by Nancy Shuttleworth, VtSBDC E-commerce Business Advisor

Nicki and Julie of Bridport CreameryOnline tools may not be at the start of every new business, but once a business is up and running, the importance of having an online presence becomes clear.

After two years of planning and considering the best location for a cheese production location, Nicki Foster and Julie Danyew decided to build their cheese plant on the property of Nicki’s family farm in Bridport, Vermont. The facility was completed last fall, and Nicki and Julie are busy making cheese and managing their small business.

Nicki and Julie are seasoned farmers; Nicki grew up on her family farm and was always involved with the dairy and farm work. She has been making cheese since 2009 and will soon earn her Master Cheese Makers Certificate. Julie has spent the last 10 years raising goats on Danz Ahn Farm, her family property in Orwell, producing aged goats’ milk feta, and learning all about cheese making while working at Consider Bardwell Farm in West Pawlet, and at the Crawford Family Farm in Whiting, where she made their crowd-pleasing VT Ayr and Breezy Ayr farmstead cheeses.

Bridport Creamery is beginning to ramp up on their cheese production; their initial offerings included popular cheese curds which are used in poutine and also make excellent snacks. They are also making “Swisserella” from Nicki’s well-know Swiss Brown herd which she developed on her family’s farm, as well as several other soft cheeses. They plan to eventually include aged cheeses.

When Nicki first began to consider a cheese business she contacted the VtSBDC office in Middlebury for business guidance and funding resources. Sarah Kearns in the Middlebury office helped Nicki create a business plan and worked with her on financials, operating budget, and marketing. Once the actual cheese facility was in the building process, Sarah referred Nicki and Julie to Nancy Shuttleworth, VtSBDC E-Commerce Business Advisor.

Thanks to VtSBDC’s partnership with the Vermont Digital Economy Project, Nancy was able to help Nicki and Julie to build their website. “We all met and brainstormed about what they would like to have on the website, a wish list of sorts, then we fine-tuned the list to the necessary and best content to get started,” said Nancy. As the website was developed, Nancy offered her insight on navigation, images, and function. Nicki and Julie had chosen a graphic and web designer in advance to work with, who had also created their logo. The web designer is a friend, and they believed it was best to work with someone they were comfortable with and understood them and their new business.

Nicki and Julie wanted to launch a website immediately to begin building their online presence even if they weren’t in full production, and with matching funds from the Vermont Digital Economy Project, they were able to get their site up and online quickly. While they are still adding to the site, and the option of buying their products online should be available soon, they are happy to be able to start increasing their reach through their online presence.

Bridport Creamery is currently selling their products in many stores in Chittenden, Rutland and Addison counties, and at their Bridport operation. (Be sure to call ahead for product availability). Visit the website to find out where their products are currently sold, or to get directions to visit.