Farmer, Mother and Business Co-Owner Katie Olthoff
Being a mother, farmer and female entrepreneur is no easy task. Katie finds the reward is far worth the effort.
In 2020 I became a co-owner and business partner of a company called ChopLocal. We provide high-quality meat products from family farmers and small butchers across the country. I love what we do because when people order meat from us, they’re really ordering it straight from the farmer who raised it or the butcher who cut it.
I had a different job when the pandemic first hit. But as the weeks stretched into months, I realized I needed to find a job that I could do at home. I’m a mother of three young kids, and my husband and I also own a turkey farm. So I reached out to a friend in the industry who’d mentioned starting an online marketplace for farmers. He said he still needed someone to commit to working with him full-time before he could launch. After thinking about it for a couple of weeks, I decided to take a leap of faith and join him. I bet on myself.
Since making that decision, I’ve learned that life as a female entrepreneur and business owner is challenging but very rewarding. If it weren’t, then there wouldn’t be as many women out there betting on themselves and making moves toward the career of their dreams. More than half of the 50 ChopLocal vendors are women who launched a meat business to diversify their family farm. One farmer recently had a newborn baby and was figuring out how to deliver her meat with her infant in tow. Another woman had a baby in the NICU and was still promoting her meat and running her business.
I recently attended a conference where one of the female speakers stood out to me. I made it a point to get to know her. Like many of the women I know, I discovered we both experience imposter syndrome. We both feel like there are people out there working in our field who know more than we do. I couldn’t help but think about our ChopLocal farmers. During the last census, only 9% of farms that sell directly to consumers had an online presence. These women are game-changers! So even when we have every reason to believe in ourselves, why, as women, do we internalize this imposter story?
Each of us has pressure to build our business and make it profitable. We all have people relying on us to manage our business while also being the go-to parent and household manager. I understand and relate to these other farmers’ lives so much. I love that my job allows me to work alongside amazing women like them and help support them and their businesses.
I know firsthand how scary it is to bet on yourself. But I’ve found that if I take that risk and work my tail off, great things can happen. Every challenge I overcome and every hour I put in makes the high points so high—because I earned it.