When the world was forced into lockdown last year, Darling Downs’ farmers Rod and Joan Kambouris thought that would be the end of their chemical free Budgee Garlic & Herbs business.
After suffering years of drought, Ms Kambouris said the shut down of the market felt like the final nail in the coffin.
“We were coming up on our fifth year of drought and we thought with all the markets closing down that we were in big trouble,” she said.
“The only market that stayed open was the farmers market because it was essential service, that was our only avenue for selling.
Ready to put an end to their business, they noticed a curious spike of online sales.
“Our website was crashing, it couldn’t handle the traffic,” Ms Kambouris said.
“It got to the point where we had to get someone involved to rebuild our website, the one we had wasn’t made for the traffic.”
A year later, their business is doing better than ever with online sales booming.
Ms Kambouris said that they are now selling to every state in Australia and that more than ever people are demanding Australian grown produce.
“The fact that we don’t use chemical on our on our farm is a big selling point,” she said.
“There’s a huge interest in the food that we’re eating now.
“People want to buy local, they want to buy Australian, and they want to buy something that’s going to be solely for them.”
Turning to the experts
The growth of Budgee Garlic and Herbs made Mr and Ms Kambouris turn to local food advocate Kristen O’Brien from Dine Darling Downs.
With Ms O’Brien’s help, they rebuilt their website, redesigned their brand and expanded their product line to better match the online market.
Ms Kambouris said that building a relationship with someone who had marketing experience was a gamechanger and let them take their online presence to the next level.
“Kristen has been supportive our business for quite a few years, so we knew her beforehand and engaging her was a really easy decision to make,” she said.
We had no expertise at all in marketing, and no expertise in building a website, I created a little cheap one that started us off but it just kept crashing on us.
“It was fantastic to have someone come in and and show us the right way to do all of our online stuff and then also take our marketing to the next level.”
Ms Kamouris said that just like any other facet of business, it’s important to turn to the experts.
“We had no expertise at all in marketing and we really sort of bumbling through but when we noticed that people were interested in what we’re doing, our attempts to go online were causing more frustration than success.” she said.
“There are experts out there and it’s important to look to them and use them,”