Alison Beattie became determined to carve out a career in agriculture after she was refused entry to a local college due to lack of farm experience.
“This fuelled my fire to get as much farm experience in every way possible to show them I was serious about agriculture.” she told Catherina Cunnane – That’s Farming.
“I took on milking jobs, carting silage, feeding pigs, collecting eggs, pheasant rearing and showing cows at Antrim Show for Gaston Wallace!”
Alison’s parents also had an influence on her career path; her mother worked for an animal feed company and her father installed Westfailia milking parlours before branching into the sale of dairy supplies.
“My sister always sent me off with Dad to help him fit or service; the love for agriculture began at the age of three or four.” she told Catherina Cunnane – That’s Farming.
“I learned the trade directly from being his shadow!” she explained.
Alison later crossed paths with Shelia Metcalfe and Jane Steel - livestock photographers - who took her all over the UK to help picture pedigree dairy cattle.
With experience under her belt, she began studying at Harper Adams Agricultural College in 1997 and graduated with a degree in Agriculture with Animal Science (BSc Hons) four years later.
She completed placement at the Alta Genetics nucleus herd in Calgary as part of her degree and that is when her passion for Holstein Friesian cattle flourished.
Following graduation, Alison travelled to Vancouver Island to take and prepare cattle over to the East Coast to sell at the Stanhope Wedgwood sale.
The following year, she was approached by Harrison & Hetherington Auctioneers, Borderway Mart, Carlisle to take on the role of dairy co-ordinator.
“This was one year after the foot-and-mouth outbreak which significantly damaged the area.”
“This role was to organise, catalogue and market (pre-sale and post-sale) pedigree dairy sales in the UK.” she added.
In 2006, she secured a position with Cogent Breeding as its UK's Marketing Manager. “This experience was amazing and allowed me to promote the practices of the UK's only sexed semen production - Custom Collection.
“I loved every minute of it. In 2009, I got married and move back to Ireland.”
With a background in designing adverts for breed journals, banners, flyers and logos, Alison was asked if a logo she designed could be placed on an item of clothing.
“Getting a third party to do this for me did not make me any money, so I decided to research how could I cut out the middle man and here we are eight years later.”
Farm Wardrobe – a bespoke clothing website based in Delvin, Co. Westmeath– was born in 2011; it now has one full-time and four part-time employees.
It promotes agriculture through branded clothing and promotional products; there are three target markets; family farms, breed societies and agri-businesses.
They provide clothing from head to toe ranging from 0-6 months up to 6XL; key brands include Regatta, Result, Toggi, Baleno, Papini, Uneek, TuffStuff, Ariat and Grubs.
Alison was awarded two Leader grants – the first of which was utilised to purchase her first embroidery machine and she received a second grant last year to increase capacity to a 6-head.
“We believe we are the only company in Europe specialising in this business,” Alison said.
While customers are based predominately all over Ireland, products can be shipped to all parts of the UK and to Switzerland, Italy and France.
“Social media is our main driver for sales and we find we can get information out on new products, tips and special offers very quickly.”
“With almost 10,500 Facebook likes, we find the feedback tremendous on what our customers like, want and react to.”
2019 marked the firm’s first outing to Balmoral where it scooped a trade stand award. Alison and her team also attend Virginia, Iverk and Tinahely shows and are now planning for the National Ploughing Championships.
“We source quality clothing and promotional products with the farmers in mind; based on quality, durability, wash-ability and waterproof-ability!”
“We live and breathe it every day! We offer the unique service of branding your business, online or offline, using one of the farm logos!”
Looking ahead, Alison hopes to continue to grow her business and develop her brand as “the number one promotional product supplier to Ireland's agricultural industry.”
“We understand farmers and are passionate about our industry!”
“We believe that farmers and agri-businesses deserve to look the best they can from on-trend fashion, workwear or corporate wear,” she concluded.
If you are a woman in agriculture and you want to share your story, email – firstname.lastname@example.org – with a short bio.