Conference Speakers (check back for updates to speaker line up!) 

We are pleased to announce our Friday morning Keynote Speaker, Donna Maria (dM) founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, an entrepreneurial coaching and training company that has helped transform the lives and businesses of entrepreneurs in numerous countries in the US and around the world.

A highly sought-after author, speaker, and entrepreneur mentor, Donna Maria, is a master at helping small business owners build sustainable businesses while enjoying the freedom, flexibility, and fun that entrepreneurship offers.


dM’s Keynote Overview: The Community Economy

Today, your customers are more distracted than ever. They are bombarded with hundreds of marketing messages daily, and they can increasingly buy whatever you sell from any number of sources -- and frequently at a lower price. In order to overcome these hurdles, you need more than a good product. You also need a community of people who love you and your brand, and who will help you break through the noise so your products can be seen and heard. Thankfully, it's easier than ever to build community around your brand, and Donna Maria is here to show you how. 

In The Community Economy, dM shares how to serve more people, create more impact, and enjoy more success through community.  Among other things, we'll cover:

(1) Why community is critical to business success and growth

(2) How to select the community platforms and outlets that are best for your brand

(3) How to leverage technology in ways that evoke the kind of emotional connection that encourages people to buy from you over and over again

The Community Economy is relevant to every business owner, regardless of their business, and in particular, to people with a limited budget and time. The presentation includes case studies of people who have built communities that naturally deliver heightened brand awareness and endless sales opportunities.


Our keynote speaker for Saturday morning, will be Lela Barker from Lucky Break Consulting.  Lela has a unique perspective on entrepreneurship because she sits on both sides of the table: She’s built a small business empire and she wakes up every day excited to help thousands of her clients do the same.

She’s a successful maker with 15 years of experience building a creative business. Since launching her bootstrapped apothecary brand in 2003, Lela has guided Bella Lucce’s growth to include 1500+ wholesale accounts, generating more than $12million in revenue.
Lela is also a business strategist who’s wildly passionate about helping creative entrepreneurs bring their products into the marketplace.  Through Lucky Break Consulting, Lela helps makers and designers navigate product pricing, brand development, and wholesale strategy. Want software to help track costs and price your products more effectively? She does that. Need help finding the right stores for your brand and following up with buyers? She does that, too. Want to develop a knock-their-socks-off brand that makes people weak in the knees? That happens to be her specialty!

When she’s all done building empires, Lela hopes to die on a boat adrift in the middle of the ocean, with a mouth full of Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts while Dave Matthews sings to her and Jimmy Fallon rubs her feet. Her beloved husband and children will – of course- be there, too.

Lela’s keynote topic will be Laser-Focused Branding: Crafting a Compelling Brand Narrative  and she will be presenting at a breakout session, Wholesale Like a Pro: The Secrets to Charming Store Buyers.


Christine Teeple has been running the marketing, event planning, product development and production side of Red Rock Lavender located in Concho, Arizona since 1998. Christine is a Founding Member and former Board Member of the USLGA.

Christine’s Presentation is Making you Lavender Business Profitable


How you can make your lavender business profitable? Is it developing a product line, hosting events, operating a farm store or participating in off-site venues? Are you already doing some of these? Let’s evaluate if these activities are profitable.

We all want to make sure we are making money. A measurement to determine your Return on Investment is an important and continuing process. This session will discuss the various venues and selling options for lavender businesses. You will learn how to calculate ROI and will be shown examples of venues and selling options that can be the most profitable to provide you with some direction as to the type of products or services your company will or continue to provide.


Dr. Jeffers is a Professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Clemson University.  He has statewide responsibilities for diseases of ornamental crops in nurseries, greenhouses, and landscapes, and he also works on diseases of trees in both urban and natural ecosystems.  In addition, he teaches Principles of Plant Pathology to both undergraduate and graduate students.  Currently, his research focuses on diseases caused by species of Phytophthora.  He came to Clemson in 1995 after 7 years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison working on fruit crop diseases and 3 years in private industry developing biological control products for postharvest diseases.  He earned PhD and MS degrees in Plant Pathology from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.


Dr Jeffers will provide us an update on Phytophthora in Lavender.


Nancy Baggett is a United States Lavender Growers Association member, and a well-known cookbook author and chef.  An award-winning author of over a dozen popular cookbooks, Nancy has an extensive following and is an expert baker.  Her expertise in using lavender in both cooking and baking will educate and inspire you…and your taste buds will be happy, too!

