On this week’s Let’s Talk About… episode, Elise sits down with Julie Thurgood-Burnett, founder and CEO of Hereward Farms.
Hereward Farms is a lavender farm located just outside of Orangeville that grows lavender and makes farm-skin products. The business started in 2020 when Julie was curious about growing lavender. Starting from 40 lavender plants to now over 6,000 plants, Julie managed to grow her business and become a local favourite With her background in cosmetology and marketing. Hereward Farms has various products ranging from candles to skincare, you can also purchase dried lavender for a limited time.
Elise and Julie talk about the story behind Hereward Farms, the journey of creating products, the benefits of lavender, and the importance of transparency with brands.
“I did work downtown. I was a total city girl. Like his grandfather used to laugh at me and say, you’re gonna have to sell your car if you’re going to live out here kind of thing. Right? And I’m like, no, no. , so I’ve changed my high heels for my blood stones and cartwright overalls.” Julie tells Elise on Let’s Talk About.
Check out Julie’s products at our ‘the edit’ summer pop-up in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Our chic general store located at 1-233 King Street in NOTL, is open everything Thursday to Monday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Check out the show transcript below.
[00:00:00] Elise: Hi everyone and welcome! This week we’re talking to Julie Thurgood-Burnett from Hereward Farms. Hi, Julie, thank you so much for being here with us.
[00:00:09] Julie: Oh, thanks for having me. This is pretty exciting. I’m enjoying the journey we’re having together. So yeah.
[00:00:15] Elise: So as everyone knows with this series, for the month of July, we are talking to brands that are a part of our popup, and the popup is happening downtown Niagara-on-the-lake. We are open Thursdays through Mondays from 10 to 5 pm at 233 King street. So Julie and Hereward Farms will be there. So come check us out. And yeah, that’s through the whole month of July is all some of the brands that are being part of it. So we’re excited to have you here. Um, and in the podcast today, we’re gonna chat a little bit about your story, the brand story, and some products. And you have a very unique product. You have it hanging behind you, which is beautiful. So we’ll get a little more into that, but I know, I know a little bit about you because we also have a brand profile done up on-site, but I’d love to hear from your own words, it sounds like you have a really interesting background, and kind of path that brought you here. Do you wanna tell us a little bit about your story.
[00:01:09] Julie: Yeah. It’s, uh, it’s a whim that turned into, I wasn’t even looking for it.
[00:01:15] Elise: It’s usually how life works.
[00:01:16] Julie: Right? Just add to my platter to my life. Yeah. I owned a marketing agency with a partner. I was bored during the lockdown. I hate using that word, but you know, in 2020, I guess it was. And my garden was doing really well and we live on 150 acres and it just dawned on me. I’m not a gardener. Okay. So, you know, my husband’s a farmer, but he’s an engineer for his living. And so it, I was like, I wonder if lavender would grow here. And so I started with 40 plants it than I, I took a course. Um, my background, I went to school for fashion marketing and cosmetology, but I never really got into the whole makeup side and the cosmetology side of it. I went right into marketing. So it’s kind of neat to come back to those roots that I have. So, um, I started making products and I started infusing the lavender, and the more I learned, I was like, oh my gosh, we’re onto something. And then we sold out of all our products and that was just with our friends. And, and here I am still running this agency that was taken off from being so busy because businesses were getting all these grants. So I was working two full-time jobs. Oh my gosh. And, uh, and then my husband’s like, we should do 3000 plants and I’m like, what? What are you talking about? And I, and I didn’t order them right away, cuz I was like, he’s gonna come to his senses. And then I relented and we went to 3000 plants and then the brand kind of came together. My old business partner, she’s totally behind. I knew what I wanted it to look like. I wanted it to look upscale. I wanted it to be something that I would stop and grab and be very interested in. And I didn’t want to look like a farm brand that was just at a farmer’s market. So it was very key to where I needed this market to be. And so then, uh, now we’re 6,000 plants we sell across North America. I sold my shares and my marketing agency. So here I am, I’m doing this.
[00:03:08] Elise: Oh my gosh. That all happened in two years.
