Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Adrian White, Owner of Jupiter Ridge Farm and Iowa Herbalist, located in Garber, IA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Well, I have sort of a three-pronged business. There's my farm, Jupiter Ridge Farm, which is Certified Naturally Grown (organic but tailored to small growers), my herbal product "endeavor" for right now, Deer Nation Herbs (though I will be changing the name and re-branding soon), and then there is my writing career, which includes my first book coming out, next week. (Nov. 1st).
The farm part of my business draws people who are passionate about healthy, organic food locally in their community and who don't live near grocery stores or have the time to get to a farmers market to buy such food - so they can get it delivered to them, from me (vegetables and gourmet mushrooms, some culinary herbs as well). Also, for people who are looking to feed themselves with sustainably grown food affordably, who may not be able to afford it - I do accept WIC/Senior checks. I don't charge nearly as much for organic vegetables or fruits as some other people right in my area who want to hit the ceiling with those organic premium prices. I sell directly to restaurants and chefs as well, but I also have a "Buyer's Club" of direct buyers I deliver to in my area, they can sign up to join this club/list through my website, and they're the first to know what's newly available in the online produce shop by email. I have about 100 subscribers.
Just recently, I started to kick-start making some handcrafted herbal products, just for fun, to add to the shop in case my veggie buyers wanted to purchase these also. There has begun a slow stream of sales of some things, so I've kept it going, and fascinatingly this has drawn more people to my website and store to get some products shipped to them rather than delivered - like, people out of state. These buyers tend to subscribe to my list, too, so some of my subscribers are beginning to be out-of-state supporters. The products I make are in small batches, and the surplus of products I make for myself and my own self-care, cooking, baking, etc.
As for my writing enterprise, I have worked with a lot of herbal supplement companies and have even done some writing with high-profile clients from time to time - like WebMD, Healthline, and Psych Central. I've written pieces that have appeared bylined in The Guardian, Civil Eats, Good Housekeeping, Precision Ag. Most of that writing is through pieces about agriculture, sustainability, and what it means to live the lifestyle of a sustainable small farmer. But as I am also an herbalist, I do a lot of research-based writing for herbal supplement companies, essential oil companies, etc., to help support and market their products - through web content, blog articles, product descriptions, etc. I make sure to have knowledge of SEO to boost my writing as well.
A handful of times, I have directly consulted with some supplement companies on products they plan to release. I've also written for gardening/ag companies, food companies (including a Michelin star chef), mid-size/large agricultural companies, small startups, and ghostwriting ebooks for people... my portfolio is pretty diverse. All this work writing for other people has culminated currently with my first very own book coming out: Herbalism Plants & Potions That Heal through Arcturus Publishing. I'm pretty excited about it.
Tell us about yourself
I am a happy hermit, kind of realizing that I'm a compulsive creatrix as well. I think what underlies everything I do is learning and being curious about things, and being excited to share those incredible findings with others in ways that would better their lives - even on the farming front. I'm always passionate about sharing with others what the small farmer life is like, my own brand of it, I guess growing healthy food for others and sharing it with them motivates me hugely. But also sharing how the lifestyle of small farming in itself is so wonderful - extremely challenging but wonderful. It is my gym, my meditation, my yoga, and my farmers market all rolled into one, all those things city people love right now, just way out in the country on a beautiful piece of property.
Then, even building from that, the passion for plant-based health (good nutrition from whole, sustainably-grown local foods, and herbalism practices) and how those have influenced my life made it better. Then, building from THAT... the excitement of writing about it! And putting that in a book or online, and spreading the wonders of that knowledge and how it's influenced me for others to get hooked on and enjoy. All this keeps me motivated every day.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My book coming out next week feels like a huge accomplishment. But I also don't really measure my work by "accomplishments" or milestones. I'm not perfect at it, but when I can be present and mindful at the moment and I'm fully in my body, I'll try to ask myself, "Am I happy with all I'm doing and creating?" If the answer is "Yes," that's my definition of accomplishment every time my body says yes. If it doesn't, I think about what I need to change so I'm not at the mercy of my creative drive. But, like everyone else, I can ignore this sometimes. I feel good about my business(es) being my lifestyle, something I fully embody without having it drain me and take over my personal relaxation or rest time - you know, the adage "Love what you do and you'll never work a day in your life" or "Create a life you'll never want a vacation from."
However, if I were to embody my businesses and make huge accomplishments, but I felt tired, overwhelmed, taken advantage of, exploited, uninspired, and unsure of who I was doing this for in the name of classic milestone "accomplishments," like publishing a book... I would re-think whether those were accomplishments at all and who they might have been for. They certainly wouldn't have been accomplishments for me.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
You are your own boss. You have no one else to blame for where you are. You have to work extra to get where you want to be - yes, even on days off, and then even with that, you have to learn how to pace yourself. It means no benefits, none of the safety and security of a salaried job for a while, but for someone like me that would go nuts in a corporate/highly social working environment, it's a much higher quality of life.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
It's not for everyone, and be ready to be extremely self-accountable. Also, if you run a business, it will be time to look at yourself as a leader.
Where can people find you and your business?
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