Beginnings - Julia
The Smith Farm's story begins November 2008, when I made my first batch of body lotion in the food processor. Or, to be honest, it began the day before, during a walk in the woods at our family farm. I had recently moved there from Montreal to work with my Dad in his recruitment business. I set out on this walk because I was feeling conflicted. I had made this career change because I had always coveted the entrepreneurial lifestyle and the draw of living in the country however I quickly realized I didn’t enjoy recruiting nor was I particularly good at it! I remember it was the first snowfall of the year and as I walked through the tree lined trails my despair edged away as a new idea began to take form.
I had always had an interest in creating skincare products, specifically natural ones. They would be safe and gentle and made with ingredients I knew and trusted. I had recently started questioning the long list of unrecognizable names in the ingredients list of the products I used every day. Inspired by my walk, I decided now was the time to give it a try.
I took to the internet and after much research, I came up with a basic body lotion formula using almond oil, shea butter, aloe vera, rose water, beeswax and essential oil. In the kitchen I heated the water and oils separately and using the beeswax as an emulsifier I combined them all in the food processor and excitedly watched my first lotion take form. It surpassed my expectations, lightly scented it was creamy white and looked like lotions I would buy! Best of all was the way it made my skin feel. It went on smoothly and made my winter skin glow. With great delight I shared it with my family who were as impressed as I was. I then tried my hand at lip balm and then a soap.
Excited by these products, I began to envision a line of skincare that was made of exclusively of natural, recognizable and safe ingredients and packaged in benign, recyclable and green materials. Then the name came to me; It would be called Smith Farms in honour of the family farm that had inspired me.
I remember Julia's first phone call to tell me she was thinking about making homemade skin care products to sell. I must admit I didn't respond with my usual enthusiasm for any new business idea. I had visions of Julia trying to peddle jars of lumpy creams that had to be kept in the refrigerator and thought to myself, who would want to buy that?
Admittedly, at the time I was going through my own struggles. I was on maternity leave from my graphic design business and was immersed in the day-to-day of having a toddler and newborn at home. Motherhood was a challenge, and I missed the stimulation of work and adult company.
All my initial reservations about Julia’s business idea evaporated when I tried her first lotion. Not only did it resemble my every day drugstore lotions, it was better! Once she assured me she was looking into ways of preserving the products I too began to see the potential.
When Julia approached me to design the web site in exchange for payment I suggested instead that we become partners and she wholeheartedly agreed.
With a background in graphic design and marketing, I set about putting our vision down on paper. We had a name, we needed a logo. Julia had started dabbling with a black and white design (incidentally she was also calling it “Smith’s Farm” at the time, see pics below). I thought we needed a softer, more natural look that conveyed the green aspect of our line. I played with the logo, incorporating a deep brown for the text as well as a bright spring green. I also wanted our look to be predominantly white to portray the purity and cleanliness of our products but we were missing something. A tree, we needed a tree. We played around with a couple designs and decided on the one we have now which resembled the apple trees growing in the orchard. It was perfect, not only did it pull in the green, but it also represented the countryside surrounding the farm and the walk that inspired it all.
A Sisterly Project
With two heads working better than one, we forged ahead, starting work on other formulas – lip balm, hand cream, face cream, toner and body butter, to name a few.
There followed a year spent working together every day experimenting and perfecting product formulations, choosing packaging and finalizing our brand. By Christmas we had a web site, 5 amazing products and were ready to launch our line.
That was in 2009, committed to our now joint dream of creating a line of natural, pure and effective, feel good product we haven't looked back and are still navigating our way through this new and exciting world.
A bit about The Farm
Our family farm, located in a predominately agricultural setting in Western Quebec, has always been an important part of our lives and upbringing. Approximately 80 acres in size, it's flanked by fields of corn, soy and woodland. In our family since the 1970s, it has served as a weekend and summer retreat growing up, and is now the hub of family gatherings. Most importantly though, it is also where we make our products in a production facility on the grounds. From the time we were very young, there were memories of weekend stays when we arrived tired out from a week of school and work to enjoy the quiet solace of its fields and woods. Long summer holidays filled with endless play with the animals, hide and seek in the hay mow, swimming and riding horses or bicycles along dusty country roads. Perhaps those idyllic days had a lasting effect on our hearts and minds; it seems like a natural progression to be there now, producing products evocative of a simpler, gentler lifestyle.