Open for Business with Our Lavender Co. Oct. 13, 2020
Peggy Palser, with her daughters Stephanie Anderson and Nicole Palser, founded Our Lavender Co. in Big Springs, Neb., in 2019. The farm started with around 2500 plants on one acre. From their first harvest, they began making small-batch lavender goods, sold both locally and online. In 2020, they expanded the field to around 6,000 plants, spanning 18 cultivars over five acres around their family homestead. They hope to continue to expand and make the lavender field an oasis for others and provide their rural community with opportunities through the agri-tourism generated by the farm.
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[00:01:05.940]Jessica Groskopf: Alright. Well, good evening, everyone. I'm Jessica gross half the director of the Nebraska women in agriculture program. Thank you for joining us today.
[00:01:14.820]Jessica Groskopf: This is open for business a webinar series that focuses on female agribusiness entrepreneurs.
[00:01:20.820]Jessica Groskopf: On the second Tuesday of every month, we will feature a new Nebraska women in agriculture to show their grit and determination as they share stories.
[00:01:29.670]Jessica Groskopf: About how they've overcome business shocks during our time together, please use the chat box located at the bottom of your screen to ask questions.
[00:01:38.700]Jessica Groskopf: We will add we will address those questions as time allows our guests this evening, are our lavender company. They were founded in the spring of 2019 by Peggy and her daughters, Nicole and Stephanie.
[00:01:52.560]Jessica Groskopf: The farm started with an acre of approximately 2500 lavender plants from their first harvest. They began making small batch lavender goods which they sell locally and on their website.
[00:02:05.310]Jessica Groskopf: In the spring of 2020 they expanded the field to approximately 6000 plants spending 18 cultivars and five acres around their family homestead.
[00:02:16.530]Jessica Groskopf: They hope to continue to expand and make the lab in your field an oasis for others and provide their rural community with the opportunity through agritourism generated from the farm. Thank you guys for joining us. Let's start out with introducing yourselves. What's your story.
[00:02:36.630]Our Lavender Company: Okay, well I'm Peggy Paul's run the mom.
[00:02:40.800]Our Lavender Company: I'm Stephanie.
[00:02:43.320]Nicole Palser: Yeah, and I'm Nicole. Thanks so much for having us. Jessica. We're excited to be
[00:02:49.830]Jessica Groskopf: Awesome. Well, thank you, guys. I'm really excited. Can you tell us about what our lavender CO is and a little bit more about kind of how this whole thing came about. Yeah.
[00:03:01.080]Our Lavender Company: Yeah, I'm after the birth of my second child I experienced so much postpartum depression and I began growing plants in the greenhouse and seeing so much healing and life come from the process of growing
[00:03:17.730]Our Lavender Company: And out of that I actually had a conversation with my mother in law about lavender and some successful farms. I had been featured in a magazine, she read and um, I didn't quite believe her at first. And so I sought out to find the articles and
[00:03:36.900]Our Lavender Company: And found them. And it was really impressive. So that made me think.
[00:03:42.780]Our Lavender Company: Why, what does lavender need to grow. How do we do it. What can if it's successful other places, can, can we do it here and
[00:03:52.260]Our Lavender Company: research showed that lavender like high pH sandy soil which is what I've heard my father corn farmer complained about my whole life but hands on. Ah, sandy soil. So then I made a phone call to our biggest cheerleader over here and
[00:04:13.620]Our Lavender Company: And told her, I think that we could. I think we could do this. And so that began a journey of Nicole mom and I dreaming. What could this look like. And so we
[00:04:26.130]Our Lavender Company: Took a proposal and we submitted it to our dad.
[00:04:30.300]Our Lavender Company: And he said, Okay, I'll rent you an acre. He wasn't going to give it to us. But he rented it to us.
[00:04:37.320]Our Lavender Company: And yeah, we were blown away with what our first year plants produced and began to realize
[00:04:44.670]Our Lavender Company: We don't have three years to figure out what we're going to do with our harvest. We have to do it now. And so that began the process of producing our lavender goods and Nicole building a website for us and designing
[00:04:59.970]Our Lavender Company: What our product branding was going to look like. And so we thought we had three to five years to launch this business. And we found ourselves a year one.
[00:05:12.300]Our Lavender Company: Really just pulling ourselves together and building more facets of the business than we envisioned doing. And now here we are your two and just
[00:05:26.670]Our Lavender Company: Yeah, learning more every day.
[00:05:30.480]Jessica Groskopf: So tell us more about that process with with going and partnering really with your conventional operation. I think that's something that I found really fun.
[00:05:39.000]Jessica Groskopf: Not only would he not just let you have the acre. But he made you rent the acre. So tell me about how this this process said
[00:05:46.950]Jessica Groskopf: You know, how did you present it. Did you have like a formal business plan. Did you have to get a loan or anything like that for the process or did were you able just to work that business plan from what you already had.
[00:06:01.440]Nicole Palser: Well,
[00:06:03.180]Our Lavender Company: Yeah, we looked into what what it would cost for the plants.
[00:06:09.300]Our Lavender Company: we irrigate via drip system as opposed to like flood or pivot or. And so we looked at what would it cost to put in all of the drip system and and
[00:06:22.710]Our Lavender Company: Yeah, we just we laid out the cost of what would it look like to put
[00:06:28.320]Our Lavender Company: A full acre of plants in the ground and
[00:06:32.940]Our Lavender Company: When you end. It's a perennial plants so they they should last 15 to 20 years harvested commercially. And so when when we submitted what the risk or the cost would be for one acre when my dad saw just that plane number of the acre cost for
[00:06:55.530]Our Lavender Company: Yeah, for that. He said, That's not as a risk more than that, every day, encore. And so, so yeah, it was it he was really open and
[00:07:08.910]Our Lavender Company: Their dad is next to me, he's the biggest cheerleader.
