At Cranberry Acre, a farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Arwen Cayton and husband Wayne create one-of-a-kind art and merchandise from soaps to blacksmith items.
After her father became ill, Arwen and Wayne moved from Texas to Virginia, where she sought to reconnect with the rural life she experienced as a child in upstate New York. Arwen’s vision for her business took time to grow and ripen, but today Cranberry Acre is a multifaceted, inspiring brand. She and Wayne run the farm as an agri-tourist destination for homesteading and crafting. She admits, however, that her initial dreams were small.
“Creating a business never even occurred to me,” Arwen says. “Mandy Archer at Blue Ridge Crossroads SBDC happened to be a customer of mine in my early crafting period. After I’d given up making things for about a year, I ran into her at the farmers market. I mentioned that people were still reaching out to me, wanting my crafts, and Mandy urged me to listen to that enthusiasm. She inspired me to commit to Cranberry Acre as a business. She saw the potential this company had.”
When it came to getting a business together with all the necessary parts, Arwen acknowledges that Mandy was essential. In strategic meetings, they worked out tax ID’s, formed an LLC, and discussed each important growth step. By year four, Arwen was generating more income with Cranberry Acre than her part-time job.
With that taste of success and continued growth, she pushed further, and today Arwen spends time planning for new, exciting, educational offerings on the farm, along with enhancing the grounds. Through it all, her connection to the SBDC continues.
“They’re coming this week to drop off stuff for Small Business Saturday. SBDC helps when we celebrate anniversaries, and Ginny and Mandy are incredibly supportive,” Arwen says. “Any time I have a thought like, ‘should I be doing XYZ?’ I don’t panic. I run to Mandy, and she steers me the right way.”