National Winner | Judges' Choice category
Grace Brennan is the founder of Buy From the Bush and the winner of the Growth Awards 2020 Judges Choice Award. While Grace was originally nominated for the Innovator category, through the judging process it was clear her contributions to agriculture, rural and regional Australia more closely aligned with the Community & People category. She was recognised as a Regional Winner in the Community & People category before winning the Judges Choice Award. Read on to learn more about Grace.
What’s the one thing you have done in your career you are most proud of?
The launch of the Buy From the Bush campaign which allowed rural businesses to promote their products under the one banner is a career highlight. It has allowed bush business to access a large customer base and the brand is well recognised and has 243,000 followers on Instagram.
But stemming from this, my proudest moment was to be invited by the NSW Premier to give the Australia Day address in Sydney in 2020 and tell the story of drought and rural Australia. I hope that a broader audience was listening, and I could share the buyfromthebush message. The impact on small businesses and rural communities and the change of mindset we have achieved through buyfromthebush is the biggest achievement. Yet the opportunity to speak in the leadup to Australia Day told me something about who was listening and who was taking notice of what was happening in the bush and the experiences we have had through this prolonged drought.
Our social media feed is one thing, and getting people buying and shopping and investing is important but being able to tell the bush story to a wider audience is enormous. For people who weren’t following buyfromthebush, the address gave me an opportunity to broaden the conversation and challenge the notion of the bush battler - there is so much more happening in rural communities.
How will you share what you learn with others in the industry?
What I am passionate about is using the profile of buyfromthebush to engage partners that might be able to do capacity building exercises with bush businesses. Anything I can take from the Syngenta experience could potentially be developed into community workshops. Even capacity building or training to help small business owners leverage the opportunity from the buyfromthebush campaign whether that is technology or social media or something else. Social media is of course another way that I could share what I have learned with the community and there is no barrier to entry on social media.
What do you see as your biggest opportunity in the next 12 months?
It’s ironic but the biggest opportunity in the next year could well come from COVID-19. Staying at home has ignited huge support for small business and there has been a perfect storm with people wanting to connect with a story behind a product and support small business. International travel is locked down and stayinthebush has just been launched with a list of local accommodation stays.
There is an opportunity to tell and sell the story of rural Australia, and to me that will be achieved by great marketing and having a great product. People on farms may want to diversify and create tourism and this opportunity could be realised if they tell their story well and market the experience. We have this new audience, so the challenge is how we engage them with creative marketing and selling the bush in creative ways.
What is the biggest barrier to achieving success in the next 12 months?
I believe the biggest barrier to achieving success in the next 12 months is about resourcing and building a team. Buyfromthebush is staffed by myself and a friend, and we do it in a volunteer capacity at the moment. We need to build a revenue stream, get partners on board to support us and start to build a team with a broad skill set so we can sustain our activities and hopefully support many more small businesses along the way. We need to be able to make buyfromthebush sustainable in the long term.
What is the biggest challenge Australian Ag has to overcome in the next 10 years?
In terms of the biggest challenge Australian agriculture has to overcome in the next 10 years, I have a background in employment and I think that experience combined with buyfromthebush has highlighted a big challenge for us in transitioning employment. It is pretty common opinion that labour will be replaced by machines in agriculture, but in the meantime, agriculture needs to be resourced with really great people, with great skills as we transition into that more technologically focussed industry.
The skills are still going to be required but they are just going to change, so transitioning people already in agriculture into those new skill sets is vital to maintaining rural communities. We need to keep rural communities thriving as this agricultural transformation takes place.