[00:07:14.700]Our Lavender Company: And so he is somebody that if a little is good. A lot is better. And so he was okay with us doing that first year with 2500 plans and then
[00:07:28.500]Our Lavender Company: That October we had to submit our next year's order so that we could get the discount so
[00:07:37.920]Our Lavender Company: We did go ahead and and we ordered more than 6000 plants, but because of Kobe. We lost so many plants and shipments. So we would even be bigger than we are had our first year.
[00:07:53.700]Our Lavender Company: So all our plants would have survived and if coven what know struck and killed some of the plants that we did have in shipment so
[00:08:02.610]Our Lavender Company: But yeah, he because we were we were established farmers and we did have an established line of credit with a bank, they just was our banker allowed us to tag team with my husband, and that's where our financing came from, but don't he's he's keeping track.
[00:08:27.390]Our Lavender Company: So,
[00:08:29.460]Our Lavender Company: He's generous right now, but it's it's it's gonna come he's gonna get it back.
[00:08:37.500]Jessica Groskopf: That's awesome. So you kind of alluded to, you know, the point of our of our series and that's talking about business shocks and I think you've highlighted a couple already. But do you want to talk about the business shock that your business.
[00:08:51.030]Jessica Groskopf: has faced and how you guys are working to overcome that.
[00:08:56.880]Our Lavender Company: Well the biggest shock was
[00:08:59.610]Our Lavender Company: The first winner. We lost so many plans because of the winner.
[00:09:06.240]Our Lavender Company: Last fall, it was like 85 degrees if everybody kind of remembers last fall when it was so warm and then we were cutting lavender. Actually, the day before it froze.
[00:09:19.140]Our Lavender Company: And then it was nine degrees that night. So, it not only took out our, our precious baby lavender plans, but it took it took out full grown trees and established bush it so
[00:09:32.970]Our Lavender Company: That was very unique and that was hard, but because we had, you know, more plans coming. We were going to keep trying and that was
[00:09:43.800]Our Lavender Company: That was, that was hard but and another
[00:09:50.400]Our Lavender Company: The one that, but in that shock and a I firmly believe that any setback or any failure. Any
[00:10:00.090]Our Lavender Company: Anything that could be perceived perceived as something that could be a drawback. If you keep moving forward. You can build on that and
[00:10:09.330]Our Lavender Company: So we lost so many plants, but when we have planted the first 2500 we didn't really have like an idea of what our fields in the grand scheme. We're going to look like. We just thought, well, we'll put one customer here, one here and one here.
[00:10:24.360]Our Lavender Company: But when we really began thinking, what do we want our fields to look like us losing all of those plants allowed us to like dream bigger and
[00:10:34.620]Our Lavender Company: And really think big picture as opposed to like spur the moment decision. And so our field now is laid out so much better.
[00:10:44.070]Our Lavender Company: Because we didn't have to rip out mature plants to get our goal field. It just kind of happen so we could have perceived that as like a
[00:10:54.090]Our Lavender Company: Oh no, maybe we shouldn't do this, but it gave us an opportunity to like make what we had better and
[00:11:02.220]Our Lavender Company: Another shock that we experienced was Nicole had done a beautiful website and like rolled out this really great marketing strategy for our launch of our online shop.
[00:11:15.090]Our Lavender Company: And we prepare for Mother's Day to be like our big like push and right before that coven struck. And we're like, are we really going to launch an online business strategy and in the midst of coven is this really the best time to try to like push your business and
[00:11:39.570]Our Lavender Company: And yeah, it really works to our benefit of people then like looking online to to purchase gifts and other people wanting to cheer. Other people up by
[00:11:53.190]Our Lavender Company: buying something in sending it as a gift of, like, I'm thinking of you in this like really hard time and that was really a blessing really yeah
[00:12:05.640]Nicole Palser: Yeah, I think that was something that like the whole time. We're like, should we launch right now because it seems like, well, I'd be viewed as insensitive or
[00:12:14.730]Nicole Palser: I'm like, unaware of what's happening in the world, and then
[00:12:19.560]Nicole Palser: Yeah, I woke up one morning and I was like, I feel like we're supposed to launch. So, and then that was like a week before and we hadn't. There is still a lot of work to do. And so we just like put our
[00:12:30.990]Nicole Palser: Hand to making it happen. And then they'll launch was way more successful than I think any of us would have guessed, and especially like it on a normal day but then with hope it it really was like shocking how
[00:12:48.240]Nicole Palser: Supportive people were. And yeah, I think we're so thankful for that.
[00:12:53.550]Our Lavender Company: There's so many people out there that are really into supporting small business.
[00:12:58.410]Our Lavender Company: Yeah, and that's, I felt like that was such an eye opener to
[00:13:05.970]Jessica Groskopf: Nicole. Can you talk about like the business strategy. It sounds like you have some background in kind of this marketing gig.
[00:13:13.440]Jessica Groskopf: A lot of
[00:13:14.130]Jessica Groskopf: A lot of us wonder like, how, how do I reach that audience. How do I tell my story can. So can you start us out by talking about what your approach was. And then if Peggy and Stephanie will will build on that.
[00:13:28.650]Nicole Palser: Yeah, I had, I started one other small business probably four years before our lavender CO and
[00:13:39.270]Nicole Palser: Realized how powerful social media is where we like created a handle and started posting my other businesses, we have a cotton candy cart where we show up to events and serve cotton candy and
[00:13:53.610]Nicole Palser: I started just posting some photos of what we did. And then I'm using some hashtags, or like tagging people that
[00:14:04.230]Nicole Palser: Like event planners, that might be interested in what we're doing and like overnight, pretty much, we, we had like 1000 followers and it's like, whoa, this is crazy.
