I’m so delighted to share my interview with Brooke Findley, Founder of The Organic Place.
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My Interview with Brooke Findley
1. Tell me about yourself?
Hi there! My name is Brooke, 12 year partner to Ben and mother to our wonderful children Ryder, Stevie and Harlow. I’m a Registered Nurse turned business owner who loves to cook, share a meal with my family, travel and spend time outside in the garden.
2. Tell us about your self-employed business?
A little over three/four years ago, our youngest daughter (who was three months old at the time) reacted to our other daughter kissing her after our usual Sunday morning bacon and eggs.
A trip to the Royal Children’s Hospital and some allergy testing revealed Harlow was allergic to eggs, peanuts, chicken and beef. The latter two had me very perplexed and questioning the food system. We always ate good foods, I’m not a packet person, I like to cook from scratch and our fridge was always full of fresh fruit and vegetables.
I had a great understanding of the relationship between food and disease but had very little knowledge about the food system and what was happening to our food before it reached our family dinner table. I did some research and was shocked to see what was happening to our fruit, veg and meat products in order to increase productivity and profit at the expense of people’s health.
For the health of our family we choose to start purchasing organic. In the beginning, people looked at us like we were crazy however we made an educated decision and have never looked back.
We started by making small changes such as purchasing organic milk and then moved onto organic fruit and veg. Now this is when the idea to start a business came about!
We had recently brought our first house in an area where organic produce was not available. I either had to put all three kids in the car (they were then one, two and four years old) and drive 30-40 minutes or order through an online store who charged about $18.95 for delivery each week. That’s when I had the idea to start our own online organic fruit and veg store. I wanted to be able to provide other families access to good quality food and make life a little easier for them by having it delivered to their doorstep.
So for months and months, whilst feeding Harlow in the middle of the night, I watched dozens of YouTube videos and learned how to build our own website. On July 1st 2014 the site went live.
Over time, we have gradually increased our product range to include grocery items, bread, eggs, butter, personal care items and cleaning products. Most recently we added organic meat to our range.
3. How did you transition to working for yourself?
It was a gradual process and, because I was on maternity leave, not too complicated. I was already at home with the three kids so it was more about finding time to learn how to build a website and structure a business.
4. What was your previous career?
I had been previously been working as a Registered Nurse for about six or so years. I worked in various locations and facilities finishing up before my maternity leave working in a Mental Health unit.
5. Describe a typical day in your working life?
Ben calls me every morning to wake me up. I’m not a morning person so I’m not a big fan of alarm clocks either! So having him say “Morning!” to me is a great start to the day.
From there it’s a quick coffee before I wake the kids up for breakfast and the morning school routine. After we drop the kids off it’s me and Harlow. Depending on the day of the week it usually consists of swimming lessons, working in the warehouse or office on sales, newsletters and social media. On Thursdays we pick, pack and deliver our produce.
It’s been hard, especially on Thursday mornings when I have had to get the kids up and out of bed at 5am to come around to the warehouse while we work. I try to have everything done by 3pm school pick up time but more often than not, it isn’t how it pans out. Then there’s house cleaning, dinner, reading, washing and…you know the drill!
After dinner, and when everyone is settled, I’m back to the computer to learn new things and continue working on our business.
6. How many hours do you work per week on your business?
I can’t stop working! I’m always doing something, even in my dreams, and I’m not someone who can sit still!
I never really get a chance to add it up because the hours are spread all over the place. It’s a few hours here and then an hour or so there. This year will be the first time in seven years where I will have a solid 15 hours a week to work while all of the children are at school/kinder. I’m looking forward to being able to increase productivity during these times.
7. Do you supplement your income in any other ways?
Ben works six days a week in his full time job then at The Organic Place too. He’s has been a huge support in helping me build my dream. I’m sure he looked at me a little crazy when I said I wanted to own a fruit and veg shop rather than returning to Nursing. He’s a really good provider for our family and a great role model to the kids in regards to work ethic.
8. How do you manage your family and working for yourself?
I am the primary carer for the kids as Ben works six days per week. We never put the kids in child care because I chose to have them home with me. I kind of wanted to enjoy every moment with them while I could because one day this would all be gone.
It’s been tough and sometimes I have questioned my sanity however it’s worth every bit. We all have a great relationship within our family, something that is very important to myself and Ben. There have been times where we have used Family Day Care on Thursdays and during school holidays to help us out and the kids really enjoyed however this arrangement ended mid last year. I don’t think we have any balance at all but we make it work and this year we plan to take more breaks from work and enjoy some more R&R.
9. What challenges did you face in setting up your business?
For me personally it was lack of time and having the kids with me. It’s hard to have meetings, network and market with little people by your side. Social media had been a great help in that area and I wouldn’t change the way I have done things.
I have learned a lot and the lifestyle freedom it has given me is totally worth it. It’s the little things like being able to go the the Easy Bonnet parade in the middle of the day, or watching them at the school athletics day and being able to be there when they accept their Student of the Week award at assembly.
It was hard at the start because of a lack of support, knowledge and friends in business to guide me. Over the past three years I have been able to network and form relationships with other business owners who really understand the challenges and the highs and lows that running a business throws at you.
10. What’s the best thing about working for yourself?
The lifestyle freedom and all the fresh organic produce we get to eat! I like that we have the possibility to take this business to many levels and because it’s predominantly online I can run it from any location in the world.
11. What’s your best advice to another mum who is considering setting up her own business?
Make friends with other mums in business who get it! They will be your biggest support and advocates. They will understand everything and have a mountain of advice to offer you based on their own business knowledge and work life balance.
12. What’s next for you and your business?
I hope you enjoyed my interview with Brooke, Founder of The Organic Place.