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Shop Talk

January 8, 2011

Shop Talk: Goldpetals Aromatherapy Products and Barn

Goldpetals Aromatherapy Products and Barn 539 Christian Hill Road, Cooperstown Owner: Ellen White Weir Established: 1998 Employees: None

Shop Talk is a weekly column featuring locally owned and operated businesses. This week, we talk to Ellen White Weir of Goldpetals Aromatherapy, based in Cooperstown.

How long have you lived in the area?

I was born in this area, but I left for a time and returned about 25 years ago.

Tell me about your business:

At Goldpetals, I grow calendula flowers that I use to create botanical oils, healing creams and salves along with other aromatherapy oils using only essential oils without chemicals. I sell these products at farmers' markets, specialty shops and through online orders from my website.

Describe a typical day in your business:

A typical day depends on the season. In the spring and summer, I am planting and growing. I maintain a 38-acre property that is a plant sanctuary for pollinators _ birds, bees and other insects.

I begin drying flowers and infusing them naturally in the sun with extra-virgin olive oil and storing this concentrate for making products in the fall and winter.

Year-round, I am filling orders and shipping to customers. Farmers' markets are where I sell my Goldpetal products, and the markets are where I meet new customers who I can talk to about the historical healing power of calendula and the mixtures I have available.

This past summer, I held a camp for youths ranging in age from 5 years old to about 11, where I taught them about composting, wildflowers, observing insects and infusing oils, among many other activities. The response to this program was greater than I expected. It was fabulous, so I hope to hold the camp again this summer.

How did you get started in this line of work?

I have been involved in retail business for 26 years and an herbalist for many years as well. It began with a workshop on herbs and the desire to create a product that I started from the ground up that would help people. Calendula is good for the body and soul.

Where do you see this business in five years?

I think that keeping Goldpetals small is important so that the quality remains and that I am the one making the products. My three main sellers are Creamy Lavender with Shea and Mango Butter, Calendula Lemon Balm and Lavender Body and Room Spray. I think that in five years most of my products will be the same, although I did recently add a new product called Lavender Baby for young children and people with sensitive skin.

Describe a memorable moment in your workplace:

There are so many, but seeing the faces of people putting the cream on and it helps them is memorable to me. When people are excited about my products and appreciate them, (it) is always memorable.

What have you learned from your work?

I have learned that I want to keep this business small, that this is important. I am also always learning from this work as I discover and learn about all of the plants on my property and how they change.

What is the most challenging part of what you do?

It is challenging to work alone sometimes when I know that working with others can spark creativity.

The most enjoyable?

Definitely working with the children during camp this past summer. As a former educator, I am happy to be with children, and this is a really enjoyable program.

How do you define success for your business?

Making enough money to pay the bills and buy groceries. Success for me is contentment with what I am doing.

What are some advantages as well as drawbacks of doing business in this area?

Maybe a drawback is the small population here -- that limits my market. But it is an advantage as well, because it allows me to talk with my customers and get to know them. This is an incredibly beautiful area with many natural resources.

What sets you apart from your competitors?

There are not a lot of competitors, and my products are unique, made from essential oils, not fragrance oils. At Goldpetals, I use the plants that I grow and local resources to create these unusual healing products.

What advice would you give to someone trying to enter your field of work?

I would tell anyone who was interested in this line of work or really any line of work to be passionate about what you do!

Shop Talk interviews are conducted by Terry Hannum. For information about Shop Talk, call The Daily Star at 432-1000, ext. 217, or e-mail news@ thedailystar.com.

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