Flow Hive: One Year On


When Cedar Anderson invented the Flow Hive, a revolutionary new way to harvest honey, he never imagined the impact it would have on his life.

Cedar and his father Stuart had tinkered away at the invention for years in a shed in the hills behind Byron Bay.

Then, in February last year, they launched a crowdfunding campaign, hoping to raise $US70,000 ($91,000) for a new tool for the factory.

Eight weeks later, they had raised $US12.2 million ($16 million) and received nearly 25,000 orders from 130 countries for their hive.

Suddenly life was a blur of meetings, budgets and deadlines. For Stuart, who founded a commune near Nimbin in the 1970s, and Cedar, who was raised there, it was a dramatic change of pace.

To add to the pressure, Cedar’s partner Kylie had just given birth to their first child, Jarli.

One year on how are they were coping with the changes?

“The change to our day-to-day life has been huge,” Kylie said.

“There’s not many moments for resting at the moment but it’s a beautiful life that we have.”

“I’m working a lot harder than I would like to actually,” Cedar said.

“I didn’t want a nine-to-five job and it’s kind of what I’ve ended up with, although it’s nine to five, eight days a week.”

The business has grown dramatically in the past year.

“We have about 35 staff locally and three factories two in Brisbane, one in Portland, Oregon and six or seven warehouses around the world,” Stuart said.

The company’s rapid growth was not without its teething problems.

“We were putting everyone under pressure trying to do what we had crazily said during crowdfunding time yeah, we’ll deliver by December; we had no idea,” Stuart admitted.

“That meant some of the product wasn’t up to the standard we wanted and we had to send it out again, but the goodwill between us and the factories and all the people working with us brought us through that stressful period.”

Family Doing Business Differently

For a father and son committed to an alternative lifestyle, it was important the business reflected their values.

Fortunately the crowdfunding money meant they were not beholden to banks or investors, allowing them total control over the business.

“An office job just isn’t me so we had to do something a bit different,” Cedar said.

“We’ve got this beautiful house up on a hill it’s more like a home where family and friends are all together doing all the things necessary to grow the company.

“We can run the office how we like we don’t have to wear shoes!”

As for a suit, Cedar has worn one only once, when the Flow Hive won the 2016 Good Design Award, Australia’s most prestigious prize for design.

“I had to quickly borrow a suit and change into it in the toilets before I ran in and jumped on stage to receive the award,” he said.

Cedar might seem as dreamy and laid-back as ever but Stuart says he has shown himself to be an astute business person.

“He often gets annoyed with what I think we should do,” Stuart joked.

“He says, ‘Shut up, Dad, come on, you know we can’t do it like that’.”

Stuart admitted money had made life easier, although he stressed most of it had gone into producing the hives and building the company.

“It’s not in our pockets,” he said.

The house from which the business now operates, with its sweeping views to the sea, is one trapping of success.

Stuart’s partner, Michelle, has also bought a new car while Cedar and Kylie have moved out of the old shed where the Flow Hive was invented into a large house, which they are in the process of renovating.

“I feel really blessed and very, very lucky,” Kylie said.

“I have to pinch myself sometimes.”

“I don’t feel rich,” Cedar said.

“Life for me was always good. I don’t need super yachts and pools full of champagne.

“I’m still driving my old Hilux and I’m still running it off old frying oil from the chip shop.”

Source: ABC News

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