There’s something comforting about knowing you have a top-notch drop and aged cheddar waiting for you after a long week – and even better, after a long year. Feet up under the mistletoe and crackers at the ready? Whether you have a penchant for a mild blue or a rich brie, this clever couple have made it their mission to allow you to bypass the post-work supermarket queue with just a simple click. Enter Australia’s first online cheese store, Farmgate Cheese, founded by husband and wife Cat and Travis Sanders.
Since launching in 2009 with artisan cheese hampers as its core offering, the company has since expanded into catering, tasting events and its own range of over 25 cheese accompaniments including jams, jellies and dried fruits. The brand has also landed a range in Woolworths and a partnership with Qantas to boot, while in 2016 the pair saw their products hit US shelves, at Whole Foods Market no less.
Here, Travis shares their story.
I saw a gap in the Australian market. I had previously worked across the globe for a gourmet food retailer, living and working in Singapore and the Middle East as the operations director for the group. After establishing successful stores in Singapore, New Zealand, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, I saw a need in the local market for a specialty online retailer for artisan cheese, where customers could order online and have product delivered. In that, Farmgate Cheese was born as the first dedicated online cheese store in Australia.
Soon after launching the business, I also found there was a lack of high-quality, well-packaged cheese accompaniments and products. I began working on developing an exclusive range of accompaniments, and the condiments range was born with the original balsamic jelly for cheese.
The Qantas partnership was initiated through a long-time business connection where our products were sought out during a menu refresh within the Qantas network a few years ago. Since then, we’ve served tens of thousands of Qantas domestic passengers – one of whom happened to be a buyer at Woolworths… From this initial encounter, the Woolworths relationship was sparked and we are now also sold through over 70 Woolworths stores.
How to take your business international
1. Be an exhibitionist
“We exhibited at the Specialty Food show in San Francisco in 2015, and in New York in 2016. From that show, a meeting was requested by a Whole Foods Market buyer. From there we made a presentation to them and the rest is history… following the paperwork of course!”
2. Get your legals in order
“We incorporated our company in the US in 2015, establishing all the corporate requirements, bank accounts, storage and logistics. As we established the company without a broker, we essentially handle all the logistics ourselves – along with our hands on the ground in California.”
3. Be prepared for hurdles
“There are a lot of logistical and legal challenges to overcome when setting up a company and importing in the US. There is plenty of red tape and health regulation with labelling, which we have established over the past 18 months.”