Herbal Revolution

Herbal Revolution, A Hustle for Healthy Herbal Products

Sandra Yerges

Kathi Langelier could not stop the pull to living all aspects of her life outdoors. Ever since she was a teen, her everyday life consisted of growing in knowledge about the native plants of Maine, working outdoors, apprenticing on farms, living off-the-grid, and making her own medicinal products with self-farmed herbs. With her career moving indoors at one point working as a massage therapist, Kathi realized that true self-fulfillment came from what nature provides. This culminated into the beginnings of her entrepreneurial journey.

“I always knew I wanted to farm and that I was going to eventually farm in some capacity,” Kathi said. “Herbal medicine was just part of my lifestyle.”

This way of life pushed her to take the products she originally shared with family, friends, and her massage clients and grow to share them with the public. In 2009, she took the plunge into this new goal when she entered her medicinal products into a competition at the International Herbal Symposium. After receiving a first place title at the event, she knew that creating a business with these products was feasible and attainable.

Starting a business in the midst of a recession was no easy task, but Kathi’s driven nature kept her eyes looking forward. While taking on three jobs at once from the years of 2009 to 2014, one of which being the start-up of Herbal Revolution, she was immersed in the “hustle” of starting a business.

The beginning of 2010 is when Herbal Revolution made its way into becoming an official business, which also marked the time in which sales began. Kathi started selling her products at farmers markets and on Etsy and later worked toward developing her own business website. Working with the public was a large part of this start-up effort as Kathi offered Community Supported Apothecary (CSA) subscriptions to her customers. Whether they picked up their products at farmers markets or received them in the mail, Kathi created relationships with those in the community that helped her grow in sales.

Once she established herself in these places and the business began to grow in late 2014, Kathi decided to take a “leap of faith” and move from her rented land to purchase her own property. After a five-year search for land suitable for growing her herbs, she was fortunate to find the perfect location to grow the herb varieties and vegetables she needs for her products while being only a few miles from her current manufacturing facility.

Kathi admits that the year-round growing and manufacturing tasks can feel like two different business endeavors. Following in the spirit of all hands on deck, she has ten employees with whom she can work alongside during each stage of the product creation process.

In the fast-paced world we live in, stress-relief, adequate sleep, and a supported immune system is required. That is where Herbal Revolution products come into play. With various tonics, elixirs, and teas available for customers to help with the nervous and digestive systems along with sleep support, there are a myriad of health benefits that are drawn from the herbs and vegetables inside them.

While many farms in the country have a slower growing and sales season during the winter due to changing climates, the inverse is true for Herbal Revolution. Their products grow in demand during that time of year as their immune-building properties entice customers when cold and flu cases are on the rise.

Although there are a few ingredients in their products that come from off-farm growers, there are some products created entirely from the grown varieties of Herbal Revolution. A notable fully-farmed offering, their sleep tea, was recently awarded the Best Sleep Tea of 2023 by Prevention Magazine. “I’m really proud of it being nationally recognized,” Kathi expressed.

Kathi’s go-getter mindset paired with the USDA Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) was a large “stepping stone” in the process of reaching this level of success. Being that her business was self-started and required funds to grow and thrive, Kathi looked into the VAPG early on as an opportunity to achieve this upward climb. Being that the application was difficult to devote time to with the extra responsibilities in her life, she worked with a grant writer to complete the preliminary process of the grant.

At the time the grant was awarded to Herbal Revolution, Kathi and her three employees were adjusting to their new manufacturing facility. Because their focus was on production, they were able to add new members to their team with the VAPG reimbursement funds. “We’re at the size of employees that we are now because of the grant,” Kathi stated.

A new quality manager position was added to the Herbal Revolution team, which greatly benefited the company. With regulations and compliances at the forefront of their business, it was helpful to have someone focusing all their time managing these FDA requirements. In turn, this allowed the farm to keep up with compliances that landed the business with distribution connections to grow on a national scale.

“We just went through this whole place of creating a foundation based on the grant, and now we’re about to go into 400 stores nationally,” Kathi explained.

Because the timing of the grant lined up with the pandemic, there were some unforeseen changes made to the initial grant plan that ended up working out well for the company. Kathi praised her state USDA representative, Ivana Hernandez Clukey, who helped her during that adjustment period and made the extra effort to connect with her in-person.

When Kathi speaks with other farmers, she cannot help but share about her positive experience with the VAPG. With an emphasis on creativity and a focus on reimbursement organization, this grant will always be a “game changer” for her and Herbal Revolution. “It’s done so much for me putting this quality program in place,” Kathi shared.