Nancy will present: Tempting Culinary Lavender Products-- Ideas, Inspiration, Tastings


In this practical, hands-on workshop, Nancy will discuss a wide array of potential culinary products suitable for lavender gift shops and farmers’ markets, along with helpful production, private labeling, packaging, presentation and marketing ideas. The session will detail what ingredients and products lavender best enhances, as well as provide many opportunities to taste lavender flavor combinations and samples.  


Ellen Reynolds and her husband Gregg own Beagle Ridge Herb Farm in Southwest VA. Although the farm is in a remote location and being open only on weekends seasonally for the first several years she has developed a following for her products. Now celebrating their 15 th year in business, they have welcomed visitors from all 50 states and 19 foreign countries. Beagle Ridge, the 160 acre retreat is home to several business enterprises including Lick Mountain Excursions a guided nature ride operation, Serendipity, a event and wedding venue and Flying Flowers, a walk through butterfly house which was just named one of the 14 "Not To Miss” butterfly destinations in the nation by Birds and Blooms Magazine. Presently, with a grant from VA Tourism, she is developing a Lavender Trail in VA. 3 farms are included presently and another 4 will be added in 2017.

Ellen has been a life long gardener, Garden club member and a Master Gardener since 1992. She teaches a variety of classes across the southeast, in area schools and at the farm. Although started as an herb farm, the specialty at Beagle Ridge is Lavender and Ellen uses what she grows to make an ever-expanding product line which she sells at the farm. Her products are available at the farm, in retail establishments around the region and on line.  In addition she manufactures a private label line for B&Bs. The workshop will take you from conception of an idea, packaging, branding and product launch, using Lavender and other popular herbs to create a salable product line.


Sandra Shuff began her businesses with a love for Lavender and a goal of diversification.   She owns and operates a 50 acre certified Organic farm and forest with a unique opportunity to grow, harvest, distill, and formulate multiple aromatics in one location.  She has diversified herself into three distinct yet related companies in Deer Park, WA.
Evening Light Lavender – Lavender & Aromatic Botanical Farm.
Positively Aromatic – Artisan distillation of Essential Oils & Hydrosols, Natural Cosmetic, Formulating and importer of Essential Oils.
Lavender Manor  – Event and Wedding Venue.
She is pleased to have the opportunity to share her vision, successes, and challenges.  Through this session, along with her co-presenter David Belt, she desires to give you inspiration and ways to development of your business’ diversification through Agritourism.

Her belief that education is a lifetime activity is reflected in both her continuing education and teaching.  Currently, she’s a student with The Institute of Holistic Phyto-Aromatherapy to formalize and continue her 40 year Aromatherapy experience.   With gratitude for all the teachers she has had the privilege to learn from she shares her education and knowledge through classes on her farm.  Giving back to others is a high priority to her.  Therefore, she represents Region 1 for the US Lavender Growers Association and has membership in the newly formed Washington Lavender Association.   She is also a Regional Director for the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy.  Other ways she gives back is her service on teams to Guatemala, South Africa, Morocco and Mozambique for the past 11 years.

Sandra will be teaching our pre-conference workshop on “The Art and Science of Distillation”.


Dr. Cindy Jones is a biochemist and herbalist and founding member of USLGA.  She has been formulating and making skin care products for 15 years and has developed a reputation for formulating natural and botanical products. On her farm she grows a variety of herbs including lavender which she uses in skin care. She owns Sagescript Institute and makes her own skin care line called Colorado Aromatics.  Cindy will be presenting Distillation for Hydrosol at the pre-conference workshop on “The Art and Science of Distillation”.


After seeing their first lavender farm in 2010, Mary Bergstrom, and her husband Tim, started their farm in 2014 in Greer, SC. They just recently had their first Upick with 8,000 attendees in 4 hours. Mary also writes a regular column for the USLGA newsletter. Mary assembled the Organizing Committee to build the USLGA, served as the Founding President and on the Board of Directors, and is currently on several committees. Mary was the 2015 recipient of USLGA’s LIFT Award. She has a business, training, and technology background with a Masters of Internet Technology.


Mary and Tim will be teaching our pre-conference workshop on “Starting a Lavender Farm”


Dr. Curtis Swift has thirty-two years experience as a Colorado State University Area Extension Agent and has a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from Colorado State University. He has traveled the world in conjunction with USDA and CNFA to provide training on many areas, including: irrigation, soil management, onion value chain assessment, greenhouse producers, plant production, and fertility management. Dr. Swift retired as an Extension Agent in 2012 and started his retirement with his own business – High Altitude Lavender in Grand Junction, CO. He now produces high altitude lavender products which include artisan crafted essential oils and hydrosols, among other things!