[00:03:11] Julie: Yes. It’s a little insane and it really like, it was when it took off, I was like, I’m like a year ahead. Like, I didn’t think it was like, it was slow. Um, we were featured in a local magazine and, and, um, people showed up the day, it came out going, oh, we wanna shop. And I’m like, well, my shop’s really my workspace. Like it wasn’t. Yeah, I would, I’d never imagine I was having a store to take care of. Right. So. Then we just kind of, I don’t like the word pivot. I wish there was a new word for that. I think we,
[00:03:37] Elise: I was gonna, I was gonna say whirlwind. Yeah. Right. Let’s take a few steps even back from that. So. You have a background in marketing you’re at this marketing agency. How did you even come to like live on a farm, like live on a farm? Is that, yeah, I dunno if that’s a weird question, but like, did you have, I assume marketing agency, I’m like, oh, you’d have to live in the city. Be by brands. Like how did you even get to the farm to begin with?
[00:04:06] Julie: I married my husband, so my husband, um, Reason why we called it. Herewoods is my husband’s ancestors came here from Ireland during the potato famine. So, okay. Down the road, there was like, they set up a hotel and a post office and a blacksmith. Unfortunately, none of that’s there anymore. Um, So they all farmed in this area. So it’s the fifth generation, so my husband has never left. Um, okay. Very far so we’re you know, our, our second marriage combined family, um, I did work downtown. I was a total city girl. Like his grandfather used to laugh at me and say, you’re gonna have to sell your car if you’re going to live out here kind of thing. Right. And I’m like, no, no. , so I’ve changed my high heels for my blood stones and, uh, cartwright overalls. Um, but I couldn’t move back into the seat. And so, with the agency, we have it, like we were located in Orangeville, so we still did across North America, we just, we were small rooted. Yeah. And, and then it kind of became work from home anyways. So mm-hmm, mm-hmm, and then we do other crops, like, we just don’t do lavender. Like that’s sitting on like two and a half acres. Um, we’re now up to 6,000 plants. , but I think we’re done like that. I think that’s manageable.
[00:05:16] Elise: Yeah. I was just gonna ask what were you growing on the land before? So it was like a functioning farm prior to the lavender, so it’s.
[00:05:23] Julie: Yeah, so we have 150 acres, so, uh, we do corn. Um, we do, soybeans, wheat. So that, we do cash crop. So Steve’s family takes care of that part of the farm, so, okay.
[00:05:35] Elise: Okay. So you had, I guess some. You, you had, you didn’t have, you personally didn’t know about farming, but you did this land was being used in some way, but it wasn’t branded in any way necessarily.
[00:05:49] Julie: No. No.
[00:05:50] Elise: Okay. Got it. And that’s where kind of the marketing expertise comes in? Yes. So you, when did you move? Like what year did you move out to the farm?
[00:05:59] Julie: Uh, that would be I think 2016. Okay. I lived out here because it was, um, I was still living in town. Like we were kind of living at my, we were kind of living at both kind of. Yeah. And then, we were like, what are we doing? Are we moving out to the country? Aren’t we like, are we going back to our house? Like what’s happening. Yeah. Yeah. And so it was a big move. Um, and for my family too, I mean, we’re 20 minutes away from where we are, but we are okay. There’s no Uber eats, there’s nothing out here.
[00:06:25] Elise: I’m relating to your story so much, because I went from like New York to Niagara on the lake and there is no, I think Uber eats just got here. There’s no like Lyft to live like competitor to Uber. There’s nothing like that.
[00:06:39] Julie: I know. And it’s funny cuz when we travel, my kids are like, oh my gosh, we can have Uber eats. And then they look at my credit card and I’m like, okay, easy on the Uber eats.
[00:06:49] Elise: I love that. Yeah. So we, so COVID happens. You kind of pivot into. It’s this, you know, it seems like you were very accepted by the, the town and the locals right away in terms of the product. Now, did you just sell, talk about that product journey and how it came to creating a product? Because I know there are some lavender farms that maybe you could just purchase the lavender, but also, you know, you have this full brand and line behind it. So how do we go from, you know, we have some lavender. Yeah, this is fun to like, here’s our assortment. Here’s our product assortment. Yeah. Let’s just keep rolling it up.
