In our latest What’s Cooking, we talk to Naomi Ingleton, Founder of King Valley Dairy. Find out how Naomi stays true to her food and family and how this humble woman has built a multimillion dollar business that is grounded in her philosophies on growing, raising and preparing food using permaculture principles.
Your name: Naomi Ingleton
Your business’ name: King Valley Dairy (formerly Myrtleford Butter)
Where are you based: North East Vic, Moyhu in the King Valley, Victoria, Australia
How would you describe what you do in your business? I do everything from cleaning the public loo’s to meeting with big company executives.
How would you describe what your business does? King Valley Dairy makes the best bloody cultured butter in the country and we specialise in innovative naturally cultured dairy products to complement this, like real buttermilk and creme fraiche.
What do you love about your job? I’m proud to have built a brand and business literally from the ground up, the business is at a stage now where I concentrate on looking after sales and marketing both here and overseas. The board and wider team help look after all the administration of the business. I have learnt that this is not my strength nor something I really enjoy, I’ve always loved connecting with people through food, it’s in my DNA. My grandparents were artists, farmers and cooks and my mother is a cook and dad’s a farmer.
What part of your job would you gladly give away? I have given away most parts of the business areas that I am not good at, I’m creative and love engaging with people. Staring at a spreadsheet with numbers all day has a little part of my soul dying from the inside, so we have someone else to do that. I realise, it’s ok not to be good at everything. Working 7 days and the time away from my kids is something I struggle with, I would love to be home at 3 cooking after school snacks and hearing about their day – a goal I’m working towards, trying for at least 1 day off and a 3pm day a week.
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your career? I have been so fortunate to have worked for and alongside many amazing people in hospitality and food both during my first career as a chef, then later in horticulture and now manufacturing. I think my family have been the biggest influence on my career for never telling me I couldn’t do something, I was always given encouragement for my crazy ideas or at least they didn’t say anything negative no matter how out there my next bright idea was. It’s given me the strength of conviction to just have a go. We have a saying in our house “if all else fails, we can just go out and get a job”.
If you were starting out in business again today, what advice would you give the younger you? All the cliche – don’t be afraid to fail, be careful what you wish for, be prepared to work hard, go for it! My current business journey has taken me on this amazing ride, from my humble whipping cream in my country cafe kitchen, making butter for guests, to now bringing in shareholders raising millions in capital and building a big factory for supply to export, supermarkets and airlines.
I’ve realised while I’ve done all of this, my bliss is in the small things. Teaching people about food, growing and cooking it. Maintaining true to my ethics on food production and sustainability and how to manage that within a corporate structure is my constant struggle and we manage it pretty well within our current model. I also balance that out with my side gig ‘Dig’n’Food’ which is all about teaching people about growing, raising and preparing food using permaculture principles.
Tea or Coffee
Sweet or Savoury
Sunnyside Up or Down
Red or White
Both and bubbles and gin and beer and cider… in moderation of course!
Well Done or Rare
Your go-to snack
Cheese, we always have a selection on hand.
(Naomi is not alone, Tahnee Walters one of our other VIP Members is also a cheese lover).
Do you have anything further you would like to add to inspire our readers?
Stay true to yourself.
Naomi is a Females in Food VIP Member. Join Naomi and the #empoweredcollective and become a Females in Food VIP member here.
We’d love to hear of your experience building your business or what inspires you about Naomi’s story. Leave us a comment below.
The Females in Food team