Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Family Affair

BY Sara Lucas

Christi Eyerman starts her day early. She’s out of the house by 7:30 a.m. and off to school where she puts in a full day chasing children -- trying to make them pay attention. She leaves school and goes to Zane Trace Inn, where she checks on her guests, and then she goes to the farm. Once she’s there she puts in a few hours fighting the red tape and mounds of paperwork that go along with owning a small business. She cooks dinner and checks on her guests again. On a typical day Christi will work for 14 to 16 hours.

When the Eyerman’s decided to open Zane Trace Inn, they knew that they were in for a lot of hard work and that they would need to support each other 100 percent to survive. When they opened Craft Farm on Oct. 5, 2008, they were prepared to work even harder and to support each other even more.

For Christi and Ken owning a family farm and bed and breakfast that can support itself has always been a dream. After mulling over the idea to open a scrapbooking retreat in downtown Somerset, they presented the idea to their sons. “This is going to change our life, hopefully for the better. Are you in on this? It’s a family decision.” Christi explained to her two boys Cody and Travis who are now 17 and 19, respectively. “It won’t be a typical family environment…we want you to be a part of it.” If the venture was going to work, they had to work together.

The Inn was and continues to be a great success. While it had always been part of their business plan to expand after three to five years, the Eyerman’s realized they would have to do it sooner rather than later. The Inn was booked every weekend, and they desperately looked for ways to accommodate guests. No property seemed to fit their needs. Ken suggested a radical option: open their own home to guests. It seemed to be the quickest, easiest and most cost effective use of their time, money and energy. “Here we go again. What do you think about this?” Christi asked her sons after they came up with a detailed list of pros and cons.

Their home, which they built in 1997 on 32 acres just outside of Somerset, went through a huge transformation. Ken and Christi built an apartment for themselves on the lower level, and the boys moved in their own apartment, which was built in the barn. Their home became a retreat capable of housing 10 guests and all their crafting endeavors.

While Christi seems like the face of the Inn and Craft Farm, the guys are active participants too. Cody and Travis help out with the heavy lifting, which includes helping patrons carry luggage. Travis drew a cartoon figure of the average guest at the Inn, the “Zaney Girl”,complete with pajamas and scissors, who decorates everything from t-shirts to travel mugs. Ken is the official pizza master because guests often request his special, homemade pizza.

So far, the Craft Farm has proven to be another great success. It adds another dimension of chaos to their already busy lives, but as a family they handle it. “We are a small town business, and small town people, and we’ve got to help each other…I think that’s what helps us be successful,” Christi says.

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