I think it’s fair to say that things have been happening as of late. It’s been a big couple of months for Hunt and Gather Bee Co. and it all really kicked off with a phone call out of the blue back in March from a producer at Xero who had found us online.
Our Fieldays partnership with Xero was totally unexpected but a great boost for us, probably in confidence more than anything else. They approached us because they were looking for a local company in the agriculture industry who they could use to front their campaign and whose product they could offer as samples at the event, rather than giving out gimmicky plastic trash. We were really on board with their idea and jumped at the chance to join Xero as it was something I had been wanting to use for ages but just hadn't been in the budget (they make cloud based accounting software), however when I first chatted with their producer on the phone, I had no idea what we were in for...
They had explained that they wanted to come out to our place to interview us and take a few photos, maybe a few videos to use in their Fieldays promotion for social media. From our initial conversations I was honestly expecting a dude to rock up with a camera and a note pad and take a few snaps and ask a couple of questions. I was pretty blown away then when it turned out they were bringing a production crew of 7 including an art director, journalist, photographer and videographer to spend a couple of days filming us (and a couple of other businesses in Hamilton) and writing a full length article about our foray into small business ownership. We were really nervous about hosting these big timers in our 35 square metre shed house for a day and pretty much convinced they would arrive and decide we were way too small time to be in their campaign. We couldn't have been more wrong though as the whole team were incredible. They were totally down to earth and didn't even look twice at our tiny temporary home. It was an incredibly humbling experience as we took them out to one of our sites and showed them through a beehive as they flew drones overhead and took our photos with gear that I could only ever dream of using.
What followed, of course was a couple of months of preparation, work and also reflection leading up to the Fieldays. As the campaign was launched it was amazing receiving messages from friends and people who had seen the ad featuring us on Instagram or Facebook, and we even had the local paper contact us for an interview. As the Feildays came closer we readied our honey samples and showed up for four very exhausting, but totally amazing days of craziness. We had a whole section of Xero's stall where we gave out samples of our honey on Volare sourdough bread throughout the day. It was also a massive networking opportunity where we met loads of really amazing people and made lots of great connections. Xero staff also filed all of the celebrities straight to us for a chat and we had great talks with Te Radar, Davey Hughes, and of course the Rural Catch contestants (formerly the rural bachelor of the year). I also had the opportunity to meet the lovely Makaia Carr and have a live Facebook interview with her that was watched by close to 9,000 people. Oh and Stuff wrote an article naming our stall as one of the top giveaways spots at the Fieldays. It was a massive opportunity for us to get our brand in front of a huge audience at an event where we never could have afforded a site and we are just super grateful that the producer from Xero stumbled across our little website.
All of this crazy flurry of activity with Xero did a few things for us. It has increased our online sales significantly as we have gone from receiving online orders weekly, to daily, which is massive but it's biggest impact has been on our planning for the future. The actual Xero software was a big player in this as it brought all of our financial data together in one place and really forced us to take a good long look at our financial situation and make some crucial decisions about how we are going to keep this business afloat. I'll be honest, it wasn't pretty. In this business the set-up is slow and expensive. Especially because we made the choice early on to stick to our ethics in relation to sustainability and building hives from wooden hiveware is very time consuming and more expensive. What is working for us is our product, and our brand. In the meantime we have to keep trucking our way through the start up bit.
But more than anything their enthusiasm for our business and our 'story' gave us huge encouragement and has got us super excited for the next part of our journey. All of the great feedback that we had about our honey and our branding (big ups to Sean over at relativedesignnz.com who does our branding work) helped us believe that we can push the boat out further and grow our tiny company.
So we had a few good, long meetings with our accountant and decided it's time we need to admit that we need help. We put together an investment proposal and have been busy trying to generate some funds, in the form of a loan, that can get us through the next phase. We are also looking seriously at crowd funding.
We've decided that it's time to give this thing a good kick in the guts. Our honey is selling faster than we can keep up with, and we have added beeswax food wraps to our range, which are more popular than ever. We are planning on boosting our stocks by buying in some more honey off other local beekeepers (a good little boost for them too), packaging a bunch more honey and rolling our brand out into a few more shops and markets. The time has come to make us a wage! Two years of working for free is starting to take it's toll on us now and I don't have a single pair of socks without holes in them! We are buzzing about this next part of our journey and it feels like the right time to let Hunt and Gather Bee Co. take flight a bit more, rather than holding the reigns tight like we have been.
On the beekeeping front, the bees are in hibernation so it is giving us a good chance to focus on the other sides of the business but Rory has been trying out some organic treatments for Varroa mites as an extra line of defence to try and get the hives nice and strong for Spring.
We have a lot of exciting things coming up this year (which I just realised is half gone already!) and our small business is really starting to find it's feet. Thanks for joining us on this journey, and thanks for your support!
To read our Xero story, click here.
For more information about our investment proposal, flick us a message over here.