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Self Made Women: Julie Thurgood-Burnett Of Hereward Farms On How She Started

Updated: Apr 4, 2023

I am so humbled and honoured to be chosen for a feature on Self-Made Women and wanted to share with you and hope you get a glimpse of the love, sweat and tears that I have put into this company - along with the support of my family, my friends, the community, my clients...the list is so bountiful I can't even. I am truly blessed and thank you for believing in me and Hereward Farms.

An Interview With Sara Connell

Take time for yourself. I very rarely take downtime and when I do I feel guilty. There is always something to do, but if I don’t take the time to recharge my batteries doing something other than work, then I would be pretty empty and wouldn’t have much to give others or my business. It is okay to sit still and do nothing.

Julie Thurgood-Burnett, Founder + CEO of Hereward Farms

As a part of our series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Julie Thurgood-Burnett. Who would have thought that the city girl, who has three main loves: family, cars, and shoes (in that order) would own a lavender farm and a full line of skincare products that soon followed? Julie Thurgood-Burnett knew that she wanted to make her brand special and different, and she has achieved that Hereward Farms. With a background of over 25 years in marketing, cosmetics, and retail, Julie built this brand with the notion of “farm to skin”. Going back to nature and creating these spa-quality products that are researched, created, developed, and marketed by her.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory” and how you grew up?

Thank you so much for having me! Sure thing. I grew up in a small town with an older brother and two amazing parents. We were a middle-class family, my dad was a teacher and my mother was a legal secretary. My love of cars came from my dad :). I watched my parents who both grew up with very little and had very little family support, make a life for themselves and their kids. We didn’t have a lot but we surely did not go without.

Life was pretty amazing, and then life kind of went on another path for me and maybe that is why I am where I am today because well it didn’t define who I am but it sure did carve out who I was. I don’t really talk about these things, because like I said it didn’t define me but it sure did change how I viewed the world and how I was going to navigate it.

I had three defining moments in my life that definitely have put me where I am today. When I was 9, I was attacked by a dog and ended up having 72 stitches in my face and two plastic surgeries. My parents were incredibly supportive and it really did get me through this stage in my life. However, the kids I went to school with weren’t so kind and I never quite understood why people could be so mean. Then at age 14, my father died in a tragic accident that definitely was the day I changed and then 4 years later, my mother became ill and lived in the hospital till I was 30 and passed away. From there my brother and I were on our own with little to no family support or guidance.

This is not about feeling sorry for me, but it made me realize that I was solely responsible for my success, career, and life. I could have made a decision to feel sorry for myself and take a completely different direction, but that is not how I am built. I have fought long and hard for where I am today — if a job didn’t fit or if I lost a job, it was up to me to fix my life and make it right. And here I am!

Growing up, what were your early experiences and perspectives about money? Or we could say, what was the “money consciousness” in which you were raised? Can you please give an example of what you mean?

We were taught that you didn’t have to spend money to be happy and that you should only spend what you have. I grew up in a home that had one car and camping was our vacation until we got older — but we were happy, and money wasn’t the center of our lives. My first real investment, was when I got insurance money from the dog attack. My mom gave me some and told me she was hanging onto the rest so that I could invest it down the road. I am glad she did. I bought my first home at 24 and have always continued to have my money invested. It hasn’t always been easy, but it sure did ensure that I had the fundamentals financially to look after me and my family.

Awesome! Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Let’s talk about what you are doing now, and how you achieved the success that you currently enjoy. Can you tell our readers about the business you’ve created that helped you become a millionaire?

Well, this Hereward Farms really did start out on a whim. You see, I co-owned a marketing agency, called Green Monkey Creative with an amazing business partner. In 2015, I was not happy at my current agency and knew I had to get out. I was about to resign on Monday and they let me go the Wednesday before. So I took my severance package and started up an agency by myself. (I learned to be careful what I thought out to the universe) and then in 2017, created Green Monkey Creative.

