Heidi Barr, founder of Kitchen Garden Textiles, with her back to the camera holding a potted plant.
Heidi Barr, founder of Kitchen Garden Textiles, believes in the power of community engagement. — Kitchen Garden Textiles

Heidi Barr, founder of Kitchen Garden Textiles, understands the importance of teamwork. As an entrepreneur who works closely with local farmers to create her sustainable products, Barr encourages other aspiring business owners to engage with their communities to find success.

In fact, for Barr, that was the original inspiration behind Kitchen Garden Textiles: a way to help her community.

Barr used to be a dancer, but after a knee injury took her off the stage, she started sewing the costumes she once wore herself. But after years of sewing and a closet filled with dance clothes she’d never wear again, Barr reconsidered how she could use her creativity and passion to better the environment.

She started off small, selling napkins in what she called her “kitchen garden series” and donating the profits to local farmers. This idea eventually grew into a successful linen business.

[Read More: 5 Ways To Leverage Your Passion In Business]

‘The intersection of food and fabric’

Barr describes Kitchen Garden Textiles as a sustainable brand at the intersection of food and fabric.

“I design textiles to replace single-use and plastic disposables in home kitchens and rental napkins for caterers and restaurants, and I give back to urban farmers,” explained Barr. “All of the textiles I use began as crops, just like the food on our tables.”

But Barr’s favorite material to work with, linen, is made from the flax plant, and there’s currently no remaining flax for linen supply in the United States. In partnership with local farmer Emma de Long, Barr created The Flax Project to re-establish U.S.-based flax into linen supply.

Take your time both developing a good system and finding the right people and circumstances to implement that system.

Heidi Barr, founder of Kitchen Garden Textiles

Standing out in a crowded industry

One of the largest challenges for aspiring entrepreneurs is standing apart from competitors in the same industry. Although other sustainable textile companies exist, Barr doesn’t let competition deter her success: By having a goal and a strong mission statement, she ensures her products stand out.

“Kitchen Garden Textiles is a community-based brand,” she told CO—. “We use our voice as a brand to advance education about sustainable textiles, reducing food waste, product pricing, equitable business practices and low-waste living on our blog, in podcast interviews and in the press.”

Another challenge is deciding when to take a side hustle and turn it into a full-time business. Barr suggests entrepreneurs focus on growing their businesses slowly and developing connections in the community and industry before making that pivot.

“Take your time both developing a good system and finding the right people and circumstances to implement that system,” Barr advised. “It's important to me to have all of my production close to home and all of my business-to-business relationships with people who share the core values of Kitchen Garden Textiles.”

Barr believes her slow growth projections and community relationships have been the keys to her success and resilience. She hopes to continue to grow Kitchen Garden Textiles, support local farmers and build a “healthy, vibrant future.”

[Read More: Growing Your Side Hustle Into A Business]

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Published December 16, 2021