Getting started

My Small Rural Business: Jane Cay of

- September 11, 2019 3 MIN READ

According to the ABS, regional businesses account for over 800,000 businesses. As part of our Regional Heroes campaign, we’re profiling some of these incredible small business owners, like Jane Cay of Birdsnest Online, to see what makes them (and their towns) tick!

What is the name of your business? birdsnest
What is your website?
Instagram: @birdsnestonline

When did you start your small biz?
It all started back in 2004 when I purchased a bricks and mortar clothing store in the small country town of Cooma, NSW. Four years later in 2008, birdsnest launched online, and in the eleven years since, we have grown to over 140 local employees and sent over 1 million parcels to customers all around Australia and overseas, all accompanied with a hand-written note.

Why did you start it? 

A career in retail wasn’t always on the cards for me. After completing a commerce degree, I took on an e-business consultant role with IBM and had my sights set on a life in the big smoke. However, as is often the case, fate became involved when I fell in love with a farmer, and later moved to the country so that we could start a life together. As one of the most impractical humans alive, I knew I needed to find a career path outside the farm! I grew up in an entrepreneurial family, and so it seemed natural to set out to find a small business to nurture and grow. 

Is it the only biz of its kind in your area? 

There are other retailers in our district that have also expanded their market through their online presence, reaching new customers and boosting the local economy. 

What do you love most about living where you live? 

The natural beauty and pace of life. I love that I drive through nature to arrive at work and then can be at my child’s school for an assembly in two minutes and have no trouble finding a park. We are perfectly located an hour from the snow fields, an hour from the South Coast and an hour from Canberra. We truly get to live in the slow lane and work in the fast lane. Lucky us!

How would you describe your client base? 

Women who would like a ‘wardrobe wingbird’ or style support team. 

Who/what do you consider your biggest competitor?

My father and mentor always said, businesses spend too much time worrying about their competitors. So instead we try to spend time worrying about how we can improve for our customers and solve their problems in a better way. 

How do most of your clients find you? 

Word of mouth continues to be our biggest referrer. There is nothing more powerful than looking after the customers you have.  

Do you network with other small biz in your area? 

Yes we do – finding opportunities for partnerships or to share information or resources. Mainstreet, predominantly a men’s clothing retailer in Cooma, has also gone online and we openly share learnings with each other. 

Do you have a local chamber of commerce in your area? 

Yes, we do. The Cooma Chamber of Commerce is a very proactive community group within the local Monaro region. 

What do you think is the greatest challenge your community/area/district faces right now?

It is both a challenge and an opportunity – to support the community that will plan and build Snowy 2.0 which will help meet Australia’s future energy needs with renewables. 

Who is your greatest support? 

Finding the right partner in life certainly gives you a massive leg up when you are trying to raise a family and a business. Oli, my farmer, would be my greatest support – when I doubt myself, his tough love and encouragement gets me back on my feet. 

What’s your biggest goal for the next 5 years? 

We have a much loved brand that empowers women and provides career opportunities in a regional location. We want to continue focusing on how our business can do good in the world, including reducing our impact on the planet.  

What is your biggest challenge in terms of growing your business? 

Reaching new women to introduce to the nest, the cost of acquiring new customers outside of ‘word of mouth’ continues to head north as the digital space becomes more crowded. 

What/where is your favourite place in your town and why? 

The garden at my childhood home where my parents still live and where so many happy memories reside. I was born in Cooma, so haven’t moved far!


Read more about Jane’s story on Kochie’s Business Builders. 

Nominate Jane for our Regional Heroes competition

Regional Heroes is proudly supported by Yellow Online.

Whether your business is a cast of hundreds, a sole trader, a boutique or mainstream, Yellow Online has the platform to connect your business with more customers.