Interviews

Interviews

Love blooms Where Family Sows: A visit with Two Little Buds Florist


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“It kind of just happened.”

Isn’t it funny how the best things seem to “just happen?” Career changes, spontaneous romances, entrepreneurial endeavors. Sometimes these things seem to just fall into our laps. The stars align, we sit next to the right person on an airplane or an unforeseen change of plans, whatever it may be, forces us to challenge ourselves and step out of the comfy little box where we all tend to linger. Sometimes, even, you go to a concert with your Grandpa and walk out arm-in-arm with your sister bursting with ideas for a new blog.

But these things don’t just happen, do they? Venturing into a new industry, nurturing a new relationship, starting a business from scratch, all these things take more than an idea. More than just the proverbial light bulb over our head. These things take dedication. They take passion and determination, and confidence and being able to take failures on the chin. Most of all they take hard work.

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Mindy Staton and her mom, Alice Francis, began filling orders out of Alice’s greenhouse and when word spread swiftly across town, they quickly outgrew their greenhouse operation, leading them to start Two Little Buds in Hamilton, OH. Not long after, they also began Morning Sun Flower Farm nearby. (We’re hoping to tag along on a little tour of her farm this spring – stay tuned!) 

Mindy was kind enough to take some time out of her day to tell us a little about what it’s like to not only be a florist, but to be a florist preparing for the Valentine’s Day rush.

Take a stroll through most floral shops in early February and you can expect roses. Hundreds of them in every color and arrangement you can imagine, but we walked in to find ranunculus, anemones and tulips bursting with cheery color filling vase after vase, making the entire store smell like springtime.

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Two Little Buds has decided to do Valentine’s Day a bit differently this year by focusing on longer-lasting, American-grown flowers for their Valentine’s Day customers, breaking the I’ll-take-a-dozen-red-roses-and-an-I-love-you-card mold.

When they’re not filling vases this time of year, they are hard at work sowing seeds at the flower farm. Mindy says her “in-laws owned a lot of land in Oxford, Ohio and the flower farm kind of just happened.” She’s a farm girl at heart, with a passion for flowers, a love of nature and a insatiable desire to keep her hands in the dirt. Her flower farm and storefronts aren’t just a business, however. They’re a chance to be with her family. They all pitched in to build her “hoop house” (an unheated greenhouse), creating Mindy’s favorite memories of her floral venture.

Somewhere between developing a personal relationship with upcoming brides, custom orders, corporate events and pop-ups at stores like Anthropologie and Madewell, the girls of Two Little Buds also offer Farm to Vase workshops at their flower farm three times a year. Workshop dates are April 14th, July 17th and September 22nd. You can sign up to learn how to arrange your own hand-picked creation HERE.

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Two Little Buds will soon be moving from their Bridgewater Falls location to D Street in Hamilton, but can also be found at their “flower bar” inside the Lane + Kate store in Over the Rhine. Flowers, gorgeous jewelry and “gifty” things all in the same shop? Yes, please!

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Time is running out for Valentine’s Day blooms everyone! (Okay, we’re actually looking at you, gentlemen) Break tradition, skip the imported roses this year and spread love by shopping local and supporting your local florist!

 

SDJ E-Signature copy

Interviews

Passion, Family and Crazy Good Pastries: A Visit to The Almond Sisters Bakery


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Yesterday we accidentally had cookies for lunch. Sure we had plans to have a “light lunch,” but when you stop into one of your favorite bakeries around lunch time, those good-intentioned plans for a salad go by the wayside. A quiche appetizer. A croissant to get started. Followed by a brownie wrapped in a chocolate chip cookie … and likely the start to 3+ cavities later, we left in a cloud of sugar-induced bliss. Absolute bliss, I tell you.

Allow us to introduce you to the chocolate chip geode. AKA: heaven on earth

We spent nearly an hour with Jenni and Brandi, the owners of The Almond Sisters Bakery in downtown Hamilton, OH. (…by the way, if you’ve never spent an hour in a bakery – we would like to strongly recommend it. Breathing in warm sugar for 60 minutes is good for the soul.) Two sisters who share a passion for pastries and, more importantly, family. In fact, that’s where The Almond Sisters got their start.

Where it all started: their almond twist and thumbprint cookies pictured here among other tasty treats

When their go-to coffee shop discontinued their beloved almond twist pastries, they decided to start making their own. This lead to a booth at the Hamilton Farmers Market to raise extra money for their families. They sold a variety of handmade items, breastfeeding covers, cloth diapers, Jenni’s husbands spice rub….and pastries. After a while, they realized their baked goods were becoming their best seller and thought, “this could be something.”
“Something” turned into a quaint and quirky little bakery about 2 years ago and has quickly become a staple in the renovation project of downtown Hamilton. Located in a historic building that was once a lawyer’s office, a banquet hall and finally, Pedro’s Mexican Restaurant, The Almond Sisters Bakery is now housed in what was part of the façade removal celebration in Hamilton several years ago. The stark green façade being removed to reveal the original building’s true beauty.

