NAME: Cris Bean
BUSINESS: Handcrafted Artisan Soaps and K-9 Dog Handler
POSITION: Owner of A Touch of Eden and Human Remains Detection handler with Michigan Search and Rescue
1. What do you consider to be the start of a great day?
As the old saying goes ... any day that I wake up too. I love to open my eyes to sunshine and hear the birds singing.
2. What do you do for a living and how did you get started?
I was a stay at home mom who raised six children. We homeschooled, were involved in church and 4-H activities. Many years ago my daughter raised dairy goats for 4-H so I started making soap with the extra milk. As the kids grew older and moved on with their own lives and having families, the soaping turned into a small business.
3. What do you love most about your job?
I love making small batches of artisan soaps. This allows me the ability to create unique designs working with colors and scents. I love the flexibility of having a small business with no store front. I can set my own hours and decide which markets or shows I want to do. This gives me the time to do what I love... see question #4!
4. What hobbies do you have?
In the true sense of the word "hobby" I would have to list gardening, sewing/hand crafts, and family history. Many considered dog training as a "hobby" but for me it is more than a hobby, it is a lifestyle, a mission and a passion.
In 2006, my son and I started volunteering with Michigan Search and Rescue. He worked his 4-H dog in Air Scent/Wilderness work while I would hide for the dogs and help at base when members were working in the field.
After my son certified his dog, at the age of 17, I was encouraged to get my own dog and work in the field of Human Remains Detection. After much consideration I decided to go for it. In 2010, I got my first dog, Joe Pete, a doberman from Mid-West Doberman Rescue. He was 16 weeks at the time and we started training right away. We certified with Michigan Search and Rescue (MISAR) in Land and Water and with the International Police Working Dog Association (IPWDA) in Land Cadaver and Crime Scene. Joe Pete is now close to retirement.
Three years ago I got my second doberman. Swift Run's Lacey Rizzoli, better known as Rizzy, was donated by Tammy of Swift Run Dobermansl through the United Doberman Club's Search and Rescue Puppy Project. Rizzy is training with Michigan Search and Rescue in the area of Human Remains Detection and as a Disaster Recovery Dog for the Michigan Task Force.
5. Have you ever encouraged another business person? Give us an example.
Over the years I have encourage many young people to pursue their dreams. I am a firm believer in volunteering in the community in a variety of areas as a means to learn and grow. Many of these volunteer opportunities help them to realize their abilities and to seek further education in a specific direction.
As a K-9 handler I have had the opportunity to encourage other handlers to achieve their goals. There is no room for competition in the field of search and rescue work. It is one mission, and that is to find the lost and missing. Each dog and handler, though they share similar abilities, have different strengths. This is where the word "team" comes into play. It takes a team helping each other with training as well as in the field to accomplish the mission. To see my mentees pass a test or overcome an obstacle in their training is exciting and worthy of celebrating.
6. What gives you the most inner peace and why?
I wish it were easy to give a simple, short word or sentence to answer this question. We are all so busy and we have so many different aspects within our personalities. There are multiple things that help me to stay grounded. My faith is one, that gives me hope when things go wrong or don't go according to my plan as I thought it should go. My children, that I loved watching grow up and to see where they are today, and now watching my nine grandchildren growing up. Good friends, that encourage me to be all that I can, even when I am tired and cranky. My dogs, who are always excited to see me. The faces of the families I have worked with while searching for their loved ones, their simple thank you for helping regardless of the outcome.
7. If you were given $5,000 and a week off of work and it had to be used for a fun vacation, where would you go and what would you do?
Interesting question. There are many places I would love to visit. I love traveling, especially when I can take my dogs with me. In fact, I rarely go anywhere these days without my dogs. But I would probably go to Tennessee to visit my sister, then maybe scoot around to visit areas where my ancestors lived.
8. Lastly, if you could give a new entrepreneur advice that wanted to go into your business, what would that be?
As far as the soaping business.... learn your craft first! Make soap, give it away as gifts and get honest feedback. Don't go into debt before putting time into learning everything you can. it is very easy to get excited about purchasing all the wonderful oils, butters, fragrances, molds and before you know it you have sunk a ton of money into something you find you don't have the time to do. And consider your space as many soapers are overwhelmed with the amount of scent in their homes or stores.
For anyone considering working as a SAR K-9 handler be aware it is all volunteer work that comes with a huge time commitment, working in all kinds of weather conditions, putting lots of miles on a vehicle as well as needing the physical ability to walk miles in the woods. Handlers are responsible for most of their own expenses from good boots to GPS units and their dog's food and vet bills. If you think would like to be part of a team my suggestion is to visit with one and ask many questions. Not all members are dog handlers by the way, some are field support persons who go into the field with the dog handler.
Disaster Training with Rizzy
Photo credit to Nathan Landick, photographer
Joe Pete and Cris Bean
Photo credit to Rebecca Houlihan Photography