It has taken me 7 months to sit down and begin this deeper ongoing dialogue with you - our community, our customers, our friends, our neighbors, and peers. These months have been speckled with teetering self doubt, gratitude, joyful anticipation, fear and a mix of many other emotions, underneath it all I am bursting at the seams to share with you. It is only now, this cloudy November morning that I have mustered up the courage to address you and share part of my story, and how I intend to shape Villagers based on what you need and love.
A bit about me
Let’s start with where I was right before moving to the mountains. I was living in Charlotte on my quaint urban homestead, working in a way that seemed in opposition to how I wanted to live. I felt like I didn't belong. I had enough of living inauthentically to what my heart and soul yearned for. So I left. I left my job, my friends, my home, my identity. I left it all behind and headed to the mountains to become an herbalist and to farm, seeking my authentic self, grounding, and connection with others.
I had spent my past career working as a Designer and Innovation Coach - traveling the world, working with large global companies all in an effort to help shift their ways to be more human-centered and service-driven. I used a lot of intuition and my training in psychology and design, to work with teams of people to improve the experience of customers, internal teams, and communities. I challenged people to “get real” and worked to decondition and recondition based on regenerative design and an emphasis on emotions. I felt a void, I didn't see the progress I had hoped to achieve. I yearned to help make the world a better place to live, and the way I was going about it was all wrong. I decided to find a new way forward, free from restrictive thinking and wide open to receive a new experience and all of the hard lessons that came with it.
The one thing I promised to never forget was the essence of who I was and what I hoped to achieve. That desire that has been burning inside me waiting to radiate. Simply put, a desire to purify the false, superfluous, and superficial and shift the emphasis from the mundane to the higher values that help us live in peaceful harmony with nature and each other. I knew the change needed to start in my own life, and inside me. I was at a crossroads in my life. The path forward was not visible, yet I sensed and welcomed the discomfort and first signs of the deep shift that is still taking place.
Why I purchased Villagers?
At the time Villagers announced it would close its doors, intuitively I felt the moment was ripe for me to make a meaningful contribution. There wasn’t much time, and luckily, my essential self had already begun to prepare me for the next step.
Somehow I felt the path ahead had been revealed, testifying to the timeliness of my vision and its potential to benefit others. The first whisperings of that “Go ahead!” appeared from within and in unexpected ways- as dreams, an insight sparked by a glimpse of something. I purchased Villagers on an impulse fueled by so much faith, love and trust that this was the right move. I was witness to the outpouring of support the community has shown for this beloved little shop in West Asheville. Everything in me said “hell yes”. So I listened. I stepped up and saved Villagers from closing its doors. I didn't know the role would be such a learning experience for me.
I immediately wanted to tap into what the community found in Villagers. And so I began the process of listening and observing. I asked what Villagers provided that was so special… so I could be sure to further this relationship and service. Here’s a few of the more moving quotes from you all.
“A Natural, Holistic Hub That Supports, Connects & Honors The Local Artisans, Community & Earth…”
“Villagers is a community hub that represents home, healing, knowledge, self-care, self-empowerment, self-sufficiency and what really matters.”
“It defines the independence of Ashevillians.”
“This is a store you can dream in and makes so much sense for the world right now!”
“Teaching people how to heal themselves through sustainability.”
“I love the connection to the basics, what matters. I enjoy just being in the space. It feels like being connected to the earth.”
“Villagers is a place I go to remember and learn about how to live a life that is caring for the earth and for the community. It is a refuge, a restorative place. I love that it is also beautiful, not only utilitarian.”
“Villagers represents the past, the desirable future, and creates a pathway to getting there in today's present moment.”
Wow, you are awesome. From the beginning, I have been committed to understanding the Villagers community. I am still learning and continue to ask how Villagers can be of service to her community. The world is shifting, and what you need from this shop is no doubt shifting as well. Any relevant business evolves, and so will Villagers. I embrace this change, as we all know change is inevitable. I am here. I am committed. I am capable. And I want to know from you, what you need and desire from Villagers?
Villagers is a teacher
In all honesty, I wasn't prepared to take on all that I had in March of this year when I started operating Villagers. I was developing a homestead, healing, and taking the reigns of a business that was larger than life it seemed. I chose to see life as an invitation, only awaiting my participation. I dove in.
I found friendships. I found support. I was faced with judgement. I faced my own weakness. I lost money. I gained purpose.
