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How I launched a growing food brand in 2020

If anyone had told me I’d be starting a brand new food venture in the middle of a global pandemic and lockdown, in the middle of a total disruption to our way of life, throwing every part of our food chain into uncertainty - I would not have believed them. 

When I looked ahead at the path in front of me to bringing Southern across Beef to the market as one of the few women in the Beef industry, with the added dangers and challenges of the unique (read: terrifying!) situation around us, I decided to launch my branded beef, no matter what. 

Here’s what I think I did right, and what I started to understand along the way to get this brand to a successful launch - and please bear this one thing in mind; I am still learning!

Collaboration matters, right across the value chain

Putting in the face to face time with people to establish relationships and look for what I can do for them as well as what they can do for me has meant that Southern Cross Beef has been a win-win project from the start. This is a brand that is about people as much as product, and I’ve been able to make sure that I’ve kept those relationships as a priority. What does that look like in reality? It’s meant bringing everyone along for the journey, and helping them to be a part of each success and each challenge. It’s meant asking suppliers to take a bet on my brand, while I take a bet on them in return. It’s meant reaching out to people who can make it all happen, showing them the dream and giving them the opportunity to engage.

Technology is here. We all have to embrace it.

I have fully embraced technology and am doubling down on my investment, especially focusing on building digital experiences and storytelling on top of our Blockchain credentialing platform. When I decided that the Southern Cross brand would be driven by my passion for local provenance, trust and reliability - I wanted to take it to the next level, and this technology has enabled me to do that. 

And for me embracing that technology is about looking for ways to support a quality product, not just doing marketing. The Southern Cross Beef data and the information I am able to share, with context and a strong narrative that helps people interpret it, means that every consumer can look at our supply chain and get a handle on the way I do things. With the pandemic, that’s actually been more important than ever, because instead of asking for people to trust the brand - I made the call to show them everything and earn their trust.

Putting in the hard yards.

I had to work bloody hard. I’m not going to sugar coat that. It’s meant weekends, late nights and constantly being on the go. I have had to put my reputation on the line, and you don’t do that without making sure you’ve got the blood, sweat and tears ready to back it up. To launch Southern Cross Beef, I have had to juggle a second business and work a part-time job to keep a roof over my kids’ heads. It’s been worth it, but it has never been easy. 

The good news is, I’ve never been alone. Not once, through any of this process have I felt isolated or stuck out in the cold. I have a community of mentors who have been with me every step of the way, who have helped me to shape my technical and business skills as well as making me question some of my values and motivation as well as those of my consumers. As Southern Cross Beef has progressed, I’ve been able to share my own help, learnings and resources back in return, giving as much as I possibly can to ensure that we’re all helping each other. 

On top of that, I have an amazing support network and I’ve leaned heavily on some of them, and they’ve never let me down. Investing all your money and your reputation on a venture is both exciting and terrifying, and I couldn't have done it without my cheer squad.

For me, Southern Cross Beef has already been the most incredible journey. I am on track. I am doing what I wanted to do. Launching it had nothing to do with the perfect moment or the right opportunity. It was about believing in the product I had, knowing it was true and faithful to the local provenance that has always mattered to me, and being prepared to do whatever it took to bring that quality to the Queenslanders I knew would love it.

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