February 15, 2017

Billings, MT - Nurture your creative spirit with one or all of three upcoming art classes scheduled at the Yellowstone Art Museum. Classes include “Two-Color Watercolor” with illustrator Jason Jam, “The Art of Bead Embroidery” with Susan Germer, and “Cola Pen Drawing” with calligrapher Sarah Behrens Lemon.

In the “Two-Color Watercolor” class, students will explore how to use values, shapes, and an array of techniques to create exciting watercolor paintings. The class takes place at the museum Saturday, February 25, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The cost of the class is $35.00 for members and $40.00 for non-members. There is no supply fee but students are asked to bring all supplies recommended by the instructor.  Call the museum for details.  This class is full but there is a waiting list.


Susan Germer will teach a variety of sewing techniques using a colorful assortment of beads and fabric in her class “The Art of Bead Embroidery.”  No previous experience is required.  Having worked in this art form since 1994, Germer will instruct students on the creation of unique works of art using a beading needle, thread, fabric, pin back, leather, beeswax, and buttons. The class takes place at the museum Saturday, March 25, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Cost of the class is $60.00 for members and $67.00 for non-members along with a $30.00 supply fee to be paid directly to the instructor.


Historically, master scribes used a variety of materials to make customized pens. Calligrapher Sarah Behrens Lemon will follow this tradition as she instructs students on the creation of both a calligraphy pen and/or a creative new drawing tool from a recycled soda can in a class that takes place at the museum on Saturday, May 20, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Cost of the class is $35.00 for members and $40.00 for non-members.  An additional supply fee of $15.00 will paid directly to the instructor.


To register for any of these classes, visit http://www.artmuseum.org/education/adult-education/ or call the Front Desk at 406-256-6804.


The museum is a barrier-free facility and free parking is available. Members are admitted free, and the general public can visit for a nominal admission fee.  For more information, visit the museum’s website www.artmuseum.org.


Small businesses are the backbone of any community. This is the story of one home-based small business in Butte, MT that is thriving and growing. These small home-based businesses are truly great for any community. 

Picture courtesy of George Everett of Mainstreet Uptown Butte

By Diane Larson 
According to the Small Business Administration (SBA) website, Apple Computer, Hershey’s, Mary Kay Cosmetics, and the Ford Motor Company all started as home-based businesses. 
In 2010, 27.9 million small businesses registered in the Census and 18,500 businesses with 500 employees or more registered. Fifty-two percent of those small businesses are home based. 
Inc.com, in the article, “Are Small businesses Really the Backbone of the Economy” by Jared Hecht, concludes that they are.  They have faced the challenges directly resulted from recession and are growing, albeit at a slower pace, because of that, he said, “Facts are facts, and small businesses are still the backbone of the U.S. economy.”
Across America the impact of buying local is having a positive effect on a community’s economy. A 2012 study by Civic Economics found that local businesses are known to have a “multiplier effect” on the community, meaning that every dollar spent at a local, independently owned business will stay in the community and generate a far greater economic value. The study concluded, “the findings have been unequivocal: independents bring substantial benefits to their local economies.” Butte is a community that thrives on small business and the Butte business atmosphere has a better competitive environment than community that is full of franchise and chain stores. 

Butte local small, home-based business
One such business in the Butte area is Montana Home Sprout. Montana Home Sprout has been in business since 2011. They sell a variety of products; the main product is a completely home-made bar soap. Currently, according to their Etsy page, there are over 20 different types and scents to choose from. They also have lotion bars, whipped oil, bath bombs and tub teas. 
Montana Home Sprout was started by the husband and wife team of Aaron Brown and Kimberley Trythall-Brown. “I started the whole thing,” says Aaron. He explained that he first became interested in making soap when his wife, Kim and their two kids, David and Alexis, were having serious skin dryness issues and he wanted to find a way to help them. “I have always been interested in doing things myself,” said Aaron so he researched how to make soap. He said that he wanted something that would work for the whole family. 
After his research, Aaron developed some formulas and made soap for the family. It worked so well for them that they began to branch out. A good friend of theirs used one of their soaps, the Castile, for her son who suffered from eczema with amazing results. From that point the word spread out to family and other friends. 
How they came to sell the soap
The next step was the Butte Farmers’ Market. They started at the market Kim said, because “I really wanted an excuse to do the farmers’ market.” She explained how much she enjoys the market because it is a place where you meet all sorts of people, you get to visit and enjoy your community. “The market is such a friendly place and it resonates with my friendly, happy personality. I love it,” said Kim. It just seemed the natural next step, was to take the soap to the market and see how it sold. 
Sell it, they did. Over a few short years, this business of making soap soon became a job for Kim. Kim explained that they have seen growth each year they have been in business. In 2016 their growth doubled from the beginning of the year to the end. When she first started making and selling her soap Kim said that she would only have to make it only during the winter months. For most soap makers that is the norm because the soap, once made, then needs to cure. Sales have turned the job of soap making to something she does year round. 
Kim’s soap isn’t just used in Butte; it travels. The market is a place where you meet people from all over the world. “Someone (from England) who had purchased the bathtub tea from my booth at the market when she was here posted on Facebook how much she liked it and that it made it safely across the pond,” said Kim. Tourists come to Butte from all over the globe. In the past year alone Kim said that her soap has also been in Africa, Ireland, and Australia. “Even my skeeter stick is a product that is selling all over the world,” said Kim. 
Starting and Growing the business
The name, Montana Home Sprout came out of the notions of natural and home spun products.  First, she said, “I wanted to incorporate Montana because I’m very proud of the fact that I was born and raised here.” Also, the idea of “Home Sprout I took from things growing and being nurtured at home.” I liked the idea of the sprout, “nurturing and growing a plant is like growing this business,” said Kim. 

