A late-in-life pivot toward entrepreneurship has helped hatch a Midlothian startup that’s geared toward bird lovers.
In December, Johanna Braat launched Bird Allure, a company that makes a bird feed spread and bird feeders.
Braat has created two blends of the bird food spread. She makes and packages the spread in her kitchen and makes Bird Allure’s feeders from poplar wood in a workshop in her backyard.
“It incorporates seeds and fruits which birds like to eat,” Braat said. “When you go buy bird food, it’s usually in bags of seed blends. I decided, ‘Why don’t I develop my own special blend and sell it online?”
Braat, 57, said she started making bird feeders when she lost her job as an administrative assistant at HCA in 2012.
“I had about a year where I couldn’t find a job,” Braat said. “I’m starting out late in life but pursuing a dream I’ve always had. I’ve always been into hand-making things.”
Braat said that her mom was always fond of feeding birds. And it was while watching and listening to the starlings, blue birds, finches and nuthatches near her house that Braat got the idea to start a business.
The idea got some extra wind beneath its wings from a chance encounter at a Starbucks. Braat said one day she struck up a conversation with Shirley T. Burke, a local radio and television host, who encouraged and helped her find resources to launch the company.
Burke would eventually host Braat on her weekly show called Something Different to discuss her products.
“She turned me onto a web developer and a whole crew of networking women,” Braat said. “It was just one of those chance meetings that you have in your life ? who you’ll meet will change your life.”
Braat, who also works part-time at Home Depot, said she’s put about $4,000 of her own money into the business. She’s made more than 100 bird feeders and has sold about half of them.
She said buyers so far have mostly been in their 40s or above and are often bird watchers.
“It’s a very soothing thing to do – to watch them and listen to all the different sounds,” Braat said. “It’s an appreciation for nature.”
Half a pound of bird food spread costs $6 and a full pound costs $11. Her bird feeders sell for $18.
Braat said a farm in Massachusetts carries some Bird Allure products and she’d eventually like to see products on more store shelves.
“My hope is to grow this business into carrying specialty wild bird products,” Braat said. “I’d really like to delve further in promoting other products. I’d mostly like to promote handcrafted items.”
What a great idea for bird lovers! Best of luck to you!
Thank you kindly! Its so wonderful to have al this support and interest. I’m so encouraged and more confident about my decision to move forward with my dream.
Good luck to you and congratulations. I think your business would do great at the SOTJ farmer’s market!!
Please shoot me an email at [email protected]. I’d love to hear more about SOTJ farmer’s market.
I love supporting local entrepreneurs but I wish you RBiz added her website. I found the spread on Etsy but I can’t find her feeders.
Hi, I saw where you needed the website address. It is visible, but you’re not able to order through there as yet as it’s still not been officially published. If you’d like to order, please send me an email, and I’ll be happy to help answer any questions. Just go to http://www.birdallure.com to look at the products, and then email me. I am an entrepreneur looking to expand my business, and will entertain any opportunities to get my product out there. For the time being, you can purchase my products at YARD BIRDS at Gayton Crossing Shopping Center. Its a… Read more »
Johanna, congratulations on a great interview and your work towards your dream. You are almost there young Lady. Peace and Joy
I do believe you are my Angel!
Awesome! So exciting to have a dream and then see it begin to be real! Great looking feeders. I would like to know if Johanna would like information on vendor shows around Chesterfield VA.
I’m definately interested in hearing about vendor opportunities around Chesterfield. Please shoot me an email with some info.
Ell. Love, try this: http://birdallure.com/store/
Love to hear stories from people who are making their dreams come true.
Good for you Johanna! There’s plenty of room for your ideas in this multi million dollar industry so don’t ever give up. Good luck!