Hereward Farms was something I never really thought it would be. The agency was going so well, but a thought occurred to me during the lockdown in Ontario in 2020 — I wonder if we can grow lavender on our 150 acres. So I bought 40 plants and tried my hand at farming. Then I researched and went back to school and really was winging it all the way through. When I thought what am I ever going to do with all this lavender, we came up with a skincare line. We sold out immediately making us start to plan on expanding. Today we have over 4,000 plants with another 2,000 coming on just over 2 acres of land and over 10 products. I am still in shock that we have grown and taken off so much. So much that I sold my half of the agency and am now running Hereward Farms full time with my family and staff.

What was your vision when you started this business? What’s the WHY behind the work that you do?

That is a great question — I just knew that I had to keep listening to my heart and my values. Remember this started as a whim, and I just went with the journey of where this was taking me. I wanted an all-natural skincare brand that was high-end and didn’t look like a typical “Mom” brand. The “Why” is because it opened up a passion in me that I can’t even describe in other positions that I have carried or other companies I have owned. I did know I wanted to honor the land we live on as the land we are on was my husband’s ancestors that settled here during the Potato Famine in Ireland. The Hamlet of Hereward was a small little stop that had a hotel and post office that my husband’s Great-Great-Great Grandfather started with his brother.

I married the two thoughts — the heritage and the branding and products. I source out every ingredient and every recipe to make the products we make. For the products we do not make, I wanted to partner with other women-led Canadian businesses. I do not want my business to be about competition. I want the business to be about us walking the same path holding hands and gaining success together.

I also didn’t think we would have a store — we were doing well online but when a local magazine did a feature on our farm, people started showing up the day it hit people’s mailboxes. We now have a Lavender Lounge + Boutique that we run as a family as well.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I think it was when the tables shifted. When I was quietly launching this business without it being about me or my name I wanted this company to be about its brand, and not about me. When it finally came out — I was at a dinner party when someone said “Did you hear about that new lavender farm and skincare company called Hereward Farms?” And I answered “Yes, that is my baby” — the cat was out of the bag and we haven’t looked back.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When we did our first big harvest in 2021, I really underestimated how much lavender we would have. We harvest by hand (in 2022 we will harvest both by hand and machine) and after I was done cutting all the lavender, I didn’t quite realize how much we had until I went to lay it all out. Let’s just say my husband came home from work and the whole floor of his area of the barn was covered in lavender. Approximately 1000 square feet of lavender and he couldn’t access his tools without tip-toeing around all the flowers for four weeks. Now we know and I have tons of drying racks now haha!

We’d love to explore the traits that help you achieve your success. What were the mindset obstacles that you had to overcome in order to reach the place of consistently earning a million dollars a year and more? Can you tell us what you did to overcome them?

Well, I own a couple of companies that contribute to this success and they are such a variety that I love it. I think mostly just the sheer fact that I can do it. Nothing is stopping me from achieving success. I remember on Linkedin, a career coach (or whatever he was, cause he “wasn’t worth remembering” sent me a private message and said “Wow, you sure do have your hands in a lot of things. Hopefully, you don’t neglect Green Monkey Creative and stay focused.”

My response is probably not suitable for this story, but I wondered, if I was a man, it would have been okay. There are lots of people who are partners in several businesses, so why does that make it different for me?

Time was probably the biggest mindset challenge and balancing everything. I have to say I was pretty exhausted last year — working extremely long days running two main businesses in and out. I felt like two different people at times, but my family pulled together and helped out.

I have always invested in my own companies. I have not borrowed a single penny to be where I am today. I am always conscious of what is going in and what is going out. For the first year, everything I made went back into my company so that I ended the year even — and this year will see us doubling or even tripling that.

Being in this position that I am at with great success I’ve had to deal with that nasty imposter syndrome that we obtain from the sudden shift in success. We all deal with it — are people going to see right through me and see I am a fraud were doubts I started to have. But I am not! I knew what I wanted to do. I knew in my heart that passion and hard work would pay off. It doesn’t mean I was not afraid — fear was allowed to come along for the ride, but she was not allowed to change the channel on the radio or tell me where to go.

What were the external obstacles that you had to overcome in reaching these milestones? And how specifically did you overcome them?

Starting a new brand is tough enough, but a beauty brand is even harder. There are a thousand new products launching every day and so much noise to cut through. My marketing expertise has had to be invested in me this time and prove that I knew what I was doing all those years. e-commerce was a completely different beast to me and not only was I trying to grow this business and its amazing brand — it was how to tell the story and make sure that I was getting that across. We have a backstory to why we are doing what we are doing. I also have taken so many courses on the things that I need to sharpen, with regards to e-commerce, so it has been a learning experience every step of the way. My brain hurts some days.

