Archive for November, 2020


Business Your Way to the rescue

Posted on Nov 26 2020 | By

Local entrepreneur’s experience aids businesses

Tapping into experience can lead to success. The key is finding proven experience since advice from the unqualified can be costly.

This line of thinking can border on espousing platitudes. “Listen to your elders” has been with us from the beginning and embodies most business philosophy. Nonetheless, finding someone who has created successful businesses—and is willing to share that knowledge—is a change agent worth seeking out.

Today, finding help to jump-start a listless enterprise is a “now more than ever” endeavor. According to a survey from Main Street America, 7.5 million small businesses will shut down permanently if the disruption caused by Covid-19 continues unabated.

Enter Marianne Clyde. With almost three decades of professional counseling and more, including the last nine years operating the Marianne Clyde Center for Holistic Psychotherapy in Warrenton, she walks the walk.

On October 28, she launched her latest creation Business Your Way, located at 32 Waterloo Street, #105.

“I’ve had practices in California, Massachusetts, Virginia, and even opened one in Tokyo when my husband’s insurance career took him there,” said Clyde. “I have 30 years working both stateside and in developing countries with people experiencing trauma, civil war, trafficking, water and food shortages, and more.”

In 2019, Clyde retired with no thought other than enjoying her family. Her husband Bob and her have eight children in their blended marriage and will celebrate their 18th grandchild’s birth next spring.

Tending to the family was like retiring to another full-time job.

But even in retirement, she stays involved with the local business community. It includes being a member of the Fauquier County Chamber of Commerce executive board and the founder of Be the Change Foundation, an organization empowering women to embrace opportunities, seek solutions, and find business success.

“Covid-19 caused both of those organizations to pivot, so I thought taking some business coaching courses would help me in my leadership roles,” said Clyde.

“Then it occurred to me everyone needs help with their businesses today because the pandemic has impacted most of them negatively.”

Business Your Way
With her wealth of experience, including not only counseling but in real estate, gift shops, and more, Clyde has always built businesses that worked around her lifestyle.

With her large family, traveling, and myriad interests, she believes, “Everybody who desires it should have a business that is not only flexible but when a crisis arrives can pivot, so it continues to be profitable while meeting their lifestyle.”

She devoted several months pulling together her new company, including creating a website, social media venues, group coaching, and workshops.

Clyde has three offerings to boost languishing businesses.

First, there is a half-day workshop called Hero on a Mission. The effort helps an owner gather their thoughts on what they want to accomplish and how their vision can be fulfilled. She helps them develop a one-year, five-year, and 10-year plan to achieve those goals. The cost is $250.

The training can be hosted on Zoom for five to 10 participants and covers mission, messaging, and marketing topics.

Second is an ongoing small group coaching option for five to ten people costing $600 a month.

It’s surprising to Clyde that many small businesses have not even compiled a customer email list because they did not need one in the past. Now ongoing communication with customers providing business and lifestyle tips is essential in maintaining and building relationships.

The third approach is a one-on-one engagement. It starts with a free phone interview where a “business MRI” is administered to elicit how an individual’s company is currently functioning. Clyde creates a proposal showing how she can provide pragmatic assistance in creating a path to increased revenue.

It typically is a six-month to a year-long action plan with three 90-minute meetings a month. The cost is $1,000 a month with a commitment to participate for a minimum of six months.

Clyde also offers a free subscription to the Business Made Simple University series that guides clients through a business reactivation process as an incentive to try her services. The offering was created by the well-known author Donald Miller.

Since there are so many businesses in crisis today, Clyde provides clear and proven strategies for increasing sales and elevating participating firms’ overall economic health.

In summarizing her return to the workforce, Clyde said, “There is a huge need out there today, and I’ve got the skills and time to help fulfill that need.”

For a description of all the service offerings of Business Your Way, including a free PDF publication titled “9 Ways to Save Your Business”, visit


Published in a November 2020 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Neighbors helping neighbors

Posted on Nov 13 2020 | By

Immigrant support group Just Neighbors opens Warrenton office

On November 9, a branch of the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area Just Neighbors opened its doors at 34 Beckham Street. The office is part of Saint James’ Episcopal Church who donated space to the nonprofit organization.

Founded in 1996 by pastors and attorneys of the United Methodist Church, Just Neighbors provides immigration legal services to low-income immigrants, asylees, and refugees in Virginia, D.C., and Maryland.

