Many Vermonters are still picking up the pieces from Tropical Storm Irene, including a Woodstock couple who lost a home and a business and are trying to flourish once again with their Made in Vermont products.
Kirsten Connor and Darren McCullough are working to rebuild after Tropical storm Irene. "It's been a big undertaking. We've had points where we've been ready to throw in the towel. We're still not in our house yet," McCullough said.
Also washed away -- the couples business. They had just finished renovating an office space in their home when the water hit. But after months of work and volunteer help, they found a way to open again. The couple created a natural body care line -- Flourish. What they once made in their home is now made in the old bible bindery factory. Their house is still a construction zone.
"It's been really difficult because we lost everything, labels raw machines our works space," Connor said.
"It's been a lot of highs and lows. We were virtually ready to get out of our house and forget the business and now we're back in the business and almost back in our house," McCullough said.
Kirsten started Flourish Natural Body Care three years ago when she realized there was a market for naturally made products other than just soap. "Shampoos, conditioner, lotion, shea body butter cream, body polish," she said.
But the product that washes most away is their shampoo. "It's important to keep it as natural as possible," McCullough said.
The couple says they are the only company in Vermont making shampoos and conditioners from their own recipe of PH balanced, natural and wholesome ingredients. "We don't put chemicals in it. We don't thicken it with peg -- peg is a plastic thickener. It's a cheap way to make your shampoo nice and thick," Connor said.
Another big selling point for the shampoo -- the unique scents. There's patchouli-tangerine, honey-blossom and lavender-mint.
Business was strong -- they were selling to every co-op in New England and Whole Foods supermarket in the U.S. But after Irene they had to stop. They could not meet demand because they had nowhere to make their product.
But now they are slowly starting to be able to fill the shelves again. "Not having a house to live in, not having income, but we had so much encouragement from our friends and family who saw how hard we worked," Connor said.
"I'm glad we stuck it out and we dug deep and we're turning it around," McCullough said.
Knocked down by nature, but starting to Flourish again.