[00:07:22] Julie: Well, I knew we, I wanted to be different. I didn’t wanna be like agritourism. Yes, we do have people that come out. I take them for tours, but I, I wanted it to be more about the product. Um, when we decided to infuse the lavender and the more I learned about it and how it could heal skin. And I was like, I think we’re really onto something. And I, and I wanted it to be a little bit more than just selling lavender. Mm-hmm we did get accepted a lot. Like I’ve got people that have probably, I don’t even think they buy through our website. I think they just message me on Facebook or send me an email and I send them their orders. Like it it’s, it’s such an, um, I think people have been so intimate with our journey, that I it’s allowing me to be customer service. That being in marketing it sometimes is really hard. So it kind of takes you back to that. Having those relationships with people or meeting people or people have heard about us, In that whirlwind, it just kept rolling out. And I mean, it started, I look at, um, when our first line, cuz we’ve we’ve evolved, it was, I was calling it phenomenal and Ted and you know, people are like, well, what’s the difference? And I’m like, oh, if I have to keep explaining what the difference is, I’m missing the point.
So then I was like, you know what? It doesn’t matter. Like if people are questioning, um, so we reduced our line a little bit. We went just with a face serum and a body oil. Um, and in two different oil types. So we only use sunflower. We only use almond oil and then grape seed in our body oil. So it absorbs faster so that it, it kind of understood or people would be like, it doesn’t really smell like lavender. So I would have to adapt a little bit and it was just listening to the customer. And I remember sitting on my steps in my mug room and I said to my husband, I’m like, but I love the way it smells. And he goes, but it doesn’t mean you can’t roll out the original. And I still make the original line for men cuz it doesn’t smell very strong. Because we do add a lavender essential oil because people are like, it doesn’t smell like lavender and I’m like, oh, so I could either like put my feet in the ground and say, this is the way it is or go, oh, people really are expecting that. So I do listen, I get messages where people are like, do you have a lotion? I’m like, no, we won’t make a lotion until we can make it all-natural. Well, the girl we work with that helps us with some of our products that makes our soap and candles. She’s like, oh, I’ve come up with, she plunked this lotion down and said, I did it. And I’m like, what? And she goes, it’ll last for two years, it’s all-natural. I’m like, you’re kidding me. We can’t keep it in stock. Like I can’t keep it.
[00:09:46] Elise: So how are you, like you mentioned the girl that, you know, came up with the lotion. How are you developing these products? Because like, are you working. At the local, it sounds like maybe at the local level with other artisans or, or creators, or how is that working?
[00:10:02] Julie: So for me, it’s because being in marketing, I’ve always kept my finger on the pulse. So it’s just kind of switched to see what everyone else is doing. And I, and I do look at the big brands. I’m like, what’s kind of coming out. What’s, what’s something that it could resonate with. My customers. I, I make, um, probably 90% of the product. So I’m really touching everything. Like I’m picking this. Oh, wow. I’m then coming in and going, oh, I better go and infuse some oil because I’m going to use it all, you know, in a few weeks. And, and so it’s this balance and then I’m doing the marketing. So it’s, it’s on top
[00:10:34] Elise: you’re like, yeah. You’re like a one-person show. Wow. OK.
[00:10:38] Julie: but, but I do like, we do like my kids help out, my kids help out with a lot of stuff. Right. Cause they know how to make stuff, but the quality control, like I. That is still my baby. Yeah. Um, but I do refuse to make candles and soap. So that’s where, the partner that we have that makes those things got, cause she got it. She’s aligned the same business. Um, and her background is chemistry. So I do hit things off of her. I’ll be like, for instance, I bath bombs. I’m like, I’m making these bath bombs and I’ problems. And she’s like, oh, try this, this and this. And. TIDA.
[00:11:07] Elise: Very cool. Very cool. So like a little bit of like you’ve taught yourself trial and error consultation from others. Yeah. Has kind of brought this product to life, essentially. Yeah, very cool. Pretty, I love that. I love that. You’re like hands in all of it.
