Come Celebrate Lavender 2023

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Conference Speakers

Keynote Speaker: Kevin Dunn

Kevin Dunn is the Chair of the Chemistry Department at Hampden-Sydney College. His first book, Caveman Chemistry, brought him to the attention of handcrafted soapmakers. His second book, Scientific Soapmaking, explores the chemistry of soap at a deep, but accessible level. Professor Dunn's ongoing research continues to uncover fascinating details of the behavior of fats, oils, soaps, scents, essential oils, and synthetic detergents.

Allison Vought

Allison Vought is a Private Label Skincare Expert, Cosmetic Formulator, Public Speaker and the founder and CEO of Smell No Evil, Ltd. (dba and Alimar Private Label. Allison loves working with small businesses, skincare professionals, retail boutiques, salons and others who want to quickly and effortlessly bring their own, branded line of skincare products to market. With nearly 2 decades of experience as a private label manufacturer and formulator, Allison will be sharing her top tips for labeling cosmetic products as well as how to easily navigate FDA regulations.

Debrena Gordon

Debrena Gordon and her husband, John, own Blue Spring Run Farm just south of Covington, VA. Over the years, this family farm has evolved from a vegetable farm to an agritourism venue with plantings of herbs, perennials, and lavender for the bees. They manufacture a bath, body, and soap line for their farm and provide wholesale and private-label products for other farms and small businesses. They offer a variety of classes for the public as well as other small business

Marc Hight

Marc Hight is the Thompson Professor of Philosophy at Hampden-Sydney College. He has spent much of his professional career educating young minds and doing research in fields like metaphysics and the philosophy of religion. He also specializes in the philosophy of political economy with an emphasis on behavioral economics and its implications for marketing. Currently he is a Research Scholar in the Center for the Study of Political Economy at Hampden-Sydney College. Hight has published two books (Idea and Ontology with Penn State University Press in 2007 and The Correspondence of George Berkeley with Cambridge University Press in 2013). His more recent work in political economy includes articles on nudge theory in the Cambridge Journal of Economics (May 2019) and has forthcoming work in analytical theology and concerning the history of political economy.

Ellen Reynolds

Ellen opened Beagle Ridge in 2001 and has been specializing in Lavender for over 20 years. She is a recognized speaker at lavender and herb events up and down the East Coast, and is a Charter member of the USLGA serving on several committees over the years.

Beagle Ridge is a thriving environmental educational center, as well as an agritourism destination in Wytheville VA. Her passion for teaching other growers has created a thriving workshop series known as Lavender Academy. The academy teaches novice and expert growers how to grow Lavender and grow their lavender business. Since beginning the Lavender Academy in 2019, students from 32 states have come to take these weekend long workshops. Ellen said, “when we began, we never imagined this.” Ellen and Gregg encourage new growers to start small and to know what you like and want to do, before you get in over your head.

Lisa Gray

Dr Lisa Gray has a small, young lavender farm which was started with the intention of creating lavender-derived products. Her background in chemistry, biology, and medicine led to an interest in the steam distilling process and is utilized to produce essential oils. The essential oils are combined with locally sourced materials including honey, herbs, and dairy for a variety of products. Lisa also has interests in community, small business, and education.

Chad Thompson

Chad Thompson is an accomplished photographer and videographer who has a talent for using his work to reach millions of people worldwide. He has a knack for capturing the essence of his subjects, and his photos and videos are able to connect with audiences on a deep level. Chad has honed his skills over the years and is now an expert at creating visually stunning content that resonates with people from all walks of life. He works with brands, celebrities, and everyday people, and is able to use his art to tell stories and evoke emotions that drive engagement and sales. Chad's ability to create impactful visual content has made him a highly sought-after marketing professional, and he continues to make a significant impact in the industry.

Catherine McGinnis
Catherine McGinnis is the owner of Soaping101, one of the most popular social media outlets for soapmaking tutorials and advice. With fifteen years of experience in the industry, she is passionate about helping soapmakers sharpen their skills via seminar talks, comprehensive classes and online videos. The style and know how she offers in her videos and to the soapmaking community are an extension of her genuineness. She considers soapmaking an industry where information can be freely shared and enjoyed. When not in front of the camera, Catherine is the owner of a trendy soap store as well as created and personally directs the annual soapmaking social gathering, SoapCon, which attracts speakers and soapers from around the globe. Catherine graduated Summa Cum Laude from MSU with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration with her fields of expertise being Marketing and Economics.

Alexandra Veatch | Letterpress Communications
Alexandra Veatch is a storyteller For over a decade, she has been in the business of storytelling, most importantly telling the story of Southwest Virginia—this place, its history, and its people. Her work has led people to vacation here, to be educated here, and to make this place their home. In the process, Southwest Virginia has become her home and she can’t imagine living anywhere else. Alex currently serves as an account executive and graphic designer for Letterpress Communications based in Farmville, Virginia. Letterpress is a full-service marketing agency that focuses on community-powered marketing and serving those doing good in rural Southside and Southwest Virginia. With a focus on economic development, workforce training, higher education, and tourism, Letterpress has clients across the Commonwealth and into North Carolina served by offices in Farmville, Staunton, and Marion, VA.

