Shann Nix Jones is a best-selling author. Amazon has gone nuts about her breakthrough book. “Secrets of Chuckling Goat: How a Herd of Goats Saved My Family and Started a Business that Became a Natural Health Phenomenon.”
Chuckling Goat is a natural kefir skincare business based on a Welsh goat farm. Shann and husband Richard Jones discovered the benefits of live active kefir when looking for a solution to their son Benji’s eczema, and his father’s life-threatening antibiotic-resistant MRSA infection.
Doctors were unable to help. A nurse washed her hands of him. But Shann, using a combination of essential oils and her homemade kefir, had him miraculously back on his tractor in a fortnight. The business now has a turnover of £3.9 million and has moved into soaps and lotions, working closely with the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University.
When they had too much surplus milk, the Jones’ learned to make kefir, a live culture fermented drink originally from Eastern Europe.
“I was taught by Dr Natasha Campbell McBride, a Russian doctor who taught me to make it therapeutic strength in the traditional Russian style, with real kefir grains and no sugar or flavourings. I heard her on Radio 4 and got in touch.”
Shann was born in Texas and worked as a newspaper reporter in San Francisco as well as on radio chat show with no callers. She moved to England with her first husband.
“I was expecting to be all bone china and long dresses. But I didn’t find that in Surbiton! I met my handsome farmer after he winked at me on an on-line dating site. And not long after we moved to his farm at Llandysul, Credigion in southwest Wales.
“Cash is not king for us – it’s always been important that to us that we work to support our values. We’ve done well by doing good, and that has kindly been acknowledged our selection as Parliamentary Review Best Practice Representative and our inclusion in the Leaders Council of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
“People’s preconception of our kefir is that it will taste like a milkshake – and it doesn’t! Our kefir is therapeutic grade, pure, unflavoured and a super-strong probiotic, with a tart taste like fizzy feta. You can blend it up with a banana to sweeten it if needed, but you drink our kefir for its health boosting properties, not as a recreational beverage.”
Son-in law Josh Armstrong, and daughters Ceris Colven and Elen all work in the family business. Shann says:
“We never really set out to create a business. We were just looking for solutions to our own family’s skin problems. It’s still a very heart-led business.”
For more information, please visit: www.chucklinggoat.co.uk.
Kevin Pilley is a former professional cricketer and chief staff writer of PUNCH magazine. His humour, travel, food and drink work appears worldwide and he has been published in over 800 titles.
Photograph courtesy of Chuckling Goat