The Apple Orchard that Launched a Beauty Brand: Meet the Founder of Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm

The Apple Orchard that Launched a Beauty Brand: Meet the Founder of Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm

"I believe there is enormous value in creating and crafting products from plants whose properties and cultivation are understood and valued by the people who care for them."
The CBA Editorial Team 3190 views 2

Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm actually started out as an apple orchard. “In the early 1990s, I inherited an apple orchard that had originally been part of my grandfather’s nursery business. When you come from a family of horticulturists and agriculturists, it’s hard to leave those roots behind,” quips founder Andrea McFadden.

The property posed some growing challenges so McFadden searched for something that would flourish on her new farm. An herb-lover, she planted a test block of lavender and added to it over the years, including importing a scientific collection of lavender from the UK in 2003. By 2010, McFadden had a collection of 60 different varieties of lavender for drying and distilling for essential oil.

“Over the years, we had begun to grow many different herbs, Damask roses, Mediterranean herbs, Linden and Red Cedar trees. Gradually we began to develop a line of proprietary products based on the essential oils, hydrosols and dried herbs we were producing,” says McFadden.

We spoke with McFadden about her CertClean Clean Beauty Award-winning product Sage Nail Balm and her plans for the future of this fragrant business.

Why do you think your product was chosen as the winner?

This product is created with pure nourishing ingredients including organic, unrefined Fair Trade shea nut butter—I love the company that we purchase this from and the value that comes from supporting women in Western Africa—organic jojoba oil, organic Fair Trade coconut oil, beeswax from our neighbour whose bees forage daily at our farm. There are five essential oils in this balm and four of them are grown and distilled at the farm so we have so much control over quality.

When you intimately know your plants and cultivate them with care, when you get to the stage of blending a product, it is so much more than just opening a bottle that you have purchased elsewhere, it really defines who and what your brand is and I believe this product was selected as the second-place winner because it is an exquisite product that works wonders on your nails and cuticles.

Why did you create this product? What need were you fulfilling?

I am fascinated by traditional uses of plants and particularly those whose uses continue today and have science behind them, not just folklore. We have a great deal of horsetail on the farm and as I began to experiment with extracting its silica-rich properties, I realized it would be wonderful for people whose hands and nails are as hardworking as mine! I have terrible nails because I use my hands constantly outside and I also have a thyroid condition which makes my nails weak, there are so many products I have tried, but our Sage Nail Balm, is intended to be used in the evening, massaged into the nails and left to work its magic overnight. The healing properties of the essential oils also have an aroma that is pleasing when you are retiring to bed. I believe there is enormous value in creating and crafting products from plants whose properties and cultivation are understood and valued by the people who care for them.

Would you say this is your best-selling product? If not, what is and why?

Our best-selling products are the lavender essential oils that we grow and distill here at our farm. They are the flagship products here and everything we create revolves around these oils. Many of our products showcase these lavender oils and the Sage Nail Balm has our award-winning lavender oil in it—a beautiful blend of English and Royal Velvet cultivars that won first place in the 2017 Australian Olfactory Competition and both the English and Royal Velvet have placed first, second and third in these competitions. They are consistently excellent lavenders and a beautiful component of the Sage Nail Balm.

What does winning this award mean to you?

When you win an award it validates the essence of what you do and it not only confirms the value and quality of what you are doing, it gives the consumer confidence that they are purchasing a product that has been vetted by professionals.

Why is being a clean beauty brand important?

Every day we are assaulted by chemicals, preservatives and artificial ingredients in our food, beauty and body care products and even in our environments. Today more than ever, Less is More, is so important when selecting products to put on your skin. When I package up a box to ship to someone across the country, I have a relationship with our products that is exclusive to those involved in the vertically integrated industry. When you cultivate, create and craft your products with pure ingredients, that allow them to be labelled a clean beauty brand, it is an incredibly proud and honourable feeling.

What’s next for your brand?

Since Covid, we have only operated as an online store and have lost the onsite relationship with our customers and with that, the ability to allow them to explore the ingredients we produce first hand. We are currently working on how to translate that experience through omni-channel development and this winter we look forward to developing these assets that will help our customers understand what we produce, and what makes our products unique.

Looking for more clean body care products? Discover the best natural bath and body products of 2021.