In Search of….

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


48 thoughts 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. 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!

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

  4. 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. 🙂

  5. 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.

  6. cmblake6 says:

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

  7. lynnwyvill says:

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

  8. Mama Bear says:

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

  9. 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?

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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!

  13. gardeniahung says:

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

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

  15. MyWayOnRails says:

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

  16. 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.


  17. 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.

  18. hermitsdoor says:

    Talk about attention to details!

  19. 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!

  20. Amy says:

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

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