Heading up the new office is Tori Andrea Babington, an experienced nonprofit immigration attorney. Babington spent 11 years at Northern Virginia Family Service, most recently as its director of legal services. She joined Just Neighbors in October.

Andrea Babington,37, has represented clients in all forms of humanitarian and family-based immigration cases, as well as defending them against removal in immigration court. Her work includes assisting hundreds of refugees, domestic violence survivors, reuniting families, and helping new American citizens who have made the United States their home.

Under her guidance at Just Neighbors, she will assume responsibility for cases in Fauquier County and the Northern Piedmont, and eventually, the entirety of rural Virginia. She resides in Warrenton with her family.

“I am really excited to be able to practice in my community,” said Andrea Babington. “Folks who are living in the Piedmont region will now be able to have access to a nonprofit immigration attorney to help them apply for immigration benefits, without having to travel into Northern Virginia.”

Expressly, assistance is provided for cases such as protection for domestic violence survivors, victims of violent crimes, human trafficking, Dreamers (children brought to the U.S. and identify as Americans), immigrants afraid to return to their home country, and similar legal issues.

Just Neighbors has a one-time $100 consult fee. After that, all services are provided free. There is an income limit of under $50,000 for a family of four to be eligible for its services.

The organization has three funding sources. A third comes from its foundation, a third from individual donations, and the remaining from grants. Tax dollars do not support the institution.

Initially, the new office will focus on five different areas: Fauquier County, Harrisonburg, Staunton, Lynchburg, and the Eastern Shore. Changes in immigration law and policy can influence the level of activity in the office.

“There could be a chance a new Dream Act is enacted that would make the current temporary protections a permanent status. If that were to happen, we would prioritize our efforts to people who are eligible and assist them with their applications,” said Andrea Babington.

Some people question if undocumented persons should receive services to support their efforts to reside in the U.S.

Dominique Poirier is the director of legal services at Just Neighbors’ main office in Annandale. She has a unique way of helping understand why such support is essential.

Poirier cites as an example her children who studied for their driver’s license but never followed through with obtaining the actual permit. Mom was taking them everywhere, so the incentive was not there.

“I like to compare my kids with undocumented folks because they often have already qualified themselves for immigration benefits, but they don’t know how or can’t afford to pay the attorney fees to complete the application process,” said Poirier.

“When we work with the undocumented, we are allowing them to obtain the benefits for which they are already eligible. They have just not gone through the process of making it legal.

“Of course, there are a certain group of people who don’t qualify for anything, and we can’t help them.”

Initial activity in the Warrenton office of Just Neighbors will be reaching out to other nonprofits in the area, social services agencies, and other organizations that see immigrants in a different capacity.

“We want to make sure those groups know we are here, and they can refer their clients to us when needed, said Andrea Babington. “This helps us become part of the local nonprofit community. Also, as people use our services, there will be a lot of word of mouth promotion.”

Currently, the Beckham Street office is not seeing clients in person because of Covid-19. Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but most client work is done by phone, Zoom, WhatApps, or whatever offsite format a client is comfortable using.

There are unique times when Andrea Babington may meet with a client in-person to review personal documents or sign paperwork. And in cases where a client has had a traumatic experience and it may not be feasible to work with them remotely.

“We are very excited to have Tori onboard in Warrenton because we needed somebody to reach out to people in rural Virginia that are not well served today. It’s also great to have somebody that is part of the local community,” said Poirier.

For information on the broad list of services available at Just Neighbors, visit


Published in a November 2020 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Hume family winery closing when the wine runs out

It’s a bittersweet moment for Bob and Linda Claymier. After a decade behind the tasting bar of their ranch inspired winery, the energetic owners will soon begin the next, albeit quieter, chapter of their lives.

A legion of customers, who are known as “family”, are visiting to bid farewell to the Claymiers. The process of winding down is a well planned and executed exit from their fermented grape business.

But if the past is prologue, resting on their laurels is not a likely scenario for the wine lovers. The success of Desert Rose was preordained, given the successful lives the proprietors had previously led.

Bob Claymier’s story began in eastern Oregon 80 years ago. He grew up in the high desert country on a big cattle ranch. At a young lad, he was introduced to winemaking. “My mother was the winemaker in the family, and she made absolutely awful stuff,” recalls Claymier, laughing.

