Like most 15-year-olds, Palm Lakes’ Luc Maidman got tired of asking his parents for money. So, because he is home-schooled and had a bit of extra time on his hands, the Grade 10 student decided to start his own business.
It was with some gentle encouragement from entrepreneur mother that grade 10 student Luc started his business, selling farm fresh Jersey milk from the KZN Midlands in old-school returnable glass bottles.
The idea to start Milky’s, Luc says, was sparked last year after he and his mom Amanda (who owns Scoop Ice Cream and was in search of a reliable dairy supplier for her business) took an educational trip to Khulisani Farm in Tweedie in the Midlands. The farm’s primary purpose is creating employment opportunities in agriculture for people with disabilities, teaching students about free range egg farming and growing vegetables and herbs.
“It was during this visit that Farm2you owners Tim and Ali Smeeton told us their vision for their 18-year-old son Jamie, who was born with Down syndrome, to be able to deliver milk in returnable glass bottles to their local village,” says Luc. “The concept resonated with me as both my mom and I are passionate about the environment and finding sustainable solutions to the waste pollution problem we currently face.”
As it happened, one of the owners was looking for an agent in Ballito and, as he was delivering twice a week to Luc’s mom’s shop, it seemed like a good opportunity for him to become an agent. “I love the concept of milk in glass bottles and thought it was a really forward-thinking idea, given the state of our planet. At the time thought, I didn’t realise how popular it would become!”
The business started off small with Luc just selling milk to his mom’s friends. But Amanda soon handed all the responsibility over to him and encouraged him to look for ways to drive sales. Luc has since grown the business from selling about 12 litres of milk per week before Christmas to selling over 60 litres a week.
“The milk is hormone and antibiotic free and pasteurised but not homogenised, meaning it still has a thick layer of cream at the top. It’s really delicious and the feedback has been amazing.”
What originally started out as a milk business has quickly evolved into a business that sells other products in environmentally-friendly packaging. In addition to the milk, Luc also sells free range Midlands eggs in trays of 30 and fresh, crunchy KZN macadamia nuts and cashews, also in returnable glass jars. “We are looking to increase our range all the time,” he says.
When asked how he balances school and running his business Luc says home schooling is a lot less time consuming than being at a mainstream school.
“I have weekly business meetings with my mom where we discuss what has happened in the past week, look for ways to improve the business and, of course, pay the bills! If I have a question from a customer that I am not sure how to answer my mom is there for advice. But I do all the ordering, invoicing and balancing the books myself. My mom has amazing staff at her factory, which are on hand to serve my customers when they come to collect the milk and other goodies, so the majority of my work is done from my phone.”
Businesswise, Luc says he is still learning but, so far, being a young businessman has taught him a lot of responsibility and also how important customer service is.
He hopes to continue growing the business and introducing people to a new way of buying, where customers return their empties each time they collect their milk to be sterilised and reused.
“We are currently returning between 60-70 glass bottles per week, which would otherwise have been plastic that would have ended up in our rubbish bins of recycling centres.”
Orders can be placed via a Whatsapp group twice a week on Sundays for Tuesday collection and on Wednesdays for Friday collection and items are collected from a central collection point in Ballito, behind The Lifestyle Centre. The milk costs R15 per litre and there is a R25 deposit on each bottle.
Details: 063 049 8464 / [email protected] (Umhlanga and Durban North readers are able to contact agents in their area by looking on the Farm2you website – www.farm2you.co.za)
Text: Monique De Villiers-Delport | Photograph of Luc: Taryn Van Rensburg