Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • June 2018
Written by 

Lavender sweet lavender — Island Lavender Company calls Washington Island and beyond home

There’s no place like home.

It’s our sanctuary, a place we belong and feel the most comfortable. Often times, it surrounds something more than tangible walls and the objects within. It’s the people, the memories. Even — and especially — the sights and smells that simply make us feel good and at peace. Home is, after all, where the heart is.

Scott Sonoc and Marsha Williams have created a haven of their own with Island Lavender Company. While the lavender itself provides comfort and calm and a general sense of cozy hominess, their more literal mission is to generate jobs that make homes for others and support families and their desire to be a part of the community they want to live in.

“When we started five years ago, we asked, ‘How can we use local resources and have someone be able to support themselves?’” Scott explains. “The answer came in the form of using the agricultural land and we chose lavender as a crop because it was locally adaptable to the weather and the habitat.”

“And lavender had been grown on the island for at least 20 years,” Marsha adds. “So we knew that it would do well.”

However, what has changed in the last couple of decades has had a huge positive impact on business.

“The access to good, strong internet service allows people to communicate with potential customers around the world,” Scott says. “Over the years, we have proven that small, locally based businesses can actually allow a family of four and bigger to choose where they want to successfully live. I think that’s very significant.”

The Island Lavender Company hires many individuals who can work from home, keep track of their hours and are then also able to take care of family and other responsibilities. Scott and Marsha say the number of hours worked is up to the employee, and that freedom and flexibility make for a healthier lifestyle in general.

The team also includes full-time employees making products at their facilities, including commercial kitchens, on Washington Island and Ephraim.

“We have a remarkable group of employees,” Marsha adds. “They are talented, they are engaged, and what I particularly like is that we’ve attracted a group with mixed skills. One of our employees recently said to me, ‘When you’re doing what you love, it really isn’t work.’”

The thoughtfully prepared products include varying flavors of lavender granola, chocolates, coffee, caramel corn and gelato, all made by professional food makers using essential lavender oil distilled at Island Lavender Company. Items like lavender peppercorn and barbecue spice blends, and new this year lavender marshmallows and lavender fudge, are made in the commercial kitchen on Washington Island by team members who hold culinary degrees. Free food samples are always offered at both retail locations!

All the lavender products such as lavender pet spray, room spray, linen spray, carpet freshener, salves and candles, and lavender water along with soaps, lotions and insect repellent are available at the retail locations and in the Island Lavender Company online shop at www.islandlavender.com (they always offer free shipping!), with new products featured all the time.

“We make about 160 of our own products and have been developing new recipes over the winter,” Marsha says. “We’re introducing eight new soap varieties this summer along with cuticle and facial serum, a facial toner, a really nice hand scrub and a chocolate lip scrub, along with a lavender perfume made of a proprietary blend of essential oils.

“Some companies sell products that are made in Bulgaria or China, mass produced at industrial farms with pesticides so you don’t really know what you’re getting. There is a real benefit to knowing where the product is made.”

Island Lavender Company is a completely natural farm and doesn’t use chemicals, pesticides or any unnecessary additions during the growing and production processes.

“And we only use organic fertilizer,” Scott says. “We use rainwater, sunny skies, fresh air and sandy soil. We’ve even installed beehives to produce honey in the fields. The bees are so attracted to lavender that they’re almost intoxicated as they sit on the leaves of the plants. They’re just mellow, it’s really something.”

Door County and beyond…

Not only is the Island Lavender Company growing more plants this season (4,000 new plants on Washington Island and 1,000 new plants at the Ephraim location!), but the company is expanding too.

“We’ve opened a new location in Beaufort, South Carolina, a wonderful historic riverfront town,” Scott says. “We’re right on Main Street and have also purchased farm land… on this farm we’ll begin with 5,000 plants and lemon and olive trees.”

“English lavender, which is what we grow in Wisconsin, is really exceptional for food products. It’s a very flavorful, almost sweet lavender,” Marsha explains. “What we’re growing in the south, often called Spanish lavender, is much more suited toward soaps, lotions and creams. It’s got a little bit of a sharper scent. Our new farm in Beaufort will enable us to expand our product lines.”

Scott and Marsha have brought their distinguished work ethic and dedication to working with local businesses with them to South Carolina, and have already begun working with artisan food makers in the area to create lavender linguine, lavender brie cheese, lavender ice cream and more. The third location offers a unique opportunity to develop products with warm weather varieties of lavender.

“We began as a Wisconsin company and we are delighted to be working in other parts of the country,” Scott says. “And now we’re able to bring new things to Wisconsin and South Carolina and beyond.” 

Join Island Lavender Company for their Fifth Annual

Island Lavender Blooming Festival!

When the lavender blooms in July, Island Lavender Company celebrates!

The fifth annual month-long celebration includes fun, hands-on activities for children and adults, along with guest artists, and presentations and demonstrations all featuring the functional and artistic uses of the diverse plant.

“As a unique part of our festival this year, we are hosting “Art Buzz at Island Lavender” — a celebration especially devoted to bees, our endangered pollinators who love lavender and who do so much to keep our flowers blooming and beautiful.”

In addition to specialty fused glass artists, jewelry makers and pottery artists, children’s activities and beeswax candle demonstrations will be guided by art educator, Becky Bowman. Melba Cooper will be demonstrating her cold wax technique and talking about her art and her passion for protecting bees.

“All of our events are free, and there are no entrance or special activity fees at the Island Lavender Company because our goal is to heighten public awareness of the many outstanding qualities of this incredible plant,” Scott adds.

“I think what distinguishes our farm from so many others in the country is that many owners consider and operate their farms as tourist attractions. Our farm visits and all events are free. If you’re careful and respectful of the plants, we encourage and invite everyone to visit us.”

—Scott Sonoc,

owner of Island Lavender Company


Island Lavender Company

1309 Range Line Road, Washington Island

and

10432 Water Street, Ephraim

and

707 Bay Street, Beaufort, SC

920-737-1531 • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

www.islandlavender.com

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