Women in Business: Judith Irving of Fat Toad Farm

Judith Irving owns Fat Toad Farm with her husband and daughter. Since 2007, Fat Toad Farm has worked to perfect the art of goat’s milk caramel making, focusing on traditional cooking methods and using a small number of fresh, simple, all-natural ingredients. You can find Fat Toad Farm Caramel at both of our locations in a variety of flavors.

1.) What’s your business’ origin story? How did it all start?

Ten years ago, two of our daughters returned home, one from being in Mexico, one from graduating from UVM, and said “We should be raising more of our own food.” We had always had a large vegetable garden, but with their enthusiasm and urging, we added chickens, and then a pig. One day my husband said “I’ve always wanted to milk goats” Really? So off we went to the Northeast Kingdom and picked up 2 goats. A year or so later, we had 4 goats (as you do) and lots of goat’s milk. My eldest daughter, who was still going back and forth to Mexico, said we should be making this amazing caramel sauce that you can get all over Mexico, cajeta. She had learned how to make it while living down there. So we started making cajeta (goat’s milk caramel sauce) and fresh goat cheese in our kitchen.

2.) What is the most rewarding part of owning your own business?

Working with family and other really wonderful people, working as a group that has a laser like focus on quality and success, being able to be creative and responsive to customer needs with very little red tape or bureaucracy, working from home

3.) What are some of the challenges?

It’s all on you. You’ve got to really like riding a roller coaster to be running a small business. The highs are high, the lows are low and all your resources are at stake.

4.) Name one company or business owner that you really admire and why.

I am currently a big fan of Ginjan – it is a small but growing company based in NYC run by two brothers, Mohammed and Ibrahima Diallo, who moved here from Guinea. They are making an amazing ginger juice based on their mother’s recipe. First, the product is amazing and second, Mohammed and Ibrahima are just such wonderful examples of the go-go spirit of young entrepreneurs who see opportunity to do something they love and pursue it with great focus and enthusiasm.

5.) What advice do you have for other women out there that might be thinking of starting their own endeavor?

Be prepared – do your homework. What is special about your product and your story? Get someone to help you understand the early stages of your business plan. Get financially literate. Be ready to commit your life to this. Be prepared to have the best and worst times of your life.