Success from Diversifying the Family Farming Business with Julia Foyster

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Today on the Wild Success Podcast, I am talking with Julia Foyster the passion, drive and increasing success behind the local award-winning business Tweed Real Food, a busy and dedicated mum of two. She encompassed the paddock to plate mentality, her business has gone from strength to strength over the last few years. Today she is sharing her biggest learning experiences over the last couple of years plus tips on how to grow your business. 

After the family farming business faced severe and reoccurring climate challenges and setbacks, Julia set out on a mission to diversify the family business integrating their history, location and resources with her background in strategic planning and business management. Alongside their shared passion for growing real food a lifestyle encompassed by the paddock to plate mentality, Tweed Real Food was born.

Tweed Real Food has made its mark on the region; winning product awards and Julia herself won Silver for the AusMumpreneur Awards in the food and beverage category and achieved finalist in two of the people’s choice categories.

In 2020’s calendar year alone, the business has experienced huge success. With the team growing from 2 to 9 staff members, and overall business growth of 1000% it has been a monumental year for Tweed Real Food.

In addition to the success her business has achieved in a short time frame, Julia has contributed greatly to the local community. Working collaboratively to encourage and empower like-minded women in business, by offering support towards achieving their personal and professional goals. 

Julia believes her set-backs and fails have gotten her to where she is today and where she is heading tomorrow. “Every lesson has been a step forward and the journey continues!”

CONNECT WITH JULIA

Web: www.tweedrealfood.com
Facebook: @tweedrealfood
Instagram: @tweedrealfood

CONNECT WITH ME

Web: www.lizziemoult.com
Facebook: @lizziegmoult
Instagram: @lizzie_moult

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SHOWNOTES

Today I am talking with Julia Foyster the passion, drive and increasing success behind the local award-winning business Tweed Real Food, a busy and dedicated mum of two. Originally from Germany. She embarked on a trip around the world in 2009, and has settled down here since in the Northern rivers. Julia is set on a mission to diversify the family business, integrating their history, location, and resources with her background in strategic planning and business management, alongside the shared passion for growing real food. 

She encompassed the paddock to plate mentality, and Tweed Real Food was born. Her business has gone from strength to strength over the last few years. Today she is sharing so much gold from what her biggest learning experiences have been over the last couple of years, but also tips on how to grow your business. It is unbelievable how much content she shares in this episode. 

So let’s dive into today’s episode. 

Lizzie:

Hello Julia. Thank you so much for being on the show with me today. 

Julia:

Thank you so much for having me

Lizzie:

I’m so excited that you’re here with me. I love having a fellow local on the show.  Can you please share your journey, how you ended up doing what you do and what exactly it is that you’re doing in the world? 

Julia:

Yes, sure. I’d love to. I’m married into a fifth-generation family farming business, the lifestyle introduced me to the struggles of farming in the last 24 months, maybe even 36 months. And we’ve gone through a lot of climate challenges. It was time for me to generate my own revenue, to add to the family budget. As a farmer, we have a special appreciation of food and we grow it ourselves. We know the effort that goes into it and I love food. You look after a cow and you raise your cattle. You don’t want to spoil it with bad ingredients. I created a range of all natural herbs and spices, to enhance the farming produce that we have, for example, we grow avocados and have created our avo smash that you can make guacamole with. It’s all-natural, no fillers. It’s just really hard to get the right products in the supermarket. I just thought I’ll make them myself, especially as a farmer, you’re always time poor and being a mom, living on a farm with a business. 

Yeah. The struggle is real for so many of us. I tried to create something to bring passion back into the kitchen, to bring joy back into the kitchen. When we don’t have time to cook from scratch, we can still have healthy meals. 

The story with how it all began. We started Tweed Real Food, the business is now two and a half years old, and we’re going pretty strong, which is great. Every time, we have another hiccup in the farming business. Like going through hail storms and drought and all these things that awareness rises for small businesses and both telling my story. I was able to build, Tweed Real Food pretty quick. We now have about nine products in the range with the seasonings, vinegar, the rubs to come mentioned and some salt. 

Lizzie:
Wow, really? It’s maybe two and a half years. It hasn’t been two and half?

Julia:

 It’s coming up to two and a half years. 

Lizzie:

I didn’t realize that it’s only, I swear that your business has been going for years being a local. 