[00:14:15.390]Nicole Palser: And through that like things just started like word started to spread. And I think we found a
[00:14:23.250]Nicole Palser: I'd say social media has changed quite a bit. And then where it's a more saturated market, but it's still a really powerful tool where we um
[00:14:34.560]Nicole Palser: Yeah, started posting a little like some teasers leading up to it like photos of the our first shipment of plants arriving and things like that. And then I'm guessing through our own networks. We would like post on our own accounts and
[00:14:53.790]Nicole Palser: Yeah, through Facebook and Instagram. Really, that's how we like announced the launch of our shop and
[00:15:02.790]Nicole Palser: Then since then we have sent
[00:15:07.860]Nicole Palser: What would you call them stuff like promo packages basically do some different like influencers who have larger YouTube followings and then they have like unboxed our packages.
[00:15:20.730]Nicole Palser: On their channel, and then we'll see like a big influx and orders within like 24 hours of them posting the video and so there have been, I think, three people who have done that and that has
[00:15:35.610]Nicole Palser: Created like a lot of traffic beyond like what our like individual followings are
[00:15:43.920]Our Lavender Company: And I have been participating in a couple like social media strategy trainings and things like that. And, um, something that I heard in one of those was
[00:15:55.680]Our Lavender Company: You can build you can build credibility with your customers. But if you find somebody that already has built up that credibility that can vouch for you or come behind you that
[00:16:10.830]Our Lavender Company: That has like a double Lee, or even like an exponentially more powerful impact in the grand scheme. And so, yeah, it just kind of
[00:16:20.640]Our Lavender Company: The people we chose we chose very specifically of
[00:16:25.650]Our Lavender Company: One of them being a garden YouTube channel that I actually learned so much from and so it felt so authentic to send them a kit and just say thank you because of the knowledge, you've passed one
[00:16:40.320]Our Lavender Company: We are just so grateful. And we've been able to do what we do because you are so generous with your knowledge and then the other was another Nebraskan and that just
[00:16:53.340]Our Lavender Company: She's just a mom and you know as a mom just feeling so much encouragement from her like you can do it and and so yeah she just wanted to support small business and yeah so finding those connections that aren't just
[00:17:10.110]Our Lavender Company: aren't just like throw them out to the world, but make a genuine connection with somebody that has a built up credibility that it just feels really authentic so
[00:17:22.650]Jessica Groskopf: So we're starting to get some questions in the chat. And if you're with us. Please go ahead. If you have questions for Peggy Stephanie or Nicole.
[00:17:30.870]Jessica Groskopf: Make sure you get those in, because that's the fun part of this. So our first couple of questions are related to your product do you guys make all of your own products. And do you have other local people that work with you.
[00:17:45.870]Our Lavender Company: Yeah, we make we make it all. We
[00:17:49.890]Our Lavender Company: We do do small batch lavender products like milk bads and bath bombs and we make I pillows.
[00:17:59.490]Our Lavender Company: What that you can heat or cool and just put over your eyes for your headaches or sinus issues that were really good and the smell of lavender is president and everything, because it's got the lavender buds and fresh lavender buds and oil in them so
[00:18:20.730]Our Lavender Company: Yeah, we do all our end we have hired some help, we in fact we have another gal coming tomorrow to help us do some clipping so
[00:18:33.810]Our Lavender Company: We're not
[00:18:35.940]Our Lavender Company: It's not to the degree that we need a lot of help yet. We're hoping that is one of our goals is to be able to provide jobs in that is part of our vision is to have employed employees, for sure.
[00:18:54.870]Our Lavender Company: We are just starting to do a little bit of
[00:18:58.920]Our Lavender Company: wholesaling in some other value added products that we can't make
[00:19:05.550]Our Lavender Company: Like simple syrup. You have to have a lot of
[00:19:10.200]Our Lavender Company: You have to have a lot of
[00:19:12.510]Our Lavender Company: Certifications and facilities to be able to make some of those things that we just don't have the capacity to do right now so
[00:19:20.400]Our Lavender Company: There are a few things that we do source in from other small batch producers, but for the most part, everything is handmade in small quantities by the two of us live
[00:19:35.910]Our Lavender Company: Mom, can smell lavender anymore.
[00:19:40.170]Our Lavender Company: Yeah.
[00:19:40.500]Jessica Groskopf: I think you you brought up an interesting point. And that's really good to regulation so
[00:19:45.570]Jessica Groskopf: What are the regulations so surrounding lavender or that you're watching, you know, thinking about you talked about water, you've talked about the maybe more on the food side those regulations also about navigating
[00:20:00.780]Our Lavender Company: Yeah, I'm going back to my dad. One of the reasons he allowed us to expand into the full five acres. This year was because
[00:20:11.460]Our Lavender Company: The land that we went into the irrigation or the the commercial well was going bad. And so it wasn't feasible as a piece of corn.
[00:20:23.580]Our Lavender Company: Ground to continue producing dryland corn on that piece of ground, but we can we can water with a residential well and so it's so much cheaper because there's just a smaller amount of water needed. And so there aren't a ton of regulations on lavender, because it's not
[00:20:48.630]Our Lavender Company: It's organic by nature. There's not anything harmful. That is a byproduct of the production of lavender and so for like
[00:21:00.390]Our Lavender Company: Yeah, for there being a specific regulations on the production of it. There aren't a lot when and then when you go into what am I going to do with the lavender. Once I produce that then it's like up to you to choose what you get into with the cottage Act were able to do jams and jellies.
[00:21:23.160]Our Lavender Company: And then we do everything with
[00:21:26.340]Our Lavender Company: Things.
