From Oregon, with love and lavender

Victoria’s Lavender is built on a legacy of courage and hope and putting family first

In Marilyn Thompson’s experience, life is a journey of unexpected and sometimes very difficult paths, which nonetheless is part of a divine plan. When she and her husband, Troy, purchased a 2 1/2-acre estate on a hill in beautiful wine country in Oregon, she could not begin to imagine the hardship, the grief, the effort, or the countless blessings that would come from that place.

The land was purchased with a dream in mind: to build a dedicated home for their families and establish a landscaping business in Troy with greenhouses on the ground. But within 30 days of closing the sale in April 1994, Troy received shocking news: He had Lou Gehrig’s disease, incurable and fatal. On their first visit to the neurologist, they were told that this seemingly healthy strong man of 6 feet 4 inches would likely be in a wheelchair within a year. It was unimaginable.

Marilyn Thompson with her late husband Troy. (Courtesy of Evernew Photography)

Courageously, they decided to proceed with the construction of their new home. Told that Troy would soon not be able to run the stairs, they moved into an apartment. Troy’s health rapidly deteriorated, and the house-building project continued. The neurologist began to express doubt that Troy would survive.

“I was a wife desperate to settle her husband,” Thompson said. She canceled the apartment lease and told the contractors that, whether they were ready or not, they had moved in. The family moved into their new home on her birthday, August 6, 1996. Summer, Thompson’s eldest daughter, was away from college; Her second daughter, Holly, was in her final year of high school; Her third daughter, Victoria, was a little girl.

“There was no deck, no kitchen utensils, but at least we were here. By then, Troy was in a wheelchair. Within a very short time, he was bedridden,” she said.

Four years after his diagnosis, on July 11, 1998, Troy passed away.

“He lived a lot longer than they thought he would,” Thompson said.

Victoria Lavender: No. 1
After losing her husband to Lou Gehrig’s illness, Marilyn Thompson started her lavender-making business as a way to make use of the plants in the dream estate they bought together, while staying home to be the attendant of her youngest daughter. (Courtesy of Evernew Photography)

move forward

Prior to Troy’s diagnosis, Thompson had been working in real estate. After his death, she was very burnt. I resigned and took a year off to write a book on Troy. Then she started wondering what to do.

One thing was always clear to her: she wanted to stay home and on the floor, and she wanted to do something from home “so that Victoria wouldn’t have to be a nursery child.”

“I went through that with Summer and Holly, and I didn’t want it for her,” she said.

“I was trying to see if there was something I could do with this feature.”

With a beautiful rose garden and about 20 lavender plants that were part of the property’s primary landscape, Thompson experimented with making a wedding planner using flowers for his wedding photography. However, “Within a year, I’ve seen that wedding planning can be kind of frustrating in terms of people’s attitudes, and the drama that goes on,” she said with a laugh.

She began drying roses and lavender, but eventually settled on lavender because “deer absolutely love roses, and it’s hard to put them away.”

“But they don’t like lavender, and neither do moles or gophers. So that was the deciding factor—that’s how I was scientific!” she said.

I started making lavender soap, little sachets of dried lavender, and flower bouquets. She put them at her local boyfriend store, and they all sold out.

“I was shocked!” She said.

So she started selling her products at craft fairs. A friend visited, and he looked around the house and the grounds, and said, “You’re going to need to make a lot of soap.”

“I’ll never forget him saying it,” Thompson said. “He was right.”

Victoria Lavender: No. 1
Thompson has grown her lavender farm from 20 plants to 450 plants now, and has plans to buy a new farm for thousands more. (Courtesy of Evernew Photography)

Super nature herb

Struggling to believe that doing lavender business could become a career, however, Thompson decided to move forward in 2002. “I wrote a business plan and started a brand and website. As the idea of ​​lavender grew, I realized it was a gift from God.

“Lavender is one of nature’s supernatural herbs. I honestly had no idea. But I can’t believe I stumbled into it. I think it was part of God’s plan all along.”

I learned that lavender has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.

“One time I burned my hand on the stove,” she said. “I put it in a bucket of ice water. I couldn’t get it out. That night I tried to sleep with my hands in a bucket, then I remembered lavender. I had already made a mist of lavender and aloe vera, so I tried it and was able to sleep. The next morning, it was a pain Much better “.

Victoria Lavender: No. 2
Sweet Dreams linen spray is made with lavender essential oil. (Courtesy of Evernew Photography)

Thompson suffers from chronic neck pain and already has a microwaveable neck wrap. I made one using lavender, and it really worked. Then, as a gardener, she wanted to make a good hand cream. “I found out it’s also a great face cream, and now, I think the majority of people buy it for that reason,” she said.

Then, being a self-shower, she branched out into bath products. The business has grown out of making products that you like and that “achieve something and fulfill a need or solve a problem.”

It has always been important that Thompson use only natural ingredients. When she was caring for Troy, she sought natural alternatives. “My biggest focus was nutrition,” she said. Troy’s weight dropped to 90 pounds when he was given a feeding tube, and she was advised to feed him a canned collateral.

“I refused it!” Thomson said. “I cooked fresh stuff and mixed it up. I’m sure that is why he lived longer than expected.”

Troy knew nothing of her lavender business “because it was gone by then,” but her dedication to all-natural products is part of his legacy.

Victoria Lavender: No. 2
Moisturizing body waxes are designed to be used as a warm skin treatment or massage oil. (Courtesy of Evernew Photography)
Processed with VSCO with av4 preset
The farm’s lavender products include lavender. Recipes available at VictoriasLavender.com (courtesy of Evernew Photography)

Family First

Thompson has grown her lavender farm from the original 20 plants to 450 plants now, All on the space she built and watered their home in. She named her company, Victoria Lavender, after her daughter.

When Thompson’s business grew and she was able to hire some part-time employees, she knew from the start that she wanted to hire local stay-at-home moms like her. “I’m doing this so I can be available to Victoria, and I want to make that available to other moms,” she said.

When her employees have preschoolers, Thompson provides them with work they can do in their home, like filling bags or making and packaging soap. When their children reach school age, mothers come to the farm to work.

“It’s not a lot of income for them for sure, but it’s flexible. If someone has an orthodontic appointment, or someone is sick, or needs to leave early because there’s a sporting event, that’s my number one priority — being the mums there,” Thompson said. for their kids and keeping them out of daycare.” “I’m excited about mothers getting involved with their kids, so that’s how we built it, and that’s how we roll. Almost everyone gets out of here at 2:30 or 3 because that’s when school comes out.”

Victoria Lavender: No. 1
Thompson knew from the start that she wanted to hire mothers like her. (Courtesy of Evernew Photography)

Victoria’s Lavender is now in the second generation. Liesel, Thomson’s oldest employee, had two young sons when she started working from home for Thomson. These two boys came to work on the farm as teenagers, until they graduated from high school. Victoria, who was laid off from her sports marketing job in 2020, came to join Thompson and decided to make her career in show business, the two older Thompson daughters also decided to join recently.

Victoria Lavender
Isaac Williams, son of longtime employee Lysel, came to the farm to work in high school. (Courtesy of Evernew Photography)

And now this “family first” story is headed into a whole new chapter. Along with Summer, Holly, and Victoria, Thompson buys a new farm in central Oregon with 10,000 lavender plants. Her three daughters will live there, but for now, Thompson plans to continue living in her home on the land she and Troy dreamed of.

“It’s still developing,” she said. “There is no way I could have designed this. I give all credit to God for creating something that he knew was right.”

VictoriasLavender.com

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