The greatest joy amiss this bumpy road is meeting you and establishing a relationship with so many that is based on soulful authenticity, openness, and compassion. When times are hard, I am reminded of the buzz I receive from working with the community. I am in awe of the beings that have offered their friendship and support. Natalie continues to tell me, Villagers is a ruthless teacher. There is no way around doing your work. So then, out of inspiration, and because I care deeply, I have walked headfirst into the fire of facing myself. On the other side of the fire is my true self, a being who is living creatively in self-awareness and self-mastery, authenticity to its core, the resulting luminosity exposes ignorance and darkness of all kinds. I am grateful for the experience to singe what I don't need from my life. And through this process, all of us at Villagers want to offer a helping hand in walking your own journey towards authentic self-empowerment.
What to expect?
Now that the cobwebs have been cleaned, what can the community expect from her Villagers? Well first, Villagers is open for business! We are operating as a retail shop in West Asheville and carry most of the same products and classes as we did before. We are trying to navigate this world, like all of us are. Owning a retail shop can be tricky because of the all powerful Amazon. And frankly, our sales have been almost too low to stay operable. Villagers is still in the game! We will diversify our offerings and really establish a niche operation. We are focusing on Urban Homestead and Apothecary products with an emphasis on Artisan Handmade Local products. We will be stepping up our classes by offering more intensives on my farm and in other very special locations. We are working on how to incorporate more service offerings and will be sure to keep you all informed as we launch new initiatives! Let me briefly tell you what will remain, what will phase out, and what exciting news we have to share!
What will remain?
So much will remain the same! We will always carry machetes and makeup… And don’t worry, the Japanese garden tools are still in the shop. We will continue to carry high quality tools and other garden products including plant starts, seeds, and soil! You will find a plethora in the hearth and home section to help create a nurturing and cozy home environment, including many, many local artisan goods. We really hope to support our local makers as we grow. (If you are a maker and have something awesome that you want to offer at Villagers send us a message!) Books! We are expecting a massive book order soon. Some new and exciting titles with the oldies and goodies too. For all you medicine makers, we will increase our apothecary products, bulk herbs and Ayurvedic powders. And for all of us on a journey, we are tapping into products and services that help support self-discovery, intuition, healing, transition, and purpose-driven living. We want all of you to live the best life possible and we are here to help.
What is phasing out?
Since Villagers opened as a homestead supply store, two other local farm + garden supply shops have opened! Because of this, we will be discontinuing our large bags of feed and soil amendments along with feeders and other livestock products. We recommend getting these products with our friends at Lotus Farm & Garden and Fifth Season. The books on how to raise backyard chickens and dairy goats, however… they will stay!
Villagers is not just a place that sells great products. Villagers is a place that supports a lifestyle. Villagers stands for a cause. Villagers supports a meaningful, authentic, grounded lifestyle. Villagers will continue to take a stand on localism, the merits of a cooperative economy, reducing waste, artisan craft, natural living, all in pursuit of your dreams and passions.
In support of learning and incorporating new skills into our lives, we will be partnering with local experts to offer carefully curated kits on how-to topics such as mead making, cheese making, natural dying, wood carving, kombucha, seed starting and saving, salve + tincture kits, candle making and more! We will be collaborating with local teachers to include one of a kind customized zines per topic!
Very soon, in just a few days, we will be launching the new branding and online shop. The emphasis is not just the products. The real story is the people behind the products and what magic the combinations of products can enable in the lives of our customers.
“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” ~ Marie Kondo, The Magical Art of Tidying Up
Faces of Villagers
Simply said, YOU are Villagers. WE are Villagers. You are all what makes Villagers special. Your dedication to your practice and craft, your commitment to living symbiotically with the earth and each other. I can't take credit for what Villagers is. I want to shine the light on those that have elevated the brand to a position to make a difference in people's lives.
There's a story to be told. Many stories. Stories of perseverance, resilience, forgiveness, passion, achievement, heartache, healing, and love. Villagers is not magic. The many faces of Villagers are what make this shop important to so many. The wisdom in these mountains is what people want to hear. It is my gift and my commitment to reveal this wisdom.
We are excited to launch the #facesofvillagers project where we will be weaving stories of our community to offer a message of hope and inspiration. We are working with dozens of special people to offer a breadth of relatable stories and products to support whatever goal you might have to lead you to the top of your mountain. We are all here to help. Who knows where you will find that piece of magic that motivates you to make a change. It is our hope that you might start at Villagers and we can support you along your journey.In closing
Villagers is here for you, I am here for you. Come in and talk with us, tell us what we can do better and how we can continue to be a pillar in the community. I am beyond grateful for the love and encouragement I have received. I am the new kid in town, and I understand there may be some hesitancy and aversion to trust. I want to give, not take. Asheville is my home, and you are my community. Inline with the mission of localism, let’s support one another. We will be hosting several sales and appreciation events for our makers and our customers throughout December- to be announced in our newsletter and on Instagram (@forvillagers).With Love and Gratitude,