Bottom-Up Management

words PASKA GRICIENE

Once upon a time, while studying in a tiny, faraway European country, a girl whose name means “fable” (fabula), met a boy. He loved to sing, and had sung Winnie the Pooh’s “I’m a Little Black Rain Cloud,” earning him the nickname “the little cloud” (nebula) early on.

Our story begins with our family, with our children, with our desire to choose that which is natural and good. Our kiddos came into our life and took it by storm, with strong names meaning things like gale, tempest and wind, and equally fiery personalities, but super sensitive skin. It was clear that plastic diapers wouldn’t work. Petroleum-based ointments weren’t any good. We switched to cloth and started researching natural barrier creams that might soothe irritated baby bums without ruining the cloth investment.

For a variety of reasons, the salves we tried didn’t work for us. Armed with books and encouraged by family, friends and those who had successfully come up with good recipes, I tried my hand at making my own. Along the way, there were many batches that ended up in the trash, others hastily wiped clean off tiny bums in the middle of the night and some years of just pouring six tins every few months after finally fine-tuning the recipe that worked so well for our kids and for those of friends and family. Salve to Quiet the Storm was born.

I was working full time at a children’s hospital in medical research at the time and our eldest was in kindergarten. But when our youngest was born, we found ourselves unexpectedly homeschooling, and I left my training and a full-time job to invest my efforts in the education of our three children. As the kids blossomed, so did the budding business. What was a casual “Oh, friend, glad you like the salve! Sure, I guess I could sell it, ha ha ha…” turned into a full-time gig when my artistic genius (and very hardworking) brother came on board. At that same time, our potions were gaining a following in a scenario reminiscent of Mickey’s sorcerer’s pot, and we made the decision to give life to Fabula Nebulae.

A background in science and research commanded careful consideration of ingredients and thorough exploration of their qualities, especially safety. This involved meticulous testing and tweaking of recipes before finally sending them to people we love with yet another note saying: “Hey, will you try this one as well?” Sensitive skin and sensitive noses in our home required the formulations be gentle, safe, mild and as hypoallergenic as possible. For this reason, the base is almost always Quiet the Storm.

Most all our products have a story: Desert Rain came about when Mom wished for something lighter than Quiet the Storm for her hands. Monsters Away was mixed up in an exhausted effort to help our little boy make it through midnight nightmares. The Muscle and Joint Soother was made for Dad after a day cutting fields on the steep slopes in West Virginia made his back ache. Bumble Fairy Sun Dust was mixed up for a sweet friend’s little girl who broke her arm and couldn’t go to school her very first day of kindergarten.

Now in our fourth year of operation, we’ve experienced both growth and change beyond what we could have imagined. We’ve outgrown not only our fridge and hand-held mixer, but are quickly outgrowing the add-on room that has been our workplace. We’ve bought a farm and are earnestly planning for a new facility.

As we continue to grow and new products join our permanent collection, we are also making strides toward transitioning to fully ecological packaging that can be recycled or, better yet, composted. Likewise, it is important to us that we support our local growers and crafters, to ensure that profits stay within the community and help foster its growth and prosperity. Our biggest challenge will likely be making the production line more energy efficient: ultimately solar powered, and waste free. But like most challenges we face, we will overcome them together, as a family.

fabneb.com

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