In Search of….

15/12/12 12:27 PM

The "Evening Show" on the Riverside Balcony at Belle Grove Plantation

The “Evening Show” on the Riverside Balcony at Belle Grove Plantation

As we start working towards our opening date with zoning, we also have to start thinking about who we will be using for different products and services we might need at the plantation. Yes, it’s time to start looking into vendors.

Besides the bed and breakfast side of the business, we are looking at doing events at the plantation too. The events will start out small at first to give us time to get on our feet and see what works and what doesn’t. But it is our hope to increase the size and scope of the events as we progress through. One of the biggest events we will be doing at the plantation will be weddings.

Jennifer Lay Bowden 09-12 1

For anyone that has ever planned or be involved in planning a wedding, you know it is no easy task. On top of that is finding the right business to handle each part that would need to be delegated out. That is where we hope to help the brides and their families. By working with a select group of key businesses, we want to be a “One Stop Shop Experience” for brides.

So now comes the fun part…

During the last year, Brett and I have been looking around and talking to different people to see who they would recommend. We have also met with some businesses to discuss the possibility in being a selected vendor with Belle Grove Plantation. Armed with the word of mouth we have received and doing some of our own research, we are already gearing up for the selection process.

What we are looking for…

In selecting a business to be one of our vendors at Belle Grove Plantation, we are looking for is a business that understands who we are and what our goals are for each event. The one thing we have said over and over in planning our bed and breakfast business is that we want each guest that visits the plantation to come away with a “Wow Virginia Experience”. That experience would start the moment you contact the plantation. From the experience of making reservations to pulling into the long driveway to leaving after a relaxing stay to following up after the visit; it’s all important to us. I guess the best way to say it is “Details Matter”. So when looking for someone to represent us, we want them to have that same philosophy.

We also want to use as much local, small businesses as we can. We believe that America was built by small businesses and we want to support them. We would prefer to use local, Virginia based businesses that will provide a product or service that we can showcase and include in our plantation. This is not to say that other small businesses that are outside of Virginia are off the plate. We know that we may have to go outside the area to find the best product or service. We want to make sure that the product or service and the business lives up to our standards. We want only the best for our guests.

Meeting with Businesses…

Just recently we had the opportunity to meet one with a local florist and graphic design business who is interested in being a part of Belle Grove’s “Wow Virginia Experience”. It happened just last Saturday. They came to us by word of mouth from another plantation in the area. They had contacted us through Facebook and requested a meeting with us. You have to love Social Networking!

The company is called “ChikPea”. This Graphic Design / Florist company is based out of Culpepper, Virginia. This mother and daughter team has been in business for six years now.

Raygan Ketterer

Raygan Ketterer

Raygan Ketterer, the daughter side of the business and the acting “El Presidente” graduated from Lynchburg College with a degree in Studio Art & Graphic Design. She has worked in the graphics industry since 2002. She has worked with offset printing, screenprinting and embroidery. Her longest run was with a high end sign shop for over six years. It was during those six years that Raygan developed a passion for creating and constructing every detail with her own hands and materials.

Brigitte Morrow

Brigitte Morrow

Brigitte Morrow, the mother side of the business and acting “Flower Guru” has been a florist for over 30 years. Through her wealth of experience, Brigitte is able to create beautiful masterpieces in mere minutes. She showed us her ability this past Saturday. Just before coming to see us at Belle Grove Plantation, Brigitte and Raygan stopped by a neighboring plantation they currently do work for. There Bridgette asked to make some cuttings from their greenery on their grounds. With this greenery, she created a very beautiful and very accurate Colonial wreath for us at Belle Grove!

Colonial Style Wreath made by Chikpea.Contains pine, spruce, mistletoe, and magnolia leaves

Colonial Style Wreath made by Chikpea.
Contains pine, spruce, mistletoe, and magnolia leaves

Needless to say, we were very impressed! They brought with them a very professional portfolio with some of the most wonderful flowers pieces they have done for weddings in and around Culpepper. Raygan also brought us samples of her graphic skills which were well presented and of the highest quality. Needless to say, we will be talking more with them about being one of our partner vendors!

Flowers by Chikpea

Flowers by Chikpea

Flowers and Graphics by Chikpea

Flowers and Graphics by Chikpea

Flowers by Chikpea

Flowers  and Graphics by Chikpea

Flowers by Chikpea

Flowers by Chikpea

So What Now…

We start by making a list of products and services that we are going to need. Then we send out invitations to area businesses we want to talk to. Then we make appointments to view their products or services. After we have met with everyone, we narrow it down to those few that we found to be the best representation for Belle Grove Plantation. Sounds simple, right? Believe me; we are going to be looking very closely and hard at each of the businesses because we want to make sure when you come to see us at the plantation, you will only get the best!

If you are a business and are interested in working with us or if you know of a business, please feel free to contact us through our email at

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 48 Comments »

48 Comments on “In Search of….”

  1. terry1954 Says:

    beautiful photos. i like that you want to get your feet wet slowly. so many new businesses jump in thinking high high high. it is better to move slowly and build gradually a repeat business. at least this is what i learned in my own business of refinishing antiques

  2. Slow and steady is our goal! Thank you!

  3. gardenlilie Says:

    What a great idea! I love the top picture…very inviting. And the start slowly way is good. Funny thing is I want to start a business in January, off the ground by Feb. first, and have the same idea of starting slow online. My product is far from your idea and still in development, but family style. Good Luck to you!

