Former HGTV, Food Network exec launches new lifestyle biz in CT

SOUTHPORT — During the pandemic, Courtney White, a former HGTV and Food Network executive, and her family bought and moved to one of Connecticut’s oldest fresh-cut flower farms.

But Butternut Farm in Southport is more than a new addition to her family. It’s also one of the sites for White’s latest venture — a new female-owned, lifestyle content creation company by the same name, “Butternut.”

“We really saw this as something that was inspired by the lifestyle of the farm and flowers,” said White, Butternut’s founder. “That feeling that lifestyle content gives you of aspirational and beautiful and escapist is the same feeling that we get, ourselves, when we’re working on the flower farm.”

Butternut is based in two locations: White’s family farm in Southport and The Village in Stamford. It is a joint venture with a media, marketing and investment company called Wheelhouse, which has its base at The Village. Together, the companies will create original content for all platforms with a variety of topics, celebrities and up and coming talent.

Some work will also be executed at Wheelhouse’s New York and Los Angeles headquarters.

White is the former general manager of HGTV and former president of Food Network. While there, she saw different sides of the businesses and formulated what she wanted in the future and with her career.

“This notion of building this dream company that would be something that was really empowering other creative women but also an exceptional partner that was very focused in a space of really growing prominence in terms of home and food,” White said. “It’s really become a mainstream genre for viewers.”

White left Food Network on April 30 and launched Butternut on May 1. She announced the partnership with Wheelhouse in early June.

“I really just wanted to take the leap and do what I always had in the back of my mind in creating this company that didn’t exist, but I wish it had,” she said.

White said she is invigorated and excited to launch Butternut. She’s looking forward to work with her friends and continuing her work in the content area she loves, while in a new role.

“It’s a thrilling chapter,” White said. “I’ve been a corporate executive for most of my career, so to be on this entrepreneurial side as a business owner — especially a female business owner — I’ve been really buoyed by all the support and encouragement thus far in the community.”

She said it has been an exciting few weeks since its launch.

Part of that is the new partnership with Wheelhouse, a company owned by Greenwich resident Brent Montgomery that includes investment and production.

White called Wheelhouse “the most innovate and future-facing company that I had spoken to.”

“In terms of a partner, they are really building their business for the future of media,” she said.

White said Butternut hopes to be the premiere global lifestyle content provider.

“I think a company as ambitious as ours based in Connecticut is great for the local community,” she said.

White is no stranger to Connecticut. She currently lives in Southport and frequents the Westport area. As a college student, she interned for Martha Stewart Living while it was still in Westport.

“I really credit Westport to my awakening of my interest in the lifestyle space,” she said.

She said Butternut will film some content within Connecticut and wherever experts are located, though specific projects and network partners have not been announced yet.

“We’re in active development and partnership discussions with the major lifestyle networks,” she said.

She said there is more to come soon with the network announcements.

“We want to create the most successful, most beloved shows that feature home and food stories and are really lifestyle focused,” White said.

White said one of their mantras is “fresh flowers on every desk.”

“We’re doing shows about living at its best, in all senses of the word,” she said, “and being able to do that with a Connecticut hub just feels great and the right place, at the right time.”