[00:11:22] Julie: Well, it’s, it’s funny cuz we do like a women’s wellness, um, thing, like once a month and, and so they’re allowed to make their own oil. So I lay out all the scents and I go make your own oil and I have to write down what they’re making. Cuz when I smell whatever they’re combining, I’m like. We could totally turn that into a product. So it’s kind of like research for me, but they’re getting to walk away with what they make.
[00:11:41] Elise: Oh, I love that. Very cool. I know I have to get up there one day. It sounds like such a special place. So
[00:11:47] Julie: I know you have to come and have, a picnic in the lavender field.
[00:11:50] Elise: I know that’s. Oh, and now, and so let’s talk a little bit about the lavender itself, cause you mentioned some of the benefits, so it only, what time of years. Like what time of the year does it grow? Is it like May through July or?
[00:12:04] Julie: So it differs every year, just depending on how the spring is. We were a little wet into like May and June. So it was a little delayed, there was a little winter burn. There was a lot of pruning happening. Our plants, this is their second season, even though it’s kind of their first year, for the first generation that we have. And then we just planted. I guess 2300 more. So they’re little tiny little babies. So we shape them. We get all the dead off. Some of them have started to bloom now, and it breaks my heart to do it now. Cuz you get rid of all this purple. And that’s the steads we have three varieties. Um, okay. And then hid code is dark as darker. Purple. I have to give her a little bit of a trim and then phenomenal. Um, they’re the big, long stocks that you see in most of the pictures. So. All the stocks are there. They haven’t bloomed yet. So they’ll probably. Like July and August or your purple Haven times. Right. So, um, but I’m always constantly trimming them. I take, like, I can’t leave them on the plants too long. Cause then they, the buds just open up too much, and then they don’t make these pretty little bundles that everyone likes to take home.
[00:13:08] Elise: Got it. So there’s like obviously a, you know, time that has to be picked, et cetera. Yeah. Now, you mentioned like, well, I even know the calming effects of lavender. What. What are some of the other benefits when it’s in a product
[00:13:20] Julie: So we infuse it instead of, um, where it’s just, the scent is added the, all those healing benefits. So the anti-aging the anti-inflammatory, it does the biggest thing because a health, Canada regulations, we can’t broadcast all these magical things that lavender does. Um, but it’s actually kind. I have people that come in here and they have eczema and it clears it up or acne because they think oil products aren’t going to work on their skin burns. Um, I had someone that had, um, poison Ivy. Our landscaper has poison Ivy and I handed her a bottle and then she called me the next day. And she goes, oh my gosh, like it’s healing or someone that face planted. And I’m like, put that oil on your face. And so she can,
[00:14:00] Elise: it’s like a magic oil.
[00:14:01] Julie: It’s a magic oil. It’s really it’s magic. And the nice thing is, is that because it’s right in the oil and whether you choose almond or sunflower, you know, you get different vitamins and Bega Carine and all these other things, but that, but those that beautiful, and it is calming like every night when I’m putting, I use my oil every day and I’m like, You know, I’m really 80 years old. No, I’m just kidding. like, well,
[00:14:23] Elise: I was gonna say your skin looks amazing whatever age you are.
[00:14:27] Julie: Yeah, it’s good. It’s good. No, um, a lot of it’s jeans too, but, every night, like I’m inhaling that and it’s just a nice, and my daughter puts it on her feet and I joke that people become addicted to it, you know?
[00:14:23] Elise: And my sister is one of those who that are addicted to it. I think like the little satchel under her pillow, like she has it growing in the garden to keep away. It keeps away mosquitoes. Right. Or different bugs too. Yeah. So, so many benefits in uses for it. Right? Whether it’s calming, whether it’s nourishing when a skincare line, whether it’s keeping away past.
[00:14:58] Julie: All of those things. Very cool. And it’s becoming more and more popular. And I think people are accepting it that it’s not just your grandmother’s lavender. Right. Cause I think we all grew up like, you know, with where it was that really strong
[00:15:09] Elise: mm-hmm like the perfume kind of sense. Yeah. Yeah.
[00:15:13] Julie: Yeah. And so when people walk in here, I can’t smell it anymore, but people are like, oh my gosh, it smells so good in here. I’m like it does cuz I can’t smell it at all. Like I can smell when I’m out in the field or I can smell when I hang this up or when I’m making product. But it, I guess. Like in the wood now, like in the, in face I probably smell like it and I don’t even know.
