Cottage industries on the rise in Monadnock region

  • Erica Fayrie, who lives in Hancock, mixes self-care products at her home. Staff photo by Abby Kessler

  • Candie Arsenault of Rindge has been operating Moose Mountain Candle Co. since 2010 out of her basement. Her family owned and operated business primarily focuses on creating hand poured soy candles, seen below, using soy purchased from farms in Indiana and Iowa. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Candie Arsenault of Rindge has been operating Moose Mountain Candle Co. since 2010 out of her basement. Her family owned and operated business primarily focuses on creating hand poured soy candles using soy purchased from farms in Indiana and Iowa. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Candie Arsenault of Rindge has been operating Moose Mountain Candle Co. since 2010 out of her basement. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Rowan Beaudoin-Friede, 19, of Temple, bakes bread for weekly deliveries in his kitchen on General Miller Highway. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Rowan Beaudoin-Friede, 19, of Temple, bakes bread for weekly deliveries in his kitchen on General Miller Highway. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Rowan Beaudoin-Friede, 19, of Temple, bakes bread for weekly deliveries in his kitchen. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • Rowan Beaudoin-Friede, 19, of Temple, bakes bread for weekly deliveries in his kitchen on General Miller Highway. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Erica Fayrie shows one of her products in her Hancock home/office/manufacturing facility. Staff photo by Abby Kessler

Published: 4/17/2018 8:00:56 AM

A growing number of people are supplementing their income with what began as their hobbies – and some are taking it a step beyond that, to make it their full-time job.

Sean Ryan, executive director of the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, said that he hears from a lot of residents who would like to start producing food or artisanal products out of their home. Perhaps 40 percent, he said, are looking to grow it into a substantial business.

New Hampshire has a cottage industry law, which allows residents to make and sell products, including food products, made in their home at Farmers’ Markets, farm stalls and stores, or small retail stores, without a license, as long as profits are under $20,000 a year. If it grows beyond that, or if makers would like to sell their goods in restaurants, they can apply to have a cottage industry license and grow their business.

The majority in the region, said Ryan, are just looking to supplement their existing income. But some have taken the opportunity provided by the cottage industry law to grow their business into a full-fledged industry.  

Best Brothers Bakery

Finding gluten-free bread products that are actually tasty is a challenge. Brothers Rowan and Forest Beaudoin-Friede know it well, having grown up looking for products that would accommodate Forest’s gluten allergy, and often finding the results lacking.

“So often the texture or the taste is off-putting,” said Rowan, 19, of Temple, in an interview Saturday with the Ledger-Transcript. “A good gluten-free bread was a treat. I think this is true of a lot of cottage industries: It just starts with something you’re fond of.”

That’s why, several years ago, as a student in ConVal, Forrest, now 22, of Peterborough, decided to come up with a business design for a gluten-free bakery while taking a business class. His brother had the opportunity to attend a ConVal open house where he got to see his brother’s idea.

“I thought, ‘You know, there aren’t really any gluten-free bakeries in this entire area,’” said Rowan. “’That’s actually pretty feasible.’”

From there, the idea took root, and it’s continually grown. 

This home-grown business opportunity has been important for both men, said Rowan, but particularly for Forest, who has down syndrome.

“As a person with disabilities, Forrest faces discrimination in the job market,” said Rowan. 

Not only does Best Brothers Bakery provide a source of independent income for both of them, it goes a long way to proving just how capable of running a business he is, said Rowan. And the brothers would like to push that even further, by pressing into more items that allow Forrest to have more active control in the process, such as selling pancake or brownie baking mixes.

At the time they started the business, both Rowan and Forest were in high school, but between their school work, they started laying the foundation for what soon would become Best Brothers Bakery, a small operation consisting of the two of them in their mother’s kitchen, making both sweet and savory breads. Rowan began working on a business plan, and Forest began to do recipe testing to decide what would make their small menu.

The two did some crowdfunding to raise an initial $1,100 to cover their start-up costs, and went into the summer of 2016 armed with a handful of gluten-free options to bring to Farmers’ Markets.

There is some resistance to a gluten-free only menu, said Rowan, mainly because many people have had the same experience he and Forest had growing up – they have a preconceived notion that gluten-free food “doesn’t taste good.”

“It’s remarkable how set people are in their views about things like that,” said Rowan. “But we’ve found that if we let them try a sample, and then tell them that it’s gluten-free, they’re often surprised.”

But for those that have gluten intolerance, allergies or have cut it out from their diet for health reasons, it’s been a boon, said Rowan, and they’ve been steadily building their customer base.

“We got a 200 percent return on our investment, and we were pretty thrilled with just that,” said Rowan. “We decided we’d definitely do it again the next summer.”

Since then, said Rowan, the business has only grown, and seems poised to continue in that direction. Since starting, the brothers have applied for an attained a cottage industry license, which allows them to sell to a wider variety of stores or make internet sales. Seeing the business grow is something that Rowan and Forest would like to see.

They are currently in talks with some regional stores about carrying their goods, and are currently selling their bread and cinnamon rolls at the Bagel Mill in Peterborough.

“Getting this to be more than a brief blip in our lives would be really fulfilling,” said Rowan.

Moose MountainCandle Co.

It was a love of candles coupled with her daughter’s breathing troubles that led Candie Arsenault to starting her hand-poured soy candle business, Moose Mountain Candle Co.

