'Oh My Goat' - family ice cream business started in lockdown is a hit
It had been a side-line she was working on alongside the family farm, and when lockdown ended all the summer events at which her business was to be launched all could have been lost.
But Katie Whitehouse had come too far to give up, even with the coronavirus pandemic taking hold of the nation she remained undaunted.
It was in 2007 “after a huge amount of research and studying the finest goat breeding lines, we took the big leap into the world of milking goats”, said Katie, and although the farm supplies Waitrose with their milk she knew they could do something more.
And then, just last year, inspiration struck. She had convinced her husband, Charlie, whose family have been working Bradley Farm, Mitcheldean, for a hundred years – and whose father, in his early 80s, still works - to let her use the milk from their prize goats to make gelato.
With her four teenage children willing taste testers, they had experimented with flavours, and she was convinced they had a hit – if only she could get in front of customers.
“The plan had been to start by attending local events and village fetes and slowly get myself known,” said Mrs Whitehouse,
“Then the events got cancelled. I know a lot of other businesses were starting delivery and collection service and I thought I could try that.”
Which sounds easy, but it brought with it the need for packaging, branding, how to get word out to potential customers. It was another hurdle, but still she was not put off.
“We launched in May. It was free delivery within six miles of the farm. And we are open on Friday. It really took off. People came to us. They told me it was delicious,” she said, so she is now open on Friday and Saturday afternoons from noon until 4pm. Promotion is mostly through Facebook with some tantalising images ready to catch the eye.
Whether it was people searching for a local food business to support in lockdown or craving a treat to ease the boredom of being couped up, she seemed to have found a willing market.
It has allowed her to experiment with flavours – from banana, salted caramel, strawberry, chocolate, Biscoff, orange cream... we could go on.
And it has led to many conversations in which some customers initially resist, when they hear the gelato is made from goats' milk. After some gently coaxing and a tentative taste the most common expression of delight after that first mouth full was ‘oh, my god!’.
Which quickly became the joke catchphrase ‘Oh, my goat’ - and from there her product name was born.
“For some reason people will think it will have a strong taste of goats’ milk. It doesn’t,” said Katie.
“OMG Is a premium goats milk gelato that gives gelato/ice cream lovers a completely fresh take on a traditional product.
“Goat's milk deliver's a surprisingly fresher, cleaner taste as well as having a whole host of nutritional advantages,” she said, adding that the whole endeavour had been made easier (when you consider there is the small matter of a beef and arable farm to run too) by the help of her four children, Lydia, Harriet, Zoe and Alexander.
“They were also homes schooling while we were launching, so it has been quite full on.”
She added: “I am extremely proud to say the whole process from milking the goat's to hand making and potting the gelato, complemented with local ingredient's is all carried out on the farm.
"The milk churn is over flowing with idea's and tasty new flavours to launch.
“I am really pleased with how it has gone. It has not been easy. It has been hard work, but I think it has been something positive, which people need at the moment.”