Where were you on your journey before applying for WFM Scholarship?
I was about to start a small gourmet mushroom farm, I’d written a business plan, convinced my fiancé and started to plan a tiny little beginning of a business. I was unsure if it would really work, if people would actually want weird looking mushrooms, if I could truly upscale what I was planning to small commercial scale. I had a lot of doubts.
What prompted you to apply?
I realised that the scholarship could offer a huge step up from what was going to be a very slow start, to something worth pouring myself into in a much shorter time frame. The fit seemed good, there was a market gap and I felt I had something to offer.
What did winning the scholarship mean for your business / you personally?
It took my concept from a neat idea, a functional hobby which might become a business, into an actual business very rapidly. For me personally, it showed me that maybe I wasn’t crazy. That I should air my ideas with other. That I can ask for help and seek feedback and ultimately find a hugely supportive community.
What does it mean to you now?
The support and warmth I found in the Willunga Farmers Market has thawed out a bit of me. The community that has been built around the market is a wonderful thing, which is hard to describe. The long time market patrons want to know who you are, and welcome you into their weekly routine and lives. It has been a fantastic experience.
How did the mentoring offered to you as part of the scholarship impact on your business?
It took me from being unsure if I had strengths to finding them and using them to much greater effect. Learning how to operate in a business environment was completely new to me and I was going into it feeling like at any moment I’d slip up and have it all taken away. Being able to ask questions of people much wiser than me was a massive benefit both in a business capacity and also to my anxiety!
What advice would you give to potential/future WFM Scholarship applicants?
To reach out. To talk to the market board and stall holder and learn about what they do, how it all works, and get some insight into where and how you could operate in that space. Write a plan. I had written down what I wanted to achieve and idea on how to get there, so even though things changed rapidly at times, I had something to refer to. There was no was I’d have had the headspace and hours to research and plan like I did once things started. Ask for advice, but know what you want. Even an opinion you don’t agree with helps you share your own thoughts.