Winning a gold medal at the World Cheese Awards for cheese-making is a great achievement for a producer. But for Kris Lloyd, it's all the more remarkable because she knew nothing about the craft before starting a business in the industry. Her company, Woodside Cheese Wrights, has won the award for her Eyzy-Ketzy half-cow, half-goat washed-rind cheese, which was named in honour of her Greek grandfather.
She says, “I was taught to have a deep respect for food. [But] learning to be a cheese maker was trial and error, as was learning to be an entrepreneur. Taking milk and turning into something so tasty -- it's absolute magic.”
Located at Woodside in the Adelaide Hills, Woodside Cheese Wrights is -- according to their website -- “a specialist cheese-maker of goat and cow cheeses producing fresh, white mould, and matured cheeses.” Employing a full-time staff of seven, including several cheese-makers, Woodside produces around 60 tonnes of cheese a year. With hundreds of stockists across Australia, through specialty stores and supermarkets, Lloyd is committed to building the brand.
“We do specialty, high quality cheeses [that are] ideal for the cheese platter. All the cheeses are hand-made in open vats.”
Despite coming from a family vineyard in McLaren Vale, Lloyd was scarcely prepared for the challenges of the cheese-making business when, in 1999, she took over a failing business that was throwing more cheese out than selling it. The businesswoman says she took a long-term view, and set out to evolve the business over several phases, including the writing of a marketing plan, the designing of new business processes, and, of course, learning to be a cheese-maker herself.
She explains, “It took two years, and I supported the cheese-makers during the process. I fell in love with cheese-making. It's so enjoyable.”
Lloyd’s next step was to beef up her small business’ capital, which she accomplished with the help of a government funded program called the Dairy Regional Assistance Programme (DRAP). The DRAP “is specifically aimed at assisting dairy dependent communities to create employment opportunities and to address the social dislocation that may arise from the deregulation of the dairy industry by the States"
Lloyd successfully applied for a $25,000 infusion of small business financing, and used the government money to renovate an old factory that the company is still using today.
For now, Lloyd is excited about the possibilities for the future and hopes that she’ll be able to maintain her integrity as the business grows bigger and bigger. She explains, “When do you stop being an artisan and becoming a business person? For me, I run the risk of not remaining an artisan if I grow too big. I do what I do because I love it. I have a real passion for it. There does come a line you cross where you would say I am no longer an artisan. Within the business you can be entrepreneurial in terms of what you are producing. For me, growth is about profile and the range. It's nice to wake up in the morning and think. This is what I want to be doing.”
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