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If you’re looking for a way of both giving back to the community and supplementing your income, consider operating a booth at your local farmer’s market. With minimal investment, you could be on your way to becoming a successful small business owner with the help of a skill you already have and the support of your friends and neighbors. Whether you know how to make fruit preserves, bake a tasty rum cake, prepare homemade soap, or any other number of trendy products that are meeting a growing demand for local production, contact your area’s farmer’s market management today to learn more.

The first thing to check is whether or not your state has a Cottage Food Act. From California to Illinois, states with this regulation system allow anyone who meets certain requirements and passes a food handling class to make products in their home and sell them at local markets. Although the details vary from state to state, a Cottage Food Act is the best way of introducing yourself to the market. It also provides ways for the business to expand in the future and eventually use commercial kitchen space to prepare products for retail shelves, if there is an appropriate demand.

If there is no legal reason standing between you and your farmer’s market aspirations, the next step is figuring out how much money you’ll have to invest to get off the ground. Depending on the product you are planning to produce, as well as your general schedule through the summer months, it may be possible to use each week’s income to buy fresh ingredients to prepare for the next week. Otherwise, you’ll want to be sure you can stockpile enough products to last the entire season. This is also a crucial time to determine other costs, such as your booth itself. Many market vendors choose to use a canopy style event tent, which generally costs around $200.00. You’ll need a table or two and probably a chair, as well as convenient methods of transporting your goods.

Beyond the basics, think about your brand. Having business cards made up with an eye-catching logo can keep you on the minds of your consumers, and decorating your booth with tasteful fabrics or other decorative items will leave a lasting impression. There are also the operating costs of being at the farmer’s market, though these are usually very small, sometimes as little as $10.00 per week or even less. If you have several markets in the area, consider registering for multiple markets and maximizing your availability. However, be sure you’re not impeding on other’s business. Many markets try to keep only one of any given type of vendor to avoid unneeded competition.

The last thing to think about is advertising. Although the great thing about a farmer’s market is that many people will be coming to look at all the vendors and stock up for the week, increasing awareness of your specific booth is always recommended. Local papers are often looking for interviews with small business owners. Setting up a Facebook page or other social media website allows customers to connect directly with you, as well as spread your message to their friends and contacts. Giving out coupons incentives encourages people to come spend money and get to know your products better. It’s also possible to work together with other vendors at your local farmer’s market to create special deals that combine both of your customer bases.

Getting more involved with your community, as well as making some extra money, has never been easier than by starting a farmer’s market business. It’s easy to produce local products that meet a demand, and, if done wisely, costs can be kept very minimal. If you’ve been thinking about it, there’s no better time than right now to get ready for this summer’s market season. Besides, just being a vendor allows you to build connections with other vendors and often purchase products at a discounted price or even trade your homemade goods for others. There’s no reason not to start your road to farmer’s market success.

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3 Common Myths About Dreadlocks That Are Totally Wrong

Locs are the ultimate carefree hairstyle for Black women. They’re low-maintenance, versatile and earthy. Some people are hesitant to commit to locs, but often this hesitation is based on myths and misconceptions.

The truth is, dreadlocks are among the healthiest hairstyles for Afro-textured hair. Manipulating your hair is what causes damage, and dreadlocks require very little manipulation. A little moisture and regular re-twisting are all that this hairstyle requires.

If you’ve been considering living the loc life, here are three myths that you should forget about right away.

Myth #1: Dreadlocks are unclean and can’t be washed.

This is, perhaps, the most persisting myth about dreadlocks, and yet it’s COMPLETELY untrue. Developing long locs is not as simple as neglecting your hair and letting it do its thing. In fact, loctitians (hairstylists who specialize in locs) say that unclean, greasy hair is actually less likely to turn into locs because the hair is too slippery. The cleaner the hair, the more well-formed the locs will be.

The only difference between dreadlocked hair and unlocked hair is that dreadlocks have not been detangled. It’s important to regularly wash and condition locs, even long after they have fully developed.

Myth #2: You can’t style locs.

Another hesitation that people often have with this hairstyle is that it’s not versatile enough. Dreadlocks are dreadlocks, right? No more switching it up every week, right? WRONG.

Dreadlocks can be styled in a ton of different ways. You can French braid them, rock an updo or do a million other hairstyles that you would do with loose hair. Dreadlocks can even be formed into Bantu knots, twist-outs and braid-outs just like loose kinks and curls!

You can absolutely still get fun haircuts with dreadlocks, too. Asymmetrical bobs, long layers and other trendy hairstyles are all fair game for women with locs.

Myth #3: Locs are always permanent.

This one is the most understandable misconception. Committing to dreadlocks is no small order because they can potentially last for years of your life. The longer that you have your dreadlocks, the better they will look — but they’ll also become harder and harder to remove.

Dreadlocks are not, technically, permanent. You can comb out even the most fully formed locs with a large helping of patience and gentleness. After all, dreadlocks are nothing more than hair that has been allowed to tangle over and over again.

However, combing out dreadlocks is not a small job. It can take several days and lots of manpower. You should definitely still consider locs a huge commitment—just keep in mind that they CAN be combed out if you really, really want to.

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