[00:21:27.810]Our Lavender Company: That are safe ingredients. So we don't use any chemicals or preservatives, or additives that would be questionable that would cause into a regulation that we would have to then get certification to us.
[00:21:42.090]Our Lavender Company: And then if we want to venture into more food production and things like that we we grow into that, but we haven't done that to this point.
[00:21:52.440]Jessica Groskopf: So one of the questions is why lavender. I think you alluded to it a little bit. But what about, you know, other flower types bulbs, those kinds of things. Why was lavender the attractive piece.
[00:22:06.990]Our Lavender Company: It's a perennial
[00:22:09.420]Our Lavender Company: And it doesn't want fertilizer. It doesn't want chemical and it drought tolerant and it like sand and we have a lot of sand and so we do have some additional cut flowers that we are adding in
[00:22:25.530]Our Lavender Company: For pollinators. And just to do additional activities on the farm, but as a bulk fields that and the market for lavender in the US is
[00:22:39.060]Our Lavender Company: Not saturated in the slightest. We've networked with
[00:22:44.820]Our Lavender Company: The US LGA or the US laboratory Association, and even the Colorado on Nurses Association and everywhere. We turn
[00:22:53.820]Our Lavender Company: Their people are running out of a blog nerd. There's just not enough to even source, the small farms that are here in the US even US farmers are having to go to other countries, France, Bulgaria.
[00:23:11.730]Our Lavender Company: All over to try to meet the US demand.
[00:23:15.780]Our Lavender Company: And so it's just an unsaturated market. It's a perennial plant and it likes sand.
[00:23:21.810]Our Lavender Company: And the bush and the and the plant last up to 15 to 20 years it's appropriate. And so it will last 15 to 20 years so it's of course there's, there is fatalities.
[00:23:36.630]Our Lavender Company: At times, but in general, the plan is supposed to last quite a long time.
[00:23:43.260]Jessica Groskopf: So this actually leads us into our next question, which was submitted through the chat. Again, if you have questions, please drop them in the chat box so that we can ask our guests.
[00:23:54.000]Jessica Groskopf: The question is where can they go to research cultivars that might do well in their part of the state. And then how did you go about finding someone to purchase your plants from
[00:24:06.000]Our Lavender Company: Well, when we were first doing
[00:24:08.940]Our Lavender Company: dreaming about this. We took a trip to squirm Washington. And we literally visited with some of the producers there and we did
[00:24:21.900]Our Lavender Company: Ask lots of questions about what is safe for our area, and there is quite a bit of lavender that you can plant in zone five. And is there anything else on his own five three much
[00:24:35.850]Our Lavender Company: It for the US or is your more than others more um what I
[00:24:44.640]Our Lavender Company: Lavender does a lot in microclimates so yeah for the Eastern Nebraska is so different than Western Nebraska and so the best way to find the cultivars that will grow best for you is to find somebody with us.
[00:24:59.520]Our Lavender Company: With a climate. Most folks are like closer to yours. And so for us, we needed dry windy dramatic changes in temperature. And so for us that look like going to the Front Range talking to
[00:25:16.050]Our Lavender Company: Some Colorado producers of what do you grow what successful for you. What can handle this like desert, but also unpredictable.
[00:25:27.870]Our Lavender Company: Weather and just learning from them. And there's so many great growers all over the US and as an individual, whether you're a grower or not. You can go on to the US LGA website and find somebody very close to where you live and
[00:25:46.350]Our Lavender Company: Ask them what grows best for us in this area because zone five is huge, but there are so many just little micro climates in zone five and and as far as where we got the plants. We've tried a couple different suppliers and they're so different.
[00:26:07.350]Our Lavender Company: One from square Washington and one from palisade Colorado. It's really hard to find large quantities of lavender plugs and loving her grows
[00:26:16.620]Our Lavender Company: From a propagated plant as opposed to from a seed best to get a specific call tomorrow. And so to get large quantities and producers are very hard to find and so
[00:26:29.670]Our Lavender Company: We've gone through Victor's softener and swim and sage creations in palisade and there are options, but to get the quantities that we've needed. Those are two of our best options. Oh, we've also gotten some from
[00:26:47.430]Our Lavender Company: Another grower on the front range that does smaller quantities, but
[00:26:51.480]Our Lavender Company: Yeah, it's a very untapped market even in the side of propagation. So all facets of lavender production in the US, whether it be agritourism
[00:27:02.340]Our Lavender Company: Selling plugs. If you have a passion for greenhouses and that market is wide open for the US to be able to sustain production of lavender for our ourselves every area of the lavender market needs more growers, because just not enough.
[00:27:25.110]Jessica Groskopf: Thing in this vein, can you talk about issues with insects and rodents. How does, how is that or are you guys okay with that.
[00:27:34.860]Our Lavender Company: We didn't have a lot of problems with insects or maybe bunnies and only because they have done our baby plants and they're just a little
[00:27:44.760]Our Lavender Company: They're just a little bitty plant in the beginning. And so we had a row of lavender next to the tree grow and and we don't know if it was the bunny really or the Beagle.
[00:27:57.630]Our Lavender Company: We have a dog that loves to run around in the tree grow and chase bunnies. So we don't really know what happened. It wasn't that they ate the plant because lavender by nature repels
[00:28:12.240]Our Lavender Company: Insects and deer. They don't like that's too strong, but smell for them. So there really isn't is there, there is no problem with
[00:28:24.930]Our Lavender Company: Their we've got some of our plants from they were having a problem with grasshoppers
[00:28:30.120]Our Lavender Company: And I didn't notice when we got our plugs that there were a few little baby grasshoppers that came in with the plants and I was a little nervous that are we going to have an infestation of grasshoppers now are we going to have like a problem with insights
[00:28:44.610]Our Lavender Company: But it never amounted to anything.
