FIRST TRUST, THEN SALES
RANCH WIVES BEEF CO. ESTABLISHES TRUST WITH CONSUMERS BEFORE SELLING ANY PRODUCTS.
On her drive home from Bozeman to Three Forks, Montana, JaTanna Williams often calls her best friend, Natalie Kovarik, a Montana native living in Ord, Nebraska. Despite the distance between them now, the two have many things in common. Both grew up in Three Forks. Both are pharmacists. Both married ranchers. Both are moms.
One day last September, Williams called Kovarik, as she had many times before, to commiserate about work and kids. This time, the conversation had a different outcome.
“There’s got to be something else we can do to limit the number of days we’re away from our families,” Williams said that day.
The answer: Start their own company selling beef directly from their ranches to consumers.
This business opportunity also opened up the door for them to share their love for agriculture while providing quality meat for families.
“We both grew up in a part of the ag world and understand the benefits of ranch vs. store-bought meat. We wanted to open up the opportunity for all people to purchase higher quality meat,” says Kovarik. “Ag is very near and dear to our hearts, and there’s this desire for us not only to protect the industry, but also to progress it.”
Building a Community
With the support of Luke, Kovarik’s husband, and Tyler, William’s husband, the families started Ranch Wives Beef Co.
“The first step was launching Instagram to put a face and name out there and to create a community behind the brand before we introduced a product,” says Williams.
The duo decided on this strategy to help overcome the disconnect between consumers and ranchers. “Selling anything online is its own territory, but selling food online is a whole other kind of complexity,” explains Kovarik. “You’re not going to just go online and randomly order beef from someone you don’t know. We knew it was very important to create a story and trust so people know exactly where their food was coming from.”
For them, Instagram (@ranchwivesbeefco) was the starting point, as it is familiar territory (both Williams and Kovarik had personal accounts) and it provides a way to tell the story of both ranches through pictures. To show highlights from Kovarik Cattle Co. and Williams Angus Ranch, Kovarik and Williams alternate weeks, posting photos of their cattle and their family. When the company started selling beef in July 2018, the Instagram feed started to include photos of Ranch Wives Beef packaging and promotions.
Behind the scenes, Kovarik and Williams worked to get the company’s website (ranchwivesbeefco. com) ready to launch in early 2018. Using Squarespace, the women built a website where they can sell beef, give background on the company, and inspire consumers with recipe ideas.
“We did the entire website, just the two of us. We found that Squarespace was a pretty easy platform,” says Williams.
A Learning Process
The creative side was the easier part, says Williams. Figuring out the logistics was another story.
“We kept telling ourselves that it would be a learning process and we’d have to learn and adjust as we went. That applied most to harvesting, packaging, and shipping,” explains Kovarik.
Both ranches ended up working with USDAcertified butchers and obtained meat depot licenses, so the beef goes directly from the ranch, to the butcher, and back to the ranch to be stored until it’s purchased.
“One thing we stress is that the cattle are on our operation the whole time except when they’re butchered,” says Kovarik. “When we came up with the slogan, From Our Ranch to Your Freezer, we meant it.”
The founders of Ranch Wives Beef Co. are Natalie Kovarik (left) and JaTanna Williams (right).