“I followed in her footsteps and made wine out of oak leaves, dandelions, and whatever. Later in life, I went on to use better ingredients.”

From high school, he joined the U.S. Navy. “They asked what I wanted to study. I couldn’t spell electronics, so that’s what I chose.” With an honorable discharge tucked under his arm, the future winery owner scored a degree in electrical engineering, which led to a foreign service career.

He worked as a covert operative for 31 years. In testimony to his career, one of his more popular red wines is called Covert Cab. Another is labeled R.E.D. Chambourcin, for Retired and Extremely Dangerous. His energic and humorous personality belies a career of stealth.

He rose through the ranks to become a senior executive with responsibilities for Africa, then Asia, and other global assignments. “It was a dream job beyond reality,” said Claymier. “For a rancher’s son to circle the globe multiple times and bear witness to historic events was incredible.” His wife, Linda, worked for the same organization.

Upon his first retirement, he was drawn back to his love of horses. While training one of them, the horse went volcanic and threw Claymier skyward, resulting in a major hip injury. As a result, he rethought his conventional horse training philosophy.

Within a few years of purchasing property off Hume Road in western Fauquier County and stocking it with purebred Arabian horses, Claymier had become a nationally known horse trainer. He collaborated extensively with the renowned “Horse Whisperer” Frank Bell and produced his own horse training video.

The winery
After years of a second successful career as an equine trainer, Claymier could not shake his winemaking interest. It was time to go professional. “I planted a half-acre of grapes. Then I planted another half-acre. And then it got out of hand,” said Claymier. He produced about 24,000 bottles last year.

It’s a small operation compared to the Napa big boys, but it perfectly fits the Claymier’s philosophy. The ebullient covert guy and his wife sought a family, friends, and fun environment that was both ranch and winery.

Unlike many businesses closing, Desert Rose is not for sale. The Claymier’s property is 100 acres and is home to his two daughters, a son-in-law, and grandson. Over the years, their children moved onto the property, making selling the winery untenable. Blood is thicker than wine.

It’s a rare and unique relationship with the paterfamilias encircled by his clan.

Moreover, one of the granddaughters may ultimately move to the compound. If that occurs and a marriage unfolds, the winery building will be converted to a home for the couple.

One of the closest winery relationships is with their manager Allison Crandell. “Allison is like one of our daughters. She is the most creative, hardest working person we know. She got us through the early days of COVID-19. We love her.”

A critical element to the closing was what would happen to the eight acres of grapes lovingly nurtured for a dozen years. To let the grapes wither and die ran counter to the couple’s mindset.

The solution involved reaching back to his career days and finding a former colleague, Larry Carr, and his wife Kelly, who own Aspen Dale Winery. The couple will control the vines, maintaining and harvesting the grapes for use in their bottlings.

When word spread that the winery was closing, “the interest in scoring the last bottles just exploded,” said Claymier. “We’ve had some single days recently where we sold more wine than our largest monthly sales.

“But there is still wine for sale. We hope to remain open through October.” The winery operates seven days a week from noon to 6 p.m.

As he looks back on their winery career, Claymier underscores their customers have been the “most gratifying part of the business. They have become part of our family. Not seeing them regularly is going to be hard.

“Our final two bottlings are a Chardonnay-Viognier blend called Unhitched. It has a graphic of a broken heart on the label. The red is a Cabernet Franc called 10-80 for the number of years the winery has been opened and my age.” Both are certain to be collector’s items.

Desert Rose Ranch & Winery is located at 13726 Hume Road, Hume.


Published in an October 2020 edition of the Fauquier Times


Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Disastrous year for Stribling Orchard

Posted on Nov 02 2020 | By

GoFundMe campaign assisting popular sixth-generation Markham farm

Since 1819, the Stribling family has worked the land. The first Robert Stribling was also the town doctor, and in the ensuing two centuries, an unbroken chain of Roberts has never waived in their commitment as stewards of the land.

For over half a century, tens of thousands of Virginians have picked fruit and picnicked at the pastoral setting. The farm produces pick-your-own peaches and apples with 35 of the acres devoted to apple growing. A bakery, honey, jams, and jellies round out the offerings.

Today, Robert Stribling VI, or Rob, and his wife Stacia, both 47, carry the legacy forward. But the cost of the operation has been severe in this “year of disbelief”. Like many small farms, there is not sufficient revenue to make it a full-time endeavor.

