Blaenafon Cheddar Company – funding a family-run business

Starting an artisan food business takes an appetite for hard work – we caught up with Susan Fiander-Woodhouse of award-winning Blaenafon Cheddar Company to find out how iwoca helped them hit the ground running.

12 November 2018

Can you start by telling me a little about your business?

Blaenafon Cheddar Company is a family-run artisan cheese maker that's been running for 12 years. We make some of Wales' most-awarded handmade Cheddar cheese products. There are just three of us in the business and we do it all in-house.

We're quite a big tourist attraction – we’re visited by coach parties from the UK and the rest of the world too. People can come and see us making our cheese, enjoy our private tasting sessions or personalised tours. We’re a dynamic young family who all enjoy what we’re doing.

How did it all begin?

Well, to put it shortly, I told my director to stuff the job! I was a development chef for a big cheese company. I loved my role, working with all of Britain's major supermarkets. But my boss was a nightmare and enough was enough. Like any good chef, we set up our own family business.

How iwoca helped Blaenafon Cheddar Company grow

iwoca was able to provide Blaenafon Cheddar Company with flexible access to cash that helped them develop their brand and grow their business.

This included:

  • Bridging cash flow gaps
  • Enabling them to invest in new products
  • Covering marketing costs

"It's important that companies like iwoca exists to fund small businesses like ours," says Susan. "We can reach out when we need help with the cash flow situation. It gives us quick access to funds when we have new products or when we need to invest in new marketing, labels, things like that."

"We can call on you while we're waiting for the cash flow to come in from product launches. It really helps."

What's so special about running a business in Wales?

We've got very good infrastructure. Take the roads for example – getting trade in and out is really easy which makes the country a good place to do business. Now that the tolls for the Severn Bridge have gone trade is even easier between us and England. It's a great place to live and work.

Does being based in the countryside bring any special challenges?

Sometimes the weather can be a hindrance. Last year we had six weeks of snow which was a nightmare. The business is 1,200ft up and the weather meant we weren't able to get down and out. That can become a bit of a challenge when you've got deliveries to make.

We have got a huge following outside of Wales and we're very proud that we trade with the whole of the world privately as well. We haven't got a lot of the big commodities that are available in England, but we get the work done just the same.

words by <span>{authorName}</span>

Vic Gawlik writes articles, tweets and the 9 to when? newsletter. 9 to when? brings news and views from the world of small business straight to your inbox.

Article updated on: 30 March 2020

Is this article helpful?