Here at Appalachian Botanical Co, I wanted our observation of LGBT Pride Month to consist of more than simply adding a rainbow design to our logo (which we did do, and it’s lovely). I decided to take this moment to share some of the pride I’ve felt and observed as we’ve worked hard to build a successful lavender farm in Boone County, West Virginia.
I am proud of what we’ve achieved over these past 2+ years. Our field crews have run bulldozers and bobcats, planted, watered, weeded, mowed, built rock walls, created ingenious gravity-fed watering systems, and harvested our lavender buds and flowers. Our building crews cleared, gutted and built out large sections of our manufacturing and warehouse facility. Our Chief Technical Officer, an accomplished chemist (among other things) custom formulated our products and oversaw our lavender distillation and production. Our marketing team built and launched our online store in record time, our sales associates have been diligently signing up wholesale accounts, and our communications manager has been taking fabulous photos and shooting video all along the way.
I am proud of the relationships we’ve built with area businesses, social services providers, and state agencies to get our workers the support and services they need, whether it’s counseling, transportation, childcare, housing, or GED prep.
I am proud of how we are creating a culture where anyone who’s willing to show up, learn, and work hard can earn an honest day’s pay. And by “anyone,” I do mean exactly that, and I am proud that our team of men and women includes people of color, people who identify as LGBTQ+, people who are differently abled, people who have limited education, and people who have been incarcerated and/or have experienced substance use disorder.
I truly admire these people for how they show up each day (rain or shine), do their work to the best of their ability, respect and look out for their fellow workers, and wear their Appalachian Botanical Co t-shirts and hoodies with pride. I am proud of them when they admit there’s something they don’t know, and when they are willing to ask for help. I am proud of how they take personal responsibility for mistakes and have committed themselves to improvement and growth.
Four years ago, I was privileged to take part in an Appalachian Regional Commission POWER grant-funded project that demonstrated lavender could thrive in the rocky soil on abandoned coal mine land. I committed myself to creating a commercial lavender enterprise with the potential to succeed long after the grant-funded program had ended. At this moment, nearly three years into our journey, I am proud that we are still here, growing lavender, making and selling high-quality products, and throughout it all employing people who are truly committed to our success.
MEET THE AUTHOR / JOCELYN SHEPPARD Jocelyn Sheppard is the Founder and President of Appalachian Botanical Co. Before she started ABCo, Jocelyn was a consultant with high-tech startups and nonprofits. She enjoys reading, cooking, jigsaw puzzles, and travel, especially in France where the food, wine and lavender are amazing. Her favorite product: Organic Lavender Body Cream