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Op-ed: How Community Support Saved This LGBT Family Farm

Op-ed: How Community Support Saved This LGBT Family Farm

Op-ed: How Community Support Saved This LGBT Family Farm

The founder of Hip Chick Farms shares an inspiring story of how her family business succeeded against the odds.

The story of Hip Chick Farms has all the elements of a great love story — one built from passion and dedication and determination.  

Jen and I met in 2008. After dating for a mere three months, we were engaged. A year later, we were married. Our daughter was born a year later.   

Jen is a chef, with an illustrious career based in San Francisco. When our daughter was less than a year old, we found a dream home — or farm, rather — in a little town called Sebastopol. We made the move north, and started learning all about country living, using a well and propane, caring for farm animals, gardening, and developing our own farm-to-table experience. We were completely entranced with our new way of life, and wanted to share it with others.

We believe passionately in the life we are creating — one built on a sustainable future for our daughter. The next step was to build a business based on what we love and what we are good at. We took Jen’s amazing recipes, talent for making delicious food, and paired it with our beliefs in humane and sustainable farming. From this, Hip Chick Farms was born; a line of artisan poultry products made from humanely raised animals transparently sourced. Our products are organic, non-GMO, anti-biotic, and hormone-free. Our logo is a chicken family: a rooster (Jen) and a hen (me) holding a baby chick (our daughter).

Hip Chick Farms launched in January 2013, with a warm welcome from the natural foods industry. Folks are looking for easy meal solutions, but are unsure about what frozen foods are made from. Hip Chick Farms offers a clean and easy solution for busy families like ours. People loved it. Stores loved it. We garnered the support of Whole Foods, natural grocery stores, and distributors. For the last two years, we have been living our dream.

Starting a business, I have been told, is one of the hardest things anyone can do. In the first business class I took, I was warned and re-warned that 90 percent of new businesses fail. Finding the capital to start and run our business has been a full-time job, on top of sales, marketing, staff management, production, and operations. As a women-led business, our chances of successfully fundraising are dismal. There have been many roadblocks and challenges along the way.

However, there have also been great opportunities and incredible partnerships too.

Earlier this year, I flew to Washington, D.C. to pitch to a group called Pipeline Fellowship, an angel investing bootcamp for women. They train women investors who then look to invest in women-led startups. When I told the panel about our product, they grasped the potential for the brand and understood the value to parents. Hip Chick Farms was selected to receive investment from the group. As a result, we have gained a board member as well as immeasurable strength for our organization by having the support of the Pipeline Fellows who are seeking to support women-led businesses like ours.

The Pipeline Fellows also understood the unique strength of our family business, and have been incredibly supportive of our business being out as an LGBT family business. We find strength in our diversity, and there are many companies seeking to support such diverse organizations. The NGLCC (National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce) has been involved in promoting our brand, as has StartOut. Our community has been wonderful in its support and enthusiasm.

Next month, Hip Chick Farms products will be sold on the east coast and midwest. We are proud to be sold nationally, and are continually seeking to expand our distribution so that more folks can buy our products. With the support of our community and organizations like Pipeline Fellowship, we are looking forward to another incredible year. 

SERAFINA PALANDECH is the president and co-founder of Hip Chick Farms. To learn more, visit hipchickfarms.com.

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