[00:28:48.660]Our Lavender Company: And so, yeah, we didn't have a problem. We had a few burrowing I don't know Vols or something that brought out I think two plants.
[00:28:57.690]Our Lavender Company: But really, in the grand scheme of 6000 and we didn't have any pests or predators that really were a huge issue that we had to look at. I think it depends on where you're at. I think there is some lavender farms that deal more with a fungus or
[00:29:17.580]Our Lavender Company: Their, their weather climates and lavender does not like to be wet.
[00:29:23.010]Our Lavender Company: So there is
[00:29:25.920]Our Lavender Company: There is a fungus issue in some areas.
[00:29:29.880]Our Lavender Company: Thank thankfully, or just by nature. We don't have humidity. And so that really takes out a lot of issues that lavender farmers face is the wet humid McGinnis. We don't have that.
[00:29:45.690]Jessica Groskopf: So let's shift gears and let's talk about your dreams of agritourism. I think that's something that's great. When you talk about where you guys are at small town rural Nebraska Western Nebraska. Tell us about your plans with agritourism
[00:30:02.340]Our Lavender Company: Go ahead and Nicole, you haven't done a lot talking
[00:30:06.060]Nicole Palser: Well, so I'm coming to you live from Minneapolis. I don't live in Nebraska anywhere but grip on the farm. And so every my contributions are all pretty much remote at this point. But we do have a lot of dreams of
[00:30:20.190]Nicole Palser: Making our lavender company a destination for people if you have driven through especially Western Nebraska, there's
[00:30:29.730]Nicole Palser: A lot of traffic headed to Colorado, or two, or from Colorado. But there are a lot of places to stop or enjoy things along the way. So we see a lot of opportunity for creating something that would draw people to
[00:30:47.010]Nicole Palser: Yeah, there's, there's a lot of opportunity. So we would love for and to lavender's a very beautiful plant.
[00:30:56.700]Nicole Palser: And so once our plants are fully developed. We are excited to invite people to come, will the dream is to start having lavender festivals, be a place where you could host an event like maybe you get married on our lavender farm or
[00:31:18.360]Nicole Palser: Things like that. And then along with that we would hopefully someday have our own shop where people could come to are the farm shop in our lab and their co
[00:31:32.700]Nicole Palser: And yeah, enjoy all the benefits that lavender has to offer. In the process, it smells amazing. It's obviously like a very relaxing calming sent and so yeah we're excited for people someday to be able to experience that interesting.
[00:31:50.670]Jessica Groskopf: So, Nicole. This next question might be directed towards you as well. Do any local stores carry your products or can only be purchased online.
[00:31:59.700]Nicole Palser: Yes, and we
[00:32:03.450]Nicole Palser: In the lab, but two months is our second month at Art Center tuitions yes there's a our third month that we have a like an end cap basically at a local store and jewels or Colorado.
[00:32:18.690]Nicole Palser: And called arts in our Titian's where we rent a small space and then have all of our products available there and we're
[00:32:30.300]Nicole Palser: hopefully going to we've had some inquiries for
[00:32:34.500]Nicole Palser: Some wholesale opportunities and just with capacity haven't ventured in that direction, but hopefully in the next year. That will be something that we're offering to set. There's a boutique
[00:32:50.280]Nicole Palser: For a flower shop or something like that that would like to sell our products that they've built to do that.
[00:32:59.820]Our Lavender Company: We saw some
[00:33:01.560]Jessica Groskopf: Go ahead.
[00:33:02.340]Our Lavender Company: Yeah, I was gonna say we do a lot of pop up shops like
[00:33:06.720]Our Lavender Company: In Oglala Nebraska. We Stephanie has good friends with a girl who has this cute little boutique and so every once in a while we we
[00:33:17.580]Our Lavender Company: Go there and just pop up a shop for the weekend or for the day, or we do festivals. We were in Baird Nebraska last Saturday at the heirloom market, and that was so much fun. We are planned to be in Grand Island next March and
[00:33:39.510]Our Lavender Company: At the Derby, they're doing
[00:33:42.630]Our Lavender Company: horse races there. So we'll be there twice, I think. And so we we do travel and do take advantage of some of these festivals that that are going on and
[00:33:54.270]Our Lavender Company: Different craft events.
[00:33:58.200]Jessica Groskopf: One question in the chat says, I understand you hosted school kids, the other day, and provided a tour for them. How did that go
[00:34:08.460]Our Lavender Company: So I'm part of my caveat to get dad to allow us to plant lavender was also trying to get away for two separate our lavender from anywhere he would come close to spraying
[00:34:24.750]Our Lavender Company: And so I came up with the idea of Let's plant pumpkins as like a barrier crop. And so we've just planted pumpkins last couple years and
[00:34:36.930]Our Lavender Company: Have a lot of them. And so we thought, what better way than to allow of the Community kids to come out on a field trip we have tractors and a hayride and we'll like put together a field trip.
[00:34:51.450]Our Lavender Company: And co working. Yeah. And with with whole bed so many opportunities for the kids to get out and go do these field trips have been shut down. And so what better way to come five miles to the pumpkin patch.
[00:35:08.430]Our Lavender Company: Then, you know, to get them out and having fun. And so we did yeah we hosted the kindergarten through third grade.
[00:35:18.180]Our Lavender Company: It was so fun.
[00:35:20.190]Our Lavender Company: We give them a little hayride and served them full of sugar. We each got a cotton candy in lemonade and hot cocoa.
[00:35:30.390]Our Lavender Company: It was so fun.
