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Susan Harrington

Susan Harrington might be the most satisfied executive in the Pacific Northwest. Eight years ago, she left 20 years of business leadership behind and followed the lure of lavender. Today she along with her husband and business partner, Jack (The Assistant Lavender Wrangler) manages Labyrinth Hill Lavender. Susan is doing what she was meant to do. She is a lavender grower, CEO (Chief Education Officer) and marketing professional.

Susan Harrington visited Sequim in 2000, one week before the Sequim Lavender Festival. Susan and Jack stopped at the gift shop at Purple Haze Lavender. “Michael Richter handed me a bundle of fresh lavender. I bought one small lavender plant, the cultivar was “Fred Boutin,” said Susan.  That was the moment when her dream of growing lavender took hold.
Susan completed the Master Gardener certification in 2001. She read and studied about growing lavender. Then in the spring of 2002, Susan removed the blackberry brambles and Scotch Broom and planted lavender in a labyrinth at her Hansville home located in Washington state on the northern tip of the Kitsap peninsula.

In the summer of 2003, Susan sold fresh bundles of lavender at the Farmers’ Market, joined Local Harvest and continued to cultivate her lavender.

In 2004, Susan began communicating with her customers, friends and fans by writing a newsletter. Susan made it her practice to send a note out several times each month, slowly and steadily Susan’s newsletter distribution list grew. She currently has more than 2500 regular readers who look forward to receiving what she calls “her purple prose.”

Susan, also, set up her website http://www.labyrinthhill.com/index.html and started an online store to market her lavender.

 

Labyrinth Hill Lavender

Always interested in sharing her knowledge, Susan developed and presented a course titled “Lavender: From Soil to Sachet.”  Susan taught this class at several northwest community colleges, and evolved this material into an online education opportunity. In the last few years, more than 400 people have completed her course. What Susan likes best about this is that the course now can be shared with people who live outside the Pacific Northwest and outside the United States, too. Her newest student lives in Nova Scotia. In late 2009, one of Susan’s Polish students translated her course into Polish. Susan created a website devoted to helping other people learn to grow lavender. The website is www.growinglavenderplants.com.

Susan’s title, C.E.O. – Chief Education Officer, is made for her. When Susan is not sharing her knowledge of growing and marketing lavender, she keeps to her CEO mission by speaking to gardening groups about creating labyrinths, spreading her knowledge of marketing and helping with Constant Contact email marketing software.

Now, Susan spends summers harvesting, shipping and caring for her lavender. She also is a popular speaker at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, the largest show of its kind on the West Coast. Her presentation, “Lavender is More than a Color,” attracted a full house in 2010. Her workshop for children, “Creating a Five Minute Greenhouse” is presented on the Sproutopia stage at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show captivating kids and parents alike. You won’t be surprised to learn that Susan has been invited back to speak at the 2011 Northwest Flower and Garden show. If you’ve missed past presentations, you will want to mark your calendar for February 23rd through 27th, 2011.

A few questions for Susan: 

What advice would you offer to people considering starting a lavender farm?

Start with less than 500 plants and learn as you grow. No book, no class, no mentoring will ever prepare you completely for the real experience of growing and marketing lavender. 

What has been your most challenging hurdle in your quest to be a successful lavender grower?

Deciding whether or not to grow by hiring employees. My husband and business partner, the Assistant Lavender Wrangler (Jack) and I made a conscious choice to remain small without employees. Instead we made the most use of technology to market our products.  

What is your favorite way to use lavender?

Hands down my favorite way to use lavender is to walk into the garden with scissors, cut a bundle, bring it into the house and place in a vase. For me it’s about the experience growing, harvesting and enjoying this fragrant herb in its most basic form.

 

 

 

 

 

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