November 16, 2005 | By: Terri McLean
SLADE, Ky.

When Elizabeth Ann Brown’s husband bought her nine ewes and a lamb to raise on their farm in Mt. Sterling several ago, she found herself wondering what to do with all the wool the animals produced.

Then she learned to spin.

“I started spinning and spinning and spinning,” said Brown, who used her newfound skill to make one-of-a-kind braided wool rugs.

Along with those rugs, Brown also crafted a successful home-based business – one that has provided both financial and personal rewards. She was on hand to share her story and offer words of advice to participants at a recent Home-Based Business Workshop sponsored by the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service at Natural Bridge State Resort Park.

“You need to enjoy what you do,” Brown told the 38 workshop participants, some of whom already have a home-based business and others who are interested in starting one. But, she added, “Be dedicated. Be focused."

The two-day workshop, which was funded by the UK College of Agriculture Barnhart Fund for Excellence and co-sponsored by the Southern and Eastern Kentucky Tourism Development Association, was designed to provide information and resources to people who want to turn a hobby, special interest or skill into a home-based business.

“A lot of these individuals want to take their craft or their hobby to the next level, and that’s kind of the purpose of this workshop – to give them the tools they need if they want to start a business or if they want to expand what they are already doing to promote their program,” said Cheryl Case, Harrison County Extension agent for family and consumer sciences and chairperson of the workshop planning committee.

One of the highlights of the workshop, Case said, was hearing from people such as Brown who have found success in operating a home-based business. 

Ann Barker, who runs Ann Barker’s Candy Shop in her house in Winchester, also told the group that she started her business by homing in on something she enjoyed doing. Having always been a “fairly good cook,” she decided to make and sell candy.

“I had to think of something to do and be able to be at home and that I could totally control,” she said. 

As her business expanded, Barker said it provided “fringe benefits far more valuable than monetary ones.”

“There are a number of pros (to a home-based business),” she said. “It enabled me to be a stay-at-home mom … It enabled me to care for my elderly mother. It enabled me to be home and keep tabs on the family farm.”

Those are just the things that workshop participant Aimee Cox finds most appealing about a home-based business. She is interested in one day opening a teahouse but might first create tea baskets at home while her daughter is young. 

“I’m a stay-at-home mom. All those factors about having children and a family and being in that scheme of things really matter to me. I’m not going to be in it to really make money, just to have a hobby and something to do when my child grows up,” said Cox, of Frankfort.

Scott and Jennifer Mitchell of Stamping Ground attended to find out more about the “ins and outs” of a home-based business. Scott already runs a business out of their house, but Jennifer recently quit her job to stay at home with their two sons and would also like to run a business from home.

“We’re looking at things that are already in her interest category and looking at ways to make a small business out of it,” said Scott, pointing out Jennifer’s quilting, doll making and cross-stitching skills. 

Along with success stories, participants at the two-day conference were treated to a variety of presentations, including: “Sharpening Your Competitive Edge” by Janet Eaton, Kentucky Department of Agriculture; “Show Me the Money” by Regina Becknell, Mountain Association for Community and Economic Development; “Discovering Prices and Markets: Marketing Your Product” by Tim Woods, UK College of Agriculture; and “Insurance Issues for Home Based Business” by Tracy Bertram, Kentucky Office of Insurance. Each participant also received an expansive notebook containing related resources and information. 

“I know they’re going to take home a lot of valuable information,” Case said.

Contact: 

Writer: Terri McLean 859-257-4736, ext. 276

Contact: Charlene Jacobs, 859-257-4738
Cheryl Case, 859-234-5510