With our "official" Grand Opening happening tomorrow, it has forced me (well, not forced cause it is on my mind constantly) to reflect on where we started and where we are today. I get asked all the time, "Why did you plant lavender?" and my response sounds lame. It really does. There is no magical "HAHA" moment. I was bored. It was on a whim. Honest.
We were in lock-down (I promise this will be the only reflection on the bullcrap of last year I will divulge into), and I am typically a person that doesn't sit for very long. And to give you some background, I am a partner of a marketing agency called Green Monkey Creative with my uber-talented partner Jess White. We were run off our feet last year - everyone else was laying back, it seems, and we were putting in long days to work with our clients on the changing landscape that no one knew what the heck to plan for.
So I needed a release. And on a whim (honestly, it was), I thought, "Let's try and grow some lavender in our very clay-type soil." My husband entertained me, and alas, we ordered 40 plants. I did not care where to plant or how they have water, and I did not cover them in the winter- nothing - I just wanted to see what would happen. These were my test babies. Well, those babies grew. A lot died. And as of right now, I have maybe 8 plants in our little science experiment of a garden.
Growing lavender is not a new concept, and now that I am in this lavender world, it has become clear that it has definitely become more popular. Although we are a new farm, we sure have grown and learned a lot. Our mission is to grow naturally (we aren't organic designated, but we don't use ANY chemicals on our lavender ladies).
So I knew nothing. Nada. I read stuff on the internet, took a Lavender Growing Course with the University of Michigan, and as green as the stems on my plants; I jumped right in. One part stuck with me from the course: the instructor told me that lavender farmers' biggest downfall is their lack of marketing. Well, don't you know, I own a marketing agency....so if that is the hardest part, so be it!
Then I researched products. I knew I didn't want to make essential oils cause I don't know a thing about it and really still don't - I know the benefits and uses, but that is about it. I found a company in the states that went from making essential oil to making infused oils, and I was hooked. Less waste and the benefits of using the whole plant in your products - OH VEY! The nutrients, the vitamins - every fabulous morsel of that plant is in that oil. ALL OF IT.
I have to be honest when I first opened one of the first batches of the oils, It stank...but that was the camphor. My husband gently told me to wait. So I waited. 12 weeks later, the most amazing-smelling lavender-infused products were born. Now what?
Well, we already named our farm Hereward Farms after the Hamlet of Hereward, where we reside, and my husband's ancestors arrived and set up their lives hundreds of years ago - so let's get on that branding, shall we? I can't thank Jess enough for the amazing vision when I told her my idea that I wanted the branding to look so far off a homemade brand that I needed class. And she nailed it. Everything she does, man (if you need a graphic designer, she is it. I am not biased, I promise).
I have a workspace that I use - I moved from the basement to our loft in our barn - and called it the Lavender Lounge. It was my space. Till the article came out in In, the Hills and people started showing up. So now our shop is open Fridays and Saturdays, seasonally.
So I bottled all of our infused lavender oil, got the website up and ready, and launched on my Momma's birthday on November 17th, 2020. And here we are today.
My formulation has changed. They have evolved. They always evolve. We try to come up with new products after testing and changing and making sure they fit within our brand, morals, and what our customers want (yes, the linen room spray is coming - darn suppliers for our bottles!).
With 24 products, our line is constantly changing and evolving. New ideas emerge regularly; I'm always leaving myself notes to remember what we can try next! We only use nature's most precious elements to make non-toxic skincare that supports your beautiful, radiant skin and healthy body. All of our products are made with lavender grown on the farm - it truly sets us apart from other companies because you know exactly where this essential ingredient came from! Lavender has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for various ailments such as headaches or sleeplessness, so you're getting just about everything good when using these all-natural oils infused expertly into our products by hand.
In the Spring of 2021, we welcomed 3,000 lavender babies - Munstead, Phenomenal and Hidcote. We were learning. It was a big chore and achievement to go from 40 to 3,000 - but you know, go big or go home. We lost some - nearly half of the Hidcote. And we are okay to talk about our challenges - it was never supposed to be perfect, and we never expected it to be. We just got replacements a couple of weeks ago, and we will see how they fare.
I have to tell you when I walk out into that field; tears enter my eyes at what we have accomplished - and don't you dare think I did this by myself. My husband, Stephen - dear lord, I thank you every single day for YOU! You have stood beside me this whole time, but just for the record, it was his idea to go from 40 to 3,000....seriously. To my kids, Jacob and Cadence - no matter what I ask, whether it is weed pulling, turning on the water, helping me make the product or dropping off deliveries - thank you. I am so very proud of our family business - you have no idea.
To my father-in-law Alex. You had a small inkling of doubt that what we were doing was not insane. Then you showed up with your tractor. Then you showed up with some other piece of farm equipment that I am not going to try to remember what it is. I know it was made by John Deere (remember I am not the farm girl... I married into this, ha). You helped us plant our 3,000 babies and come over and check on them all time - or to see me, whichever.
We are also so proud to partner with some local businesses because they make amazing products - why would I want to compete with that. I wanted to partner. Lavish Earth Canada makes all our soaps (the first day they were in our Lavender Lounge + Boutique, I sold 16 bars - that is how good it is).
Violet + Ash Candle Co. makes private label candles for us in two varieties: vanilla + lavender and lavender. The smells are so mild and do not overpower any room.
Since we don't have any flowers to sell you this year (we have to trim all those purple buds off, so our ladies establish strong root growth and focus on growing, but don't worry, we infuse EVERYTHING). So my bestie Dawn (who is a godsend to my life in my journey), who owns Avalon Lavender in Mono with her husband, sells me her lovely bunches of dried lavender (from her 27,000 plants that she has, yeah, she planted all that)
I love sharing our progress, and who knows what 2022 will bring, but I sure do know that although it adds to my very busy plate, I am in love.
If you are in the area on Saturday, August 14th, from 12 till 4 pm, we would love to have you stop by and see our Grand Opening! We have partnered with Shop with Purpose Market to bring you:
🚘 Classic Cars.
🚜 Farm Tours.
We are also raising money for Branching Out Support Services!!
There is NO better way to spend a Saturday afternoon. You can register here: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/hereward-farms-grand-opening-extravaganza-tickets-164381490463
We look forward to seeing you tomorrow or if you are out and about and want to stop in. We love guests!
Thank you for all the support, love, and kindness during this new launch from the bottom of my heart.
With gratitude and love,