All of you have probably sunk your teeth into a fresh, juicy peach without giving a second thought to the type of peach you were eating. Was it a Georgia peach or a South Carolina peach? Since Stephen Rose grew up picking peaches from the trees of Pearson Farm, he knows what defines a fresh peach. When he and his wife Jessica moved to Nashville, TN, they couldn’t find freshly picked Georgia peaches anywhere. Like any couple with an entrepreneurial spirit, they saw an opportunity to fill a unique hole. After weighing all of their options, they decided to leave their “normal” behind and take a risk. So, with an old Jeep and a box of peaches, the fearless duo took a Wild Measure and started The Peach Truck. We were honored that Stephen would sit down with us to share the story behind the peach slinging dream, their tips for those looking to take their own Wild Measure, and what the future holds for their dream.
At the end of the day, we have a very simple business. I (Stephen) grew up in Peach County, GA. When you think of Georgia Peaches, this is where those peaches are grown. They are, quite literally, the greatest peaches on the planet. When my wife and I moved to Nashville several years ago, I couldn’t believe there weren’t good peaches during the summer. So, we went and partnered with my hometown farm to bring their peaches to Nashville.
The dream started during the winter of 2012. We started asking “What if” a lot. That’s a dangerous question if you follow through. We had the simple idea that everyone should have access to fresh Georgia peaches right off the tree. The problem is that most people don’t have access to peaches right off the tree, so they’re forced to eat the peaches at grocery stores. Peaches you find at the grocery store tend to be three to four weeks off the tree. We figured that if people had a choice, they would pay a little bit more to have the best quality. We had an old Jeep Gladiator truck and 35 boxes of peaches. Our friends over at Imogene + Willie invited us to park in their lot, and there The Peach Truck was born.
When starting a business, there are a lot of motivating factors that come into play. For us, freedom was the initial motivating factor when we were making the decision. I worked a corporate job and Jessica had her own house cleaning business. We both wanted more out of life. Jessica is from Seattle, and all of her family is out there, so the two and a half weeks of vacation wasn’t cutting it for me. We figured that we were young with low overhead and a dream. Why not go for it?
Every step felt like a huge risk to us. The first time we brought peaches up to Nashville was a risk. The first time we hired someone was a risk. The first time we promised someone a salary was a risk. This has been 100% new territory for us every year. We love it. We love the challenge. We love figuring out new ways to expand. The vision of fresh Georgia peaches right off the tree remains the same. Our goal is for as many people as possible to enjoy those peaches. That’s our challenge every day.
Looking back, the only reservation we felt was whether we should quit our jobs after our first season. Our first season was a season of selling peaches on nights and weekends after our normal jobs. When the 4th of July hit, that didn’t mean a day off; it meant we had a full day of selling peaches. Everything we did went back to making this dream a reality. Our first season’s sales could not have sustained our lives, but we did feel like we saw enough hope that it was worth taking a jump. It was worth quitting our jobs and putting our full energy into it.
We work non-stop (and I do mean non-stop) during the summer. Social life drops to zero. It’s all work all the time, but then we get to enjoy something called “offseason.” Offseason means traveling, dreaming, and playing. Offseason means we get to choose what we want with our time. So far, we’re loving the seasonality of the life we’re living.
There will always be concerns when jumping out, but my main concern was whether we could make this work financially. Looking back, that shouldn’t have held us up because Jessica and I will do whatever it takes to make our dream work. If it wasn’t working financially, we’d go drive Uber (like I did during the preseason) or rent our spare bedroom out on Airbnb (like we did this preseason). There’s always a way to make your dream work if it’s a priority.
For those of you chasing a dream, I always come back to this. Keep your overhead low! The reason we were able to chase our dreams is because we didn’t have any debt, and we lived simple lives. We rented an apartment far below our means. We drove used cars. We weren’t going to sacrifice our dreams for a few toys. We knew what we wanted and put our priorities there.
The lesson we have learned in the process is to test everything. Going into our second year, we nearly invested a lot of money into a business model that would have busted. We ended up not investing the money, and it’s busted on its own. It would have been tragic to make the investment then test to see if it worked. Always test your theories before making the jump.
We have found great success in what we call The Freestone Peach Tour. This year we went to 73 locations across Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio, selling peaches right off the tree. We are going to put a lot of focus into growing that next season. Also, our Farm to Porch (online sales) division is something that has not gotten nearly the love it should. We’re going to focus on growing that next season as well. At the end of the day, it’s all about getting those fresh Georgia peaches right off the tree and into your hand within a couple of days. Once you bite in for the first time, you’ll be hooked.
To stay up to date with everything that Stephen and Jessica are doing with The Peach Truck, check out the links below. They are truly writing an amazing story with their lives and passions.