Julia:
I have been in business for nearly four years, but I did something different. Before I was just contract manufacturing for other brands and you don’t have much control over it. Marketing is my passion and, being a farmer, we had a beautiful story to tell. Shifted the business from contract manufacturing to manufacturing my own brand and food itself is two and a half years old. 

Lizzie:
Yeah. Right. What I really love is like, I have a background I grew up in the country. Growing your own food, growing, your beef, like I love how your products enhance what you already have. 

Julia:
Exactly. That’s a great word to describe it. It’s about enhancing the flavor. It’s not about changing it. You still want to taste the meat, but in different ways and a bit more gourmet, but you don’t want to just kill your pallets with MSG and anti-caking agents and all the chemicals. These are risks that a lot of retailers unfortunately glued into their products. Very important for me. Yeah. 

Lizzie:
Yeah. That’s why a lot of us grow our own food. Like even my veggies, eat them simple, no overkill on them. 

Julia:
Simple, 

Lizzie:
Obviously, as a farmer, it’s probably one of the toughest gigs you manage to juggle being a mom, a business owner and a farmer. Like that’s pretty Epic, but farming itself is I swear the toughest job going. As you mentioned, the last couple of years has been pretty crazy for you. Do you want to maybe share what being a farmer looks like? Because I think a lot of people just underestimate how much work goes into producing what people see on the shelves. 

Julia:
Yeah. It’s very true, which is also a bit what Tweed Real Foods stand for was the education behind it without pointing the finger at somebody, but just showing people the behind the scenes of farming. Obviously, we get up really early in the morning and very often before I get the kids ready. Before I head into work, I’ve already chased cows back into the pen and constantly check on the weather. There are all these additional jobs that come with being a farmer. The struggles we’ve gone through is we basically went from drought to floods, to drought, to a hailstorm that destroyed 4 million of our avocados. They just fell off the tree basically. We, unfortunately, had the Bush fires rip through a lot OF sheds, which was probably the emotional experience. Yeah, we are still kind of suffering from the drought at the moment we’re harvesting the crop that has been affected by the drought and the Bush fires. 

It’s not nice to see when you put 12 months of work into a crop and then you just, and you can’t harvest it. It’s obviously financially stressful. Hence, we had to come up with another solution of an added revenue stream that doesn’t rely on the weather. 

Lizzie:
The thing like you said, right. The weather as anyone who works on the land, we check it daily. In a moment I remember seeing your photos and things from the farm last year and it brought a tear to my eye because especially if it’s someone who understands how much hard work goes into preparing, 

Julia:
It’s heartbreaking, but I’ve put all my energy and power into Tweed Real Foods rather than, Oh, I say to drown the watermelons, that’s what we had in at the time. My Nan, she had a little saying on the wall and every time I walked into her place, I read it and it says, God, grant me the serenity to accept the things. I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference. I think as a farmer, this is so important because he can, you can either drown with the drama and get caught up in it, or you can be proactive and just keep moving forward. 

Lizzie:
That’s something I really love about you sharing the real behind the scenes stuff, your one of the first people to encourage and celebrate with others as well. Like there’s always so much positivity and drive behind you. I love it. 

Julia:
Thank you. Yeah. You have to be an optimist as a farmer. It’s a bit of a gamble and hopefully, this season will be good. We just spent the weekend out on one of the farms, which is beautiful. And we have a really good set. The crop looks promising for next year, but what should grow and grow. Yeah, we’re praying for rain but not too much daily that we’re checking, it’s definitely doing it every half an hour, our camping trip. He literally, while he was driving said, Oh, can you just check it for me? Tell me where the rain is heading. Well luckily. 

Lizzie:
We had some last night which was really beautiful over here, but let’s go on to Tweed Real Food again. Let’s talk about you, you’ve been in business now for two and a half years. I’ve seen your business grow from strength to strength. Can you maybe share one of your biggest learning experiences since you’ve started? 

Julia:
Yeah, in general, I think I just underestimated the workload more than I can chew and then work super long hours because I have to get it done as well. I’m also a bit of a perfectionist and overachiever probably just last year. Again we’ve grown a thousand percent again, like we’re only just coping with the growth, which is so amazing. This is not a complaint, but I think at the beginning, I focused a lot on the what, like a lot on the product itself. I had the tech lines read real food, real flavor, real ingredients, and it was all about not having any nasties in there. It became very apparent quickly that people support us because we’re farmers because we’re a small business and it’s just this growing awareness. As I said, for the Australian made and owned and people love to see the behind the scenes. 

