition to Tammy Herod, helped us get our sh*t together so that this is a legitimate business and not a hobby that makes money occasionally. We opened a business banking account with the MS Federal Credit Union with the purpose of having history with them in case we ever needed a business loan. We also opened business accounts with money apps, such as Cashapp so that we aren’t mixing our personal funds with our business funds. We made a plan for us to stay on top of our accounting and stock until we can have a professional accountant come along (counting down the days for this here). We also applied for different grant programs, including the YAK Community Supported Arts (CSA) Program. I'm SO happy to announce that we were accepted into the CSA program (as of yesterday) and look forward to working with and learning even more from the Arts Council. Our local community and community resources are keeping Justevia alive and we’re so excited about our future.
Anyway, we have so much more to tell you guys; however, you’re going to have to wait until the next blog post! I promise, it won’t be a month before the next one! Make sure you sign up for email notifications at the bottom of the website and follow us on social media to stay up to date with us!