NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

A year in review: Haverhill woman reflects on her first year as a business owner

As the date marking the opening of her business quickly approaches in just a few weeks, Haverhill local Ellen Farmer reflects on her first year as a small business owner. Farmer, who’s a member of Haverhill High School’s  class of 2014, opened Monarch Nutrition on Winter Street in March of 2021 — just a short seven-minute drive from NECC’s Haverhill campus.

She has had the rare experience of not only being a young business owner — opening Monarch at just 24 years old—but also opening a small business at the peak of a global pandemic.

Her goal, says Farmer, in opening this business was to bring a healthier alternative to her hometown while also creating a positive setting for customers. “I wanted it to be a place where people could escape from their lives for a minute and have a happy, healthy atmosphere.”

Owning a business has countless difficulties on its own —add on the stress of a deadly virus and you’ll understand just what business owners like Ellen faced. Farmer shares that while she may have not known what was going to happen each day, she reminded herself to “trust the process.”

This motto must have paid off; Farmer says her encouragement to push through these hardships comes from her customers testimonies. “I have heard the most heartwarming stories and comments from customers which just remind me that I really did it!”

These relationships are what she values most, says Farmer. “Without these connections, they would just feel like customers—and I want them to feel welcomed and like they’ve made a friend.”

Among the uncertainty and chaos that came with opening nearly a year to the day that the pandemic began, Farmer has simultaneously had the chance to inspire the many young women in her life. For instance, current NECC student and Monarch employee, Reese Leblanc, shares “I’ve learned so much just from working here and talking with customers.”

Leblanc says that her employment at Monarch encouraged her to create healthy habits and has provided her with a happy environment to go to every day. Starting as a customer and working her way to being an employee, Leblanc has watched Farmer grow as a business owner and person.

“Monarch has made me a better person”, Farmer says. “I have become a leader and mentor to my employees and to my customers. While I definitely have my flawed moments, Monarch allows me to grow. It’s all a journey.”