[00:15:32] Elise: I’m sure you smell lovely. Yeah. Well, no, that’s so it’s funny. I think you’re, I think you’re right. I feel like lavender’s having a moment and whether it’s. Kind of through things like Instagram and people in the beautiful lavender fields, taking photos, like there’s definitely more of an awareness around it and its uses. And I think there’s just, and I’m sure you can speak to this a little bit, you know, on the customer side, us wanting to use products that are more natural and I mean, you can’t get much more natural than this, if it’s literally like you are taking it from planting the plant at your farm to finished product, like. I can’t imagine many brands have their hand in kind of all of those areas anyway.
[00:16:16] Julie: Right. And that’s kind of, and, and, and I love all these other lavender farms because it’s growing more awareness for everyone and things will become cheaper for us to buy when it comes to equipment. because a lot of stuff had to be imported. So it is nice that all these lavender farms I’m like more the merrier, like let’s go. And I also am part of the United States lavender association and Ontario lavender association. It’s kind of neat to be in both because I’m learning so much about, and, and a lot of them are just small farmers, right? Where they’ve got like 20 plants or 40 plants, or they’re just experimenting or they want the pretty garden. Um, I probably help a lot of people they’ll message like, Hey, how do I do this with that? I. Come here. I’ll tell you, like, I have nothing to hide. Just don’t ask me what’s in my products and we’re all good, but yeah, um, but it, but it is nice and it is, I think that was always our advantage. And I always try to stay in our lane. Like I, yes, we do certain events out here and I do want people to come out and enjoy our nature. We don’t charge, like I don’t charge, you know, 10 bucks ahead to come on our farm. Cause they want people to enjoy the nature and hear our story. And I think it’s a little bit more personal than just hundreds of people, you know, coming to see. Other things that you made, like animals mm-hmm and I’m not like that’s just not my jam. Your thunderstorm. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And so, so it isn’t like, there’s the stuff you see behind me is either someone’s gonna buy or it’s gonna end up in your product. So, yeah. And it’s, and it’s clean either way, whether it’s going in your house or it’s going. Very cool in that little jar that you’re gonna take home.
[00:17:41] Elise: So, and I love you talk, you know, you mentioned earlier how you are the one, like responding to people on Facebook and taking orders. Yeah. Do you feel like there’s been a shift in how consumers are shopping? Um, and this and this maybe doesn’t have exactly to do with your brand, but you mentioned it. So I’m a little curious because I do feel like we’re all very, and I had this conversation, with actually quite a large department store in the us the other day with an employee there. And just as conversation about how we, as consumers are much more like wanting to shop made in Canada, wanting to shop local. And I would even take that to like another level. That they wanna know the owner. Right. And they wanna know how the product’s created. Like we’re so kind of focused on supporting small business even, or what’s your, what’s your take on that? Because I feel like it’s very much a part of like why with style Canada, I’m happy that we’re doing these podcasts and have the pop up so we can kind of shine a light on the stories behind these brands.
[00:18:42] Julie: I totally agree. When I first launched the brand and because I still had our other agency, I was hidden behind the brand. I, I didn’t want it to be about me and it’s, and it’s not a ego thing. I just I’m well known in the area. And I really wanted the brand to kind of stay on its own. But then I realized I had to kind of peek out and go, hi, it’s meet. And it would be funny cuz someone would be like, oh my gosh, did you hear about that new lavender farm? And I’d go, oh, which one? And they’re like here with friends. I’m like, yeah, I own it. And they’re like, they’re like, what? You never told me. And I’m like, oh, sorry. Like I like, oops. But yeah. Um, but I am, but I’m so like I’m posting every day. Like there’s no one else doing it. There’s no one else doing the goofy reels or, or getting a glimpse of my day but my personal Facebook and Instagram have suffered completely, cuz I’m like, I don’t have time for that. Yeah. Yeah. But they really do like the relationships and I’ve met so many people. Even businesses, like it’s really made a, a neat connection where you are a little bit more supportive, especially with women. I, I really, I see how that kind of comes together, but I think, and, or I’ll have people walk up to me and they’re like, and they’ll tell me what their handle is. They’re like, Hey, we talk all the time on Instagram. I’m like, oh my gosh, nice to finally like see you in person.