I changed my tagline to, from a farmer to your plate, to, incorporate my story a bit more. That has been very powerful and has grown my following on social media. I think it’s something about 15 now. It just shows like the engagement has increased since, and then also I love personal growth and I think mindset in my whole awareness has been a big asset. In regards to leadership, I’ve learned a lot that how my mindset and my energy influences the whole team. In the morning, you get the kids ready and you’re frustrated about something or something goes wrong with a farmer. Let’s take a deep breath, even stand a few seconds in the sun and grant myself and then go into the business because they don’t wanna hear. My kids, they want to have a nice atmosphere. I’ve been, yeah, really doing a lot of work around that. 

Also you don’t have to do everything straight away, like every day, do a small step, a small investment into improving. It just can’t all happen at once time aside to educate herself. And just things like that. Probably. 

Lizzie:
I love that you’ve gone from like what your product is to like your, why, like that big story that you have and then, into training with personal growth. I think anyone who’s in business can probably relate, like there’s so much to learn. Like, as he said, underestimating your workload at the very beginning, we all make these little mistakes, but it’s how we use our minds. Right. 

Julia:
I always say fail fast and fail forward. You can’t be perfect at everything like bookkeeping. There are just so many aspects to a business that you’re not aware of when you start and you’re all motivated. And then reality hits you. Another one was like three years ago, I posted something and I was in a totally different mindset. I posted a picture of an Eagle. That was kind of always my business goal, I saw a pie in the last few years. I learned that is actually not my goal anymore. I have this amazing team and work. They’re just all incredible people. And I love working with them. They’re such a fun atmosphere and I’ve kind of learned that I’d rather be in a flock, then know, flying high alone. Yeah. It’s the people that make, Tweed Real Food successful and they are also caring and it makes a massive difference. 

It’s not me just leading, it’s us working as a team. Every time, as soon as I could, I outsourced my weakest capabilities to the next person. That’s kind of how the team grew. Now I have all these experts here and I’m just every day in awe of how amazing they are alive. And everybody loves to come to work. It’s a really good place to be in. 

Lizzie:
Goodness. I’m still covered in goosebumps. After you said that I saw your post about the Eagles. For me, eagles are such majestic animals, but yeah, like flying up this solo and as you said, like I’d rather be in a flock that is powerful.  I feel like you’ve given us some golden nuggets here already, but did you have any other tips you wanted to share with someone who’s maybe in their business now is looking to grow and expand? 

Julia:
Yeah, sure. Like I mentioned before, avoid perfectionism. Like, don’t waste your time on the little bits and pieces. If I didn’t implement things until it was perfect like I swear nothing would ever get done. Just get on with the fiddly stuff. Can all, wait until later, if you have a product, get it on the market. If you have a service, tell people about it and offer it up and completely set up a business without a customer, it’s not actually a business. Just don’t let it hold you back. Initially, like I said, do what you can yourself to be resourceful. Don’t hesitate to outsource. If you have something good, just get it out there, learn as you go fix up as it’s needed, because he will, you just find out by actually doing it so much more than trying to make assumptions and having to get everything right from the get-go. 

It’s absolutely not realistic. And I’m an analytical person. I check all my numbers more than my husband does the weather. I love to know what has come from and all of that. I do a lot of AB testing because sometimes you think, but it does one example is I work with Klaviyo, which is an email marketing system and I have a pop-up on my website. When I personally go and purchase something and a pop-up pops up straight away, I click it. I click exit because I haven’t made up my mind whether I want to purchase yet. I want to see the products first. I thought personally, a popup that pops up later would be more successful. I set up AB testing for popping up straight away, 30 seconds, 45 seconds. I’ve let it run now for two weeks. The clear winner is the one that pops up straight away. 

AB testing is key with everything you do, sending out emails and AB testing, subject lines, your Facebook advertising, AB testing, different audiences and all of that. And then also storytelling. Like I said, I was just a story just the personal approach has been a key factor in our success. People want to know who you are. They want to know what you’re doing. People are attracted to other people and what’s going on behind the scenes. Share your story, share your challenges, but also your success. Sometimes I thought, Oh, if I come across as too successful, people think like, Oh, she doesn’t need that support. We posted, we had one day where we’re super busy. We take all our parcels to the post office because we are based rurally and we all loaded the car and I thought, Oh, would make a good picture. I filmed him, took a picture of the girls filling the ute with parcels. 

