My story of how The Country Girls UK came about.
Ever since I was a youngster, I have always been involved in the family farm. The pictures of my childhood are filled with the biggest cheesy grin, my dad’s flat caps coming halfway down my face, oversized jackets that touch the floor and my very snazzy pink wellies as I ride in either our battered 110 defender or tractor. I very quickly picked up the ropes and all I wanted for my 16th birthday was to pass my tractor test. My love for farming still to this day is just as prevalent. I take great pride in the work I have done and how hard I have worked to get to where I am. After graduating from The Royal Agricultural University, nearly three years ago there was no question that I wanted to come home and help my father on the family arable farm. Within a year of coming home I had signed my first contract farming agreement for just under 200 acres, something I still take great pride in.
British agriculture is forever evolving, and I am determined to rise to the challenge that comes with not only a changing climate but changing markets and consumer demands. Farming has always been my number one passion, being outdoors on a daily basis and getting to be part of something so much bigger, just makes so much sense to me. Being arable farmers, summer holidays were always out of the question and winter became the new summer. Our family holidays were always on the slopes instead of on the beach and the shooting season very quickly became one of my favourite times of the year.
As arable farmers, pest control plays a huge part of what we do on a daily basis. Pigeon shooting is by far my favourite form of shooting, there is nothing better than being in a hide with my dog Hector, my 12 bore side by side in hand, decoying pigeons and preventing damage to the food we have worked so hard all year to grow. One day I was sat in the hide shooting pigeons and I posted a picture of a pigeon’s crop sack on my story explaining what I was doing and the consequences this pest was having on my crop. The response I got physically shocked me, no negative comments at all, every response was inquisitive. It appeared people had absolutely no idea why I was doing what I was doing, and this is how my Instagram account @countrygirl_andlabradors was born.
I have always been extremely passionate about showcasing why I do what I do, and it is something I always try to push, especially with shooting. There’s so much more to shooting than just the pulling of a trigger and I think it’s so important that as a community we convey that rather than just showing pictures of what we have shot. As my account grew larger, I started receiving many questions from ladies in particular, many of which asking how I got into shooting and more importantly how could they get into shooting. To tell you the truth I got sick of dusting off the answers and not knowing specifically where to send these incredible ladies. This is where the idea for ‘The Country Girls UK’ was born. I posted a story calling out to all Country Girls that wanted to be part of a community of likeminded women to send me their mobile numbers (sounds super dodgy I know, but it was honestly the best thing I ever did!). I put all these fantastic ladies into a WhatsApp group and the rest is history. Our community grew to hundreds of women very quickly and it is still growing two years later.
It wasn’t until I was forced back home early from my travelling trip in March 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic, that I finally had the time that I needed to properly take this amazing network to the next level. I spent the whole of lockdown 1.0 working my ass off; brainstorming, creating mood boards, maps, bubbles, page after page of notes and ideas. Finally creating the foundations for The Country Girls UK. I had previously put on 2 simulated shooting events before my travelling endeavors and they were the best shoot days I had ever been on – this was my motivation the whole time. The ladies that it brought together, the feedback I received from the ladies and the memories we made from those two days alone was all I needed to spur me on. I really wanted to take it to the next stage and make it a recognisable brand that women from all around the UK, even if they didn’t know me personally, would trust the name and would want to be involved with our community. By Lockdown 2.0 I was fully in the swing of harvest, spending 14 hours a day on a combine and then coming home to work on the edits for our brand new website. It was absolutely crazy, but I was so determined to make this work and for it to be as amazing as I had dreamed it could be.
At the beginning of October, I hired a Virtual Assistant Charlotte, to help take the workload off my shoulders a wee bit. By November 2020 we launched our brand-new website www.thecountrygirlsuk.com including our calendar of game and simulated shooting events. We also launched two CGUK memberships; one social and one simulated. Our social membership is designed for all those country girls’ that want to meet like-minded women even if they have never picked up a gun before. We hold regular socials, demos and do numerous giveaways and we really do have a cracking bunch of ladies involved. Our simulated membership has been designed to include all our social perks, but the main priority for us is to make shooting as affordable and accessible as possible for our ladies and that’s exactly what our simulated membership does.
Along, with our memberships and events we created a British marketplace. The main emphasis for this was to help promote and bring together the very best country businesses across the UK. I always really struggle to find good, reliable country brands and it has always been a passion of mine to help promote smaller, British businesses. We have some phenomenal brands on our marketplace that I use religiously, including the amazing ‘Ladies in the Field’. As well as promoting other brands, we have also set up a brand new Country Girls UK store selling our own merchandise including bespoke shooting garters, shooting caps and we are also in the process of designing, creating and manufacturing our own bespoke shooting clothing. Watch this space!
The network of women we have is unbelievable and it has always been a priority to us, that the brands we work with and the women in our community have a platform they can shout about what they do on. This is how our Country Girls UK blogs started, we wanted our website to be a hub of information, whether this was reviews, fashion advice, recipes, articles or an insight into our membership. We wanted our blogs to be the perfect space to give our members and the brands we’re associated with a voice on our platform. I absolutely love reading our blogs, it really gives you an insight into the individuals within our community.
To say the last 10 months have been a whirlwind would be an understatement, we had a fantastic game season planned with every peg sold out, which was then cancelled at short notice due to COVID19. However, the loyalty our members have shown throughout has made every single second of work worth it. We adapted during the last lockdown and took our social events online so our members could meet virtually. Something that is so important at this time when friends can seem far away, and loneliness is rife. It’s great that our members can still get to know each other through our programme of virtual events. We have sold out simulated events as far forward as June to look forward to and I honestly can’t wait for what the future of The Country Girls UK holds. We really are a bunch like no other and I am so proud to call a lot of those ladies my very good friends. Roll on 2021!
Tania Coxon, Founder of The Country Girls UK