What was the seed for what is now your food business?
Egle’s parents established the original farm in 2006 where rape and wheat were produced for export. In 2015 we decided to establish an additional source of income. With the support of Egle’s parents and EU funding, we founded our own farm and started cultivating organic hemps and Galloway cattle. Most of the time, we produce and sell only the raw material (dried hemp, its seeds and cattle), so our business model is easier to follow for newly established companies, because we can refer to already existing structures.
However, in order to draw more attention to hemp and its production and to establish a relationship with customers, we started to look for different methods of production and product distribution. We have now started to produce hemp products such as hemp tea and selling them at the farmers’ markets, in healthy food shops and at city’s fairs and festivals.
They have been a great hit with our customers.
What has been the biggest hurdle you have overcome as a female food entrepreneur?
I have never had any huge challenges in this business because of my gender. Maybe, because I receive great support from my husband and my family. While, I have always been self-confident and trustful for that I am doing and what I am capable of doing. However, the hardest part was to learn the different working techniques and knowledge required to diversify the farm as I had no experience in growing hemp and using organic methods before creating my business.
What is your best piece of advice for other aspiring female food entrepreneurs?
- First, evaluate your options. Look through your network with value and start thinking what support you can receive and what you can offer to them in return. In this case, we were lucky, because we had relatives already successful in the agriculture sector. However, this does not mean that this is the only way possible. Find the support you need for example by joining an association that provides support for farmers.
- Try to figure out all your options. For example. The EU supports young farmers, which can be very helpful for beginners.
- It is always advisable to start with small steps. If you do not have enough resources at the beginning, try to gather as much information as possible about the quality of your seeds and the appreciation of the market for the product you can offer. Get to know the natural conditions and the quality of the soil on which you carry out your farming activities and adapt yourself to these conditions. If your soil is not productive, you may consider diversification never pigeonhole yourself to only one outlook or option (e.g. livestock farming).
If there was training available for you before you set up your business would you use it, or did you do any training.
I didn’t do any special trainings before starting my business. However, I took a lot of management, marketing, counting and other business-related knowledge from my university studies. I did spend a lot of time researching information about cultivating organic hemps and Galloway cattle before we diversified. I participated in many conferences, exhibitions and other events related to this topic that I could accesses. While I also communicate with other farmers from Lithuania and other countries which allowed me to develop an important network.
If you’d like training what areas would you like to it on specifically. Or if you did training did it help grow your business?
It is never enough to gain experience and learn new things, so in my opinion all trainings, conferences and other activities are very useful for all entrepreneurs at every stage. For me, most useful would be trainings specifically about my business topic.
I would really appreciate trainings about new marketing methods, how to present your products to larger diverse audiences, accesses to and applications for funding opportunities and human recourse training.