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We're Celebrating International Women's Day!

This special event is a day to remember the importance of women's achievements throughout history, and here at Milk & More, we’re celebrating the successful female entrepreneurs behind some of the amazing suppliers we're lucky enough to work with.

We had a chat with Judith Freane of Brown Cow Organics, who farm the milk for the deliciously natural and creamy River Cottage yoghurts; as well as Deborah Carr from Nourish Kefir. Here’s what they had to say about the role of female leaders in the food and drink industry…


As a woman, what’s been your experience of positive change in the food and drink business over the last decade?

Deborah: I think the positive change is that there seem to be unlimited opportunities for small producers to go for it and start their own food and drink business. I think that consumers have become very curious and interested in trying new foods. That makes it very exciting both for food and drink businesses as well as consumers as there is so much choice available now. Also, in the past few years there has been an increase in food ‘consciousness,’ with a genuine effort to reduce food waste, and reduce food packaging materials, or use more eco-friendly materials or vehicles such as the Milk & More milk floats which do make a positive difference.


What challenges do women specifically face in the industry?

Judith: Here at Brown Cow Organics we do not see either our farm or yoghurt production as a challenge to women. In fact our farm is now run by three girls all in their twenties - each has a positive outlook on the future and they all embrace the fact that good food comes from healthy soil that does not cost the earth but relies on a simple species mix of herbs and grass.

Deborah: Women face mostly the same challenges as men, but sometimes it can very much seem like it’s a ‘man’s world’ and it can feel like women have to negotiate harder and sometime be a bit tougher to achieve our aims.


What makes you most proud to be a female entrepreneur?

Deborah: This March I have just reached a personal landmark of being self-employed for 25 years (15 years of which making Nourish Kefir) – the thing that makes me feel most proud is that I have been able to create something out of nothing! I said I was going to do it – and I did. I was willing to put the effort in because kefir made from the actual live grains is so amazing and I know our drinks have been helping tummies all over the UK. I love every batch we produce.

Judith: Being a role model for the next generation of female entrepreneurs and knowing that everything is possible if done with honesty and integrity.


Are there any interesting advantages or positives to being a woman in the food and drink industry?

Deborah: Well you simply can’t deny Girl Power! I would say that women offer a different perspective to men, and a woman will come up with different solutions and provide soft skills that can make a positive difference to the team. Nourish Kefir is our little kefir family… I’m the mum haha.

Judith: We like finding out about the lives of other women we do business with - as a woman you are more likely to ask questions of others, start conversations and build a rapport which leads to a more beneficial business relationship.


What are some ways we can pave the way for other women business owners to succeed?

Deborah: When I was at school I took part in a really interesting and useful project called Young Enterprise, where a group of 17/18 year old students got to form a legal business, chose a company name, make products and sell them, and look after the company accounts – the full works! Making this scheme available in ALL secondary schools would be a good start and show girls that having a business is not so daunting, and definitely worth considering if they have a good business idea!


Which famous female entrepreneurs inspired you on your venture?

Judith: No one famous - but all of those women that over time have succeeded in business and raising families.

Deborah: Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop – she was an extremely inspirational woman. I loved how she started small and built an amazing enterprise with her vision and values intact – and with so many wonderful products that didn’t harm the planet. Even younger I totally loved watching Delia Smith cookery programs and developed my passion for food quite possibly because of her! I especially loved when she said: 'Here’s one I made earlier!' I have used her line when I’m showing how to make kefir!


What advice would you give to women looking to launch their own food and drink businesses?

Deborah: My advice would be to always believe in yourself. Don’t be put off by anyone telling you it can’t be done. I was also told at the start that I wouldn’t be able to do it, because fermenting kefir grains on a large scale is tricky…but here I am! Determination can get you up and running … and a great team around you will help create your winning formula!

Judith: Listen to others, respond but do not react to criticism and very simply, go for it today!


In the spirit of championing female entrepreneurs this International Women’s Day, why not have a browse of some of the world-class food and drink our partners offer here?