Monday, May 23, 2011

Spotlight on Mommy -- Faith Dionne of Bees and Beans

Last month I introduced Bees and Beans with you as part of my Gift Guide for Mother's Day.  Today, I want to share my Spotlight on Mommy interview with the owner of Bees and Beans, Faith Dionne.  If you missed my previous post about Faith's products, click here to read my post now.

Name: Faith Dionne
Company Name/Product/Service: Bees and Beans
Company Location: Portland, Oregon
Company Website: [email protected]
Facebook URL:!/pages/Bees-Beans/108075529229695
Twitter Handle: @beesandbeanspdx
Age of Company: 1 year
Favorite Book: Animal, vegetable, miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Tell us a little bit about yourself.  How many children do you have?  What are their ages? Your hobbies? Etc.

I am the mom of two little ones, a boy (4) and a girl (2).  I was a SAHM for 4 years and now run my business out of my licensed domestic kitchen part time.  My hobbies revolve around food and the outdoors for the most part and include gardening and foraging.

Briefly explain your business.  How did it come about?

Bees and Beans is a small batch candy company that specializes in handmade artisan candy bars.  The business formed almost on its own with a little help from me.  It began as a feeling of readiness to begin something new.  I had been making hand dipped salted caramels with local honey and cream for friends and family and noticed that folks rarely ate just one.  They typically ate three or four!  I decided to save myself some time and started making bars of caramel.  Then the idea to further feature my region's ingredients came into my mind.  I started creating bars by considering the best confectionery "venue" for the ingredients.  I began talking about my product to other food minded people and sampling them on bars.  Before my official launch I had 5 wholesale accounts ready to sell my candy bars!  I employed the talent of friends, the advice of peers and the support of my family.  I now have 12 wholesale accounts and have begun selling on the internet.

What is a typical work day like? 

In the winter I work in the afternoon so that I can spend the morning with my kids and taking care of home life.  I have childcare come to play with my kids while I work until 5:00 on production and deliveries.  Then it is time to cook dinner!  Summers I work in the morning to take advantage of cooler weather.

What has been a struggle while starting up your company?  

Maintaining my social life has been difficult.  Mornings that used to be used for playdates and coffee visits are now used to do laundry and grocery shopping.

What did you do in your past work life?

 I was a professional pastry chef for 10 years in resort hotels and high end restaurants around the United States.

What have been some of your major successes?

As I started my business I set a clear set of goals for my business so that I can look back at them and see how I am doing.  Among them are reconnecting with the food community (after a long absence), bringing a product to market that pleases a wide range of customers, and to build a business that is an exercise in small economies and locality.  I feel like I have been successful in those things and I find it really fulfilling.

What have been some of your major challenges?

 Finding balance with the business and home life and being content with that balance.  I find myself often yearning, one way or the other, so I am still working on finding that magic place.  I think it keeps changing and that is why it is tricky!

On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?

Pardon the theme song, but Modest Mouse's "float on" helps me.  "Alright don't worry we'll all float on
Even if things get heavy we'll all float on"...and it is true!

What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?

Be flexible!  Be watchful of needs of your kids, husband, friends, and business and try to help.  However if you need to come up short for someone it should be the business.

What is next for your business?

Probably a part time employee.  I brought in help to package for a huge order I processed and it was amazing!  A small step like that frees up a lot of time for me to take on more orders.

Do you have any advice for other mom entrepreneurs that are starting out and struggling, or are on the fence about starting a business? 

My best advice is to not force it.  Pray about it if that is something you do and be watchful of signs.  If it is supposed to happen it should happen in a peaceful way and feel like a gift.

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