Emily Davis speaks to a young entrepreneur with an a new business venture.
For Jess Taylor it doesn’t matter whether the chicken or the egg came first because between them she now has a flourishing business on her hands.
The 22-year-old from Tysoe, near Banbury started off with just four birds 18 months ago. But over time they bred and before long were producing more eggs than Jess and her father, Steve could eat and from there Winchcombe Farm Free Range Company was born.
“When I started the business up in May I had no training, but my aim was to sell the eggs I produced to local businesses in village,” says Jess. “So far, the village’s shop, restaurant, bakery and cake shop are buying eggs from me and I’m able to deliver within hours of them being laid as I have a packing facility on site.”
With aims to increase her brood to 300, Jess also hopes that the income will help to fund more accommodation for the chickens, which currently reside in her back garden.
“We have an electric fence to keep the birds safe, but they sleep in either an old horse box or a caravan and I’d like to save up for a proper barn to keep them in.”
But, Jess is being realistic about the business’s prospects in the current economic climate and still works part-time as a nanny. “It’s a nice sideline to have, but while it’s still new I don’t want to take any risks and I’m happy to keep it as a hobby for now.”
The entrepreneur who went to Chipping Campden High School, believes that allowing the birds to roam freely around her garden allows them to produce better quality eggs than any supermarket alternatives, when free-range doesn’t always mean the same as the consumer thinks. “Many chickens will simply have a small space to move around in and that is enough for it to be classified free-range. I don’t agree with that as it can mean up to 40,000 birds being put in a field.”
Jess is also a big advocate of lowering carbon emissions and buying local. She says: “I want the business to be green and have a small carbon footprint. I can do this by selling local produce to the local community and many people seem to be favouring my produce over that of the bigger companies.”
“I like the idea of living like we used to do and going back to basics. I know not everyone can have their own animals, but the idea of buying from your local butcher or bakery, whose produce will be local would mean that we weren’t so reliant on others like we are at the moment.”
But, Jess, who runs the business by herself is adamant that her business won’t become too big. “I don’t want to become another industrial company because that isn’t what I stand for. I would like to expand, but in a diverse way such as breeding pigs.”
She is also a big fan of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver after they launched a campaign to get only free-range eggs into supermarkets. “In a way they have created a niche for me because I don’t think people realised where their food was coming from and I think this is still the case for many food items.”
Enterprising Warwickshire helped Jess to set up the business and is looking to help other would-be entrepreneurs to do the same. “The group was really helpful because I have a little bit of business sense, but I didn’t know enough about tax and some of the other formalities that go with the business. They were really good and held a lot of meetings with me.”
* Anyone who would like buy some of Jess’s free-range eggs can contact her on 0787 088 4728