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Rising Stars: Meet Beth Farwell of Hendersonville, TN

Today we’d like to introduce you to Beth Farwell. 

Hi Beth, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.

The seed for Gray Heron Cottage Gifts was born out of loss but, also out of the hope that comes with a new beginning. Both Bill and I lost our spouses suddenly and were widow(ers) when we met on an online dating site in 2014. Magic happened and life gave us a second chance at love. One of the things Bill and I immediately had in common when we met was our passion for small business. We are entrepreneurial spirits and after we married in 2015, we embarked on our first adventure as husband and wife looking for a business idea that centered around sharing the things that brought us joy. Bill is an experienced master woodworker from Boston, MA, and retired from law enforcement. He crafts stunning home and garden gifts. I’m a business professional and relationship builder who has always believed “each gift (business or personal) tells a story”. I love beautiful and unique packaging and wanted to combine different products in ways that matched up the branding, color scheme, and packaging to highlight the relationship of the “gifter” and the “giftee”. 

People often ask about the name of our business. Well, we live and work in a gray cottage on Old Hickory Lake outside Nashville. There was always one beautiful heron that liked to visit the dock on the edge of the water. He looked so wise and stately that we were inspired to give him a nod by using him in our business name. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?

I have to smile because I don’t know a single entrepreneur who would describe their pathway as “smooth”; but isn’t that where we learn life’s greatest lessons? 

Bill and I have had many challenges over the past 5 years.  One of our biggest obstacles initially was figuring out where to allocate our resources. Our growth from the beginning has been almost exclusively organic and we were self-funded from money that Bill and I brought to the venture. Our main focus at the beginning (and even now) is using our hard-earned money to put into areas with the highest return. For us, that was/is inventory and logistics. 

As an example, we use 4,000 pounds of Tennessee cedar every quarter. This is one of our larger expenditures. 

More recently, supply-chain issues and inconsistent shipping costs have caused us to shift our plans (sometimes on a daily basis). As we go into the holiday season many of the variables keep changing. We have half-joked that “pivot” has become our most used word of 2020 and 2021.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?

Bill and I are creative entrepreneurs who specialize in gifts for corporate events, client appreciation, and luxury weddings. Bill also manages a home and garden gifting segment of Gray Heron Cottage. He is much sought after for his handcrafted New England Garden Hods and his free-standing kitchen and cocktail gardens. 

Without a doubt, Gray Heron Cottage Gifts is best known for our Cocktail/Mocktail drink kits that include local small-batch mixers. People are surprised to learn I don’t really drink much alcohol. But you want to know a secret? It’s all about the mixers anyway. They are the heart and soul of both a cocktail and mocktail. You don’t need alcohol to make a tasty Moscow Mule, a refreshing Margarita, or a cozy Hot Toddy. Of course, there are those that might disagree with me. I have this fun debate almost on a daily basis. Our customers always look forward to our seasonal   “holiday and winter” drink kits. 

Bill and I are proud of the quality products we have been able to source and the fact that we are an independent business swimming in a world of big-box stores.  There are a lot of advantages to shopping at independent businesses like Gray Heron Cottage Gifts. 

#1 We Keep It Personal 

Independent businesses are not run by corporations or boards, but by individuals like Bill and me. This provides an amazing opportunity for us to give our customers a personal shopping experience and help them understand the importance behind our products. 

#2 Tailored Service 

Since we are widely supported by our wonderful clients/customers we truly want to spend more time and put in more effort to provide them the best customer service possible. We want to treat them like our friend and deal with them in a very personal way. And who doesn’t enjoy good customer service? 

#3 Originality and Individuality 

The best thing about independent shops is the extent of original products and services we provide, catering to a wide variety of customers and bringing amazing products into the market. 

What does success mean to you?

For us, success is measured more in terms of the relationships we have been able to build. Of course, we want to (need to) make a profit; but, at the end of the day, our business is built on stories. And, you can’t have a good story without relationships, 

-Friendship Stories 

-Family Stories 

-Business Stories 

-Engagement and Wedding Stories 

The list could go on. Our business exists to help people celebrate all the good moments in life and to help them to muddle through the “not so good moments. 

We always try to leave our repeat clients and customers with a positive message. Life is good and is meant to be shared. Cheers!

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Katherine Dickerson

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