Identity Crisis

It proved a typically busy bustle of a day for us;

I was up extremely early to indulge in a bath before we had to head off for Cardiff, whilst Tony did the chores; before – for me, at least – a valued opportunity to don a business suit.  But thank goodness I could still just about squeeze my robusty frame into it, after the excessive excesses of the all-too-festive season….ouch!

We headed for Cardiff through blustery but thankfully dry weather; & after a little unneccessary flapping managed to locate the offices of ‘Design Wales’ to meet with Malin, our very helpful Design Advisor, who is guiding us through the stormy Small Business sea, of selecting a company to take forward our cherished brand.

We headed out to visit the first companies of the day; & were impressed with the work they’ve done for a range of organizations albeit that wiith some, surprisingly little work has been tackled directly regarding the food industry.  That said; a good idea is a good idea, regardless of provenance….so we are keeping a completely wide-open mind, until we have met & carefully considered ALL the prospective Design Agencies on our current shortlist; & that, we know, is going to take a wee while.  Regardless; the quality of what we’ve seen so far is so high, I suspect that this will prove to be a much longer, harder, job….than we’d ever anticipated!

But after all public perception is crucial: & the way our company & products are viewed by potential customers makes a significant difference.  We recently managed to sort out our own trademark – with which many designers, we’re now aware, may not be entirely comfortable as they understandably prefer to carefully control their client’s whole branding process, right from the outset.  

However I suppose our former military training has very much encouraged us to think very much for ourselves;  plus I have been involved with several commercial branding/PR activities during my former career; albeit selling an, err, slightly different product to that with which we’re now enthused – though for me, my pugilistic participation was typically required in employing my touchy-feely feminine ‘soft skills’ when the doors on yet another RAF Station or organisation were slammed shut in support of Defence Spending (aka ‘Cuts’). 

Next on the agenda, were Yet More visits: this time, to radically different companies who have wider experience in our immediate area of ‘foody’ interest.  Those concerned invariably furnished us with impressively comprehensive & extensively-researched, thoughtful presentations; making the process even more perplexingly difficult for us ‘country bumpkins’: but to be honest, so far, we’d be tempted to work with each & every designer, for diverse reasons. 

We eventually headed homewards with heads buzzing; & so very grateful for the patient & perceptive guidance of our canny mentor.  As we’re rapidly discovering there’s so very much more than we’d appreciated, to consider; but we really have to get this right…..

Ironically our main problem is our own current identity crisis: exactly what, & who, are we?!  Well here’s the conundrum….we manage the Ffarm on a strictly organic basis, crafting artisan produce to age-old, traditional recipes: yet within a cutting-edge, refined environment as dictated by the very latest Dairy Hygiene & Food Safety regulations, standards & techniques. 

Regrettably, after professional consultancy from the Organic Advisory Service we reluctantly understand it would currently prove uneconomical for us to formally register our farm as organic.  Bizarrely, because we are both farmers AND producers we’d have to pay any registration fee, TWICE: so the resultant hefty bill would eat into our already severely-exhausted funds.  In addition, as with all caprine-related products, there’s the danger of going ‘niche-on-niche’……appealing to such a narrow customer base that we literally price ourselves out of the market – because even if we charge only the same stipend as for non-organically-produced foodstuffs, we nevertheless risk alienating potential customers who feel we’ve become far too ‘exclusive’.  Not good!

And yet – frustratingly – our produce is borne of the result of much loving care regarding both the animals’ welfare, & our own approach to its’ craft; the land is managed organically & the Dairy Complex we are building is being constructed with the highest environmental ideals in mind….it’s carbon-neutral with (as soon as we can afford to pay off the additional loan – sponsors, anyone..?!) renewable energy resources to run the operation; we aim to purchase a bio-fuel delivery vehicle; & even the waste we produce, will be fully & environmentally recycled – not just in the Dairy but also taking advantage of a compostible toilet.  And even the goats – who relax & enjoy music whilst munching their feed during milking, will be listening to music from a recycled, ecologically-sound, ‘Pure’ DAB radio….only the environmentally best, for our girls….!!  

So what’s the point in all this ecology, if we can’t live up to expectations?  Well, for all of you in Wales – you’re local, you’re our customers & the very ‘calon’ which makes our pulses quicken: we are genuinely wanting to keep the heart of Wales’ quality reputation, alive & well!

Returning to real-life mundanity, (not that I’d call vibrant Carmarthen exactly mundane…..!) Tony headed straight for the Farmers’ Co-Op to restock our monthly feed rations whilst I headed off to purchase fresh food for the canine & feline contingents of our outfit. 

By the time I’d returned home Tony had already fed & bedded down most of the gang; & had even, in his flurry of activity, topped up our sturdy feed bins & was in the process of restacking the hay shed; so with wifely conscience, I bustled around & did the washing whilst rustling up a goodly supper, hot on the table by the time he’d finished braving the chilly air outside – absolutely necessary & the least I could do, for Tony required several hours’ uninterrupted snooze prior to heading off to Heathrow for tomorrow’s airport standby.  Poor chap; what a long & brain-taxing day…..!


About LittleFfarm Dairy

The LittleFfarm Dairy Team: Jo - Goat farmer & Gelatiere Artigianale, plus General Dogsbody; Tony - Airline Pilot & part-time Herd Manager, Product Taster, Accounts Secretary, Handyman etc!
This entry was posted in Business, Diary, January 2008, Smallholding. Bookmark the permalink.

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