I think it has been a few years since I have really formally introduced myself, so if you are new here, follow along!!
My name is Julie Thurgood-Burnett, and I am the founder of Hereward Farms, aka President, aka CEO.
How did I get here? I bet you are wondering....so stay along for our story :)
Here is a little bit about me in a nutshell...or a lavender bud, I guess you could say. In 2020, during that little lockdown, I was busy running a marketing agency with my business partner Jess. It was all work and very little play. Unlike the story of moving out to the country, I was already here, on our 150-acre farm with my kids and happily married to one of the most intelligent people I know, my best friend, Stephen, three dogs, two cats and a bunch of bunnies in and around our house that I consider pets, not pests.
I literally was standing outside amongst my flowers and vegetables that I finally had time to take care of because we were home all the time, and they didn't die on me like in previous years; I thought to myself, "I wonder if lavender will grow here?". So I called my farming client Jamie, who owns a great little farm in Mono and asked him where I could get some lavender plants, and he gave me a plethora of information to digest.
Remember - I didn't have a green thumb, nor did I do anything on our farm. But I needed something creative to do. I was always bored with working and needed something to excite me.
So on a whim...
I bought 40 lavender plants in a patch in our backyard. I didn't know what to expect. I wasn't expecting anything, and to be honest, I still don't expect anything from our business. With the guidance of my husband and the scrutiny of my in-laws (it's all good, I promise they came around to our crazy idea), we did it.
After the 40 plants did so, I wondered what to do with the lavender. And a little secret? I have n er been to a lavender farm in my life - not once.
People always ask how I know what I am doing - well, I went to school a million years ago for Cosmetology and never really did much with it after college. I pretty much went into sales and marketing and never looked back. I dusted off my schoolbooks (kidding, I just started learning online) and went to work on my brain. I took courses, heck I even have a Certificate of Award for Growing Lavender: A Curriculum for Growers "degree."
Between my husband and his extensive farming knowledge (he grew up on this land and farmed his whole life, but now he owns an Engineering Firm and farms part-time with me!), we had this figured out, right?
Well, I researched what to do with the lavender, and I fell in love with the concept of infusing oils with the lavender, so I set to work. I infused my little heart out, invested little money, bought supplies, and kept reading. Then I bottled up these little nuggets of oil and sold out. Like it was gone.
That is when I knew I had something.
In 2021, we decided (after much debate from me between my husband) to plant 3,000+ plants. Go big or go home, right? So we flipped two acres of land that used to be a riding paddock into our field of lavender. And the rest is history.
In 2022, we planted another 2000+ plants and are now sitting at approximately 6,000 plants. We have three varieties or cultivars: Phenomenal, Munstead and Hidcote.
We have over 24 products (we started with four in 2020), which include face serums, lotions, creams, candles, bath salts, and soaps, you name it!
Our focus, first, is on our products. We are not in the agri-tourism business. We do not charge to have people visit our farm. We hold a few events throughout the summer season, but our Lavender Lounge + Boutique and online business is open all year.
It was vital that we were eco-friendly, Canadian, and all-natural. We use very little plastic in our packaging, and all our products are in amber glass, recyclable bags or metal tins. Our packaging materials are all recyclable or environmentally friendly. From packing peanuts made from corn to recycled boxes, paper and marketing materials, we ensure our footprint is minimal.
All our lavender "waste" goes back into our fields, and we are 98% Canadian regarding our ingredients, supplies and vendors.
We create and manufacture everything in Dufferin County - some on our farm and some offsite with a partner. Our Lavender Lounge and Boutique is a shop that houses our shipping fulfilment, production and store!
I still cannot believe we are where we are today. I sold my half of our marketing agency at the end of 2021 and fully plunged in. And I honestly could not have done it without my family - they are the background and the key to my success. My father-in-law, who finally came around, is probably at our farm daily doing something to help us out or picking up equipment. To my brother, sister-in-law and nieces - thank you for being so supportive and loving my products so much <3.
To my friends and clients, who are really just my friends now, THANK YOU! Thank you for coming along and helping me - YOU INSPIRE ME TO KEEP GOING!
We are now in retailers across the country - even in Sobeys (which launches into other stores this year) and a bunch of beautiful stores owned by some kick-ass women doing their thing.
What is next for us? I have no idea. Each day is new, and I am just going on this thankful journey. I sometimes forget to reflect on how far we have come in two or nearly three years, but writing this sure took me back.
This isn't our whole story, but it is a big part of where it started.
Thanks for coming along - much love,