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For us first and foremost, everything starts with the land.
We produce a number of things on this landscape.
Our story has a long history.
For almost 140 years, this ranch has produced cattle,
sheep, grains and hay.
Today, we produce beef, lamb, wool, grains, and hay.
And what's changed in the cattle and the sheep entities is
that because we're no longer selling those products
as commodities, we take them
through a value-added process if you will.
So it's not just raising sheep, we're raising lamb for the table
and fiber for our variety of yarns, textiles and apparels.
[ Music ]
>> Bringing the people behind our food to life.
>> Traditionally in ranching you sell what you grow,
you have a product from the land,
and you sell it as a commodity.
Well, commodity markets were experiencing consolidation
and a lot of pressures.
We were losing markets.
We were having poor prices.
And it's that combination of factors
which motivated us to think differently.
The very first thing you do is you have
to decide what you're going to take your raw product
and how you're going to get it into something saleable.
That's the first step, that's how you begin --
what do we have and what does it need to become for us to be able
to sell it and generate income
so we can stay alive on this place.
The wool is where we focused in the beginning.
We did that specifically because we could still sell the beef,
we could still sell the lamb,
but we couldn't sell the wool anymore.
That market completely disappeared.
So we had no market at any price.
You're not going to sell raw wool to anyone.
We had to get it into a form that was then saleable.
So the first thing we needed to do was find a way
to get it washed and improved.
So I needed to find processing to take it to a finished piece
of something, and so that was the first step.
Wow. Breakfast on a roll today.
You find all kinds of interesting says
to find out what's out there.
Of course, today with Internet and search capability,
phone calls to our industry associations,
that digging starts turning up those who are out there
that can do the processing for you.
Now we have yarn to sell.
How are we going to do that?
My biggest concern
in the beginning was what if nobody wants it?
How do you overcome that?
I might think, wow, look at this, now I've got yarn
that we grew right here.
This is our Oregon sunlight harvested by our beautiful sheep
that have so much heritage on this landscape,
the breed that originated here commercially in the 1880s --
wow, they're still going, we're still alive.
But now, we're taking that sunlight energy in wool.
It's been washed and carted and spun, and this is our own yarn.
I've never stood here on this place before
and held our own yarn.
>> Come here, Princess.
>> On the one hand, you think, who wouldn't want this?
And on the other hand you go, what if nobody does?
That's a great thing to overcome, you know,
is how are you going to now explain this product
and package this product and present this product,
and where you going to present it
so that you can find the people that might want it.
I know nothing about retail, nothing about marketing,
nothing about branding, nothing about packaging,
nothing about selling.
I don't have any of those answers, and it's going
to cost a whole lot of money for us as ranchers to go out
and start paying for retail, marketing consultants
and packaging and on and on.
Farmers and ranchers are pretty logical people.
It's common sense.
Well, we weren't going to go into the hole by thousands
of dollars in the beginning when we didn't even know
if this was going to work,
so we just did it off the seat of our pants.
We just developed all those things
on our own using common sense to see if it would work.
And in the first year, we sold all our wool, so we did enough
in common sense to move the wool to begin with.
Creating a package for your marketing really all revolves
around identifying what has a special value in your place,
your setting or your product, identifying that value
and then focusing all of your efforts in terms of logo,
materials, point of sale, the packaging itself --
finding ways to clearly present to the customer your story
and your uniqueness in that packaging.
For us it was really easy -- our heritage.
The logo that we started with came off the Hinton stationery
from the original founder back in 1900.
We took that logo to a local artist, who recreated it
in his own drawing, and we used that as the basis for our logo
and to develop all of our marketing package pieces around.
We gave a lot of thought to developing this marketing piece,
incorporating the logo, the paper, the selection,
the texture and coloring,
to tie back to the heritage aspects of the ranch.
We put a little bit of the story, just as a teaser,
to get people interested, and then we sent them
to the Web site on the back
where they could really get more information
and enjoy the whole story.
A little more on the actual process of the yarns.
On the inside and then on the back, we have the way
to check off the color, the type,
the weight of this particular skein, the gauge,
which the knitter and the yarn shop needs, and then the die lot
and the yardage that's on here.
