4 years to a turnover of £4 Million? Absolutely. Meet Kefir Brand Chuckling Goat
"For anyone who's thinking about starting out with their own business, I would say - never compromise. Stick to your values. Create something that is beautiful and worthwhile, and don't cut corners.
People will be drawn to the quality that you present... Heart-centered businesses with real quality - that's what people want today. "
- Shann Nix Jones,
For our latest Q & A, Words Do The Talking have had the pleasure of speaking with Shann Nix Jones, owner of Chuckling Goat. A goats' milk kefir brand obsessed with creating products that naturally help people suffering from stomach and skin issues. And we can vouch that Shann's products absolutely work - so long leaky gut!
So, how did a business inspired by a few goats grow from 2 people completely broke in 2014, to 22 people (and growing) with a turnover of £4 million a year AND a 6000% growth rate?
Well, you'll see throughout our Q & A that Shann's dedicated team, her creativity, undeniable passion, drive and hands-on-approach to her business may have had something to do with it...
(Oh and did we mention she also runs a women in business coaching group called Women At The Table?) Impressed and excited to read on? We don't blame you.
You're about to discover instant insights into what goes on behind the scenes at a thriving brand, which you can apply to your own business. You'll find out why quality products and sticking to your brand's values are crucial to business expansion. Plus, you'll be lucky enough to read first-hand why goats' milk kefir (and healing medical teas) could get rid of any baaaaad bugs in your belly.
We've goat your back (sorry we couldn't resist).
Q. Shann, if you could describe Chuckling Goat in 5 words what would they be?
A. Immaculate. Transparent. Real. Authentic. Farm.
Q. What else makes you tick apart from delicious, healing goats' milk kefir?
A. I love reading, writing and talking about exciting ideas! I enjoy coaching other women who run their own business - I run a group called WATT - Women At The Table, and we meet online and once a month.
I adore being surrounded by my family - our daughter and her husband work with us here on site - and I enjoy learning about, working with and growing medical herbs. I love visiting ancient Physic Gardens like the ones in Chelsea. The one in Padua is next on my list!
Q. How does it feel knowing you've helped nearly 160,000 people with your goats' kefir? That's Wembley Stadium nearly twice-filled(!)
A. It's the thing that gets me up early, and keeps me up late. Creating innovative natural solutions to problems that the doctors can't fix - that's what really makes my socks roll up and down!
Q. Is there a notorious goat on your farm or are they all pretty well behaved?
A. Lola has a pretty bad attitude. Lola is grumpy, likes to kick, and has a misshapen udder. But she was one of our first goats - I fell in love with her when she was a tiny kid, with the longest eyelashes. I named her Lola because she had legs like a show girl.
She's a granny now, and we've dried her off, so she's no longer milking. But she will live out her full and happy retirement, here on the farm.
Q. What it is about the goats' milk which is so powerful and healing?
A. Goats milk is a hypoallergenic wonder food. Scientists have declared it a "functional food" because of its many nutritional benefits. It is molecularly very similar to human milk, and so it's easily tolerated by human
beings, whereas the huge fat molecules in cows milk make it very hard for humans to digest.
Goats milk is anti-inflammatory and has the ability to permeate the barrier of the human skin, which is why it works so well in lotions and soaps to combat eczema.
Q. How have you and how will you continue to expand, whilst maintaining the quality of your products?
A. Over the first 4 years we have had a 6000% growth rate, which was sheer madness! Things are starting to level out a bit now, thank goodness. We are now planning on expanding into the virtual realm - I'm working on
"Chuckling Life" - a natural health app.
Q. From business idea through to reality, how long did it take to start Chuckling Goat?
A. Rich and I started the business together in 2012, and it was just the two of us. In 2014 we became a limited company, and we were so broke that Rich had to sell his motorcycle to raise money for us to buy skincare packaging!
Today in 2018 we have 22 employees and a turnover of nearly £4 million per year.
Q. What has been the best part about building your kefir business? Any tips, dos and don'ts you would share with someone who is turning their business idea into a reality?
A. Best part is that when your avocation is also your vocation, your passion keeps you engaged all the time. Running your business is like doing the biggest, best art project - all the time. There are so many different
elements and parts of it, all challenging!
For anyone who's thinking about starting out with their own business, I would say - never compromise. Stick to your values. Create something that is beautiful and worthwhile, and
don't cut corners. People will be drawn to the quality that you present.
The world is full of enough cheap Chinese cr** - we don't need any more of it! Heart-centered businesses with real quality - that's what people want today.
Q. And the worst part?
A. Living and working onsite means that we never get a break! My husband and I escape to a little medieval town about 2 hours away for a weekend every now and then, just because otherwise we never get to let down and stop thinking about the business.
Q. Your Head of Dairy Rhys Stephens looks like he has his hands full on the farm. Are you all run off your feet (or should we say hooves) or do you get some time to chill?
A. We work hard and play hard! We start at 8 in the morning and finish at 4, so people will have time to spend with their families in the evening.
I go and pick my son up from the bus everyday - he makes sure that I finish my work day on time. Our company motto is Family First - and he reminds me of it, all the time!
Q. Your web design, packaging and logo are brilliant - was this really all one man's, Hanuman Hook's, handiwork?
A. Yes, Han is brilliant. He's been with us since the very beginning, when he worked for another company and we visited there to get him to design our very first soap brands. I noticed how switched on he was, and thought to myself - if I ever have any money, the first thing I'm going to do is hire that guy, to design for us full time!
And that's exactly what I did. He's never failed to complete a challenge that I set him - and I've set some pretty steep challenges.
Q. What's next for Chuckling Goat's business journey?
A. We're branching out into medical herbs and supplements - natural things that will help people along the way, on their kefir journey. We're bringing out a line of medical teas that you infuse in a gorgeous glass infuser teapot - I love those!
I'm also working on an app - Chuckling Life - that will help make the natural healing journey simple and fun.
We want to help more people find their inner smile. ; )
Business tips to take away
1. Ensure quality is found in every part of your business, even after rapid expansion.
2. Keep family as your number one priority - those guys will always be your rock.
3. Help others with their business-building journeys. Collaborating and connecting feels good.
4. Spot someone you'd love to employ? When you can afford it, DO IT! They'll be a great asset.
5. And never stop exploring new ventures and avenues for you and your brand.
Can you handle anymore inspiration? If so, click here to read about the startup triathlon brand reinventing sportswear for women.
Words Do The Talking
We are copywriters. (Pssst... we've written for brands like Sweaty Betty, Next, Nike, Adidas, Joules, Whistles and Cassell).