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Coffee In One Hand, Ambition in the Other: Celebrating Businesswomen in Agriculture

by Blair White

Family, community and the cotton industry are what tie small towns across West Texas together. These are also reasons farm wives and moms in Slaton, Lubbock and Tahoka, Texas, established businesses of their own. Raising kids and crops called deeply to these families, but so did giving back to the places they call home. We want to celebrate one of the strongest constants in agriculture: women. Whether on the farm, in the classroom, at home, or in an eight-to-five job, they provide vital support to their families and communities. The following business owners do this and more – they lead.

Danielle Talkmitt and Kandyce ParsonsHeirloom Flowers and Goods

“Invest in yourself. It may take a little time to get there – just try. People will reward you when you are passionate about something. That has been the case for us.” – Kandyce Parsons, Co-owner of Heirloom Flowers & Goods

A brand-new floral shop and gift store has been established in the small town of Slaton, Texas. Heirloom Flowers and Goods combines a full-service floral shop specializing in weddings and parties with a store offering unique gift items and home decor. Sisters and co-owners Danielle Talkmitt and Kandyce Parsons are living out their dreams, investing in their community, and supporting agriculture all while trekking the road of entrepreneurship. The duo has taken the 75-year-old Slaton lumberyard and transformed it into a budding business with room to grow.

As Slaton locals and farm girls themselves, Danielle and Kandyce are too familiar with the trials and triumphs of agricultural life. Their husbands work in production agriculture, and their children are growing up in the middle of the largest cotton patch in the state. The pair said this makes them uniquely positioned to serve their West Texas hometown.

“I think people really appreciate the fact that we are local and we come from farming families so they take great pride in that,” Danielle said.

They are also particular about the products they source for their storefront because of their hometown roots.

“For a lot of our linens and stuff, we do source mainly U.S. material and printed in Texas too,” Kandyce said. “I try to make sure that those fibers come from the U.S. We always try to have a lot of cotton-themed stuff because that’s who we are.”

Lending their unique talents and abilities to different parts of the business helps them provide quality services and item curation. Kandyce takes charge of the marketing, product sourcing, digital promotion of Heirloom Flowers and Goods and even makes handmade earrings. Danielle is the florist, event planner and customer liaison.

Beyond supporting their agricultural roots with their business, the sisters heavily invest in their community. The community of Slaton was extremely helpful when it came time for their business development.

“Our community has been outstanding in giving us the resources and the things we needed to open this business,” Danielle said. “We are very grateful for the town of Slaton.” Opening a business on the heels of a pandemic and in challenging economic conditions has not come without its trials. Just as women in agriculture do, the sisters have taken each hurdle in stride and stress the importance of not letting fear get in the way of your dreams. “Just do it,” Kandyce said. “What are you waiting on? Find someone and ask questions. We will tell you what we did. Most people will. Anybody that we have asked for help has helped us. ‘Better scared than never’; That’s been my motto the whole time because if I waited until I knew it all, I would never do it.”

“Find something that you are naturally good at and learn how to make a living at it,” Danielle said. “Plain and simple.”

Though the business is young, its future is as bright as Danielle’s flower arrangements and Kandyce’s earrings. The sisters look forward to giving back to the community and agricultural industry that has given so much to them over the years.

“This is our hometown,” Kandyce said. “There were places like this when we were growing up here and I remember going shopping with my grandmother and getting excited to go and being proud of what I bought there. I have memories of that. It’s cool to try to create that environment in our hometown. I hope people have memories here, too.”

Page HeinrichAll About Looks

All About Looks is a furniture store and interior design business in Lubbock, Texas. Page Heinrich and her sister, Linsey Cheatham, along with their mother Nancy Hart, established the business in 2003. What began as primarily a fabric business 20 years ago has turned into one of Lubbock’s premier design resources.

Not only does All About Looks help curate homes that are already established, but they can also assist in selecting finishes when it comes to building a home. From choosing paint, tile, and carpet to bedding, rugs, and bookshelf décor, there’s nothing they can’t stylize.

“We have always been willing to try just about everything, but our first love was the fabric part of it,” she said. “As you do that, you get more into a home and people ask if you can help them with this and that. So that grew into wallpaper and rugs, and now we are covering the whole gambit of anything that is considered home décor.”

