In lieu of our monthly Meet the Producer series, and to celebrate National Small Business Week, we decided to talk with Sara Catlett of Pioneer Candle. She was previously highlighted in our Meet the Producer series, and has now agreed to give us insight into how the Co-op helps her small family business. Like Sara, the majority of our Producers rely on the constant support of Co-op members to keep their businesses running. We hope you’ll take a moment to read her thoughts.
How has the Co-op helped your business?
The Co-op was really where my business began, so the ways in which it has helped me are innumerable. My first block of raw beeswax came from the Co-op. Also, the first candles I sold were through the Co-op in December 2014. The most significant way the Co-op has helped my business, however, is by its unwavering standards on sustainably-and-ethically-produced goods. This ethos has been a continual inspirational to me. When I decided to start a business, I used the Co-op Producer application as a directive for running such a business. For example, when Producers apply, they must explain where their materials are sourced from, the standards by which those materials are produced, and even the type of packaging they will use. The Co-op demands high standards and I modeled my business after these principles.
In what way does your family benefit from the sales you receive through the Co-op?
I have been a producer for 17 wonderful months now. Although I am a very small business, this has become a regular point of income for my family. Every penny of profit I make, I spend right back at the Co-op. This allows me to earn fresh, local food for my family. This is something that is extremely important to me, especially after my daughter’s health problems. Furthermore, I feel great knowing the farmers I buy from are able to support their families from the income they receive.
When you purchase local, you aren’t just supporting the person you are buying from–you are supporting an entire chain of local artisans, farmers and entrepreneurs. In the case of my beeswax candles, you are supporting Honey Hill Farm, Earth Elements, Curtis Apiary and Ace Beehive–all places I buy beeswax from. You are also supporting Proserv, a Tulsa company where I buy 100 percent recycled packing materials. You support a local woodworker and a local organic flower gardener, who I purchase materials from. (Stay tuned for these upcoming candle products!) Lastly, you are also supporting local bee populations because the more local bee products folks buy the more bees will be raised, and this is good for everyone. I find security and tranquility knowing that no matter how crazy the world gets, the local economy we are fostering together can provide my family and me with everything we truly need.
What are one or two success stories of your membership with the Co-op so far?
One of the bee farmers I buy from lost his wife a few years back. He now lives alone on his small farm. Last December, I met with him and bought all his beeswax. I was proud to be able to purchase it with earnings from my Co-op sales at a fair price and support a local farmer. This money allowed him to make the trip to Tennessee to see his only son for Christmas.
To be clear, everyone who purchases beeswax candles from me made this happen. These are the little, but significant, success stories I run into all the time now that I run a small business. It’s easy these days to separate yourself from others, but we really are all intertwined. By supporting each other, we can build a better world; the kind of world we all want to live in.
Thank you to all members for your continued business and support!