The logo or brand that appears on these products is a cupped hand that is holding a bar of soap, and from the soap you see a sprout growing. It was created by Kim; it is her concept and her drawing. “Just the sprout growing out of the bar of soap in my hand says it is hand-made,” said Kim. She wanted something that expressed safe, wholesome, and hand-made. “I felt this logo signified all that,” Kim explained.
Montana Home Sprout sells on their Etsy site, the Farmer’s Markets in Butte, as well as other markets and craft fair/trade shows. Kim is particular which shows she does, they have to work for her and her product. Kim has gone the round of craft fairs and home-made product fairs and trade shows. She knows what will work and what will not. 
Kim also wholesales her product in Butte and surrounding areas. At the time of this interview, she explained her soaps and other products are in Hennessy Market, Chamber of Commerce in Butte, Butte Stuff, Muddy Creek Brewery, 5518 Designs, and the summer months they can be found in Wagner’s Nursery. Soon they will be headed to a tea shop in Wyoming.  
Kim says that they do very well at the farmer’s market. One of the reasons she believes that her product sells well at markets is the wonderful smells that waft in the air, and her display. She explained that it is a lot of work and takes quite a bit of time to set up her display, but she won’t change a thing. “I get a lot of compliments on my display, and I don’t want to change it because I think that is part of who I am to people,” said Kim. It draws people. They look for my booth, and it needs to be easily recognizable. “I have a lot of people that come from out of town just to come to my booth at the farmers’ market,” said Kim. 
What makes this successful?
Another reason Home Sprout enjoys success is the quality of product they use to make their soap. Their soap is 100% hand-made. They start completely from scratch. They do not use a melt and pour base. The three main ingredients are lard, lye and water. One thing that both Kim and Aaron wanted to make clear is that ‘soap’ cannot be made without lye. 
There seems to be a fear of lye, and a belief that it is bad. However, both Kim and Aaron have said that used properly, lye is harmless, and it is what makes the product soap. When fat and lye are combined in the correct amounts, a chemical reaction called saponification takes place. Kim said that, “Saponification is the process of making soap; it is mixing the acid with the alkaline that is the chemical reaction of making soap.” Aaron explained that if you don’t use lye, your product is not soap, it is detergent.  
On the Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve Company website they also tackle the question about lye in soap.  They say that when they are asked, do you use lye which is sodium hydroxide mixed with liquid, in your soap, they answer…of course, no lye…no soap.” They also say that any skin or hair cleansing product made without lye is not soap, it is detergent. 
Kim explained that our ancestors learned that when they cooked meat over an open fire the fat would drain off and fall into the ashes. The fat and ashes would then harden. Eventually they noticed that you could use that end product of hardened fat and ash for washing. Soap was born. 
Lastly, Kim believes that one reason her soap has seen the success it has is because the smell in her products have staying power. For example, the smell of the bar of soap Home Sprout sells, whether it is lilac or honey oat stays with the soap the entire time. She uses high quality oils and scents so that you can smell that until your soap is but a sliver in your hand. Kim feels that there is “nothing more disappointing than buying something for the aroma and the smell goes away after you use it.” The smell stays. “I think that really matters to people,” she says. 
Why this home-based business is sustainable
While Kim is the main soap maker and business operator, she says “this is a joint effort; I could not do this without Aaron.” All of the molds and cutters used in the making of her soap are hand-made by Aaron. If these had to be purchased that would drive up costs and make the venture more difficult. Kim explained that the type of cutters and molds used could be costly. “When you can do all this yourself your profit margin goes way up,” Kim explained.
Aaron also calculates all of the formulas for her soaps. Kim said that, “He spends a lot of time formulating recipes for me because he is the math guy.”