Page and Linsey work hard to make sure cotton textiles are represented in their store and in the homes they decorate. Page’s husband and son both farm cotton on the South Plains, so she knows the importance of representing the industry.

“When you go to market, you meet with the mills specifically,” she said. “The fiber content of the fabric is very important to find out. Not all fabrics can be used for all things. Cotton is one of the most versatile though. Since I am married to a farmer, I always hone in on the ones that have some cotton content or are solid cotton. I always try to talk to the mills about where they buy their cotton and what they know about the cotton we grow on the South Plains.”

The decorating style at All About Looks is as diverse as its services have been over the years. Drawing on their educations and decades of experience, the sister duo takes great pride in their ability to adapt to the needs of any client and any home.

“When we first started the business, our mom was very traditional. We qualify All About Looks as having more color than not,” Page said. “We try to keep it broad so we can work with anybody and any style. We love to work with our customers. We really have fun with what we do and we see it as a relationship. We are happy whether they buy big or small from us – that they come in and shop and keep coming back.”

Being a farm wife and mom is just as important to Page as running her business. She works hard to represent the industry and support her family every chance she gets.

“Most importantly, it is being involved in their life and them being involved in my life,” she said. “We are all kind of involved in the agriculture field in some form or fashion. It’s really fun for all of us to see what parts of the world we have interacted with and bring it all back together. We feel as a family that we need to support each other in the different parts of what we do in our lives. So naturally, I feel anything made of cotton is of superior quality and is giving back to the family business that we have worked hard to grow for generations.”

For those looking to start a business, the entrepreneur offers solid advice.

“Do your homework,” she said. “Make sure that you know all of the ins and outs. Go talk to people that are actually doing the job. Ask them as many questions as you possibly can and find a mentor that is doing something similar or the same thing.”

Askew FamilyThe Home Place

Most farmers have a field they refer to as “The Home Place.” The same is true for the Askew family – though the phrase refers to much more than acres of land in this instance. Sharla Askew, Jynna Bass and Shea Askew make up the trio of The Home Place Boutique in Tahoka, Texas. Their goal is simple: to provide their customers and community with a place that feels like home.

“Our goal in buying at market and online and in all of the ways that we buy for our store is to try to maintain that atmosphere – The Home Place,” Jynna said. “We want people to feel welcome and comfortable here, and we try to do that through our merchandise. We sell clothing, a lot of jewelry, home décor, bags, accessories, a little bit of everything. We are a gift and home boutique.”

The fourth-generation farming family opened the business in June of 2016 in the midst of chasing their own children and teaching others. They select cotton and American-made products for their store every chance they get as well as support other small-town business owners. Through each opportunity, the ultimate goal is to be strong role models for their children.

“It’s important to me to show my kids that you have to work hard for what you get,” Shea said. “Sometimes the payoff isn’t always instant gratification. Sometimes you have to work hard and continually put blood, sweat and tears into something. It may not always be a financial profit, but there’s always a lesson to be learned and you can gain knowledge, integrity and faith to be able to do those things.”

Sharla, the matriarch of the family, said she is extremely proud of her children and the business they have built together. Whether in the field or in the boutique, there’s always more to a business than making money. It’s often extending the warm welcome and friendly smile someone else may need.

“We have met some of the neatest people and gotten to be close friends because of this store,” Sharla said. “Sometimes, it’s not about making money. Sometimes people come in and just want to talk, have a prayer request, or just a place they want to hang out or buy a quick gift. It’s been a blessing to be here with the kids. Our family is unique because we farm together, we work here together, we go to church together, and we live in the same town together. It’s an honor that our kids want to do this. It’s a special place.”

The Home Place has allowed the Askew family to open its arms further and wider to the community of Tahoka. The town has supported the store for the past six years, and they want to support it in return by sharing the message of agriculture and the importance of family farming operations.

“It’s important for people to know that it’s not multi-million-dollar companies that are reaping all the benefit from this,” Shea said. “It’s the small-town families, and there are still little family farms that contribute to all of these things, whether it’s feeding America, clothing America, or raising the kind of people that we hope take over and keep contributing to society.”

This way of life comes with its own set of unique challenges and rewards. Even so, investing in home and the future is all worth it in the end.

“There are some frustrations or annoyances that come up,” Jynna said, “but there’s always something to bring me back to earth, and remember there’s nothing I would change about our lifestyle and the way we are getting to raise our kids.”