In honour of National Storytelling Day…here’s an updated version of our CG story!
Once upon a time, there was an American radio talk show host named Shann who came to Wales and fell in love with a Welsh goat farmer named Rich.
Shann had two children, and Rich had two children, and they all came to live together on Rich’s beautiful hillside goat farm, overlooking the Irish sea.
Everything was fine until one day, Rich became very ill. He went into the hospital for an urgent operation and came out with a dangerous superbug infection. When doctors said they couldn’t help him, and his life was at risk, Shann used the kefir that they made in their stone barn to clear the infection.
From this, Rich and Shann discovered the massive power of probiotics. Hearing that something interesting was happening on the farm, an Innovation Specialist from the Welsh Assembly Government came to investigate. He introduced Shann and Rich to the scientists at Aberystwyth University, where their kefir was tested and proven effective.
Shann learned to put their kefir into soaps and lotions, which she made in a big stainless steel pan in the farmhouse kitchen. Rich bought an old piano for £20, and used the piano wires to make her a soap cutter. The soap and the lotion worked beautifully to clear their son Benji’s eczema. Mums on the school run began asking Shann where they could get some soap for their own children – and Chuckling Goat was born!
Times were hard in the early days of the business. There was no money for things like marketing, or even to shop at the local convenience store. The family lived on cawl (traditional Welsh stew) made from their own lambs, and pony carrots that they bought at the local farmers market. Rich sold his motorcycle so that they would have enough money to buy bottles for the kefir.
Then one day, Fortnum and Mason agreed to sell Chuckling Goat soap and lotion. Shann wrote a book, to sit on the shelf beside their products. The book – Secrets of Chuckling Goat – became a bestseller, and Shann was invited to go onto the Steve Wright radio show.
This caused a storm of publicity that almost overwhelmed the tiny business. The next day, there was an eight-week waiting list for the kefir and soap. Rich designed and built a beautiful workshop on the farm where they could make more products and serve more customers. They hired their talented website designer to work with them full-time. More staff joined the team to help.
Before long, Rich’s two daughters, Ceris and Elen, left their jobs and came to work at Chuckling Goat as well. Elen’s husband Josh also joined them.
With so many family members working together, the business started to fly! Chuckling Goat grew 6000% over the next four years. Rich ran the physical side of the business, while Shann concentrated on marketing. Shann wrote three more books on gut health, which also became best sellers.
Soon Chuckling Goat had customers all over the world, 24 team members and a multimillion-pound turnover. But they still made everything by hand, on the farm. Every customer-facing team member became a qualified Nutritional Therapist. They set up a live chat system to answer customers questions instantly, 12 hours per day. During lockdown, the office team was expanded to include remote workers from all over the UK and Ireland.
Rich and Shann discovered a microbiome test that would give them evidence-based information about what was going on inside people’s gut microbiomes. With this information, Shann was able to source herbal antimicrobials to resolve pathogen infections inside the gut. They hired a distinguished microbiologist to serve as head of Research and Development, and created a Scientific Advisory Board with scientists from all different disciplines.
The couple bought another farm, up the road from their home farm. Rich spent two years restoring the derelict farmhouse there, clearing the rubbish and rebuilding the farm buildings. This became an adjunct to CG, where team members could live, with storage facilities and extra sheds.
Young team members who had joined Chuckling Goat when they were in their twenties grew up, got married, bought houses nearby, began to have children and raise families.
Ceris and Elly also had children. Shann and Rich loved playing with their grandchildren on the farm and in Shann’s garden. Shann wrote a story for their grandchildren, called the Frog in the Magic Garden (due to be published Oct 2023.). This was commissioned to become an entire series of Magic Garden children’s books.
Shann began to dream that someday they would create their own CG microbiome test, which would be better, more accurate and more user-friendly than the test they had used previously. With the help of Cambridge University, they worked hard to make this dream come true. (Due out June 2023).
With some of the early profits from the business, Shann and Rich built houses on the farm for their children and grandchildren. Shann’s mum, Ann, came all the way from America to join them and live in the cottage annexe of the farmhouse. Every Friday, Shann baked cookies with one of the grandchildren, and then the whole family would gather for a tea party. Some weeks there could be as many as 14 people around the big old farmhouse table, where Shann had once made her soap.
Over time, Rich and Shann began to concentrate on creating a lasting legacy. They handed over more and more duties to their children. Josh, Ceris and Elly stepped up to become Directors of the company.
Rich and Shann cut back to working four days a week, so that they could spend more time with each other, and with the grandchildren. They were proud to see that their tiny family business, born out of necessity on their farmhouse table, had become a thriving enterprise that would be passed down to the next generation.
And as they watched their family grow, and their business grow, and their team grow, Shann and Rich felt that they had – finally – found the happy ending to their very own fairy tale.