And then I posted it. I think we had like 72 thousand reach within the first 12 hours, which just goes to show how much people want to see that. Also, Oh, it says increase from that post. People are really attracted to that, knowing that their contribution made a difference. I suppose I love to talk about stuff as well because I’m employing moms. We are all within working hours. They are purchasing to contribute to supporting families, to supporting their kids and things like that. As I said, a lot of our effort goes into social media, educating people that are not as aware of how farmers work. Share the challenges we have from the farm, but try to come across as the victim, like I always try to just really do it in the more educational way. Yeah, storytelling is probably the most powerful thing for me. 

Lizzie:
I see you storytelling. I love it. It’s all the things, it’s the good, it’s the bad, it’s the winds. It’s the, and how can we improve? like you’ve always touched my heart because I have a background as growing up in a rural community. Sorry. It definitely relates. I just want to touch on something really quickly as well. What you just said. AB testing for those who don’t know what AB testing is, it’s where you can test. Like Julia just explained me if I pop up, she’s got different times and she’s seeing which one is the best. You can do that with email marketing. Subject lines you can put in several and it’ll automatically choose the best one or give you results on putting on your platform, I guess, which one is going to work the best for your audience in that current time AB testing. I love it as well. 

Yeah, especially subject lines and the headings on Facebook ads are important. No not everyone always knows. So it’s good to cover that. Each of those things that you mentioned is just so on point and yeah, I a hundred percent agree with all of them. I do have one final question for you, Julia, before we wrap up, which is what is the best piece of advice you have ever been given? 

Julia:
Oh, the best advice publicly, very general advice, not so much business, it’s juggling the balls of life. Everybody always juggled a lot of balls. I suppose what we need to be aware of is that some balls are glass balls and some balls bounce back. It’s kind of up to us to determine which ones are the glass balls, which ones will always be the priority and need the focus and that we can let some balls drop and they will bounce back and you can pick them up later. For example, my kids, I would not let them drop the truth at the moment. They’re sick home, up in the house. I said, look, just give me time for the interview. I’ll be back up there and I’ll be working next to them. And my team is okay. Just know what you’ve lost bugs are and let some bounce, okay. 

Lizzie:

I love this. Oh yes. I’ve never heard this before. I’m like, yes. Cause that’s the thing I’m, as the mom with the business, I’m like, my kids are my glass balls. I want to pick them up from school every day. Like I tend to not want to let those drop. I guess it’s really coming back to priorities and what’s actually important for you exactly. 

Julia:

Like if you have an anxious child and it means a lot for them to get picked up from school, well then that’s what you do. My kids love going on the bus and then I’d pick them up a bit later. I know today with having a tummy ache, it’s very important for them to be there with him and the business. We’ll just wait, it’s a bouncy ball and tomorrow I can pick it up again and work a bit harder on the things that I’ve missed out on today. 

Lizzie:
Julia, seriously, I am just blown away today. You’ve shared some epic gold about your learning experiences, some really great business advice and thank you for sharing, your generosity for helping others as well. Like it’s just something that I really commend you on. Thank you so much for being on the show with me. 

Julia:

Thank you so much for having me. I love your podcast. I listen to it so often. That was a great honor for me. 

Lizzie:

No worries. We are going to put links to Julia in the show notes, you can find her Instagram, Facebook and her website, Tweed Real Food.com. Thank you so much, Julia. Really appreciate it. 

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Hey I'm Lizzie

MARKETING & MINDSET COACH, SPEAKER & AUTHOR

An Aussie country gal, Mumma & world traveller who broke all the rules … I started my first business when I was 23 back in 2006 and have never looked back. I run an award winning blog, spoken on stages in front of thousands – my background is in marketing, branding and CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) 

My mission is to empower ambitious entrepreneurs, creatives & online business owners to grow, expand and scale their business to increase their impact & income – mixing mindset, business strategy that feels good with consistent daily inspired action. Encouraging them to go for the life they desire, without self-doubt, fear or hesitation. 

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