  4. Thank you! Good Luck with your venture too!! Let us know how it goes!

  5. Now is the fun part, once the bureaucracy is over! Looks like you’ve got some great ideas and companies lined up.

  6. The bureaucracy isn’t over just yet, just gearing up for the next step. We still need to finish with zoning. 🙁

  7. John Says:

    Great photos, and I applaud you for seeking local businesses for services! Only the best, and local too. You’ve got my vote. 🙂

  8. Thank you!

  9. David Says:

    That’s a very beautiful colonial-style wreath. It’s a very excellent idea to develop a vendor relationship for event services. It says you’re committed to providing a memorable experience.

  10. Thank you! We really liked the wreath too! It looks great on the door!

  11. cmblake6 Says:

    Beautiful facility, scenery, and the vendor’s arrangements were gorgeous. Well done, keep it up!

  12. Thank you! We are working hard on it.

  13. cmblake6 Says:

    One of these days I’m hoping to come back east for a visit.

  14. We would love for you to come!

  15. lynnwyvill Says:

    The flowers by Chickpea are stunning. Yep, start off slow. It helps in so many ways.

  16. Thank you! We think they are beautiful too.

  17. Mama Bear Says:

    They do beautiful work! I love that colonial style wreath, WOW!

  18. They really do great work! We can’t wait to see what they can do with Belle Grove!

  19. Brigitte Says:

    I believe you will be pleasantly shocked at what we will do at Belle Grove!!! There have already been an array of ideas swirling around our heads since whe met with you weeks ago!!!
    We are excited for you and ourselves to make Belle Grove shine.

  20. Thank you so much Brigitte! We can’t wait to have you both working with us!

  21. You have come such a long way since you started your blog — I love seeing it! Anyway, I have an idea — one of the things that is amazing about Virginia are the artisans (hand-made furniture, fabric, jewelry, etc.). What about showcasing some of that by finding a representative for the local artists in your area?

  22. We have already thought of that. One of the things we want to do is have an artisan and wine weekend at Belle Grove. It would allow artisans to showcase their work and the public to find them. We are also looking into bring magazine / newspaper representatives in to read about the different artist. We are looking into doing the same for authors too!

  23. Beautiful!

  24. I would love to spend Christmas at your place, a quiet, romantic Christmas with my wife. Someday…

    S. Thomas Summers
    Pushcart Nominated Author of Private Hercules McGraw: Poems of the American Civil War

  25. Next year will be possible! 😉

  26. Mu daughter and one of her daughters lives in Culpeper. Lovely little town isn’t it. I like the bird illustration. But then I like bold colors. Dianne

  27. We have never been to Culpepper. We came close last weekend when we were in Orange. I think we need to plan a trip there sometime soon! Thank you!

  28. Mrs. P Says:

    I love the integrity that you have in creating this as an historically accurate Bed and Breakfast. And Yes, details DO matter!

  29. Thank you! We are working really hard to make it the best!

  30. gardeniahung Says:

    A very romantic setting for a wedding at the Belle Grove Plantation.

  31. Thank you!

  32. Sooo Pretty !!! might just drop in one Day,with my Blogger Pass!!!

  33. Thank you! We hope you will!

  34. MyWayOnRails Says:

    Thanks a lot for being the first to like my posts…

  35. You are so welcome! WHoo! I love being the first one! We look forward to seeing more of your blog in the future! Thank you for stopping by!

  36. You and your husband are doing this the right way. Research, Research, Research! Of course, you are the “Queen of Research”, in my humble opinion, so this is going to benefit Belle Grove Plantation and the two of you. Good luck in your search and selection process.


  37. Thank you! You know Leslie, I don’t think I have ever been called the “Queen of Research”, but I will take it! I love doing it because you uncover so much more!

  38. JulesPaige Says:

    You have been very busy… Continued wishes for success!
    I hope to catch up on you post and have finally added you to my favorites list so I can find you with ease.

  39. JulesPaige Says:

    oops cold computer fingers…should be your posts!

  40. 🙂

  41. Thank you Jules! We are very busy this week! Getting that last second things done before the zoning goes to the panel. Fingers crossed!

  42. hermitsdoor Says:

    Talk about attention to details!

  43. We are trying! 😉

  44. dcwisdom Says:

    Great plan! You know, a good management motto is “work with a few and only the best.” I voted for flower photo 2. And very cute graphic girl, too. What fun!

  45. Thank you! We have dreamed about this for so long. I think I have gone over it in my head for so many years that I just can see what it will be. Now we just have to find those that can fill it!

  46. dcwisdom Says:

    You have the vision. You’ll find the right people, I’m sure. Pulling for you…

  47. Amy Says:

    Hi Michelle, I nominate you for the awards If you can find time to play…

  48. Thank you so much! We really appreciate you sharing our blog with your readers! It really means a lot to us!