Another contributing factor to the success of Montana Home Sprout is simply the love of the work. Kim loves her product, and she is proud of it. Kim is the face and voice of her product. For this type of sales you need to be a person that people feel comfortable approaching. She is friendly and easy to approach; Kim says she is a people person. She used the following example to clarify, “we were at ‘Art in the Park’ in Anaconda. My dad and my husband were there with me. At one point I said I’m going to take a short break, and get something to drink. When I came back to the booth my dad told me that while I was gone no one even looked at the booth, they just all walked by. He said that ‘you are a magnet, you have a magnetic personality, and people are drawn to you.’” Kim said, “People are drawn to my booth, first because of the great smells, but also I am friendly and have an outgoing personality.” That personality is a part of her brand and a good reason for her continued success. She is welcoming, bubbly and honest. 
It is important to Kim that she is always honest about her product when questions are asked. “I don’t want to sell you something you might not like,” said Kim. If someone is concerned about the product because they may, for instance, have sensitive skin, Kim says that she will give them a free sample to try. For Kim it is imperative that you like what you buy and that it works for you. 
To insure this happens, Kim will do trials or case studies on new products. She recently came out with a “Skeeter Stick,” for, you guessed it mosquito repellent. For one solid season Kim said that she gave this product to family, friends and even some people she didn’t know and had them trial it for her. She wanted to make sure the results were good before offering it up for sale. “I’m not gonna put it on my table if I’m not proud of it,” said Kim. She went on to say, “I’m not gonna tell you something that isn’t true, I will be straightforward and honest, that is really important to me.” An example is the Skeeter Stick, “I tell people to double up,” Kim said, if you are concerned about disease from mosquitoes. 
Structure and staying motivated in a home-based business
Kim’s work day is structured around her family. “My kids come first,” Kim said. She explained she feels very blessed to be able to have a job that she can arrange around her family. “My kids know that I will be there for them at the drop of a hat and that is important,” she explained. “My family is where my heart is and they are first. I feel very blessed to be able to stay home with my kids,” said Kim. 
Kim calls the space where she makes her products, the soap shack. It is right out her front door.  Three days a week, as soon as David and Alexis are off to school, she will be in her ‘soap shack.’ Then when it is time to make dinner, she will drop it all and head back into the house. Summer months can be less structured, but it all works out in the end. 
Motivation can be an issue when you have a home based business. Kim says that sometimes it is a struggle to get busy. However, our ultimate goal is to have a business that will support the whole family. Having that goal in mind keeps me moving forward. 
While Aaron does help Kim, she is the main business operator. Aaron also works outside the home. A goal is that Montana Home Sprout turns into something eventually they can both do together. “We have always been able to work together, and work well together,” she said. Kim went on to explain that one motivator is that, “the business has had a good and steady growth so it feels that it is coming to fruition.”
Next: Make the brand
This past year Kim said that she was going to work on marketability. “I think I need to be more recognizable,” said Kim. To make that happen she worked with 5518 designs to create a brand that was the same across all her products and that was reflected in her business cards and labels. “I want to put it on paper, make it colorful, because that‘s important to me, and be recognizable,” she said. Being recognizable, for Kim, is the next important step for her. She used the example of Burt’s Bees. When you are in a store you can recognize that product long before you are close enough to read the label. She said, “I want people from far and wide to be able to see our booth at a distance and recognize us and know that we are there, we are friendly and they could come and say hello, and that we have a great product.”  
Kim said, “I put my heart in my soap.”
For her websites and more information on Montana Home Sprout:
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MontanaHomeSprout/
Etsy:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/MontanaHomeSprout 