As we sat with Jenni and Brandi, several regulars came in, and were greeted by first name. “Miss Denise,” a local artist who has developed a relationship with Jenni and Brandi and their family, sat in the corner sipping her coffee for the majority of our visit. Another frequent visitor came in with the promise of bringing a small gift for Jenni’s boys next week. It’s quite evident that they sincerely care for their customers and that building a sense of community is very important to them.
While they are passionate about what they do, putting in more than 80 hours a week, their advice for hopeful entrepreneurs is that “it’s not about the money. It’s doing what you love and always put your family first.”

Their family first approach has led them to make a few changes to their business hours in the coming weeks. They will now be closed on Sunday AND Monday beginning after Labor Day weekend, but fear not friends, you can still dive into one of their pastry pillows Tuesday-Friday (8am – 6pm) and Saturdays (9am – 2pm).
You may be wondering “What is their secret to sugary success?” While you won’t find any recipes here, their goodies are truly a labor of love. “Everything is made by hand. Our almond twist, our best seller, has more than 324 folds. The pastry pillow has 81 folds. All folded by hand. Our husbands’ business, Unsung Salvage, made all of our light fixtures, shelving and our display case.”

Industrial whisk light fixtures made by Unsung Salvage, also in Hamilton

 

For our pumpkin-everything lovers … they’re unleashing all of their pumpkin treats on September 1st. You can bet we will be first in line for a pumpkin pastry pillow (say that 9 times fast.) … and pumpkin muffin … and thumbprint cookies … and a birthday cake geode….and….

Interviews

A Visit with Sara from Sara’s House in Hamilton, OH


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There is so much to love about our sleepy little hometown. The history. The architecture. The everybody-knows-everybody small town feel without really being a small town. There is a sense of community among its inhabitants that can be seen throughout; from the impressive turnout at the Antique Car or 4th of July parades to the “I believe in Hamilton” t-shirts on the backs of those behind the revitalization of downtown. It’s a quirky little city with its own personality – and we’re proud to call it home.

We hope you’ll join us as we explore some of the people and events behind the downtown makeover in the next few months, but for now we’d like to introduce you to one of our favorite little shops that always seems to have just what we’re looking for: Sara’s House.

Located on High Street (in the old “Hungry Bunny” restaurant space) is a little treasure owned by Sara Vallandingham. A Nashville native turned Hamilton believer and a girl after our own heart. Take a step inside her store and you’ll see why. Every corner holds a little piece of history. In fact, even the building itself has a great story – but we’ll get there in a moment.

Let’s begin with what they’re known for … her modern-meets-memory-lane take on lamps and lighting. She and her husband have turned things like antique radios, car parts, even old milkshake blenders into the perfect antique touch for any room in your house.

Among the small gifts, candles and antique or refinished items available in her store is a beautiful and well loved antique piano. (The neatest part – it belonged to her grandmother who raised a family from its black and white keys – a World War II widow who made extra money by giving piano lessons.) It is big and beautiful and is the perfect nostalgic centerpiece for her store.

Charm runs throughout the entire space, and doesn’t stop with its owner. While talking about our shared love for meeting and new people through pursuing a dream. Sara gave us some great advice. “Its not always about the numbers. Sometimes its about community.” Sara’s House is part of the “Alive After 5” series in Hamilton. She wants to encourage everyone to put tomorrow’s event “Under the Sea” on their calendar and bring the family along for a scavenger hunt, coconut bowling and lots of family fun. Alive After 5 is held every first Thursday of the month from 5pm – 9pm and features crafts, music, great food and of course – shopping!

Check out some highlights from our interview below:

SJD: Why Hamilton?
My storefront used to be in bridgewater. When the building on High street went up for sale we thought we’d give it a try, and I love it. It has a wonderful sense of community.
SJD: Do you know the history of your building? 
Most recently is was a bail bondsman, before that is was a restaurant . During the flood it was a cigar shop, But in the 30s it was a dance studio.
   
SJD: Did you find anything while renovating?
The coolest thing was a cardboard box filled with a bunch of dance tickets and some dance shoes, from when the room was a dance studio. I framed all of those tickets actually.
SJD: What do you look for?
I look for anything. Our signature items have become our lamps.
You’ll find on the Sara’s House website that the joy that she experiences every day in her quaint corner boutique is her “own kind of fulfilling happiness.” It was at that moment that 3 customers walked in and were greeted by that same welcoming smile that we were welcomed by just 30 minutes prior. We encourage everyone to take the time to visit and to bring Sara’s House to your house.