Allison Horseman and Mary May
Founded in 2013 in Woodstock, Ky., Woodstock Lavender Co. is owned by the mom/daughter pair of Mary May and Allison Horseman. As third- and fourth-generation farmers, May and Horseman grow 14 varieties of lavender on land that has been in the family since 1928. Rooted in heritage and crafted with care, Woodstock Lavender’s products are certified as Appalachian Proud, Kentucky Proud and Kentucky Crafted.
Olivia Bailey 
Olivia Bailey is the Director of Marketing at Friends of Southwest Virginia, a non-profit organization that provides branding and marketing of Southwest Virginia as a distinct culture and world-class tourism destination, expands outdoor recreation development initiatives and marketing throughout the region, sustains the creative economy through 'Round the Mountain Artisan Network, and maintains the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace. 

Olivia is a native of Chilhowie and resident of Bristol. She previously spent 10 years in the broadcasting industry, serving a majority of her time as an anchor/reporter for Bristol-based NBC-affiliate WCYB. Olivia also previously worked for CNN in Atlanta and CBS Evening News in New York.

Sandy Stoneman, REHS, CP-FS, PCQI

Sandy has worn many hats in her career in the food industry. Her experience spans from working in a small restaurant to regulatory to food manufacturing, but the common thread throughout her career is food safety education. She was able to help many small food businesses get started and expand during her time as a Food Safety Inspector with the Virginia Department of Health and then later as a Food Safety Extension Agent with Virginia Cooperative Extension. She has worked with the Virginia Tech Produce Safety Team to help small farms comply with the FSMA Produce Safety Rule and understand the options for value-add food products to grow their business. Sandy currently works in food safety compliance for Pepsico but stays active in Extension programming as a Master Food Volunteer.

Sandy has a BS in Education from UNC Greensboro and a Master’s Degree in Food Safety and Biosecurity from Virginia Tech. She lives in Wythe County, VA in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, and enjoys gardening, food preservation, cooking, horseback riding, and hiking. She is excited to share her presentation, “Value Added Food Products from the Farm…What You Need to Know about Food Regulation and Food Safety”.

Dr. Jeffrey Mueller M.D.

Dr. Mueller is a medical doctor who has been in practice for 30+ years and has a background in Internal Medicine. He is the Director of the Cancer Support Program and IV Services at Whole Family Healthcare. In 1998 Dr. Mueller was introduced to what was then referred to as complementary and alternative medicine. The emphasis on nutrition, diet, lifestyle, and safer, natural therapies was perfectly aligned with Dr. Mueller’s rapidly evolving philosophy of treating the true underlying hormonal, nutritional, metabolic causes of illness. He quickly developed a passion for this holistic approach to healing the mind, body and spirit, Over the next 20 years Dr. Mueller focused on advancing this very exciting, emerging area of healthcare now known as integrative medicine, which included participating in a number of research trials, some of which Dr. Mueller both designed and conducted at his own practice. With a creative and curious intellect, Dr. Mueller has since pushed the boundaries in many areas in the
integrative field. These include a now well-recognized reputation and expertise in nutritionally-based, technologically advanced cancer diagnostic and support therapies. Over a short span of time Dr. Mueller was leading the field in intravenous therapies covering a wide range of medical conditions, with a special emphasis on heart disease and advancing and improving support and quality of life in all patients with cancer. Dr. Mueller’s focus on improving the lives of all patients
but particularly those with cancer led him to become an official cannabis-certified physician in the state of Florida in late 2017, with a recognized expertise in the use of medical marijuana and CBD.

Leigh & Dave Thornton

Soul Soleil Farm is a lavender farm and apiary focused on offering organically grown and handcrafted lavender and honey products. After returning to Virginia in 2016 we purchased a century old farm house and former orchard. We investigated numerous agricultural options for the farm and decided to pursue a non-traditional crop, lavender. The first lavender plants were started in 2017 and we currentlygrow approximately two dozen varieties. Lavender is harvested for distillation, dried bundles and budswhich are provided to customers directly or used in handcrafted products for retail and wholesale. Bees were added in 2019 and we currently have three apiaries located on the farm

Nicolas Maltagliati

After graduating from Florida State University and following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill (that legalized the regulated production of hemp; previously not differentiated from other cannabis plants), Nick was drawn into the fast moving and dynamic world of Hemp Derived CBD products. He was a Business Development Manager for Mile High Labs. He has worked closely with Essential Depot over the years since it started supplying CBD Isolate as a key ingredient to its Greener Life Members making exciting Skin care Products. He has become a trusted consultant for a wide range of CBD brands, both big and small. Whether he is helping a client develop a new product or advising on sourcing for their supply chain, he takes pride in using his knowledge and experience to make a difference in the industry.

Check back often as we are adding additional bios on our speakers, as well as abstracts of the sessions.