Thursday, October 26, 2017

Featured Exhibitor: YB Urban?


Angie and Chris Whelan made the big move from urban life in Las Vegas to rural Wisconsin, and their homestead became a place to explore every facet of their creativity. They started a line of bath and beauty products called YB Urban? and Angie designs textiles for her line "Breed Fashion." They work to create products that are natural and sourced from their own farm, and they have big plans to expand in the future with even more locally sourced ingredients. We admire their mission to provide a space for community and growth, and their care in creating products to promote joy and wellness.
Who are you and what do you do?

We are Angie & Chris Whelan from Ellsworth, WI! We have a creative homestead called YB Urban? on 5 beautiful acres in the El Paso township where we currently grow food, raise chickens, cats & kids, and create 2 handcrafted product lines. Breed Fashion is a textile art endeavor created by Angie. It started with kids clothing and is ever-expanding into artfully inspired accessories, jewelry, and home décor. Our YB line is a collection of natural personal care products made with very high quality ingredients, creative essential oil pairings, modern design, and clever names!

Will you be featuring any special holiday items?

We quietly tested 2 special holiday YB Chapped? lip balm flavors last year and they were such a huge hit, we will be offering them at the Gift Expo this year! "Cranilla" is a sweet, creamy mix of cranberry and vanilla, while "Santa's Revenge" is a mix of all the sweet tastes of Christmas for all the nice, but just enough spicy "bite" to make up for the little bit of naughty in all of us. They make perfect stocking stuffers! We also always put out a great mix of gift sets. Since our goal is to create a very boutique line of products, we avoid making every product in every scent, but we always make a point to have items in different categories that pair well together. These make great gifts for family, friends, teachers, caregivers, and party hosts. Don't forget the kids! Our building block soaps come in packs of 7 (one of each color) at the holidays, each individually wrapped, so every grandkid can have their favorite scent!

What do you love most about craft show vending?

So many things! I remember as a kid whenever I would go to a festival in Duluth and see all the tents with artists and food vendors I thought I would love to be out in the sun, with all the energy of the crowds, selling something I made! And it is ALL of that and meeting so many great people...people who appreciate the beauty of handmade things and the artists who spend their time doing something they love. It's a beautiful collection of minds and hearts at craft shows, from the vendors to the attendees. Everyone who comes to a craft fair shares a mutual respect of art, entrepreneurship, and originality. My least favorite thing is how much money I always end up wanting to spend on all the amazing stuff! Pair an amazing piece of handcrafted art with a memorable conversation, and it's pretty hard to resist taking something home!

How did you get started in your business?

We were living in Vegas 4 years ago when we started talking about homesteading. One of the most appealing things to the multipotentialite in me is the idea of having multiple jobs, businesses, or just income streams in general. I decided to start with a handmade kid's clothing line since I was already obsessed with making dresses for my nieces and daughter! I had started selling my clothes at events in Vegas and on Etsy when we decided to make our move in 2012. Coming here put me all in, and I made a full time job of doing festivals and working on our website. Though the first few shows I did here were better than Vegas, I knew if this was going to be lucrative I needed a product that everyone wants. Chris and I discussed how we could expend and he let me know he's always wanted to make soap and call it "YB Stinky?". After exploring all the products we could come up with (YB Dry? lotion, YB Chapped? Lip Balm, etc) we had to name our new company. YB Urban? ties together our movement from inner-city Las Vegas to rural Wisconsin and starts telling our story for us.

Where do you see your business in 3 years?

On our homestead, interconnected with all aspects of our lives. I see us raising bees and using that beeswax and honey in our products. Next spring we would like to get a couple of sheep so we can use the wool for our wool-wrapped soaps. We'll plant luffa seeds in hopes we can self-supply luffa for our scrubs . We'll continue to use what our land can provide in new products or completely new endeavors. We are planning the addition of an outbuilding on our property that can serve as a creative kitchen production space as well as a classroom to gather people from our community together, teach each other new skills, and have a place where we can all self-sustain. And my biggest goal, my only true requirement for success, is that every person (or animal) who comes to YB Urban?, whether to visit or to stay, experiences kindness, eats plenty, and never leaves empty handed.

What's your favorite item that you sell?

All my textile creations are near and dear to my heart. Anybody who has made clothing can attest to the time and effort it takes when you are making the entire thing from start to finish. With our bath and body items, I personally love our YB Tense? body oil blends. We put so much thought and research into the formulas, choosing every oil carefully to bring about the right texture so it feels good, the right blend of essential oils so it smells fabulous, and the right mix of everything to bring about all the benefits of the oils for the body, mind, and spirit. They are versatile and can be used everyday as a full body moisturizer, in massage, as a bath oil, or even a hair and scalp treatment. We have 4 different scents to choose from and I love them all!

Why did you start working in this particular craft?

I (Angie) had an awesome job in Vegas. Before we moved I was the creative director for a non-profit company where part of my job was to come up with handmade items we could teach adults with disabilities in a supported work environment how to make and sell. It was a very entrepreneurial company that centered around creating work based on individual interests. 2 of the skills we were able to introduce were sewing and creating bath products. I loved learning from the staff and clients in the company, we had so many talented people! I was able to gain a lot of new skills through experimentation and research, as well. I loved watching things I created to pass along morph into something new based on the individuals who were making it, but I also yearned as an artist to be a part of that end result. When we moved to Wisconsin I knew it was our turn to see how people would react to the creations as we envisioned them. I have been sewing since about the age of 12 and I have been studying and using essential oils for almost 20 years. I love taking traditional, age-old homestead crafts and bringing a minimalist-modern flair. I think we as a family are a mix of modern and vintage, and I think all of our creations reflect that.
Check out more of Chris and Angie's products online, and be sure to stop by their booth at the Minneapolis Gift & Art Expo, November 3-5, 2017 at the Minneapolis Convention Center!

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CATEGORY:  Featured Exhibitors
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