[00:35:32.610]Jessica Groskopf: Well, that actually really ties into our next question, which is, Do you use any chemicals or is your production organic
[00:35:41.490]Our Lavender Company: Um, it's not sort of an organic, but it is organic in the sense that we don't apply any chemical whatsoever. And we use a
[00:35:52.740]Our Lavender Company: We use an organic fertilizer at planting, it's Mike arrives, a, it's a
[00:35:59.130]Our Lavender Company: Yet, an organic fertilizer to help stimulate root growth. But beyond that, we don't add any that's the only time we apply anything to the field, the soaking the plant before you put it in the ground.
[00:36:14.070]Our Lavender Company: And it is said that the more you fertilize the last fragrant. It is so it's really discourage to fertilize and those plants can handle any herbicides or pesticides. So if there is
[00:36:32.880]Our Lavender Company: If there is a fungus in that plant your only option is to pull it to prevent spreading so yeah there you just it's it's organic, by nature,
[00:36:47.550]Jessica Groskopf: So any plans to certify that section as organic we I mean it's a three year process. Have you guys thought about that. Are you just
[00:36:55.830]Jessica Groskopf: Well, we could be. I don't
[00:36:58.140]Our Lavender Company: I don't know that we we may
[00:37:01.620]Our Lavender Company: I don't know. You know, it's silly i i think that that certification is
[00:37:08.580]Our Lavender Company: We may, but I don't know that.
[00:37:11.790]Our Lavender Company: We know that it's necessary, just because it's all Lavender is organic by nature and to be completely honest, we haven't had capacity to even
[00:37:21.510]Our Lavender Company: Think about researching that at this point I think down the road, just from like a product standpoint to have that organic certification would be beneficial if there is so much
[00:37:36.240]Our Lavender Company: Like paperwork type of maintenance that goes into that and it's valuable work. It's stuff we're already doing in practice, but to actually do the paperwork is not within our realm of capacity at this point. So maybe someday.
[00:37:56.340]Jessica Groskopf: Let's get back to the topic of business shocks. What are some things you guys are kind of preparing your business for. I mean, what is, you know, on the horizon that you see is a risk and how are you working with your business to prepare to survive that.
[00:38:15.510]Our Lavender Company: I'm winter.
[00:38:19.140]Our Lavender Company: I bet done so much and talking and messaging back and forth with other growers across the US have
[00:38:28.080]Our Lavender Company: Some a lot of growers cover their plants, but there's risks that come with that and and so just kind of learning from other growers of, how do you do this and
[00:38:39.240]Our Lavender Company: And through our loss we again networked with other growers of like was this something that did, or is this just like how do we better prepare ourselves.
[00:38:49.050]Our Lavender Company: Because to be honest, a high, it did not think that would experience winter kill at all. I just had this like blind confidence that
[00:38:58.470]Our Lavender Company: We're in zone five our plans are zone five will be fine. And then they're all gone. Um, and so just winter and preparing and making sure that we do things a little bit better this year, moving forward.
[00:39:12.180]Our Lavender Company: And another one is like the shock of, like, do we have capacity to keep up with product production to meet the demand that's out there and trying to keep our production in pace with the sales coming in and
[00:39:30.840]Our Lavender Company: So yeah, we've got a lot of things that we're continually trying to strategize and prepare ourselves for what's next and
[00:39:44.610]Nicole Palser: Know, I think we learned a lot in like the first is, especially in May, right after we launched and we're realizing
[00:39:52.950]Nicole Palser: Oh, there's this is requiring more on the production side than we were expecting. And so some of the places we were originally even getting our packaging through
[00:40:04.080]Nicole Palser: They weren't sustainable options. And so we have learned a lot about how do we find like source packaging that is reliable, where we can get in bulk quantities.
[00:40:19.590]Nicole Palser: Where it looks consistent and I think we still probably have some things to navigate in that area. But we've learned a lot and have grown a lot in the last six months for sure.
[00:40:36.480]Jessica Groskopf: So our next question comes from the chat. And just a reminder, if you have questions, please go ahead and drop them in the chat so that we can ask, Nicole. Stephanie and Peggy and this question is what is your education background. And how did that prepare you for this venture
[00:40:55.770]Nicole Palser: I went to, oh go Monday monastery.
[00:40:59.220]Our Lavender Company: No, go ahead.
[00:41:00.870]Nicole Palser: I am got my bachelor's degree at a private school in Minneapolis. That's how I got to Minneapolis and I studied music. So I was a piano major and honestly I learned a lot of just general life skills and
[00:41:21.030]Nicole Palser: That I've used since then but piano is not something that I'm using a lot, especially in our lavender CO, but I got my masters in leadership into an affair. So studied a
[00:41:36.420]Nicole Palser: Some leadership theory, social justice theory and then was working in higher education and where I that's kind of where I started to learn some of the marketing skills that I have developed and so I don't know that I would say my degree is have like
[00:41:55.920]Nicole Palser: Super directly impacted the work that we're doing. But along the way. You just pick up skills that are translatable so
[00:42:08.250]Our Lavender Company: I went to the same university as Nicole and I was actually a youth ministry major and very different from anything that's actively involved in my life right now but
[00:42:20.250]Our Lavender Company: There's a lot of planning and event planning and just like managing a schedule and thinking of a calendar year as a whole and that I feel like I took away from my education that has really benefited me in every job I've ever had.
[00:42:39.750]Our Lavender Company: That hasn't ever related to my field of study.
[00:42:43.680]Our Lavender Company: But I think that the majority of my education in our lavender co has come from being a farmer's daughter.
[00:42:53.070]Our Lavender Company: And learning from dad and mom and just they're like
[00:43:00.720]Our Lavender Company: The resilience and they're just drive to roll with the punches and learn as you go.
