Growing a business by the dozen
A slew of chickens, custom stickers and math skills may not seem to have anything in common, but they are all a part of a 10-year-old Prineville girl's business model.
Chloe Lay, a fourth grade homeschooler, is the face behind the small egg-selling operation Chloe's Farm Fresh Eggs, and boy, does that girl have ambitions.
"I'm saving up for a car. I'm saving up for a house. I'm saving up for Legos," Chloe said.
The idea for her new egg business came about pretty organically, according to her mom, Jessica, who said they had more eggs than they could handle and were giving them away to friends and family.
"We were discussing it, and we had been supplying eggs to all of our neighbors and all of our friends, because we had so many eggs; we couldn't possibly eat them all," Lay said. "I thought, 'Chloe, since the chickens are your chore and you are always looking for ways to earn money, what do you think about doing an egg business?'"
Chloe had been caring for the family chickens, which total about 20, as well as the two ducks and the goose named Squeekers, along with the family's two goats as a part of her chores.
Now, she's selling the eggs for $3 a dozen.
In the beginning, Chloe and her mom sat down to talk strategy and come up with a plan. "We talked about what we would do, how we would do the cartons, if we wanted them just to be basic or if we wanted to splurge a little and do a really cool custom label and make a little bit less profit, but have a nice product," Lay said.
"For us, presentation means a lot, and so we decided that to have a really pretty label was important to both of us."
Chloe, with the help of her mom, ordered wholesale cartons, along with the custom labels, which Chloe said she doesn't place on the cartons until it's time to deliver them to customers because they stick the best when the cartons stay in the refrigerator.
From there, they started to put things into action.
"We thought, what better than social media? So we took some pictures and posted it and people just went nuts. We could have sold 40 dozen the first week if we would have had it, but we only had nine," Lay said. "Now we have people begging to be on a list of repeat (customers)."
"Right now we don't even have enough to keep up with the demand."
"We need to get more chickens," Chloe chimed in, and that's the plan. Lay said they will probably get some more babies to add to the brood.
Their supply has even dropped some from where it was the first week Chloe was open for business.
"Well, we used to have eggs coming out of our ears! But now, they lay like four a day," Chloe said.
"They could be molting, because our egg supply has gone down in the last week," Lay said. "They are all pretty young so they should be laying. We should be getting at least a dozen and a half a day, and we are really only getting like seven or eight."
Chloe collects the eggs every day around lunch time and makes sure the chickens have food and water, with the help of her big sister, Savannah, since the water tub is a little heavy for her. She also puts out pine chip bedding as needed. Then, she lets the chickens out to play and takes the eggs inside to clean and package them.
For the 10-year-old entrepreneur, the job is a lot of hard work every day, and as with any job, there are days that Chloe drags her feet a little, according to her mom, but Chloe keeps going.
"I have to do division and times," Chloe said, pointing at a small notebook with math figures written in it. She's responsible for doing her own figures for business, which counts as a part of her homeschooling, including figuring out how much of the feed she has to pay for and take that out of the profits she makes.
Her mom said she was loaned a little bit of money to get started, for things like cartons, but Chloe is responsible for subtracting that from her profits and paying the loan back. Because the family also eats some of the eggs, she is only responsible for half of the feed cost.
"This stuff is confusing," she said, gesturing to the notebook.
Her mom replied, "It is confusing; that's how you learn how to run a business. You have to keep a log of your expenses."
Chloe is really good at math, according to her mom, who doubles as her teacher, and believes that this is a great practical way to put those skills to work and continue to learn.
"I think that homeschool should be more than just books; it should be real life. I've owned my own business since I've been married and so to me, entrepreneurial skills and knowing how to run a business is really important," Lay said. "I want my kids to be self-motivators and self-starters and I want them to think outside the box."
The Lay family made the decision a couple of years ago to move out of town to a space where they could have animals to give their kids a chance to learn about agriculture and the outdoors.
"I just feel really lucky. I grew up in the city and my husband grew up on a cattle farm, and he got to do 4-H his whole life and it was the highlight of his childhood. We knew we wanted to eventually move to the country," Lay said.
The world is a busy, fast-paced place, and Lay wants her kids to get back to their roots a little bit.
As for Chloe, she said, "I'm learning to do work and I am learning to not be lazy and I'm learning to have a business when I am older."
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