How mumpreneur turned COVID gloom into shining business
IT'S said every cloud has a silver lining and Mareeba mother of three Angela Nason could just be the proof.
In the space of eight weeks, the 36-year-old mumpreneur and jewellery designer has launched a rescue operation for desperate Tableland primary producers, created a new business for herself and provided a job for a Cairns tennis coach-turned-driver.
In a paddock-to-plate operation, which connects struggling Tableland farmers with consumers in Cairns, Kuranda, Mareeba and Atherton, she has launched weekly deliveries of "superfood boxes" direct to the door.
Tablelands to Tabletop is the result and was registered as a business just this week.
The fruit and vegie boxes are laden with everything from avocados, oranges, bananas and blueberries to coconut, custard apple, eggs and honey.
It all started in mid-March when the coronavirus pandemic shut down the market for farm produce grown on the Atherton Tableland.
"The business started out with me just helping my parents and brother to sell their limes. All of a sudden the pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants closed and there were no events happening.
"It left my family with no place to sell their limes.
"Dad asked for my help, something he doesn't tend to do and I jumped right in.
"I did a big shout out to my friends in the community."
Already busy with a home-based jewellery business, Ms Nason also has extensive connections through her involvement with Cairns Business Women's Club, Mareeba Business Women's Club, She Means Business Today, Mums on the Go Business Network and Trading Mates.
Her friends responded with orders and shared the plea with others on Facebook.
"When times get tough, everyone rallies behind everyone. It's been so wonderful.
"I started off with about 10 boxes of limes and a few dragonfruit to begin with, just around Mareeba. I didn't really think too much about Cairns.
"All of a sudden my Cairns friends got on board and the next weekend I did 25 boxes.
"After that it kept growing and I'm now at 50 boxes a week. I had to close the orders off because I'm just one person.
"I've now got a driver who delivers on Thursday and Friday to Cairns and can take about 60 orders a week."
As more people heard about the service and customer numbers grew, so did suppliers.
"All of a sudden other family members and our neighbours got wind of what I was doing and asked me to help them sell their produce.
"Everyone was devastated. Farming is their livelihood and when their livelihood is cut, they can't put food on the table and it can be a huge financial strain. And farmers don't like sitting around doing nothing."
She now has a dozen suppliers in the Mareeba, Kairi, Tolga and Dimbulah areas.
"It's pretty crazy. I collect the fruit every Wednesday.
"I get the kids ready for school, drive a 100km circuit from Mareeba to Springmount, Tolga, Atherton and home again," Ms Nason said.
"That usually takes six hours. I'm back just in time for the kids to get off the bus, then we pack the boxes. I'm usually up until nine or ten at night packing the orders."
Up until this week she was also delivering twice weekly into Cairns. Now, tennis coach Warwick Jones helps with deliveries from Palm Cove to Gordonvale over two days.
"He was affected by COVID-19 and has jumped on board to help me out."
Ms Nason said she "crunched the numbers" a few weeks ago and decided it was a good business opportunity.
"Initially, I was just running it under my name as a sole trader because I wasn't sure it would turn into a business.
"On Sunday, we decided bugger it, let's do it. I registered Tablelands to Tabletop - my husband's aunt came up with the name - I created a website and launched it on Monday.
"There's been lots of good come from this - new ways of thinking, a new business and I'm pretty proud of myself for getting something up and running so quickly," she said.
"But it's also the support from the community who have jumped on board. Without that, there is no business."
For more details, visit www.tablelandstotabletop.com.au or call 0419 719 487.
Originally published as How mumpreneur turned COVID gloom into shining business