Young animal lovers realize their entrepreneurial spirit

Like many young girls, Rohanna and Terra Wildon love horses. Just like fellow islander Adrianna Royal loves alpacas. But what makes these girls different is their “bull-by-the-horns” attitude of starting a business to pay for their passions.

  • Wednesday, January 17, 2007 7:00pm
  • Life

Adrianna Royal nuzzles her alpaca Gemini whom she boards at Greenbank Farm. Royal recently opened Spin A Yarn

Like many young girls, Rohanna and Terra Wildon love horses. Just like fellow islander Adrianna Royal loves alpacas. But what makes these girls different is their “bull-by-the-horns” attitude of starting a business to pay for their passions.

Rohanna, 13, is a horse lover who just acquired her first horse, Suki.

Suki was 5 years old when Rohanna bought and started training her. The horse had never had a blanket on her back, never mind a saddle with a person in it.

It would seem that such a task could be insurmountable for one so young but Rohanna and her sister are typical of horse lovers; smitten and full of determination in their love of all things equine.

“I just love hanging out with horses,” said Rohanna. “The smell of them, being around them, riding them.”

“Riding is just really fun,” added Terra, who is 10.

After some training from Rohanna, Suki is now a blossoming dressage horse, ready for Rohanna and Terra to take her through the technical paces of their hunt-seat and equitation courses.

Suki is adjusting to life as one-of-the-family at Harmony Hill horse farm where the girls board the horse and take riding lessons from local trainer Sarah Moulton of Freeland, whom the girls tout as the “best riding teacher ever.”

Rohanna and her younger sister are hunter-jumpers. “Hunter” refers to the form of English style riding in which riders show their skills handling a horse and jumping with it over fences that are 3-foot-6 to 4 feet in height. It is a very precise form of riding and takes much discipline and many hours of practice. The sisters compete in shows mainly on Whidbey Island and occasionally on the mainland.

Such a sport is not inexpensive and the girls realized that in order to continue their passion for riding and owning boarded horses, they would have to have an income. So they became business owners.

Since their mother, Karen Wilson, is a master potion-maker (she is also their teacher as they are home-schooled or “life-schooled” as Wilson prefers to call it, along with brother Leif), the girls decided to start “Sweet Sisters Bodycare,” a line of all-natural, homemade bodycare products.

The line of about 20 products is made in small batches using only organic and homegrown plants when possible. They also trade for ingredients at the Barter Faire in eastern Washington every summer, swapping some of their products for crucial ingredients like honey and beeswax.

“The fair is so fun!” said Rohanna.

The sisters strive for a wholesomeness in their products that nourish, heal and protect the skin and body. They do not use synthetics, detergents, parabens or any other toxic materials.

Everything is made in their own kitchen — with a little help from mom — and then displayed in one of the rooms of their Freeland home that’s set up like a small, chic designer boutique. The girls sell most of their products at the Bayview Farmers’ Market in the warmer months, but also invite customers to buy at their home shop or re-order products via e-mail at sweetsistersbodycare@yahoo.com or by calling 331-1328.

Some of their products include bath salts, lip balm and gloss, soaps, hand creams and “joy oil” perfumes. All the products have ingredients that sound good enough to eat; there’s wild yam cream, honey lip balm and peppermint tootsies foot rub.

The girls were busy making one of their popular “lip mints” called Honey Propolis Lip Balm one recent afternoon. The smell of honey wafted through the cozy kitchen, reminding one of the sweetness these girls create for the sweet animals they love so much.

Not far away in Coupeville, Adrianna Royal, 13, also has a passion: It’s for the alpacas that she raises and boards at Greenbank Farm.

She owns two, Gemini and R.B., and is in the process of buying a third, pregnant alpaca named Omina.

After joining the 4-H club “Inca Pride Alpaca” with her brother about three years ago, the eighth-grader realized that she needed to do something with all the fiber they were producing. She also decided that in order to keep up with the costs of boarding and feeding the animals — and also to sock some funds away for college — she would start her own business.

“Spin A Yarn” is a small shop at 302 N. Main St. in Coupeville and offers hand-dyed rovings, hand-spun yarns, spinning supplies, needle/wet felting, kumihimo jewelry and other sundries for the serious yarn enthusiast.

Adrianna, who is also home-schooled, mans the shop usually by herself while she does her homework.

“My mom helps out when I have basketball or something,” said Adrianna.

That “something” means volleyball, softball or track that she does – in addition to basketball – in her spare time after taking care of the alpacas, helping with the sheering, washing and hand-dyeing the fiber, spinning some of it into yarn, and doing business accounts.

“I realized I needed to learn how to do it all myself because there is no alpaca mill on Whidbey Island,” she said.

Spin A Yarn opened in September 2006 after Adrianna and her mom noticed the tiny space on Main Street was available. It turned out that the lease, with utilities included, was cheaper than what they were paying for farmers market fees.

“And it’s a lot warmer!” said Adrianna.

Adrianna also created her own Website for the shop at www.spinayarn.net, an easy task considering she won a national science contest back in sixth grade when she was required to build a Website.

Her products are also available at www.localharvest.org, a Website devoted to the “buy local” movement that supports small, sustainable farms and businesses.

Adrianna also handknits scarves and needle felts hats from alpaca, mohair and merino fibers. She has won top state honors, along with her brother, for the animals and the fleeces. Spin A Yarn also offers classes in spinning, needle felting and kumihimo, a Japanese braid-making technique.

Spin A Yarn is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and by appointment by calling 360-678-0203.

“Animal lover” is a relative term. If one considers the love these three island girls have for their animals and the lengths to which they will go to keep them, it’s safe to say, as animal lovers go, they lead the pack.

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