Well, that felt like a bloody marathon but finally we are in our West Coast Basecamp!
After the last update our financial woes have eased thanks to two massive factors. The first is family; where would we be without them? Our family stepped in and supported us with a loan and they also housed us and our kids while we got the build of our shed completed. As is the usual story with building we told them we needed a place to stay for 6 weeks, and that turned into 4 months, but their support has been a true life saver.
The second factor is the ANZ. A friend of ours who works for them suggested that we meet with one of their business banking managers so we arranged a meeting and went in to try and seem like the kind of people who should be lent money (I’m not sure how we pulled that one off). The banking manager who met us actually took us seriously, he sat down with us and went through all of our financial forecasts, budgets, marketing plans and business plans. He treated us like a real business, not just people trying to make a bit of cash off their hobby. We really felt like he was genuinely interested in our business and didn’t even bat an eyelid when we had to bring our two kids to the meeting (one of whom sat in the corner watching cat videos on my phone and the other one played with his shoelaces under the table). Even though it was clear that we aren’t currently making a profit, he looked at the potential and dedication that we tried hard to prove to him and agreed happily to lend us the money that we needed to finish off the fit out of our shed. I have to admit that the phone call I made to give our old bank the flick was rather satisfying!
The turn around with our finances also meant that we could have our honey packed and we have been able to start up doing some markets again. We are currently sitting at 5 markets a month as we feel our way around the local markets and figure out which ones we want a permanent spot at. Our markets are a massive highlight of our week. Rory and I take turns going to market and it is a really awesome experience that we get a lot of enjoyment from. The immediate feedback on our product is priceless and we get to talk to so many wonderful people about all things bees and honey. It is also a chance for us to network and pick up new sites for our hives. A particular highlight for me was at my last market when one of my customers arrived at my stall bright and early and I learned that she had just done a whole night of night shift but stayed up so that she could come to the market to get two jars of honey before she went to bed. She loves our product so much and knew that we were only there once a month. I have to admit that I nearly got a bit teary when she told be of her serious dedication to our honey. I guess when you pour your heart into a business it means a lot when you get people who love the product as much as we do.
And so here we find ourselves; living in one end of a shed on a slice of dairy farm in Te Mata - if you had told me this is where we would be a year ago I wouldn’t have believed it. Honestly though, we couldn’t be happier with our little slice of paradise. We have everything we need and so much more. We count our blessings every day and it is really easy for us to focus on the direction that we want our business to take now that we have to space to really get the wheels moving. One thing that has had a really positive impact on our day-to-day life though is a big lesson in needs and wants. Living in a home that is just over 30 square metres has meant that car loads of things have been taken to the second hand store as we have undergone some major decluttering. Years worth of hoarding has been lifted off our shoulders and we are feeling a lot lighter for it!
On the bee-keeping front, we are (so far) experiencing a pretty mild winter and Rory is quietly pleased with the performance of the hives. Winter is a really quiet time for bees as they effectively hibernate until the spring so he is starting to gear up for what will hopefully be a busy spring as we try to boost our hive numbers again and being to look forward to our 2017 honey crop, it’s starting to come around quickly already!
So where to from here? Well, finances are still really tight as the business is still far from making a profit and even further from being able to pay Rory an actual wage. So in the mean time we are trying to juggle running Hunt and Gather around me working full-time, markets on the weekends, my study and trying to spend a few hours of family time together when we can. It was a big win for us to get our product ready for sale though and we will be pushing on with our market appearances through the summer. Living in our shed is helping us financially and we will just keep on trucking and trying to build some traction with the business and build the hive numbers through the spring. We are still cautious about the demand/supply factor after we sold out of honey last year so we are trying to keep markets at a manageable level so that we have honey to last though to our next harvest. A steady source of income from our markets will hopefully mean that the business starts to sustain itself a little better.
Thanks once again for reading my poorly punctuated ramblings and for coming on this journey with us. Your support has been literally life changing!