When you think of a subscription, maybe you think Netflix, news websites, or magazines, but have you ever thought, “eggs”?
Well, Rocketspark customer, Circular Eggs, sure did and since creating a website and using our handy subscription feature, their eggs have been getting around.
Hayden Power and Tina Armstrong were both born on conventional dairy farms. After a stint exploring overseas they returned to Hayden’s family farm in Whakatāne and were given the opportunity to start working it. They proceeded to do so, in the same way it had always been run.
“During this time we had a little girl and that’s when our perspective started to change.
“We were run down, stressed, working like crazy people following the industries ‘best practice’ and we were really starting to question if dairying was the right thing for us. We were always feeling on edge when doing things like pumping nitrogen fertiliser into our land and giving palm kernel feed to our cattle. Something just didn’t feel right,” Tina said.
That was when Tina’s brother mentioned having read an amazing book, Folks this Ain’t Normal, by Joel Salatin. The couple both took time to read it and they both had “ah-ha moments”.
“In the book, Joel talks about the broken food system and how there’s a better way to farm. By mimicking nature, your farm can become a thriving ecosystem while being productive and profitable. It was time for us to change,” Tina said.
Many books and another kid later, Hayden and Tina started converting their farm to organics.
“We significantly reduced our stocking numbers, got rid of all synthetic fertilisers, no more nasty sprays and chemicals, no brought-in feed for our cows,” she said.
They farmed to what the land could actually carry. They switched synthetics for a diverse sward of pasture filled with many different plants all doing different jobs and cycling different minerals.
Tina said that they also started an aggressive tree planting program to get the minerals cycling even better and the benefits have “been immense. The life in the soil has exploded from no worms, to plenty every time you dig a hole! Carbon is moving deep down into the subsoil and there’s more insect activity”. Although their region went through a drought last year, Tina and Hayden’s farm stayed green and continued to grow, while their neighbours struggled.
The outcome has meant there’s been a lot less stress on their family and their animals.
Now that Tina and Hayden’s farm is thriving, so is their business. This led them to make the decision to create a website to help drive sales even more, all while making it easier for their customers. The pair looked at a few different website providers, but said it needed to be easy and straightforward, as neither had knowledge of how building a website worked, or the time to figure it out.
Tina said they chose Rocketspark because of the subscription functionality of the website.
“Most people who eat eggs eat a pretty standard amount each week, so I wanted to make it nice and easy for them to sign up. The eggs arrive each week, taking away the hassle of them having to remember to put the order in. Also because eggs are fresh produce, our customers need to be able to log into their customer account and pause the subscription if they are heading away somewhere. It was important to us that this was an easy process for our customers. Rocketspark ticked all these boxes for me,” Tina said.
Selling directly to customers was all new to Tina and Hayden, but they soon found it complimented what they were already doing and helped increase sales.
“Our milk is all sold through Fonterra, so it was only when we introduced chickens into the operation that we had to figure out a way to move eggs. We’re at a stage now where 60% of our sales are online through our Rocketspark ecommerce website, the other 40% of sales are from brick and mortar shops that on-sell the eggs for us.”
Even though there are only four items in their subscription shop, the Armstrongs are happy with sales and they don’t plan on adding any more items anytime soon.
Tina said the most effective marketing they’ve had so far is word of mouth.
“I also drop off ½ dozen samples in people's letter boxes with a little business card in them describing what we do and where to find us.”
Circular Eggs is a delivery only service, but people can purchase the eggs from a few local shops in Whakatāne and Ōhope.
“At the moment Whakatāne and Ōhope are currently the only places we deliver to, but we are getting more chickens in February, so possibly will move into Tauranga too,” Tina said.
For now, eggs are still a small part of their business, but they hope that as they work on expanding their client base to take on more recurring customers with their subscriptions offer, cashflow, certainty and returns will continue to progress.
Tina’s two top tips for fresh produce farmers/business owners like her and Hayden: Use a website provider that is user friendly and straightforward.
When it comes to selling produce on subscription, be very generous with the amount of time you put in your budget for delivering and selling. It is far more time consuming than I expected. I have a whole new appreciation for Fonterra.
Learn more about Rocketspark’s Subscriptions feature here.