Holistic healthcare dairy in Wales reframes health, marketing and business.
Sustainability, innovation and ‘family first’ interlace the success of holistic healthcare company Chuckling Goat, established by Shann and Richard Jones from their 25-acre farm in west Wales.
Four years in and enjoying a 6000% growth in sales, the wife and husband team produce health drinks and skin care products made with goat’s milk from their own herd, supplemented by goat’s milk from St Helen’s Dairy to meet high levels of demand. Their products are used to treat gut related illnesses and common skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
“We use the good bacteria from our kefir drinks to reinstate the balance of healthy microbes in the gut,” explains Shann, “Combining it with essential oils in topical lotions knocks back the bugs on the skin. If you heal the gut, you can heal both inside and outside at the same time.”
Sustainability drives the operation, “It’s a constant value rather than a mission statement tucked away in a dusty binder someplace,” says Shann. With a natural approach to rearing both goats and kefir grains, Shann says, “We compost the goat bedding to use on the fields for feed and we avoid synthetic ingredients in all our products - they are 100% natural.”
Contact with over 100,000 customers worldwide is ‘like gold’ and sales are achieved solely on-line. “We don’t use third party retailers and we communicate with our customers directly by phone, email, live chat and there is an app in the pipeline,” says Shann, “Our primary goal is creating solutions and it’s the most important part of the business. We’ve chosen to invest in an IT specialist to manage our website full time, rather than spend money on high street costs and business rates.”
The business began from necessity. “Richard contracted the superbug, MRSA following an operation and antibiotics were no use,” recalls Shann, “The doctor couldn’t help us and I couldn’t just let my husband die.”
With goats on the farm, Shann had previously used their milk to successfully treat her son’s bronchial infection. “When I heard a Russian doctor on Radio Four discussing the healing qualities of kefir, I got in touch,” says Shann. The doctor taught Shann how to make kefir and she also created a skin preparation using essential oils.
“I slathered Rich in a combination of kefir and essential oils and he also drank kefir three times a day,” recalls Shann. Failed by mainstream medicine, she had discovered a powerful alternative. The preparation cleared Richard’s skin and within two weeks he was back on his tractor.
Start-up was tight. “We were so broke, we sold Richard’s motor cycle to buy bottles,” says Shann. “We had zero marketing budget and relied on social media. My mentor told me – Shann, you’ve got to write a book and put your face on the business.” Shann duly did and her book topped the Amazon best-seller list. A mention by chat show host Steve Wright on his Radio Two programme, rocketed the brand to a wider audience, “After that, sales surged followed by an eight-week waiting list,” recalls Shann.
Of their successes, the balance between work and family life resonates, “We finish at 4pm so we can be with our families,” says Shann. For those familiar with the long working hours of food and farming, ‘family first’ could be considered a golden grail.
Shann identifies a new approach to business emerging, driven by small businesses of high value and powered by social media. “Do what you love, what you’re passionate about, what is beautiful and worthwhile,” advises Shann, “There’s real value in sharing your story – tell it. People want authenticity. Make your business your gift to the world.”
Find out more at: www.chucklinggoat.co.uk.