R&R was featured in Go Solo. Read the article below:
Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in agriculture but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Nick Robinson, owner of R&R Cultivation, located in New Hope, MN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
At R&R Cultivation, we believe that wholesome, fresh, nutritious mushrooms should be accessible to everyone. We know that local growers, especially in urban areas, must lead the charge. When you buy our mushrooms, you can be confident they are 100% USDA-Certified Organic, sustainably produced, fresh, and cultivated with love. Now more than ever, shopping locally is a critical way to support your community and bolster your local economy. Based in New Hope, Minnesota, R&R Cultivation is proud to sell our gourmet mushrooms at most local co-ops, farmer's markets, and all Lunds & Byerlys stores in the Twin Cities.
Tell us about yourself
I am a Twin Cities native with a passion for growing fresh, gourmet mushrooms. After getting married in 2012, I lived in Shanghai, China, for three years and visited 12 different countries to explore more of what the world had to offer. After returning home, I started finding ways to give back to my community in a local and meaningful way. After working in education for three years and serving on a school board, I was drawn into the world of sustainable living and urban farming through my friend, Lance Ramm. This was where the idea for R&R Cultivation began.
In 2018, Lance and I started our first grow in Nick's basement. They relied on their 4x4' grow tent to get them started at local Farmers Markets. From the very beginning, they experienced tremendous success. By 2019, we were ready to expand into a warehouse and increase their mushroom production x8.
In two short years, Lance and I took R&R Cultivation from a small, basement operation to a fully-scaled urban farm. Today, we supply their fresh, gourmet mushrooms to most co-ops and farmer's markets and all Lunds & Byerlys locations in the Twin Cities. We are eternally grateful for the support of their customers, friends, and family.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is maintaining our integrity and values as we scale and grow. My vision as an entrepreneur was to create a company with strong sustainability goals and be a top-tier place to work at. We have paid our employees $15/hour since we first began. We are also less than six months away from being the first mushroom farm at scale to have 100% compostable packaging. We also switched over to raw inputs for our growing substrate so that we can utilize local waste streams (sawdust and wood chips) to grow our mushrooms on!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Hands down...work-life balance. When you start up a company, it's your little baby that needs a lot of care and attention. It's important to make time for other important things, and those things can get lost in the pursuit of building a company.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
There are so many tips I would give, but here are my top 3:
- Buy the right equipment needed to do the job. We have so many "farm hacks" that have gotten us through some lean times but have cost us 3 to 5 times as much as the correct system would have. If you don't have the right equipment, you just end up paying for it in your payroll.
- Having people you can trust and rely on is what makes a business so invest in them. If you can't delegate, all your building is a job for yourself instead of a business. We have a servant leadership style where everyone above serves the people below them. If everyone is working in your company to make everyone's work easier, you end up with happier employees that like their work and come out with better systems. This way, the people doing the work determine a lot of strategic moves we make.
- Be prepared to work the hardest you have in your entire life while at the same time getting paid the least you ever have in your whole life!
Where can people find you and your business?
Original article in Go Solo can be found here.