Pennsylvania Sisters want to change the dialogue around dairy with their new brand

Siblings Stephanie and Hayley Painter are looking to bring their fourth-generation, family-owned organic dairy products to consumers across the U.S. with their aptly-named newly launched brand: Sisters Painterlandwith organic skyr yogurt.

Stephanie, a millennial, and Hayley, a Gen Z, these two hope to change the way America views agriculture and bridge the gap between consumer and grower/maker. Growing up in Pennsylvania on the 5,000-acre family farm, they knew they wanted a connection to the land, but didn’t always know what that career path would be like. Stephanie Painter, the older of the two sisters, says she made a deal with her father: “I told him when I was 18 that I would return to the farm in 10 years. And when I was 28, I came back and started this business with my sister.

Younger sister Hayley was not too enthusiastic about farm life at first either, but then realized its beauty: “When I was younger, I took for granted the unique opportunity I was born into. I couldn’t wait to go to college and experience the unknown: wearing white shoes instead of boots, expanding my taste buds with new foods, and having neighbors who weren’t my relatives or cows,” she says.

While the two may have pursued their passions in college and tried other professions, they were deeply connected to the farm way of life, which was started by their grandfather George Painter, who bought a piece of land in 1941 and subsequently , John Painter, started the dairy in the 1950s to add to it.

“We both grew up on our family farm alongside our 13 cousins ​​and feel deeply connected to the land and animals. As farmers, we now have the opportunity to take control of our own destiny by engaging directly with consumers,” says Stephanie.

Painterland Sisters’ skyr yogurt is a thicker, creamier Icelandic-style organic yogurt that’s lactose-free, rich in probiotics, and high in protein, Stephanie explains. Produced in Pennsylvania, the skyr is made with organic whole milk and sweetened naturally with fruit and cane sugar, most of which comes from nearby U.S. farms. It’s made by one of the few, just one of two Icelandic-style yogurt makers in America, she clarifies. “He just happens to be around here.”

The Painterland farm was certified organic by the USDA in 2003. Their practices were not only organic, but also regenerative during the years leading up to certification, she explains. Now they are working on getting certified for regenerative as well. From chemical-free fertilizers and weed removal to animals that graze freely on open pastures, “this is how we have been farming for years. And now we can name it, regenerative!” says Stephanie.

Their cows feed mainly from pastures, but a small portion of their diet (about 10 percent, she says) is supplemented with feed, salt and minerals. The ingredients of the feed, she notes, come from the farm itself.

Given the increased interest in plant-based and alternative milks, Stephanie and Hayley say there is still an opportunity for dairy. “The yogurt we make is a nutritious food, a good source of fats and easy to digest, even for everyone,” says Haley. All of their yogurts contain organic lactase, an enzyme that breaks down lactose, making it more gut-friendly, even for those with dairy sensitivities. “Honestly, we think it would be great if all yogurts and milk-based products contained lactase,” she adds.

As newcomers to entrepreneurship, the sisters have turned to friends, distributors and mentors to build the brand. They started with John F Martin, a fourth generation local business, to get their product into regional stores. “They give us a chance. It was our first sale,” says Stephanie.

Then they grew into nationwide distributors. As of November, they are now selling in Sprouts across the country. And thanks to Greenspoon, a seasoned food and beverage broker, they’ve been able to secure more retail locations on the East Coast and Midwest.

Multiple sources enabled them to finance this costly endeavor: a business loan, farm grants, and credit cards. “We have applied for grants that create added value for the farm,” explains Hayley.

“Moreover, we did what many entrepreneurs do. We maxed out our credit cards,” adds Stephanie.

In total, they have raised about $1 million in funding. But they feel the risk is worth it. “Dairy has recently acquired a bad image. But that does not apply to all dairy products. The way we run our farm actually benefits the environment and it’s nutritious food. Many Greek yogurt manufacturers add protein powder to their mixes to give you that high protein content. Instead, we give you a purely organic product,” she argues.

The farm, they say, will always be an extension of the brand. “We just walk out when we want to capture content for our social media. It’s very much who we are. This is the lifestyle we grew up in, where our grandmother made our daily food from the land and we spent our lives outside, walking up and down hills.”

“Only 2% of our country is involved in agriculture. I am part of that 2% and I am proud of the lifestyle I was born into and I choose to be an active part of it. It’s a healthy life,” Hayley adds.

While their product may be a little more expensive than competitors, they believe that Americans who want to support American farmers and a healthy lifestyle will be drawn to their values ​​and their startup.