Locally Laid: how we built a plucky, industry-changing egg farm- from scratch by Lucie B. Amundsen
I don’t blame you if you thought, “What does starting a chicken farm have to do with growing a ceramics studio?” This is why I bought the book. And also because I follow LoLa on social media and she’s hilarious. Also, their eggs are fantastic. Apparently, pasture raised chickens lay delicious eggs.
This book is well written, captivating, hilarious, heart-wrenching, real, delightful, and engaging. It took me fewer than 3 days to read it. Amundsen tells the story of how her husband convinced her to join him in raising a bazillion chickens on an open pasture in Minnesota where winter lasts 363 days. Amundsen never dreamed of raising chickens on this scale and was frankly not excited about this prospect. Read this book.
So, what did I learn about Amundsen’s experience that I could apply to S2C? She and her husband relied on the help of their friends, family, and community to make the farm work. In fact, their business would not be where it is today, and would not have survived the first year, without the relationships they made within their network. Furthermore, they created what they call their, “Kitchen Cabinet.” This is an advisory board to support them and to keep them accountable. (Let us pause and reflect on how hilarious it is that the board is called the “Kitchen Cabinet.”)
A temptation for small business owners might be to hide out in their basement and only work with each other. Jim and I run into this temptation. We are both introverts. We love our business. We love working together. We forget other humans exist. Our studio is in our basement. Our business is our pride and joy, so to let others in is risky. However, by shutting others out, our business can only grow to the size of our basement. It’s almost like the [false] idea that a goldfish will only grow to the size of its bowl.
Recently, we made the decision to hire a part-time studio assistant to join us. At first, we were motivated to hire her to help with production, but we quickly realized that inviting someone to join us will bring more than a faster turnaround on orders. She doesn’t start until the summer, but already she has broadened our perspective. She has insights and critiques that are critical for our growth as a business. We are lucky to share our business and we realize that the health of S2C depends on welcoming in other artists.
Locally Laid isn’t just Amundsen, her husband, and the chickens. It’s a community driven farm that invites the strengths and gifts of others. Like all healthy businesses, this farm, and hopefully our studio, will continue to flourish after the founders have moved on.
For some small business owners, it is hard to let someone new into the company- and not just because of payroll costs. When did you know it was time to hire someone? What value did they bring to the company that you weren’t expecting? Engage with us on Facebook or Twitter and share your stories!