Imelda Roberts, co-owner of Blue Dreams USA in Frederick, has faced a difficult challenge since the beginning of the pandemic. Since her lavender farm operates as an in-person experience and events venue, it has been closed since March for the safety of Roberts’ family and customers.
But the time being closed inspired Roberts to pivot the business by designing a new line of products inspired by both the farm and the coronavirus pandemic.
“We had an online store before, but it was focused more on our added value products like roses, lavenders and also tea, but we figured that for us to do very well, we might as well introduce new products that are suited for this time,” Roberts said.
Roberts and co-owner Jeff Snively launched a Kickstarter campaign earlier this week to help fund “B-SM-Art Wear,” a collection of handbags, scarves and face masks. Launching on Kickstarter was a way to broaden the farm’s limited internet presence, Roberts said, and help reach a wider audience. So far, they’ve raised about half of their $3,000 goal.
The handbags have a spot for hand sanitizer as well as a small pouch with a UV sterilizer inside. The sterilizer can be used with items such as cellphones, keys and masks.
Roberts said she wasn’t able to find UV sterilizers at the beginning of the pandemic, and the information about them was often confusing and contradictory. Now, she said, they’re much more widely available. The sterilizers will also be removable from the bag.
Beyond being a functional product and a business move, the new line of products — called Love Bags — has an emotional significance to Roberts, too.
“But my impetus for doing it is the inspiration around our farm. Our customers are unable to come to our farm,” Roberts said. “I figure let’s go ahead and do these designs so we could bring nature into our customers’ homes.”
Many of the designs feature images inspired by the nature of the farm, such as lavender, roses and butterflies. Other designs feature the geological areas from which people come to the farm, including Maryland, D.C. and Virginia.
A few others feature animals such as zebras and giraffes, which Roberts said were also inspired by the pandemic.
“I also kind of figured it’s like a jungle out there,” Roberts said. “So I was trying to really also capture the time in our lives when it looks like chaos and then turn that into a positive image.”
The farm remains closed for the time being, but the business will forge ahead as an online store until it is safe to open again, Roberts said.