[00:43:10.200]Our Lavender Company: And then also, like, getting connected to the associations and other growers, I feel like I've learned so much in those facets.
[00:43:20.130]Our Lavender Company: But yeah, having the base of knowledge and the network of education has definitely like built up to where we are now.
[00:43:30.900]Our Lavender Company: And I really haven't had any education. I graduated from high school.
[00:43:35.700]Our Lavender Company: But I have always had jobs in Accounting I I my bookkeeper at heart. So my dad once told me you take care of the pennies on the dollars will take care of themselves. So I am
[00:43:52.890]Our Lavender Company: I'm really
[00:43:54.930]Our Lavender Company: More of a book bookkeeper I've but as a farmer's wife I I know farming to I drove tractors started siphon tubes carried gearboxes into pivots i i do whatever I'm told.
[00:44:10.410]Our Lavender Company: whatever needs to be done. And so, you know, it's, it, I wasn't raised on a farm, but being married to a farmer for 30 years, something's just kind of rub off.
[00:44:23.940]Our Lavender Company: But finances is where
[00:44:27.150]Our Lavender Company: I do most of
[00:44:29.340]Our Lavender Company: Everything, whether it's the farmer, the lab, Nicole. She keeps us in line.
[00:44:35.190]Our Lavender Company: You hear those pennies.
[00:44:38.100]Jessica Groskopf: That's awesome. I wrote that quote down that's
[00:44:40.530]Jessica Groskopf: My favorites. So the next question from the chat is do you have to have lavender to continue making products throughout the winter. So how does this year's crop look. Mm hmm.
[00:44:54.720]Our Lavender Company: This year's crop and we
[00:44:57.840]Our Lavender Company: We produced a lot of different cultivars, which gives us a lot of different variety and when they're grown will make for a beautiful field.
[00:45:07.290]Our Lavender Company: But for standardization of product development. We didn't produce enough to be able to sustain a product production. So we do use as much of our own product as we can.
[00:45:20.640]Our Lavender Company: But we also have connected with other growers that are reasonably close to us that they they're pure goal is to bulk produce us quality lavender to supply other farmers in the US and so
[00:45:35.640]Our Lavender Company: We do source from a few other farms that are just, it's so fun to connect with and to be able to support part of their vision as well.
[00:45:49.380]Jessica Groskopf: So one of our next questions is what challenges have you faced as female AG entrepreneurs.
[00:45:58.650]Our Lavender Company: Well, I, you know, the first the first thing I
[00:46:02.610]Our Lavender Company: When we first started doing this dream I was a little disappointed because you always hear about, you know, rural America there's grants for small businesses and women in and
[00:46:17.700]Our Lavender Company: begin our farmers who whatever they are, but because but because I put my name on as part owner of our lambda Co. I've got like 2% stock impulse, you know, positive brothers. So I'm not a first year farmer. I guess I got 2% somewhere else. So that kicked us up out of a lot of
[00:46:41.910]Our Lavender Company: Ability to to take advantage of some of those grants that are out there for women and AG or beginning farmers.
[00:46:50.910]Our Lavender Company: And also with the businesses, there's small business grants out there, but because we're not in the city limits that also kicked us out of a lot of
[00:47:02.850]Our Lavender Company: Those grants, we have stumbled on a couple that we may be able to take advantage of. And one is for working capital, where they will
[00:47:16.890]Our Lavender Company: Help with some of the
[00:47:20.070]Our Lavender Company: Packaging and Labeling and that type of thing. So we're, we have a meeting scheduled to go to
[00:47:28.920]Our Lavender Company: The rural development.
[00:47:31.680]Our Lavender Company: In in Scotts bluff. I think that's where it's at. So we are going to, we're going to
[00:47:39.900]Our Lavender Company: Learn more about that. I don't know a whole lot about it yet those, so I can't really explain everything. But those are a few
[00:47:47.940]Our Lavender Company: stumbling blocks, but the doors that are opening. So I've actually been really impressed and honored with the amount of interest that there is in women in agriculture and the opportunities that we've got in locally to seek and encourage
[00:48:06.390]Our Lavender Company: Not just women but farmers in general or even some
[00:48:12.330]Our Lavender Company: What are they called Master Gardener classes have wanted to have us talk about our lavender and what we're doing and
[00:48:20.250]Our Lavender Company: Height. To be honest, I thought there would be a lot more push back then, we've had
[00:48:25.920]Our Lavender Company: But we just felt so honored by our community and the people around us to just really not look at us as like these crazy pulse or ladies Adele and big thanks but really just like embrace us and cheer us on and
[00:48:43.860]Our Lavender Company: So I thought, yeah, I thought we'd receive more hesitation than we have.
[00:48:49.080]Our Lavender Company: But it's been really, really honoring
[00:48:55.650]Jessica Groskopf: Yeah, Nicole. How about you.
[00:48:59.130]Nicole Palser: Yeah, I don't know that I have a lot to add beyond that, um, I think I feel thankful for people in my life that are
[00:49:08.220]Nicole Palser: We're like, regardless of what it is like cheering me on and I feel like
[00:49:15.330]Nicole Palser: Yeah there. I wouldn't say there's been anything that has
[00:49:19.740]Nicole Palser: Where I felt like resistance specifically because I'm a woman doing this, I think, more what stuff was saying like, I think it's opened up a whole nother world that I didn't know existed really have like a community of women who are in agriculture and yeah it's been cool to see that.
[00:49:41.370]Jessica Groskopf: So our next question. And remember, if you would like them to answer a question, please drop them in the chat bar. Next question is, what advice would you give someone wanting to start a business like this.
