I was 22 years old when I pulled up outside the Commercial Hotel in Dowerin ready for a 6-week stint working as a barmaid before the final leg of my lap around Australia as a British backpacker. I didn’t want to come to Dowerin. The thought of it terrified me. I didn’t know what country WA was going to be like and I vividly remember wondering if there would be any young people there. All I had in my head was crocodile Dundee style stereotypes but it was only for 6 weeks – I’d work, earn some money, get free board and get out of there…15 years on, Dowerin is still home to me, my husband, our 3 children, our farm and Measure My Tribe the small business I created following the birth of our son in 2017.
Deciding to move to Australia permanently wasn’t a difficult one back when the head followed the heart without much thought of career opportunities in my early twenties. I had just graduated from university with a degree in Applied Psychology but still wasn’t quite sure what career I wanted for my future.
Upon settling in Dowerin, I was thrown into the agricultural deep end helping my husband around the mulesing table, working in the sample shed at CBH over harvest and finally landed a job in the Community Development role for the local shire which I enjoyed for 9 years. After the birth of our third child, however, life in a local government office wasn’t for me anymore, I wanted to be at home with our children and be more hands-on with the farming business. I loved the idea of a side hustle as a source of off-farm income and to ensure that I had a creative outlet. I’d made a couple of height rulers as gifts for close friends and within no time at all, I was getting requests from other friends to make rulers for them. After an intense brainstorming session for a business name, I was encouraged by friends and family to take it further. Market stall applications were completed, social media pages were developed and from there Measure My Tribe was born.
Running any business in rural WA isn’t without its challenges and Measure My Tribe is no different. Finances, websites, social media, insurances and pricing…I was very green to it all. It didn’t take long to recognise that getting help and outsourcing where possible was important both for the business and within our home. I found an excellent business coach and website designer and also hired a cleaner to assist with mounting chaos around our house. In October 2018 I secured a place in the Perth based collective store C+CO which to this day remains a massive turning point in my business journey. Life was great, business was booming and we started to kick some personal goals in terms of finances – then 2020 happened.
When COVID hit and the physical stores that I grew to rely on quite heavily shut their doors, orders started to slow down. At the same time, I found myself in hospital having an emergency surgical procedure on my spine and I was faced with 6 weeks of bedrest amongst homeschooling and seeding. This was vital for me to accept the help that was being offered and when life gives you lemons the best of small country communities shine through to hustle, help and support.
It was a difficult time but instead of crying into my pillow, I knew I had to pivot my little business for it to continue to grow. No one was able to browse a physical store but everyone was scrolling online and organic marketing on social media is FREE. I found myself diving deep into social media marketing, particularly on the Instagram platform. I enrolled in the SociallyEm Six Figure Business Course and spent my time in bedrest getting to grips with hashtag audits, call for actions in my carefully curated Instagram posts and slowly engaging with my online community to build my business. Alas, 2020 proved to be the busiest and most successful year Measure My Tribe ever had. In November and the first 2 weeks of December 2020, I took over 300 orders on the website alone, not bad for a one-woman show in the Wheatbelt.
So where to from here… I now have a fabulously engaged online community that grows daily, my products can now be seen in small gift stores in Perth, Mandurah and within the Wheatbelt (York and Goomalling). I am still working closely with a business coach to streamline processes and increase productivity for the business, social media continues to change and adapt so the learning never stops there but I enjoy it.
Life continues to be a juggle – mum life, farm life, business life…it can get quite overwhelming at times but I continue to learn and grow. I have a real passion for social media marketing and I’m able to transfer those skills to the community groups and organisations that I hold volunteer positions within my community. The best part of it is I’m still able to work around my children, I can attend their school events, take them to sport and enjoy holidays and weekends with them whilst also being around to help pick parts up and shift machinery on the farm with my husband.