Charters Towers entrepreneur Jodie Pollock is proof remote living is no boundary to achieving dreams.
Jodie lives on Victoria Downs, a 25,899 hectare (64,000 acres) cattle property, 70km south of Charters Towers, which her husband Michael manages for his parents.
With the region still gripped in drought, Jodie fills many roles – home teacher for daughter Hannah, 8, (son Shaun is a boarder at Blackhealth and Thornburgh College), cook, cleaner, gardener and general rousabout – but her great love is cooking.
After a chance batch of lemon butter, made from an oversupply of lemons from her mother’s Charters Towers backyard tree, impressed family and friends, and sold like hotcakes, Jodie decided to establish Vicky D’s Kitchen in June last year.
“It went like hot cakes and I had orders for more, and then I guess that’s when it hit me to make more then just lemon butter, but jams and relishes as well,” Jodie said.
But rather than run-of-the-mill jams and relishes available at the corner store, Jodie knew she needed a point-of-difference, and made it her goal to craft specialty jams and condiments.
“I realised I needed to make it stand out and have people go ‘wow’ over the flavours,” Jodie said.
The fledgling business, which Jodie operates from her home kitchen at Victoria Downs, has taken off, much to her surprise.
Products are stocked in Charters Towers outlets, Poppet Head, CJ's and Sacred Ohana, while Jodie has a stream of regular customers.
There’s individual products and hampers, all with unique flavours and spices including blueberry, chia, strawberry, rosella, coconut blossom and hibiscus in a range of combinations. There’s also traditional products like tomato relish and beetroot relish and ketchups.
“The whole thing has been an amazing ride, and I know I still have so much to learn,” Jodie said.
“I have a ten year vision of where I want Vicky D’s to be, and what line of products it will be selling but I’m still working out just where and who I want to be selling it.
“I do know that I only want it to be made out of Australian grown fruit and vegetables.”
After attending an initial session hosted by business development program, The World Incubator in Charters Towers, Jodie had a display at the North Queensland Entrepreneurs Conference, hosted by marketing guru and program founder Mellissah Smith, in Townsville late last year.
She said the exposure was valuable and she appreciated the opportunity.
While the pace of business growth has surprised Jodie, her feet remain firmly on the ground.
“While it’s great how fast it has taken off it’s not enough to look at getting bigger right now with it being dry,” Jodie said.
“I don’t mind if I can’t make millions, I just wanted something that was mine and I could do out here at Victoria Downs.
“I am determined to make it all work and make my dream work.
“My logo is a butterfly.
“Right now I’m in the caterpillar stage and at the end Vicky D’s is going to be a beautiful butterfly.”
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