It was never about money, it was about communicating and making sure that I was navigating through the digital space effectively so that I knew I was spending my time and money appropriately. When I took one course, the teacher reviewed your website and digital marketing and he asked me why I was even there because I was well on my way. That is when I knew I was in the right place and doing alright and could start to believe in myself.

Was there ever a point where you wanted to give up on your journey to becoming a multimillionaire? How did you work through that panic point? Please share a story.

Oh god. Yes. There are many sacrifices that you have to make to fight to the top. My social life sucks and I am pretty sure my family life suffers at times. When I broke down in tears, while running both companies, I knew I couldn’t do it anymore. Something had to give. Did I take the easy road, and close up Hereward Farms because I wasn’t expecting this success so soon (I was thinking I still had another year) and go back to just owning a marketing agency? That is easier right? It was successful and we were growing.

But I knew I didn’t want to own Green Monkey Creative anymore. I knew in my heart that Hereward Farms was where I needed to be. On that day my mind was made up (to the horror of my husband wondering how I was giving up my secure agency) and throwing my hat in the ring.

I have been scared. I have been doubtful about this. But on December 31, 2021, when I “retired” (I like using that word) at 48 from the agency, I knew I did the right thing.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Oh, I am glad you asked this because I have to say I was wondering where I could put some accolades in here about that person. Honestly, it was my husband. He has supported all my dreams and ideas and grown with me. He is the person that is silently watching me from the side, as I shine and he does a lot of the hard work. He is the man that oversees all the operational things and I am the one the runs the marketing, design, products, photography, and PR — and we work like a well-oiled machine.

But I do owe a big part of this to him. He could have told me my idea sucked and maybe we wouldn’t be here right now. It was his insane idea to go from 40 plants to over 4,000 so you can blame him for that.

And I also want to say, my kids — they have been there whether we need to make 500 lip balms for an order, open the Lounge for guests, deliver orders, or help plant or prepare the plants for winter. I keep telling them that this will someday be theirs so they need to know how it all works. I am very proud that my family is behind me, supports me, and helps me out when they can.

What were the most important resources, tools, affirmations, mindset strategies or practices that you used to build your business to where it is today?

I plan for everything. Everything is thought out, resourced, and planned. That doesn’t mean that I don’t rush into things and make things happen, but I certainly don’t sit back and just wonder. I never invest in anything that I can’t get back and I definitely don’t spend the money with no results. You have to learn to pivot (gosh I am starting to hate that word) when you need to. If something isn’t working out, you need to be able to adapt.

For example, when the first batch of infused oil was done, I would have people ask me why it didn’t smell like lavender. Well, it isn’t supposed to be all smelly and grandma-like, but I was always having to explain the difference between the lavender varieties and why it wasn’t a strong scent. I remember sitting on the stairs complexed about a client that complained about it. And my husband said, “Will it really hurt you to add a little bit of lavender essential oil to the product if that is what people want?”

I struggled with that because I knew what I wanted this product to be — but it wouldn’t be successful if I was trying to convince people what they wanted wasn’t what I was going to give them.

So I made changes to the product. I changed the branding a bit and the ingredients and I am glad I didn’t just stick my heels in the ground. Customer feedback is key and if we don’t listen then we aren’t winning.

Are there any books, podcasts, apps, tech, or other types of products that helped you reach your goals? Are these still used today? Please share specifically and why.

Oh I am learning all the time. There are a few that stand out to me the most. Clikk newsletter always sends out tips and tricks and trends to help you stay on top of things. I also thoroughly enjoyed Zack from Smart Founder with his website and marketing tips for e-commerce brands. I have also just recently started the Jilly Academy — and am looking forward to learning more about stuff I may not know. Never, ever stop learning. I also think that looking at what you do, and ensuring you are looking at your financials, what products are working, what do we have to change — adapting with this flow is key to our success. You need to examine your social media stats, your audience. You have to see what is working — I listen to my customers — whether they are happy, have suggestions on new products, and I tuck it away. I don’t have a vision board, I just have tons of post-it notes and scribbles in my books that I will revisit almost daily.

