Monday, January 30, 2023

Williamsburg’s lavender farm spreads business to online market

Owner of Sweethaven Lavender farm of Williamsburg, Kerry Messer, captures a shot of her daughter, Hannah, in front of their farm's fields. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Kerry Messer)
Owner of Sweethaven Lavender farm of Williamsburg, Kerry Messer, captures a shot of her daughter, Hannah, in front of their farm’s fields. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Kerry Messer)

It’s been less than a year since Sweethaven Lavender started growing their products in Williamsburg, but the farm has already grown into a thriving online presence.

“It’s been a really unique way to link the rest of the country with Williamsburg,” said Kerry Messer, owner of Sweethaven. “It’s spreading products that are grown here, made here and have the identity of Williamsburg on them.”

Sweethaven, a family-run farm, opened in June, but Messer said the reaction from the community has already made the farm a local staple. 

Since lavender is only in bloom for about eight weeks out of the year, the farm’s store only stays open for a few months out of the year. But Messer said once the store had closed for the fall, customers were sending in orders via email and Messer and her family found themselves spending a lot of time at the post office.

After they considered their options, she said they realized opening an online business would be far less costly and more efficient.

And just a week into the online world, she said their business has blossomed across the country, sending products as far as Alaska and keeping fishermen in upstate New York stocked in bug spray.

“It’s a neat way to send a little bit of home to someone else,” she said.

The online shop features all the products sold regularly in the shop in addition to a new larger size of the farm’s Simple Syrup as well as a new herbal and lavender gray tea. 

With the new online market, Messer said the family has had to reorganize how they run the farm and monitor all of their products. Before launching the website, the family did extensive research on pricing and website design.

“We didn’t just open it and hope for the best,” she said. “We’ve got a good strategy in place.”

As the farm prepares for the next season, Messer said they aren’t worried about handling all of the new orders because they’ve had so much help from the community.

“We didn’t realize when we moved to Williamsburg what a treasure trove of retirees there are here,” she said. “They’ve just embraced the farm and come volunteer.”

While the store will be closed for most of the winter, Messer said opening the online store has inspired the family to expand their offerings even more.

In October, the farm’s store will be open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Messer said they are also planning a few gift-making classes for the holidays.

When the season is in full swing in the spring, Messer said it will be a welcome challenge to operate both an online and in-person store. But she said the main part will be tracking inventory and shipping it out, activities to which they have dedicated an entire room in their home.

Messer said the family is excited to be expanding and see their products have an impact in the community.

“These products work for their intended purpose and other people are enjoying the benefits,” she said. “To have someone recommend your product to another person, that’s the highest praise you can get.”

To learn more about Sweethaven Lavender products, visit the farm online.

Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doironhttp://wydaily.com
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at alexa@localvoicemedia.com.

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