A Thank You and a Statement on the future of The Olson & Son Hopyard

Over the past two days the photos have been coming in from people wearing their brand new Olson & Son Hopyard T-shirts. It makes me incredibly happy and proud to see. I’ll be sharing some of the photos in another post soon, but I, of course, need to begin this one by thanking each and every one of you who have supported us in so many different ways. Yes – thank you to every one of you who has bought a shirt online or a beer glass at our Father’s Day event, but also thank you to all of you who have shared our story, and even everyone who follows, comments, and likes us on Instagram and Twitter. Thank You. Your support of us is noticed and appreciated more than you know.

Thank You.

Let me also start by saying that I am very happy with how well the website Booster.com worked for these first two t-shirt sales. Both “campaigns” were incredibly succesful and easy to set-up. They print and ship well before promised and the shirts themselves are very well made and stand up to multiple washings and significant hours of yardwork. Payment was made when promised. On my end, if you have a group that needs to raise money, I recommend using them. (By way of disclosure: This is not an ad. I have not been paid or compensated in any way to say that.) It will however, be the last Olson & Son Hopyard t-shirt sale executed in this way.

It would be ridiculous to say that there would be an Olson & Son Hopyard without my special needs parenting blog, PressureSupport.com. Sharing my son Liam’s story, and our story as a family with a child who has special health care needs, has opened doors and provided opportunities I didn’t think possible – but it has also showed me that there is value to sharing our stories. As we’ve seen on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, there is increasing value to knowing the stories of the people who make your goods, or grow your food, or create the clothing, art, and crafts around your house. Without years of sharing our own lives online, I wouldn’t have thought that people would connect and engage with the hundreds of photos I post of leaves, vines, and hops.

In essence, the Olson & Son Hopyard (as well as our two t-shirt sales) was born of PressureSupport.com and is therefore ultimately directly connected to my ideas, writings, and advocacy for the special needs community. This essentially implies that all sales from Olson & Son Hopyard are directly tied to my son’s special needs. The idea of using my son’s special needs in any way that could be construed as exploitive of him is something I have always been sensitive about.

I chose Booster.com for these sales a bit hastily – it’s a site used to hosts sales for “campaigns” to raise funds for a “cause”. As such, and in accordance with the information I have presented on both pages for each t-shirt sale, all funds raised by those sales were either put into one of two funds. Firstly, proceeds went to the Liam the Lion Fund – a fund started to purchase Liam’s wheelchair accessible van, and for the van’s maintenance and other medical equipment and charges that come along with Liam’s special needs. A very small percentage of the t-shirt sale revenue that was leftover was used on hop ropes and fertilizer to maintain the hopyard. I was up front about that from the start. So, I also want to be up front about the fact that all of that is about to change.

The Liam the Lion Fund will always be around, as will (I hope) PressureSupport.com. As Liam grows, so do his equipment needs, and the home renovations needed to accomodate them. When that stops, the Liam the Lion Fund will find other non-profits and charitable organizations to help. It, hopefully, will be a worthwhile “cause” that I can work on as part of my advocacy.

But at the end of the day, my son and our family are not a “cause” or a charity.

We are a family on the verge of starting our own small business.

The Olson & Son Hopyard is not the Liam the Lion Fund.

The Olson & Son Hopyard is not PressureSupport.com.

The Olson & Son Hopyard is a for-profit business.

snapseed-12What started as a hobby to support another hobby, growing hops to use in home brewing, has evolved into an outright passion. And as that passion grows, the very real possibility that this can become a legitimate small business opportunity is presenting itself. That is why I want to be as clear as possible on the distinction between the Liam the Lion fund/pressuresupport and the now “for-profit” business of Olson & Son Hopyard. From this point forward, any revenue earned through Olson & Son Hopyard will be used primarily to grow that business, and hopefully someday, as an income source for our family.

It is important to me that I am clear with my intent with all of you. The hopyard will continue to support Liam’s medical expenses in much the same way that my weekly paycheck does. Hopefully, it will also support Liam with things like toys, and vacations (vacations ha! this is where all the hop farmers laugh), and – ultimately (in 14 years when he ages out of the school system) – a place where Liam can become an employee, since most of the jobs programs for adults with disabilities in my state are scary.

Along with all of that, it will someday support Liam’s mother and I with things like beer, and dinners, and keeping the lights on. But most importantly, the Olson & Son Hopyard will support itself, so that it will grow. Hopefully growing into a local business that can help not only my family, but my local community, those looking for jobs in my state, and the people who make beer in New England and the rest of the country.

While we have yet to sell an actual hop to a brewer, it is certainly part of the plan for snapseed-13our near future. We look forward to adding additional space and plants, and providing southern New England with quality, locally-grown hops for area breweries and homebrewers. I’m also working to pursue hops and brewing as a full-time career . In the meantime, we will be opening our online store in the coming months, where you’ll find items including our t-shirts, our logo beer glasses, and our handmade holiday hop vine wreaths and ornaments.

Last week, a writer from one of our leading regional magazines spent a few hours with me in the hop yard for an upcoming feature. As soon as she arrived, I asked where she had heard about us. I was curious about the context of their expectations. While it would have been exciting if they found us through my advocacy of children with special healthcare needs, I was over the moon to learn that it was because of a mention from an influential member of the local RI food and beverage industry. They are from section of the magazine focused on food and beverage.

Their introduction to us and interest in the project wasn’t all about Liam. This was about hops, and the crazy guy who took about 100 square feet of ground behind his garage and, along with his son, turned it into something green.

All of this isn’t to say that you won’t see Liam in Olson & Son Hopyard posts. Of course you will. He is the “& Son” in Olson & Son after all. It’s just that Liam isn’t “the special needs kid” when he’s in the Olson & Son Hopyard.

He’s  the owner’s kid.

He just happens to be special.

******

Thank you to everyone who read down this far. If you have any questions about this transition and separation please feel free to email us at olsonandsonhopyard {at} gmail {dot} com.

 

 

 

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Eric Olson says:

    Reblogged this on Pressure Support and commented:
    I Originally posted this at the new Olsonandsonhopyard.com but the information is just as pertinent here. Karin and I also want to take this transition as an opportunity to recharge pressure support.com. New posts and possibly even new writers (hint hint) coming soon!

    Like

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