And then it sends people with our contact information
to the Web site, our telephone and address.
It works really well, it's cost-effective and it works
for all the types that we sell.
Packaging challenges are actually kind of fun.
I tried to come up with something
that would be appealing, a simple bag
that the product would show through very clearly
so that you didn't notice the packaging so much
but you looked right past it
to see the beauty of what was inside.
I was proud of the fact that our product came from Oregon,
so I looked around, and we've partnered
with actually the Agri-Business Council of Oregon
to use their Product of Oregon stickers, Landmark of Quality,
and all of those green silhouettes
of Oregon appear on our packages.
And I really like that.
Any campaign that promotes agricultural product
of which you are a part is additional promotion
for your own brand by simply identifying with it.
So it was very important to me to put that Product
of Oregon sticker on our packaging.
The other thing was [Bells ringing]
>> I've always loved the sound of the sheep bells.
When you hear the bells ringing, the sheep on the landscape,
there's something very symbolic and peaceful about that.
And so I wanted to try to share that, and what I came up with
and searched for was little miniature bells that jingled,
so that when the customer picked up a kit,
the kit would always jingle.
It always has a sheep bell.
And that was a very specific decision on the packaging,
to make it sound and associate back to the ranch.
>> In terms of developing a marketing package,
there was one piece that was a big piece for us to overcome --
a big obstacle, if you will.
And that is when you look around at other products
in the yarn pattern apparel market,
you always have a photographic representation of that product.
Photography was going to become very key, and I could see
that right off the bat.
It was very important for us
to create professional-looking packaging and marketing pieces
on all the products once we went
to patterns and kits and apparel.
That was going to be quite expensive,
and it was that that we had a difficult time as farmers
and ranchers overcoming.
And that was the single thing that really motivated us
to apply for a SARE grant.
So the grant helped us overcome the costs of product development
in order to position ourselves in the retail marketplace.
With these farmer-rancher grants that helped you
if you were looking at doing something different
in your marketing if it was attached
to sustainable agricultural practices on the land,
we felt that we qualified from that position.
That's a key piece.
There were other grants that we considered that just seemed
to be overwhelming to tackle.
We just didn't face those.
But SARE was very helpful in the process.
When we received the award, it began really a long association
and identity with a group of people that are all focused
around being more sustainable
in our production methods regarding our natural
The single greatest challenge maybe of a farmer and a rancher
to direct market is becoming a salesman,
and you have to become a salesman.
Because I was not confident about this role, this new role,
I started with what was easy.
You could call it picking the low-hanging fruit.
I went to the places that we're most likely to want our product.
It was very frightening to me to think of walking
into an existing yarn shop and competing head-to-head
with thousands of skeins of yarn on the wall,
when we're an unknown brand that we don't even know
for sure how the product's going to perform
because it's brand new.
And so I began with the historic --
the heritage attachments in terms of facilities outlets.
And then when we went to the national catalog retailer,
that boosted my confidence.
And her comments, the growing demand for our product
in her business by customers all across the country,
gave me the confidence to then move forward
with contacting some yarn shops to see if they'd be interested
in carrying our yarn line.
What's really developed is some great relationships
with yarn shops.
They will come here on site to visit,
to hear the story, to see the sheep.
They get to understand where the fiber comes from,
how it's processed, and it ends up in their shop
as a beautiful skein of yarn.
And the more they know about your story,
the better those people can sell your product.
And those relationships are very, very important to us.
They make this work.
They need us and we need them.
The synergy of that relationship,
it's mutually beneficial,
and that's really what collaboration is about.
Overcoming obstacles really is just a way of life,
I guess for farmers and ranchers.
So when you face the challenges and obstacles in marketing,
you have to really just say it's no different
than any other challenge we have today in front of us.
And you just have to find creative ways to go around,
under, over, or flat through the obstacles --
not take no for an answer and persevere.
I think in general people on the land have strong character.
They're used to being resilient.
They are closer to the characteristics of self-reliance
that each culture really is founded upon, if you're going
to survive successfully.
And obstacles just present opportunities for us
to show our resilience and our perseverance and our fortitude.
[ Music ]
>> This video has been made possible with funding
from Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education -- SARE.