by Janiece Meek
photos by Maggie West
Asheville city councilwoman by day, free-ranging, trailblazing cowgirl by night. How does this yin and yang of politics and performer come together in the life of Robin Cape?
“I’m a bass player who does politics for service,” says the 51-year-old mother of two. “[I am] a part of this community who feels like I have gifts to share.” So share she does, through a country trio act called the Buckerettes, which plays parties, weddings, concerts and festivals around Western North Carolina. She’s also served on Asheville’s City Council for three years, where she’s known for pushing environmental issues and helping to protect a Woodfin watershed.
The music part started early. She played piano at seven and was a music major in college. She didn’t pick up a bass fiddle until 2000, when a Weaverville band, Raven Moon, invited her to sing backup and play bass. For the next two years, she learned on stage. Suddenly she was singing lead and playing bass with other local groups like the Quantum Leapers, Jimmy Landry and Tornado Cider.
by Janet Hurley
Patty MacDuff knew she had a confession to make. She was out for a drive with her new boyfriend John Peil, somewhere between her home in Battle Creek, Michigan, and his home in Kalamazoo in 2000. MacDuff, then 51, had been vague about her last exclusive relationship of almost 20 years. And now Peil, a paper industry consultant whom she’d met on Yahoo Personals, wanted her to visit his church. He’d told her all about Sister Sue—so pretty and nice it was hard to believe she was a nun, he said. MacDuff knew Sister Sue, though she hadn’t mentioned that to Peil, and she knew Sue would surely recognize her. “Honey, I have to tell you something,” MacDuff said. “I used to be a nun. That relationship I told you about, it wasn’t with a man, it was with God.” It took a while for Peil to digest this big news, but they were married seven months later.
MacDuff’s choice to enter the convent at 26 seemed to come out of the blue. Her father was a lapsed Catholic. Her mother converted to Catholicism when she married, and she sent her children to religious schools early on, but the family wasn’t fervent. They followed her father’s sales career from West Virginia to Pennsylvania to Long Island and finally to Birmingham, Michigan, where MacDuff graduated from a public high school. MacDuff, who is barely five feet tall and has a girlish, pixie-like face, says she was a moody teenager and a bit withdrawn. “There were girls that had the ‘future nun’ look, but I was not one of them. I was just not the nun model,” she says.
by Janet Hurley
photos by Rebecca D’Angelo
To describe her life and business, Ashley Trotter, 30, often uses the word flow. And that’s not just because she’s in the diaper business. She talks about raw goods flow, production flow and positive energy flow. She rarely mentions cash flow, even though it’s currently good. That’s because starting Baby Greens Diaper Company seven years ago and nurturing it into the five-employee operation it is today has rarely been about creating a cash machine. It has, however, involved a lot of thinking about making many disparate parts of a machine move together in an orderly fashion. “If you truly believe and put your heart into what you’re doing it will be what you want it to be,” she says, and then
by Jess McCuan
Yes, she’s an estate-planning attorney, but don’t expect her to wear a boring suit. Mary Hart abandoned her string of pearls years ago in favor of chunky jewelry and cowgirl boots—fitting for someone whose approach to many endeavors has been a bit atypical. For starters, she kicked off her working life with a stint on a 250-foot salmon barge on the Bering Sea in Alaska, gutting fish for 16 hours a day and flicking the innards at her crewmates. She also took a less-than-traditional approach to starting her Asheville law practice. In 2006, she had 15 years of legal experience, much of it in Juneau, and she was relatively new to Asheville. She was also, after the breakup of a 21-year marriage, a newly single mother of three sons, and Hart readily admits she should have been angling for a steady gig at a well-established firm.
But something about the building at 93 Church Street in downtown Asheville, a renovated three-story house not far from the Orange Peel, spoke to her. “When I walked in the building, it was like someone hit me in the face,” says the 45-year-old Chapel Hill native. “I had this immediate vision that I needed to work in the building and start my own firm.” So she did. And now, just two years after it began, The Hart Law Group employs three attorneys, two paralegals, an office manager and a part-time bookkeeper, all tending to some 700 clients who need advice about wills, incorporations and other aspects of probate, real estate, corporate and domestic law. VERVE asked Hart for her advice on getting ahead fast.
by Lisa Roell Turano
The little girl was blue—that’s what I remember most. Even her dark Guatemalan skin couldn’t conceal her unnatural indigo color. She looked as if she had been dipped in a vat of ink long ago and the stain had never quite worn off. As the other children laughed and played, climbing into the branches of a scraggly fruit tree in the back yard, she remained silent, ambling slowly across the yard, stopping every few feet to catch her breath.
In 2001, I was staying at the house next door to hers, a homestay with a family while I was attending a Spanish school in a tiny village in the Petén region of Guatemala. The smallest children of the house spent afternoons clustered around me, helping me with my homework and laughing at my labored attempts to speak their native tongue. They had taken to rifling through my backpack in search of exotic American treasures, which one afternoon had led to my awkward explanation of exactly what the mysterious tube called “tampon” was used for.
by Joanne O’Sullivan
photos by Steve Mann
Sue and Lance Wille’s home, affectionately known as the Lazy Cat Ranch, is part folk art gallery, part junker’s paradise and part Delta juke joint. Above all, the cabin and surrounds, on a dirt road that runs up a mountainside in Fairview, are a testament to the completely original style of its residents: Sue, an artist and crafter who goes by the name Suzie Millions, and Lance, also an artist and a drummer in the band Reigning Sound.
This is the kind of home real estate agents euphemistically refer to as “cozy” and “rustic.” Aside from the bathroom, there are just four small rooms. There’s little insulation, and winters can be cold. But what it lacks in space and climate control, it more than makes up for in art, soul and cool retro stuff.
by Jess McCuan
photos by Sarah Henry
The Tupperware party has come a long way since 1948. Earl Tupper started selling his airtight plastic “wonder bowls” in stores in 1946, but Tupperware didn’t take off until women started demonstrating the tubs’ handy-dandy features in their homes two years later. By the 1950s, home sales parties were everywhere, and companies like Mary Kay and Avon realized they were an extremely effective way to sell a vast array of products. Now, women (and a few men, too) throw home parties to sell everything from kitchen knives to sex toys to canine herbal tea, sometimes with great success.
In Western North Carolina, Linda Conard has been hosting Tupperware parties for 33 years. For meeting her sales goals, she’s won a piano, a grandfather clock, diamond jewelry and trips to Turkey, Austria and Greece. “It’s a great income, and I am my own boss,” says the 55-year-old mother of five. Jean Hollingsworth, 73, has sold Mary Kay products from her home in Candler for 30 years, and so far she’s won 13 cars—12 of them pink.
Home parties today can be quite stimulating—Alana Carrott, 30, says there’s often a lot of giggling at her “Passion Parties” when she encourages attendees to taste edible body lotions or inspect other sensual products she passes around. The parties can also be fairly elaborate. Candace Borum, 34, quit her executive assistant job at Mission Hospital to sell Pampered Chef products full time, and now she wheels a cart of products in at parties and whips up an entire meal for the attendees. Her most popular dish is a cheeseburger salad. “I come and cook, you eat and have a good time,” says the mother of two.
On the following pages, VERVE’s take on the 21st century Tupperware party.