Out of all of the things you listed earlier if you only had one resource that would help you grow your business and reach your next financial milestone, which would it be and why?

It would have to be branding and marketing. That alone is what probably led to the success of Hereward Farms. When I was taking a course on lavender farming from the University of Michigan, the one thing that they said was “The downfall of lavender farmers is they don’t know how to market.” So I started to research other lavender farms and what they did. I then took what they didn’t do, and did it. I knew I wanted this brand to stand alone — it wasn’t about the farm — the farm is part of it. I wanted a brand that I would buy. I love every single thing about this product and what it stands for. And communicating that love story, the brand, and the way I market it is key to our success and will help us reach our next financial milestone.

What do you think is the greatest challenge for women and creating wealth/abundance? What advice would you have for someone that is feeling blocked by that obstacle?

Imposter Syndrome!!!! When women tell me I am an inspiration to them for having the gall to do this, I am taken back because I just did it. It hasn’t been easy and I knew that. But the road less traveled is successful if you believe in yourself and what you can do. I knew I didn’t want to be known as a “mom” brand. I knew that I was more than just a woman creating a product.

I have also surrounded myself with some pretty amazing people — and I have made many sacrifices personally and professionally to be where I am today. I wasn’t doing this to put another notch in my belt and I wasn’t going to fake it till I made it. I gave myself no choice but to make it. There was no other option other than success. I knew when I worked for someone else doing the 9 to 5 grind that it was not for me. But I didn’t believe in myself nor did I have that purpose.

Then it changed. The only regret is that I did this ten years ago but you learn from your mistakes and if you don’t, then you keep making the same ones. This isn’t easy and it will sometimes keep you up at night with ideas and problems. I have to hold myself accountable for all that I do — successes and failures.

Great! Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. Take time for yourself. I very rarely take downtime and when I do I feel guilty. There is always something to do, but if I don’t take the time to recharge my batteries doing something other than work, then I would be pretty empty and wouldn’t have much to give others or my business. It is okay to sit still and do nothing.

  2. Let Fear Come Along. It is okay to be fearful about things. I think it makes you feel more grounded and aware that you can make mistakes and you may not know everything. Fear is just not allowed to make decisions, or make you change your path.

  3. Don’t Dig Your Heels In. Adapt. Adapt, Adapt. For the last two years, if you didn’t adapt to the changing world you were going to be left behind. You have to evolve and be ready to change. For instance, when supplies were being impacted, I could have easily gone to plastic bottles but I knew that we needed to continue to be eco-friendly and felt quite strongly I wasn’t moving from glass. I spent hours sourcing Canadian products and finally found them and found a new amazing supplier.

  4. It’s Okay to Make Mistakes. But only if you learn from them. For example, when we first launched we had four varieties of lavender-driven products, I had to explain each time what the difference was, and then it dawned on me that what is important to me is NOT important to the consumer and I was confusing them. I simplified my line and now people get what we are selling.

  5. You Don’t Have to Compete. Sure I am competing with thousands of other brands — but we are unique and we stay in our lane. I may be influenced by others, but each product is our own. Partnering with others so that they can be successful instead of us taking business away from them is key. Let’s go on this journey together.

We are sure that you are not done. What comes next? What’s your next big goal and why? What plan have you put in place to achieve it? Why is it a stretch for you? What will achieving it represent for you and for others?

Now that my focus is 100% on Hereward Farms, I have lots on my list to achieve this year. Our next big goal is to register as a natural health product so we can talk about more of our health claims and work on our wholesale business that has been neglected this past year as we have been growing our retail and online presence which didn’t leave much time to focus on this side of the business accurately.

The plan is to map out what markets we want to be in and we don’t want to be everywhere. We still want to remain unique and a luxurious product. This will definitely give us much more brand exposure and reach more people.

How can our readers further follow your work online? You can find us through our website at or on Instagram and Facebook Personally, you can find me on Linkedin

Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us and our readers. We know that it will make a tremendous difference and impact thousands of lives. We are excited to connect further and we wish you so much joy in your next success. Full Article Can Be Found Here


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