In March of 2013, Marji Guyler-Alaniz was watching a commercial about agriculture when she noticed that there was a significant part of the industry missing – it did not represent women in agriculture. Marji found that there are nearly one million women farmers in the nation, accounting for nearly one-third of all farmers, and that these women have been rising to the forefront of agriculture in many ways but haven’t been getting much attention. This realization led to the development of FarmHer, which officially started in October 2013.
Marji’s first goal in starting FarmHer was to build awareness for women in agriculture. Her journey to fulfill this goal started by highlighting and representing the role that women play in agriculture through her photography, plus speaking at some statewide and national agricultural events. She then developed an online community where agricultural women could connect and share their thoughts and experiences in public and in private.
After researching online, Marji was led to America’s SBDC Iowa (SBDC). She then connected with Mid Iowa SBDC Regional Director Christina Moffatt, who gave Marji guidance on her business plan, provided resources for the business, and acted as a sounding board for Marji’s business decisions. When an opportunity came in December 2015 for the business to grow via RFD-TV national television and radio coverage, Christina walked Marji through the decision-making process.
Since then, FarmHer and RFD-TV have begun working on producing 26 shows for the first season of their partnership that will debut in September 2016 and feature Marji’s photographs as well as video documentary and commentary. In addition, RFD-TV will assist with selling FarmHer merchandise – a clothing line that showcases who these women are and tells the world what they love – at tradeshows and in growing the FarmHer conferences. Christina reviewed all aspects of FarmHer’s detailed plan to go forward and discussed assigning key contacts for each division.
FarmHer currently has three part-time employees and Marji works full-time in the business. She has also recruited interns through the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative at Iowa State University. Within the last year, FarmHer has seen a 200 percent increase in sales.
Marji is able to interact with her community in various ways, including holding FarmHer events to empower young women and volunteering to educate young women about photography. FarmHer also donates items to community silent auctions and fundraisers, plus speaks at public events.
Marji’s future plans include growing FarmHer via her RFD-TV partnership, through informative events, by expanding her online community, and by launching the company’s new app. She has already started promoting other “HER” brands such as RanchHer, GardenHer, SmartHer, and PowHer, focusing on increasing positive and realistic images of women.
FarmHer images and information are shared through social and traditional media, updating the image of a farmer and rancher to include the women who have always been imperative to growing food and fiber. To learn more about FarmHer, visit its website at www.farmher.com, or its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/farmher1/.
The first picture below is Marji; all photos are published with permission from Marji Guyler-Alaniz.