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The Free From Farm is business which has developed and produced a range of organic, vegan products including almond cheeses, gluten free soda breads, chocolates, cakes and freshly made nut milks, using a’ zero waste philosophy’. We spoke to Anna and Ellie about what inspired them to start the business.
What is your background?
Anna – Operations and finance, with a passion for nutrition.
Ellie – Sales, marketing, purchasing and manufacturing.
What inspired you to start this business?
Being dairy and gluten free, Anna found that the alternative products on the market didn’t always satisfy her taste-buds, and were full of extra preservatives and other nasties, that she didn’t want to consume. But she missed cheese and butter. Anna and Ellie set about experimenting with recipes, getting friends and relatives to taste-test them. Many batches later and we felt that we had the flavours and textures just right. We decided to see what other people thought of our products by taking them to a farmer market and so The Free From Farm was born!
We wanted to pack our products in a sustainable way. We made sure that our packaging would either compost or could either be recycled multiple times. This started our passion for creating a zero-waste store where people could bring their own containers to fill.
What kind of problem you are solving?
There is no one in Guernsey specifically catering for people who have food allergies and intolerances. There is also a huge switch in people’s mindsets where people are trying to be more environmentally friendly, especially with regards to single-use plastics. For this to be successful we need to make shopping without using plastic as convenient as possible.
Is your product unique?
Other ‘free from’ products are available but they are generally full of chemicals and preservatives, and are not healthy for you, let alone tasty. All our products are 100% natural, fresh and full of nutritious goodness. We plan to introduce fresh plant milks – one of which we will be working with Jersey Hemp on to create a Channel Islands Hemp milk that can be distributed across the islands. A zero-waste store in Guernsey would currently be unique.
Who is your biggest competition?
UK companies mass producing ‘free from’ products and convenience supermarkets.
What are your biggest challenges?
Our biggest challenge so far is making the leap to upscale from a market stall to shop.
It’s has been a challenge to find the right route to market as Guernsey does not have an abundance of ‘pop-up’ stall opportunities and finding the right place for the winter is proving difficult. We make everything from our home kitchen and this can also be hard to manage due to the lack of space, we would really like to increase the range but can’t with our current set up.
How do you plan to grow the business?
The business has grown organically since we started around 6 months ago and we have now reached a tipping point of where we take the company. We have just launched a crowd funding campaign as part of our growth strategy, which is going well, but we have yet to push this properly as we reached the final of this competition and we wanted to see who we might meet here that could help. Our next steps would be to introduce dairy free fresh milk and to introduce our products to restaurants, hotels and businesses.
What milestones have you met?
We didn’t really set ourselves any milestones as we had no intention creating a business at the beginning of the year but things exploded when we did our first market. Each time we introduce a new product we feel like we are hitting a new milestone and we get great feedback. We have gone from selling ‘cheese’, ‘butter’ and chocolate at the beginning to now also having a range of ‘free from’ freshly baked breads, cakes, milks and a range of plastic free shampoo, soaps and deodorant bars.
How are you going to get the word out?
We use social media, which is very effective in Guernsey. It’s a cost-effective way of getting our message out. We have grown our social media following rapidly since we started in the spring. We now have over 1,000 followers.
What help do you need?
We need help financially mainly, but also logistics and advice on taking the dairy free cheeses and butters to the wider UK market.
The Free From Farm will be pitching at our Angel Pitch event sponsored by Barclays Eagle Labs on Tuesday 13th November at 6pm at the Digital Greenhouse. To attend, please register here.