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Help the Weems Family bring On Hand Lotions home!

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I’m Hayna, the owner-operator of On Hand Lotions (9 years), Nourishing Jang (1 year), and Bristol Botanicals NY (new). I’m a Korean American adoptee, de facto immigrant, and the mother of three creative, thoughtful and enthusiastic children. I have also been living with metastasized lung cancer for more than two and a half years. I can't believe we're asking for help, yet I'm deeply grateful for the chance to even write this.

My husband, Ben, and I have a mantra: “Keep going, keep giving.” Our dedication to helping others, regardless of circumstances, makes it feel especially awkward to ask for assistance. After a few unbelievably difficult years, we're setting aside our pride and humbly asking for your help to keep our work and livelihood going.

What we do: Through On Hand Lotions (OHL) and now Bristol Botanicals NY (BBNY), we formulate and create body and skin care products featuring active ingredients, complex scents and natural dyes made from plants that we grow and process. Many of our customers have relied on us for their daily personal care for nearly a decade. We also extend aid and support to those in need whenever possible. Long before OHL, our efforts and earnings were devoted to social justice work and community care through writing, coordination, outreach, and donations of food and other resources.

What we are requesting: We are asking for donations to fund a new workshop. After eight years at our current shop in our beloved town of Naples, NY, we need to bring OHL and BBNY closer to home. We are clearing land to build a modest structure and hope to begin construction in early summer 2023. Any amount is greatly appreciated and all contributions will go toward the building project. Right up front: If the building is not completed by autumn 2023, we will be forced to close.

Why it's needed: This project is necessitated by my changing abilities due to cancer and the concurrent challenges of medical bills and pandemic restrictions. While my health has improved steadily enough that I can (happily!) garden and create new work again, vision loss and spinal pain when driving or riding make even the half-hour commute to our shop in Naples untenable most days. Additionally, hearing loss and immunosuppression prevent me from working the trade shows and art fair events that once provided a significant portion of our income. Bringing the shop closer to home will allow us to provide for our family and community and continue making products for our loyal customers.

How can you help? Right now, if you’re able, money is the best way to help. We are recovering from three years of a huge reduction in income followed by exorbitant medical bills. If you’d prefer to donate through Venmo, my Venmo is @HaynaJHW.

Other ways to support us:
  • Please share our story and campaign!
  • Purchase our work through our website and retailers
  • Leave reviews for OHL on our website, Google and social media pages
  • Please donate blood if you are able. I have been kept alive several times by transfusions made possible by donors. Thank you to all who have given blood in the past.

Image: Out of the Fog soap colored with madder, coreopsis, ironwood, alkanet, indigo, woad, calendula, turmeric, hardwood activated charcoal

The Long Story
In 2013, Ben and I moved our household from the Connecticut shore to New York’s Finger Lakes region. We signed a lease on a house only to have our employment plans fall through that week. Our children were 4, 2, and a few months old. In 2014, out of desperation to bridge the gap between full-time jobs, Ben and I launched a small line of body care products featuring the same solid lotions, balms and other skin care items I’d made for our family for years. The company grew exponentially and we quickly sought a dedicated production space.

Image: Two of our three children learning to frame a raised garden bed

In 2015, On Hand Lotions (OHL) moved to its current shop in Naples, NY. We hired a small and mighty dream staff, attended hundreds of trade shows and art festivals all over the Northeast, and worked nonstop to grow enough medicinals and create enough products to support our family and chosen causes, all while raising our three kids and doing our best to show up for our communities. It felt as though The American Dream had begun to blossom for us, except our goal was never to get rich. Our professional and personal goals remained unchanged: to create effective, safe, artistic, natural body care products, and to meet our family’s modest needs while humbly (and, preferably, anonymously) providing aid to others. Grassroots testimonials of our customers’ trust in the integrity and care behind our work led to six years of steady growth. We were blown away by the positive response! We were able to give thousands of dollars worth of food, products and donations to individuals and organizations and looked forward to building our outreach. I hoped to one day teach our children the art and science of body care formulation as well.

Image: Emma, Meg and Hayna at Christkindl Market in 2019

At the height of the pandemic lockdowns, I was diagnosed with extensive small cell lung cancer (ESCLC) and given a dismal prognosis. Rather than giving up or breaking down, we did what we’d always done: We gathered the facts, analyzed our options, and dug deep to make the most of what we had. We kept going and kept giving through side effects from treatments, growing metastases, drastic changes in my physical abilities, and the loss of our income from shows and events. We continued to hope for more time—and perhaps a bit of healing and ease—knowing and trusting that we would always have enough, even if those brighter days never arrived.

Image: One of many bedrest days with my main recovery buddy, Kirby

It’s now late April 2023, more than two and a half years post-diagnosis, and the sky is positively brilliant. I’m incredibly grateful for the love and support we’ve received and for this seemingly miraculous plateau in disease progression. After challenging years marked by disability and illness, I’m thrilled to be able to work regularly. The shop is again teeming with new ideas and fresh botanicals ready for processing. Collaborations once put on hold indefinitely are reinvigorated. Life is good, busy, hard and beautiful. I’m feeling stronger and healthier than I have in years and often can't believe we get to continue the dream.

Image: "Blue Skies Again" soap colored with our indigo, woad, calendula petals and turmeric

Moving Forward
Still, the relics of this disease and the pandemic persist, and we are now forced to reinvent our life and livelihood to accommodate them. After considering every option, building a shop closer to home is the only one that makes sense. We are currently clearing land and hoping to break ground in early summer. We are keeping the project simple and doing most of the work ourselves. The structure will be straightforward and include only what is crucial to our work, and yet this simple build is everything to us. Thank you so much for reading and considering our request.

Hayna and Ben

Image: The future home of OHL and BBNY

Family photo by Amy Brand, 2021

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Hayna Humphries-Weems
Canandaigua, NY

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