Rob Stribling is a network engineer for Northup Grumman, and Stacia Stribling is an assistant professor at George Mason University. The couple and their two children live on the farm.

Three main events conspired in 2020 to highlight how fast a commercial enterprise can skid out of control to a dead stop. First, COVID-19 struck, then a killing frost silenced the orchard. Finally, a major fire destroyed a large barn and other buildings, housing all the signage, tools, and machinery needed to operate the business.

Practicing sustainable agriculture is a challenge but achievable for the Stribling’s. But running a sustainable business given the repeated blows struck this year is not. The farm was compelled to close down for the entire year.

While the picking season runs from July to November, operating expenses of up to $15,000 a month continue year-round. With or without paying customers. The farm’s projected losses could total over $200,000 until a robust revenue stream returns.

Hitting brick walls
The pandemic was the first chapter in this Book of Job tale. While everything in the economy went into a swoon in March, the farm wouldn’t even be open for business until summer, so no revenue loss occurred.

With people eager to escape the lockdown, it was thought possible a successful season could be achieved. “We probably had the best spring we’ve ever had,” said Stacia Stribling. “The trees were gorgeous. We had an amazing bloom, and the tiny apples were starting to grow. Then the frost hit.”

Perhaps a farmer’s greatest fear is frost. In one chilling night, an entire harvest can vanish. And the timing of the natural disaster is brutally exquisite. Just as earth’s solar energy surges with warmth necessary for rebirth, a layer of cold air silently descends, killing the emerging life.

“We lost about 98 percent of our fruit,” said Stacia Stribling. “With our incomes, we knew we’d be OK as a family. The question was whether the business could survive.”

One option was opening the farm for picnicking. “People were crying for places to be out and about. They were tired of quarantining and being stuck in the city. So, we started planning how we could stake out an acre per family and offer up to a hundred sites for picnicking. We planned to offer honey, jams, jellies, and baked bread.” Selling wine produced by nearby Naked Mountain Winery was also considered.

A conflict arose when it was realized the couple’s two young children were not going back to school. Managing reservations related to picnic sites would be difficult “because, in addition to teaching two graduate courses at George Mason, I would now be teaching a first-grader and third-grader at home.”

Two varieties of apple trees survived the frost; Rome and York. So, the couple shifted to yet another idea; open the orchard for one weekend in October and sell what small number of apples had survived the frost. Fall weekends typically see thousands of people come out to the orchard.

“Once the plan was in place and we were ready to go with it, we had an electrical-caused barn fire in September.” The seventy-year-old barn housed all the orchard supplies and equipment, including signage, picking poles, bags, three donkeys, and two pregnant goats. All of the animals were rescued.

A nearby small storage shed and separate workshop also when up in flames.

“As the structures burned down, we crumbled into a ball on the ground and cried,” remembers Stacia Stribling. Fortunately, insurance covered the cost of the destroyed structures and their contents but left the family with zero options for covering operating costs until almost a year into the future. Assuming all went well in 2021.

Never at a loss for revenue-producing ideas, the Striplings are working with their cousin Jim Stribling, who raises cattle on the farm.

“He approached us about selling a quarter, half, and whole cows this year. Most of the money raised will go to the cost of raising the cows, but we are hoping to build up this business. We will be launching the order site this month,” said Stacia Stribling.

When it was apparent the farm could not even proceed with a one-weekend picking event, they posted the news on its Facebook page about the season’s fire and closure. “The response from the public was just overwhelming,” said Stacia Stribling.

“It was so heartwarming that all of these people were supportive and understanding. They wanted to know if we had a GoFundMe page. ‘If you do, we will donate,’ they said.” 

GoFundMe is a for-profit crowdfunding website that allows people to raise money for life challenging circumstances like accidents and illnesses.

“My sister, Jennifer Blessing, who lives in Florida, said, ‘Sissy, you need to create a GoFundMe page. All these people want to help you.’ Rob and I felt a little funny about it since insurance was paying for the lost buildings.”

Her sister reminded her of the ongoing operating costs that could go well into the six figures. Blessing established the funding page.

Ron Stribling echoing his wife’s thoughts said, “The support has indeed been overwhelming. We will be back one way or another.”

Contributions totaling over $8,000 have been received to date with a goal of $25,000. Anyone interested in helping this farm family in their hour of need can search “GoFundMe Stribling Orchard.”  


Published in an October 2020 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES