Orange County Economic Development

Name of Business: Blawesome Farm

 Description: Blawesome is a socially responsible micro-enterprise that supports the vocational and social growth of a young man living with autism. By providing opportunities to cultivate and deliver flowers, this entrepreneur is able to experience a full range of work diversity while connecting to the community in a positive way.

Where can your product(s) be found: Interested individuals can visit our website at www.beautifulblawesome.com.  We also have CSA pick up locations in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and welcome custom orders and special events which can be ordered via email or phone.

What year was your business founded/established? 2016

What made you decide to open your business? My son, Raimee, falls somewhere in the middle of the autism spectrum. He will always need supports in his life. The unfortunate reality is that it is extraordinarily challenging to find and keep the kind of intentional supports in place for Raimee that would optimize his chances at reaching his full potential. Because of this, our family opted to homeschool Raimee for the majority of his academic career. Around the time he was 16, we found a charter high school in Carrboro that served at-risk youth and youth with disabilities. It was an excellent opportunity for Raimee to attend school, to have peers, and to be a part of a community of students- all of whom were facing some form of adversity but who had come together in this safe place to support each other and learn. Raimee was able to attend PACE Academy for two and a half years- at which time the Department of Public Instruction stepped in and shut PACE down ten days prior to the first day of school in the fall of 2015.

It was a decision that no one within the school community believed would actually happen. And when it did, it left many students, including Raimee, without any plan or place to go. My husband, Keith, and I were left wondering “What now?”

We were disappointed by what our local public high school had to offer Raimee and were aware of one only private school in the area that could accommodate him, but would require a rather hefty financial investment in order to do so.  With all this in mind, Keith and I decided that our best possible course of action would be to create a plan for Raimee that would set him on the path to independence and a life of happiness. 

I am a social worker with a background of working in both conventional and organic greenhouses on the east and west coasts, and personally understand the relationship between nature and positive health; so it made sense to consider the possibility of starting a small farm for Raimee. Blawesome Farm was born as a result.

What makes your business unique? Our farm offers a trademarked, signature bouquet called the Good Karma Bouquet. For every Good Karma bouquet that we sell, we donate one to someone in the community who is in a nursing home, in the hospital, who is a police officer or a teacher… or anyone else who is often unnoticed or under-appreciated in the community. And the person who is growing, cultivating and delivering those flowers is Raimee, my adult son who has a diagnosis of autism. What Blawesome is really selling is not just a beautiful locally grown product, but also a message- that having a disability does prohibit someone from having something beautiful to contribute to the world.

 What do you wish your local neighbors (potential customers) knew about your business? Sourcing flowers from Blawesome not only provides the customer with a beautiful product, grown locally and sustainably, but simultaneously supports the vocational and social growth of a young man living with a disability in the community. Blawesome Farm provides Raimee with the opportunity to operate his own business, live with purpose, and leave the world a more thoughtful and beautiful place than he found it.

What are your next goals for your business (any exciting expansion plans or new product/services)? We are currently in the middle of an expansion- increasing our production area by two acres. We are just about finished building a small barn, with an attached greenhouse and design studio.

If someone were to give you $100,000 to invest in your business, how would you spend it? Our expansion is taking place on a 4-acre lot adjacent to our existing production area. That space is still in need of basic farm infrastructure- such as a high tunnel greenhouse, tractor, delivery van, and irrigation system. We would devote any funds towards the structural development of Blawesome to increase our growing capacity, improve our online presence and outreach, and make our operation as efficient and productive as possible. 

What do you enjoy most about doing business in Orange County? Community integration and connection are not only terms that are becoming popular in healthcare, but in almost every aspect of life human beings find benefit from connection- to each other and to themselves- and this realization is driving greater sharing, relating and transparency in our business lives and consumer practices.    Orange County is an example of a place where the relationship economy is becoming a common practice- people want to purchase products and services, and support businesses, that they can relate to.  Although Blawesome does not “officially” launch until March 2018, in our first month of marketing we secured two restaurant contracts and provided flowers for over a dozen special events in the community, in addition to making over 50 “Good Karma” deliveries. This is because Orange County, while truly a rural haven with a wealth of supports for farmers and small businesses, is also home to many residents who are interested in using their buying power to obtain high quality, locally produced products while simultaneously contributing to social awareness and beautification of our community.

Contact Information:          

Owner: Rebecca Sorensen
Address: 102 Cane Valley Lane
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
Hours: March – October
Telephone #: 919-590-9574
Email: Rebecca@beautifulblawesome.com
Website: www.beautifulblawesome.com