WESTFIELD, Pa. (WETM) – In celebration of Women’s History Month, 18 News is highlighting four local women who inspire, lead and forge the way for other women.
This week we meet Hayley Painter, she is a farm girl at heart, who became an entrepreneur and business owner in order to save her family’s farm.
At just 26 years old, Hayley Painter is a co-founder and owner of a yogurt business based out of her family’s farm in Tioga County, Pennsylvania.
When she was younger, farm life and her family’s farm, Painterland Farms, is all she knew. It’s where she was raised, alongside her three siblings and thirteen cousins as the fourth generation of their farm.
“We all grew up barefooted running around playing thinking that farming was everywhere and we didn’t realize how special this lifestyle was,” Hayley said, reminiscing.
When they were younger Hayley and her sister had this dream.
“Ever since we were barefooted little girls, we had this dream, to take this way of life, and our milk, and take it to the next level,” said Hayley.
In hopes to become a veterinarian, Hayley left the farm and went to Iowa State University. As she graduated and began to apply to vet school, she realized that it wasn’t where her heart was.
“I realized if I become a vet, that’s not going to keep my farm running for generations to come,” said Hayley. “Farms all around the country are getting larger, and smaller to medium farms are going out of business.”
Painterland Farms is the last dairy farm in their township. In the past year alone, Pennsylvania has lost almost 300 dairy farms.
Hayley felt a responsibility to not let her farm become one of those statistics, and was reminded of the dream she and her sister once had.
“We created Painterland Sisters as a way to ensure that our farm can sustain for generations to come, because we’re building our own brand, we’re building our own market,” said Hayley.
Painterland Sisters is their up-and-coming yogurt brand. It’s an organic Icelandic-style skyr yogurt, coming in a selection of five skews/flavors: plain, vanilla bean, blueberry lemon, meadow berry, and strawberry.
Not only is Hayley sustaining her family’s farm and legacy, but she is breaking norms as a woman in business.
“Especially in the business we’re in, which is specialty food, it’s very male-dominated,” said Hayley.
She and her sister got their WBENC (Women’s Business Enterprise National Council) Certification, which is the gold standard for women-owned businesses in the U.S., “And there’s not another yogurt company out there that can say the same,” said Hayley.
Their yogurts are currently sold in grocery stores in parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey as well as distributed to stores in the Finger Lakes region in New York.
Further than their WBENC certification, the brand also boasts many other qualifications, such as the USDA Symbol, PA Preferred, Organic and Non-GMO, gluten-free, lactose-free, and more.
Before the brand, Hayley spent some time on a farm in New Jersey, selling produce to consumers at New York City farmer’s markets. That’s where she realized people don’t really know much about farmers. She has made it one of her primary goals to bridge the gap between the farmer and the consumer.
“We hope to bring people here for agritourism. In the near future, we’d like to put a farm store up so I can connect with people directly, and show people the lifestyle that we’ve created here,” said Hayley.
She wants to host events like a yoga retreat at her farm (which she could instruct as a certified yoga teacher), or events where people can interact with the farm animals. Even further, Hayley wants to use it as an opportunity to bring business to the rest of her community as well.
“So that people that I used to sell to in New York City, or anywhere, can find us on social media and they can sign up for a yoga retreat at the farm or sign up for pet the cow… and then the community can be involved with people outside of this area, and it can build their businesses,” she said.
If you ever meet Hayley, the first thing you’ll notice is her beaming smile. When asked about her optimism, Hayley said someone recently called her ‘infectiously enthusiastic.’
“I thought about that and…It’s important to be infectiously enthusiastic…being positive really rubs off on people… and, you know, you don’t fail until you stop,” said Hayley.