Saturday, January 11, 2014

MOM Jamie Part 2: From Fashion to Fruits and Veggies

So, you may be wondering how a mother of two, with a fashion degree, decided to start an organic produce co-op?  I wondered the same thing! Jamie explains:
"I wanted to feed my family organic produce, but living here in Puyallup we do not have an all organic store, and I didn't want to spend my day shopping at all of the different stores to compile my organic produce"
After speaking with her girlfriends, Jamie discovered that they had all been thinking the same thing.  And who wants to pay those crazy high prices for organic produce shopping at "Whole Paycheck", anyway?!   So what did Jamie decide to do about this predicament?
"Even though I was in the apparel industry, sourcing is sourcing, no matter [the industry].  I knew that there had to be a way to get a better price than what I was currently paying in the grocery store.  And so I began my journey in developing Blissfully Organic Co-Op (BOCO)."
Jamie vividly remembers sitting in her living room with her husband, sharing her thoughts about starting a co-op.  "I'll be honest, I come up with random business ideas ALL THE TIME.  So I'm sure to him it was like 'ohhhh great, here we go again!'"
Although Jamie was really excited to make this idea work, she never meant for it to turn into a business.  "I just wanted to help my friends and their families eat clean produce, but then the word spread like crazy and after six short weeks, I was serving over 150 families!"
She really had the desire to support Northwest companies and local farms, but after doing her research, she discovered that by strictly utilizing Western Washington farms, she would have to offer root vegetables 75% of the time.  Of course, she wanted to offer a wider variety of produce, so she decided that "the next best thing would be to support a local distributor who has the same values as I do."  BOCO offers produce from local farms whenever possible, but when you're buying items like bananas and kiwis, that is just never going to happen.
Since Jamie started BOCO in February 2013, almost 1 year ago, it has grown from offering 100% certified organic produce, to now also providing local eggs, honey, bread and dry goods. 
Ok Jamie, you've impressed me with your skills in making this all happen, in sourcing organic produce for families to purchase at wholesale prices!  But how in the world did you figure out the logistics of it all? How did you decide on a website design to make purchasing so simple? 
"I have ZERO website experience, in fact, for those who have been with me from the beginning can confirm that :) I started off selling shares through an online ticket website.  The fees were getting to be too much and so I began sourcing other options.  I found a great website builder, it was easy and I could do it myself.  But then I realized I needed something more, since this was turning into a business and I needed to track inventory and reports and I needed a website that could provide that.  So I set out on another quest to find our third, and where we are now, website.  There has been a lot of trial and error and there will continue to be that, but I believe that it is now a well-oiled machine that will just get better and better."
If you are new to BOCO, and interested in participating, here's what you need to know:
1. There's no commitment required.  Purchase weekly, skip a week if you're out of town, purchase monthly...whatever works for you. 
2. Buy-in is open Sunday through Wednesday each week.  Purchase your share and add-ons through BlissfullyOrganicCoOp.org during the buy-in window.
3. When you purchase, select the pick-up location most convenient for you:  Lacey, Puyallup, Steilacoom, Auburn, or Maple Valley. 
4. Pick up your goods Saturday morning at the designated pick up time for your selected location.  Visit www.blissfullyorganiccoop.org/locations for pick-up times.
Be sure to 'like' BOCO's Facebook page and sign up for the newsletter.  BOCO will post what you can expect in each week's share via their Facebook page, along with other updates and recipe ideas for your goods for the week.  For any other questions, visit www.blissfullyorganiccoop.org/how-we-work to read through the frequently asked questions.

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