We bought an alpaca farm: Couple's life-changing move after Covid ended their business overnight
A consultant who lost his business overnight during the Covid pandemic has begun a whole new journey by taking over an alpaca farm in Shropshire.
John Franklin-Hackett, the owner of Frankly Alpacas in Broseley, had run his own consultancy business in Nuneaton while his wife Natalie was an assistant head teacher.
When the dawn broke on 2020, neither of them could predict what the next year had in store for them and how monumentally it would change their lives.
John lost his consultancy business overnight when Covid hit and fell into a deep state of depression. It was this that led him onto a completely different career path.
The 42-year-old said: "Frankly Alpacas is the result of years of dreaming about a life in the countryside, working with animals, getting away from the hustle and bustle of the modern world and giving something back to society.
"The pivotal moment came during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. To get a break from the stress and anxiety everyone was suffering, we decided to visit some alpaca farms (when restrictions allowed) and found the experience of being around alpacas incredibly relaxing and therapeutic.
"I'd never even seen an alpaca before, but we subsequently developed an interest in them and began visiting farms and breeders to gain further information and hands-on experience.
"At the end of the year, there was another blow when Covid meant we couldn't see our family over Christmas.
"We thought we could go back to the farm on Boxing Day, and that's when we realised we could do something like this. It would beat trying to get back into consultancy.
"We decided to fully commit and develop a business based around our love of animals, so we could bring that same sense of relaxation and tranquility that we experience when we spend time with alpacas to other people."
The pair went into 2021 with a mission, to spend a few years researching alpaca farms and experiences, planning to spend five years looking at the market before setting things in motion.
Realising that the place to start their endeavour would be Shropshire, John and Natalie went to the Bridgnorth company Good 2 Great for mentoring, who helped them with a business plan and suggested they rent a farm from a county estate.
It led to John and Natalie buying Mad House Farm in Broseley and its nine alpacas, from its previous owner.
John said: "He had a beautiful herd of alpacas and had been providing much-loved Paca Picnics and Treks for a couple of years, but he was looking to fulfil some new dreams in pastures new. Opportunity seemed to knock! We couldn't resist.
"Frankly Alpacas was born and we find ourselves delighted to be here in the beautiful Shropshire countryside."
"This is just the beginning for us and we have many plans for the future of Frankly Alpacas that we're hugely excited about.
"Alpacas got us through a very stressful period and we're sure an experience with them can do the same for many people in today's busy, digital and complicated world.
"We want to help you feel that same sense of relaxation, happiness and wellbeing that we did when we first met alpacas, and which we have the privilege of enjoying every day as alpaca owners."
Frankly Alpacas offers an array of alpaca experiences for guests, from large picnics with the adorable animals, to romantic trips for two.
"It's been amazing," John said, "It's an incredible community here in Shropshire and the whole country experience has just been amazing. It's better than we ever thought."