[00:19:56] Elise: Yeah. I mean, I’m sure there’s lost that now. Right. With COVID everything opening up and yeah. Yeah,
[00:20:01] Julie: yeah. So it’s, but I think it is really important. Like, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to step away from. That, because I am very much part of that. I am the one answering or I’m the one, you know, like we do free shipping over a hundred dollars and someone ordered, um, you know, when you order something and they’re like, oh, I like something else. So she did three orders. So she got charged shipping and I couldn’t her email wasn’t going through. So I called, she’s like, oh, you’re calling me. And they said, yeah, like, I just wanna let you know, I’m refunding your shipping because you really get free shipping. Is it okay? It goes in one box and she was. Like she’s like, this is the best customer service I’ve ever had because yeah. Probably someone would’ve said too bad, like you’ve done your three orders and I’m like, no. So then that lady then did an order of over $1,500, like a month later. And I was like, oh, but I think, but I think it means something that there’s that face and that you actually, and it’s just. Not another brand, right?
[00:20:53] Elise: Yeah. We’re very, we’re very focused on that. And I think it’s a good thing. Like, I think it’s a good thing that we wanna know like where our products are coming from. Who’s making them all of that. So it’s an exciting time and you’re like, Fitting into that so perfectly. And I can’t believe it’s all been like two years. , it’s almost what a world went for.
[00:21:14] Julie: You, you know, my aunt asked me, she goes, do you ever sit back and go, holy crap. And I go, no, cuz I go, okay, I’ve got 50 million things I have to do. Like, and so it kind of made me go, oh, we really have come. Quite far, like it’s, it’s a whole other beast. I have to invest money. I have to like, I’m, you know, and someone’s like, I wanna invest in your company. I’m like, no, it’s okay. Like, we’re, we’re good. I’m, you know, it’s, it’s my husband and I were, we divide our time he’s operations and he takes care of like, I mean, I’m doing all this, but he’s doing all the weeding and we’ve got kids doing all that stuff, but he’s the planner, right? Like, I. Tell you how far the plants need to be. He’s the one that’s doing all that brain work. Definitely a family run business.
[00:21:56] Elise: Well, exciting to see what you did in two years. What the next two years has to hold. Is there anything on the horizon? I know people can come out and visit the farm. If you wanna chat a little bit about that.
[00:22:06] Julie: Yeah, we have, um, July, we have nibbles and sips, so you can come out and get ACU box for two, um, a little bevy, sit out in the fields. We have picnic tables and cafe tables, or you can sit on the grass. We have a paint day coming up where you get to pick some lavender and paint it. Very cool. What else? Oh, we have a lavender festival in August. Um, so we have local vendors, food trucks, and yeah. So it’s gonna be fun. Yeah, we kinda copy. We did our grand opening last year and it was, and I was like, oh, this is kind of neat. I wanna kind of like, those are the kind of things I wanna do out here. We’re not open Sundays. We’re only open Thursday to Saturday. Um, I do have people that call and if I’m here, Absolutely. But, we still try to respect our family time. Yeah. And that balance. So we’re a little tied to a farm. I can’t travel as much as I used to, but maybe at Christmas, only in January.
[00:22:58] Elise: Yeah. January, February. Is that there’s no nothing going on then, right? Yeah, yeah. Yeah, exactly. Well, that’s so exciting. It was. So great to chat with you and hear a little bit more about you and the brand. And we’re excited to have you at the popup this summer.
[00:23:12] Julie: I know I can’t wait. I can’t wait. It’s gonna be so much fun. The other brands I was like looking at them. They’re amazing.
[00:23:18] Elise: Yeah. Yeah. It’s a great assortment of kind of, you know, different categories and, and different. Even, I I’m saying it’s like a chic general store. Yeah. Is kind of the vibe that we’re going for. So excited to see it all come to life this weekend too.
[00:23:33] Elise & Julia: Yeah. Yes. They know. Thank you.
Last modified: July 26, 2022