Arsenault – who operates her business out of the garage of her Rindge home – said she got the idea to start a candle business after learning that constantly burning paraffin wax candles in the home could have been worsening her youngest daughter’s asthma and allergies.

“I wanted to find the most pure and natural way to make a candle that wouldn’t affect my daughter’s breathing,” said Arsenault, who started her business in 2008. “Soy was everything. It’s all natural and it helps US farmers. I get all of my soy from farms in Indiana and Iowa.”

Arsenault’s candles are 100-percent soy with no additives – other than the scents. Arsenault said she tries to find scents that utilize essential oils as much as possible. Additionally, Arsenault used cotton wicks – with no lead or zinc added – and puts many of her candles in enamel mugs.

“It’s what makes my stuff unique,” said Arsenault, who said the enamel mugs are reusable. “I try to be different and unique and blend different things… there are a few where I don’t tell anyone what’s in there.”

Arsenault spends as much as 50 hours a week on her business – much of that time spent in her basement creating candles. Due to an increases workload, Arsenault said she is working to clear out more space in her garage to accommodate her business by shifting storage to a tractor trailer unit on her property.

“I’m down here all the time,” said Arsenault, who does get help from some friends and family, including her husband, uncle, and parents. “Sometimes I’m down here until 2 in the morning.”

In the beginning, Arsenault said creating new candles was a lot of trial and error as she wanted candles that not only smelled great, but filled the room properly. Now, Arsenault has around 100 different scents, each collected in a “secret recipe box.”

“You can always pour and go, but I want it to be perfect. I try to give my customers the best product I can,” said Arsenault, who said campfire, north woods, and dill pickle are some of her most popular scents.

Arsenault began selling her products – which now include breakaway melts, air fresheners, and room sprays – at craft fairs throughout New England, but now sells mostly online and in stores throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and even a location in Tennessee.

“They always buy enamel, they like the country look,” said Arsenault, of many of her customers, which includes people from Germany, Tennessee, and California. “I don’t know if they are customers who used to live out this way that miss New England.”

Making thousands of candles in a year has given Arsenault the freedom to pursue Moose Mountain full-time – she does work a couple shifts a week at another job as supplemental income – but she hopes to expand business even further in the future. Next on Arsenault’s list is finding a place to rent or creating a space in her garage to serve as a small shop.

“I’ve looked at a few places, but it’s so much money to rent a place. It’s just not feasible for me at the moment. In the future, I would definitely like to expand,” said Arsenault.

Regardless of future expansion, Arsenault is just happy to have created a business that she loves.

“I love creating new scents. That’s my favorite, favorite thing – getting something new, making something new, and then lighting it for the first time,” said Arsenault.

Fayrie’s Apothecary

Erica Fayrie made her first batch of soap with animal fat while she was living on a farm in Peterborough back in the early 2000s.

“I was like what are we going to do with all of this fat?” Fayrie said standing in her kitchen at her home in Hancock on a recent Thursday.

She gifted the final product to her family and friends and they loved it.

“It came out really great, and I was like, ‘Wow, this is really awesome,’” Fayrie said. “And it’s good for you and I can understand all of the ingredients.”

Fayrie has continued to make products with simple ingredients for years now. The orders have mostly been for her friends and family up until this point.

But after a move across the country, from Portland, Oregon to Hancock, a career shift, and two kids, Fayrie is in the process of launching an at-home business to sell her products.

Fayrie said a friend helped her start a Facebook page a number of weeks ago and she has been whipping up orders ever since.

Some of her best-sellers so far have been a tooth powder and a deodorant paste.

The tooth powder is made from bentonite clay, baking soda, naturally sourced xylitol and essential oils, according to Fayrie’s Facebook page. The powder also comes in different flavors, including cinnamon and citrus.

Fayrie said she started making the deodorant paste after her first child was born. She said something in her body changed that made the odor unpleasant. After many attempts, she said she had finally discovered blends that work with your body to extract toxins in the body that are excreted through sweat. The paste comes in different scents including, cypress/ lemon, sandalwood/ tangerine, and clary sage/ lime, to name a few.

Fayrie also makes a number of other products that can be custom ordered through the Facebook page, or by calling or texting her personally.

“I’ve actually sold quite a few things,” Fayrie said of the at-home business since the social-media page was launched at the end of March. “I’ve had to keep making things because they are going. I wasn’t expecting to happen so fast.”

Already, there is a store in New York that’s interested in carrying some of her beauty products and people from the west coast – which used to be her home base – are putting in orders.

That means between juggling the responsibilities of tending to the needs of two young kids, Fayrie also has to carve out time to create the concoctions.

Sometimes her two kids, assist in the process, mixing the powders, stirring and dropping in essential oils. Other days, the kids sit on the sidelines, finding entertainment elsewhere. On Thursday, they watched a show about a pony. At one point her youngest stammered out the word “nana” and Fayrie translated the message and poured him a bowl of banana chips to snack on. Another time, he asked for one of his toys, and the request sent Fayrie on a hunt for a toy motorcycle.

And while working from home means interruptions and distractions, Fayrie said she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I love being here, I chose to stay home with my family. I gave up my career when I had children because this is the only time they are going to be this age, you know, so I love that I’m able to be at home, in my kitchen at my home,” she said.


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