Successful Farming - - CONNECTING YOUR FARM - By Jessie Scott, Dig­i­tal Con­tent Di­rec­tor

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).

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