Kristy Plumridge wasn't born into farming, but she has become a proud custodian of 150 acres of precious pasture and bushland in Yarragon South, Victoria.
Nestled in the rolling hills is The Ridge House, a stylishly restored private country retreat providing a tranquil haven for lovers of fine food, open fires, bracing walks, and breathtaking views.
Tell us about your business and how it started?
We renovated and stayed in this home while eagerly waiting for our farmhouse at Green Hills to be ready and when we moved out I just couldn't keep this special place all to myself. So, in April 2019, I decided to open its doors to guests.
My original plan was to give it a shot for a year, and if things didn't quite click, I'd consider renting it out. But, I fell head over heels for hosting!
There's something magical about sharing this cozy haven, surrounded by the beauty of West Gippsland and the growing foodie scene of local restaurants and artisans.
What started as a little venture has blossomed into a thriving business, and the happiness it brings me and my guests is still going strong.
What challenges have your faced in business?
The 2020 Gippsland bushfires, a global pandemic and now a looming 7.5% Victorian state tax on short stay rentals.
There is always some challenge affecting your business you have to work ways pivot and overcome. The key to facing these challenges is to maintain a proactive mindset and a flexible business strategy.
For example, as we confront the upcoming State tax on short stay rentals looking to be implemented in 2025, we're actively exploring new revenue streams, ways we can add more value the accommodation experience and refining our financial planning to mitigate its impact on us and our guests.
What are your favourite work tools?
I’m a big fan of Canva, and my education and training as a Finished Artist means I can really use the tools in this app to the max.
I love the brand kit that stores all your fonts, palettes, logos, etc but especially loving the new AI feature of brand voice which is really helpful in creating text content for ads and socials.
The best tip for creating a brand voice is think of your brand as a person and the communication style they would use.
For example, The Ridge House communicates with a welcoming, reflective voice, embodying the essence of slow living, nature, and sustainability. It's like an old friend, sharing tales of hiking with a glass of local vino by the the warmth of an open fire.
What was your first big investment in your business and what impact did it have?
My first major investment at The Ridge House was in professional photography, and it made a significant impact.
I used my entire year's marketing budget to engage renowned photographer Marnie Hawson and stylist Belle Hemming for a two-day photoshoot.
Besides getting a catalogue of amazing images, for my website, social media and PR, I learned a lot personally through the experience including the art of creating captivating shots, perfecting styling for images, and understanding the importance of impeccable lighting, even down to dusting off sneaky dust bunnies from our light shades.
Four years later, the investment is still paying off, with one of the images selected for the cover of Visit Victoria's quarterly travel magazine supplement in the Herald Sun's Autumn 2023 edition, reaching 100,000 households.
It's amazing how that initial investment continues to showcase our accommodation and continue to instil an impression on our guests.
What is the best piece of business advice you were given?
The best piece of business advice I've received is simply, ‘just start’. It's a reminder that sometimes the biggest barrier to success is overthinking and hesitation.
Taking that first step, even if it's a small one, can set you on the path to achieving your business goals and a life you want to live.
It's not about perfection, which can lead to paralyses about starting, it's about progress and learning from your mistakes along the way.
I've made typos in Instagram Reels, forgot to fill the guests coffee machine, under quoted my time - but does anyone actually care today? Maybe my mum; spelling mistakes drive her insane!
My business is still thriving and growing and guests still love staying with us. And, I am still enjoying doing it.
How can women support other women?
Mentorship and amplification are two ways that I both receive and give support to women who enter my circle. Actively listening to concerns, providing encouragement and empathy, brainstorming ideas and solutions together, and promoting collaboration over competition are the keys to building strong networks and fostering reciprocity. These actions help us support each other in achieving our goals and overcoming challenges.