[00:49:56.160]Our Lavender Company: Research, research so much
[00:50:00.150]Our Lavender Company: Before we started our lab Norco I can't tell you the amount of time that mom and I spent just diving through like what plants do we start with what does this look like, Where can we source these things, what are other people doing and
[00:50:20.280]Our Lavender Company: Just research, research, research, whatever it may be whatever you want to grow whatever business. You want to produce or start and you're never going to have a guarantee. But you can set yourself up to succeed with a knowledge base and
[00:50:39.480]Our Lavender Company: And so yeah i i came across a quote on a lavender Association page where they said before you start a lavender farm, you should have planned and researched for three years. And I thought, well, we didn't do that. But we did research, a lot
[00:50:59.460]Our Lavender Company: Yeah, but there's so many resources out there. And, um, there's a lot of conflicting information, but there are a lot of resources to educate yourself on whatever whatever field, whatever you want to do just learn
[00:51:15.360]Our Lavender Company: And never stop learning, because things are always changing.
[00:51:20.550]Our Lavender Company: You know, Social Media Strategies business strategies. There's the foundational building blocks that you need to have, but then to be able to roll with the punches, as they say, and just keep banging on. Yeah.
[00:51:36.630]Nicole Palser: And I think being honest with. What are your interests and what opportunities exist around do and I think I learned with my first business like I actually not that passionate about cotton candy and my life has become very concentrated with colleague
[00:51:54.780]Nicole Palser: And that is it like giving to me. And so I have like I do less than, less than that of that. But I think with our lavender company. I love like
[00:52:09.690]Nicole Palser: purchasing products that I can use like on the weekend when I just need to like decompress or like treat myself.
[00:52:19.230]Nicole Palser: Like, that's a part of my life and probably like even if we weren't doing our lavender company, I would be doing that. And so I think it like more closely aligns with just my lifestyle and what interests me. And then when we're evaluating the
[00:52:37.860]Nicole Palser: Like assets that we have access to. It's like, yeah, high pH sandy soil and all the things that I'm like we didn't have to try to go out and make that happened that just existed in our world. And so, it created opportunity.
[00:52:53.730]Nicole Palser: So I think like evaluating what are my interests and what do I have access to, and where could those things emerge. I think you'll find
[00:53:03.570]Nicole Palser: Areas that you can step into and
[00:53:07.470]Nicole Palser: Yeah, it's honestly not as hard to start a business, as you would think. So I tell anyone. Like if you have an idea, you should just do research and go for it. And you might be surprised with how it turns out. I think
[00:53:21.570]Nicole Palser: I would say I have been in my experience.
[00:53:27.150]Jessica Groskopf: So another question from the chat is, what do you see for our lavender co in five years from now.
[00:53:36.420]Our Lavender Company: In five years, we hope to well in about three years, we hope to be able to have our first lavender festival and
[00:53:45.750]Our Lavender Company: And to like bring people to the farm to be able to experience the fields themselves.
[00:53:53.220]Our Lavender Company: We also hope to be
[00:53:56.130]Our Lavender Company: Distilling larger quantities of essential oil and and beginning to produce and be able to sell that as well.
[00:54:06.330]Our Lavender Company: And a dream that I have in my heart is to have a brick and mortar to have a place in town to start to bring life and traffic to downtown big springs.
[00:54:19.020]Our Lavender Company: There are so many storefronts and opportunities there that I think you bring in traffic you bring in interest you bring in something that
[00:54:31.890]Our Lavender Company: is of interest and it only produces more opportunity and and so I hope that within five years, we're able to have that brick and mortar and begin to bring more traffic to our small community.
[00:54:47.460]Our Lavender Company: Several years ago, we took a trip to a town called Hamilton, Missouri. And I don't know if there's a lot of cultures out there, but most people know Missouri Star.
[00:54:58.950]Our Lavender Company: Quilt. And that's where it started was in Hamilton, Missouri and Hamilton was a town somewhat like a lot of rural Nebraska towns where they have, they were sufficient at one time. But over the years. The there's lots of old storefronts that are
[00:55:22.470]Our Lavender Company: Just born it up. And that was what Hamilton was until one person had an idea and it's become the quilting capital of the United States. And so it is so cool to walk down that street and just see store after store after store, not with just quilting.
[00:55:44.190]Our Lavender Company: Businesses but coffee shops and restaurants and
[00:55:50.460]Our Lavender Company: The whole town is thriving because of one idea and and I remember the girls and I were walking down the streets and we said, big springs just needs one idea.
[00:56:05.610]Our Lavender Company: And that wasn't when we came up with our lavender, but we did think of that when we thought of doing
[00:56:13.050]Our Lavender Company: The lavender fields, maybe this is big springs one idea.
[00:56:17.970]Our Lavender Company: And
[00:56:18.480]Our Lavender Company: We can just so many people received jobs and business, you know, opportunities through that one idea. And so, yeah, we're, we're hoping that we can provide jobs and other people can have another idea whether it's a coffee shop for
[00:56:38.010]Our Lavender Company: Bed and Breakfast or whatever they want.
[00:56:45.120]Jessica Groskopf: Awesome. Well, thank you guys so much for joining us. And remember, if you have recommendations of other female agribusiness entrepreneurs make sure that you tell us about them because we are looking for more guests for this.
[00:57:01.260]Jessica Groskopf: web series called open for business, our next episode will be November 10 starting at 6:30pm Central Time and will feature another Western Nebraska farm good berry farms from Paxton
[00:57:15.420]Jessica Groskopf: Thank you. Peggy Nicole and Stephanie AND EVERYBODY JOINING US TODAY, you will be receiving a short survey in your email, and we would really appreciate your feedback on today's web series and your input on our future sessions. Thank you for joining us.
[00:57:31.500]Our Lavender Company: Thank you.
[00:57:32.700]Nicole Palser: Thank you so much.
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