 The logo and photos of products and display are courtesy of Kimberley Trythall-Brown


Big Sky Connection

Eric Tegethoff

February 14, 2017

BOZEMAN, Mont. - A Montana artist wants to show grizzly bears from a different perspective and shed light on their precarious situation with the stroke of a paintbrush.

Georgia Baker's art show "Connectivity" in Bozeman is displaying her paintings of grizzly bears to help efforts to conserve the species in the Yellowstone ecosystem. Baker is showing their vulnerable side, fighting back most depictions of grizzlies as ferocious killers.

"We have depicted these and misrepresented these bears just even starting with their name," she said. "I don't think it's deserving once you find out more."

The art show comes as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service mulls over whether or not to delist the grizzly as an endangered species. A decision was expected to be made in January, but the agency delayed it after receiving more than 650,000 comments from the public.

Baker says a lot of people don't understand grizzlies. She says they are quite smart and compares them to "large dogs," adding that plants make up over 90 percent of their diet. She also likens their large claws to gardening tools.

Baker says Theodore Roosevelt set a good example for conservationists at the beginning of the 20th century with his foresight in protecting Yellowstone, and she hopes to do the same for the grizzly.

"I want to be an ancestor that had the foresight to not just make this the story of more domination, and land use, and about people, but actually about coexisting with important species that we have yet to come and to appreciate," she explained.

Connectivity runs until February 28th at the ERA Landmark Real Estate building in downtown Bozeman. Half of the proceeds from the sale of Baker's paintings will benefit the Sierra Club's Grizzly Recovery Campaign. Baker is a volunteer for the organization.


Billings, MT--For many, lawn care can be a chore. Another line item on the list of "have-to-do's" cutting into precious time reserved for the list of "want to do's."  But for one lucky MATE Show attendee, that is all about to change.  Thanks to Yellowstone County Implement and its sister stores owned by C&B Operations, this year's grand prize sponsorship is designed to shorten time spent mowing and maybe even make it a little more fun.

The John Deere Z525E Zero Turn mower offers a 22HP V-twin engine, Tuf Torq TZT&-D dual Hydro Drive train that allows for speeds ranging from 0-8.5 miles per hour forward and 0-4 miles per hour in reverse.  A typical riding mower travels between 3-4 miles per hour.  Not only does the mower reduce mowing time with its increased speed but also with its ability to spin 180 degrees, essentially reducing the number of passes required to mow a residential yard.

Other features include the adjustable twin lever drive control that replaces the traditional steering wheel and features easy to operate functionality for responsive direction and speed control. The larger 22x9.50-10 drive tires offer a smooth ride while providing increased traction.  The 525E also features a hand adjusted deck height adjustable in ¼" increments, to ensure a precise cut height and the 15" adjustable seat with arm rests provides a comfortable operators platform.  The 525E is standard with the 48" side discharge deck.

"The industry is transitioning to Zero Turn mowers from tractor style mowers due to the speed and maneuverability," said Yellowstone County Implement Manager, Tim Schulz.  "John Deere has expanded their lineup of residual zero turn mowers for 2017 to offer a unit that will fit most anyone's budget or needs depending on the size of lawn or property being cared for." He went on to say, "Like the commercial says 'it's not how fast you mow, it's how well you mow fast'!"


Tim will have a variety of equipment at Yellowstone Valley Implement booth 47 inside the Expo Center to suit the yard-keepers, recreationists, and ag producers.  To learn more about C & B Operations and Yellowstone Valley Implement, visit www.deerequipment.com

For more information go to the MATE website www.themateshow.com or contact Traci (406) 651-0440 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

January 4, 2017

Billings, MT – Chill at the museum during the Yellowstone Art Museum’s 49th Annual Art Auction on Saturday, March 4, 2017. The event will be held at the Yellowstone Art Museum located aAt A401 North 27th Street, Billings, Montana. The Annual Art Auction is the YAM’s most significant fundraising event, generating proceeds in support of exhibitions and educational programming for the entire year.  The theme this year is icy with cold cocktails and cool artwork that will send chills down your spine...and all for a great cause!

Everyone is invited to an opening reception for the Art Auction 49 exhibition, which will be held on January 19, 2017. The opening event will be the first chance to view this year’s Art Auction artwork selections from 141 artists from across the nation, including over 100 Montanan artists. There will be live music, cash bar, hors d’oeuvres, and free admission for members. The exhibition will remain open for viewing and silent auction bidding until the event on March 4th.

The exhibition culminates in our 49th Annual Art Auction, which consists of a silent auction, a live auction, a "Quick Draw," cocktails, and gourmet refreshments, all within the cool environment of our beautiful galleries. The Auction begins Saturday, March 4, 2017, at 5 p.m. and features a heavy hors d’oeuvres and dessert buffet catered by Thomas Nelson Catering. The Live Auction bidding begins at 7:30 p.m. and includes a special bidding opportunity to directly support the YAM’s Education Department, providing art education for nearly 50 years. The Auction concludes with a raffle drawing for exquisite jewelry donated by Montague’s Jewelers.

Advance tickets to the Art Auction event go on sale January 19th online and at the museum. General admission tickets are $95 per person and $105 at the door. Raffle tickets may be purchased separately and the ticket holder need not be present to win.

The 49th Annual Art Auction is generously sponsored by:

Title Sponsor

The Oakland Companies

Lead Sponsors

Intermountain Distributing Company

Eide Bailly LLP

Supporting Sponsors

Kibler & Kirch/ Stapleton Gallery

Yellowstone Surgery Center

Wipfli LLP

Community sponsors include Hardy Construction, Montague's Jewelers, Payne West Insurance, Sanctuary Spa & Salon, Joy of Living, Simple Family Magazine, St. Vincent Healthcare,

Stillwater Mining Company, Terakedis Fine Art, Universal Vision, YVW Magazine, DiA Events, Exxon Mobil, Party Solutions, and Perkins Family Restaurant & Bakery.