A relatively new relationship usually has its issues. Throw a business into the mix and the potential for disaster increases. But teamwork has been the motivating factor for couple, 21-year-old Cleo Jones and 24-year-old Ottina Lawman, co-owners of the start-up Raised Right Poultry Farm.
The business minded individuals started a relationship about a year ago, and as 2023 approached, they had the idea to expand their streams of income. With the couple employed to call centres, they hosted a successful bake sale and, with the money, they said, “alright, mek we try a business”.
The couple decided on a poultry farm as they both had experience assisting on their individual family member’s farms.
Now, three months later, they are reporting that business is going well. They started out with 150 chickens in a coup that can hold up to 350, and plans to expand by year’s end. With Lawman residing in Sligoville, St Catherine where the coup is located, and Jones living miles away in Portmore, the couple have come up with a system that has worked well for them.
“I work from home so more of the taking care of the chickens is on me and when he gets time from work, which is like every two or three days, he will be here from like 6am helping out,” Lawman explained.
“Because you know it’s a business and chickens are delicate, you have to rake the coup, take up the wet manure and so forth to put out fresh sawdust, so it can be a lot of work. But I have a passion for it so it doesn’t feel like ‘oh I am doing all of this and he’s not here’— I love what I do,” she added.
They said that the journey so far, though short, has been good and without any major setbacks. They even had the opportunity to fill a large order ahead of the Easter holiday.
“We didn’t have any major setback, it was just for me to find a market and I used social media to my advantage to gain some customers, and I create relationships with vendors at cafeterias as well,” Jones told OBSERVER ONLINE.
“We just completed a 200lb order for a lady from England. She has a charity organisation here in Jamaica and she was planning on giving away some chickens to some disabled people for the Easter holiday so she ordered from us,” he added.
He explained that the price for the chickens from Raised Right Poultry Farm is $310 per pound wholesale for orders weighing over 100 pounds and retail is $330 per pound for weights under 100 pounds.
When asked why they chose farming for additional income, Jones said it was because of the effects the coronavirus pandemic had on the financial sector.
“Corona taught me that essential businesses are the best. Before corona I used to do a few businesses that weren’t essential and the pandemic affected them and that opened my eyes because we are going to always need farming, if the place fi lock down tomorrow food haffi eat same way,” Jones explained.
The couple said they have plans in place to make Raised Right Poultry Farm even bigger by having 700 chickens by the end of 2023, and even expanding into other types of farming.
“I am currently in dialogue with the minister of agriculture because he is assisting us with acquiring a chicken plucker. He sent one of his representatives to check on the farm and my girlfriend was there and she signed up with RADA so she will be getting her farmers license soon. I will be signing up soon as well. Probably in three to five years, I see us with like 5,000 chickens and not only poultry farming, we will be doing livestock farming as well, maybe crops too like lettuce and carrots,” Jones explained.
He told OBSERVER ONLINE that they hope to land contracts with major food processors and distributors in Jamaica and are open to the idea of exporting as well. To attain this, Jones plans to use his social media platforms (Instagram: @raised.right_farm876 and TikTok: @steamyungmineral) and his creativity to expand market reach, while entertaining his viewers.
Other than their 9-5 and the poultry farm, Jones has another gig where he sells coconut water, coconut drops and peanut cakes, and Lawman sells baby clothes and handbags. So when does this young couple actually spend time together?
“Since we’ve started [the business] I’ve been mostly at home, however I’m by him on the weekends or he’s here. We communicate 24/7 so the farm and the other businesses don’t take a toll on us as a couple. It has made us stronger and we have learned to work together as a couple, and make compromises too,” Lawman said.
The couple has some advice for those who may want to start their own business, whether as an individual or with a partner.
“If you are starting out small, it is going to be hard to grow the business if you are living off of it so what I would advise is to use it as a second source of income and see how best you can use your 9-5 salary to invest even a $10,000 into the business, every mickle makes a muckle,” Jones said.
As for Lawman, she had some words for young girls: “A business is just a business so if there is anything you love or have a passion for, do it. It does not matter if you are selling clothes or hair, just start small. As long as you are investing and you are using that money to make a profit it can take you a long way.”