Booming Businesses

Dreams of business success
become a reality for these folks

What started out as an idea
has blossomed into thriving businesses

(September 2021) – Online statistics report that 26 percent of those who start their own businesses want to be their own boss, 23 percent are pursuing a passion and 19 percent had an opportunity present itself and they decided to “go for it.”
The seven characteristics of an entrepreneur, according to an article posted from American Intercontinental University, are passion, business savvy, confidence, being a planner, always “on, money management skills and a never-give-up attitude.
Chuck Stewart of Madison, Ind., always dreamed of owning his own business. Stewart, 47, his wife, Chrissy, 46, and their sons, Blaine, 21, and Ethan, 19, were all a part of making his dream a reality. Madison Iron and Wood began as a home-based business in 2015. Although Stewart’s first idea was to create industrial furniture, he quickly realized woodworking and welding were not compatible.
He started out by making fence post caps and sold them on Ebay. His business has expanded to include personalized signs, word metal art, house numbers and brackets. In 2020 he purchased a building on the Madison hilltop to accommodate his growing enterprise and added three additional employees.
Stewart has held many positions over the years, including working at Rotary Lift, Super ATV and North American Stainless. He credits these experiences as being the springboard for his business. Currently, Madison Iron and Wood products are only available online, but Stewart hinted he might like to have a brick-and-mortar store downtown in the future. 

Madison Iron and Wood

Photo by Marci Auxier Jones

The Madison Iron and Wood crew are (top row from left) Jeremy Baker, Blain Stewart, Ethan Bess (bottom row from left) Gabe Bennet, Chuck Stewart and Ethan Stewart.

Despite the pandemic in 2020, Stewart said he had a “stellar year.” When asked the best part about owning his own business, he replied, “I can set my own schedule.”
For Larry and Sonia Folkner, owners of Fountain Alley BodyCare LLC, it is important that their soaps and body care products are all natural and earth friendly.
Sonia, 56, began making soaps in her kitchen in Canaan, Ind. She learned her craft by studying books from the library and incorporated essential oils and herbs into her creations. Their products are both skin and fin friendly. All are vegan or beegan based (made from honey).
Larry, 70, and Sonia moved to Jefferson County, Ind., in 1988. For the first two years, Sonia “tested the waters” by selling her soaps at festivals and farmer’s market. In 2005 they developed their own website and began online sales. All Good Things, located at 318 W. Main St. in Madison, opened in 2009 and became Fountain Alley BodyCare in 2015. Their sons are also involved in the family business. Clay, 30, takes care of social media and the retail cart, while younger son Luke, 26, oversees maintenance and product delivery.

Larry, Sonia Folkner

Photo by Marci Auxier Jones

Sonia and Larry Folkner are pictured at their Fountain Alley BodyCare store in Madison, Ind.

The Folkners say they love the flexibility of owning their own business, although they admit it is often hard to get away. When asked about advice to others considering starting their own business, Sonia replied, “figure out your niche.”
Sonia decided to go with her own creation and stay pure, with no preservatives. It has been a successful recipe for their business, she said. Their best-selling products are their all-natural soaps and Regeneration Facial Oil.
Larry and Sonia say their business grows between 10-18 percent per year, but with the rising costs of materials, it sometimes evens the growth. Despite restrictions in 2020, due to COVID-19, they report their sales are almost the same as 2019. In the future, they aspire to open other stores, but for now, “one store is keeping us busy.”
Sonia continued, saying, “Jefferson County is our home. People know us, and this has been a good place for our business.”
Mark Twain once said, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and this is true for Christy Brogan, owner and operator of Christy’s Candles and Gifts at 2631 Michigan Rd. in Madison. In 1988, Brogan was looking for a way to augment her family’s income. At that time, her late husband, Jon, operated a video store, but Christy wanted something of her own. She started making candles in her kitchen and worked tirelessly until she felt she had perfected her craft. She never borrowed money, but rather saved her grocery cash to buy supplies. On a whim, she purchased an ad in Country Sampler, and soon the orders came pouring in, and Christy’s Candles and Gifts was born. Overwhelmed by the response to her ad, Brogan enlisted the help of her octogenarian grandfather, Loren Auxier, to help fill orders.

Christy Brogan

Photo by Marci Auxier Jones

From left, Christy Brogan and her daughter, Regina "Jo" Lind are pictured at Christy's Candles.

Brogan’s success is due in part to her belief in herself, her product and her family’s support, she said. Her daughter, Regina “Jo” Lind, 42, has been a part of the business for the last 11 years.  Lind is the chief candle pourer and frequently staffs the store. Together, this mother-daughter duo has expanded its selection to include gift items, silk flowers, rugs, handmade jewelry, purses and more. In addition to 44 different candles made on site, they also make their own sugar and salt scrubs and room spray.
They partner with fundraising groups that sell their candles and retain 50 percent of their sales. Brogan said that funeral business makes up 15-20 percent of their business. She said that 2020 forced them to be creative to stay “afloat.” They offered their customers delivery and curb-side assistance, and their sales were up 25 percent over 2019.
When asked what the best part is of owning her own business, Brogan replied, “I’m my own boss, and there is no limit to my creativity. I love the Madison area, and it is the perfect place to own a business.”

Back to September 2021 Articles.




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