Julie: “Help Your Neighbors and Grow Your Business”

The following story is written by Julie Ott, a member from North Berwick, Maine, USA.  Julie is a young woman who grew up farming and raising livestock. She makes her own cheeses and goat milk soap and especially loves making her own jam recipes.

My name is Julie Ott. I live on a small family farm in Maine where we keep goats, chickens, and pigs. We live off of the land and have known bartering for years. Outside of Simbi, our canned goods are bartered for many things. We also use our gardening and livestock experience to barter. I guess you could call us eclectic, or even non-consumerists. I barter with my parents all the time too (it IS a family farm, after all). I get fresh eggs and vegetables for goat cheese and fresh milk. I’ll even trade sour cream. The possibilities are endless. Simbi is JUST like that!

I stumbled upon Simbi a short while ago; I really loved the idea. I figured I couldn’t lose anything in joining, so I signed up in hopes it would be everything the website said it would be. Simbi really is community run and there are always new people joining to share their expertise and help others. While my first few experiences left me wondering if I could count on others to follow through, I soon found myself enjoying deals with others.

My Simbi story starts a few months ago, when I was in need of a couple of things for my soap business. You see, I make goat milk soap on our family farm and needed a stamp with our logo to place into the soap. A very professional gentleman accepted my proposal and created a 3D printed soap stamp, even though he had never done one before. It came out better than expected and was so easy to use! The new 3D printed soap label inspired me to remake my soap packaging. Now my soaps look very professional! Those led me to seek out a graphic designer to create a poster for craft shows for me to sell my products at.

My latest deal involves me teaching cheese-making to an eager student. We decided a virtual video would be best, as we do not live locally. I really enjoyed making Colby and Parmesan and even yogurt for my student. I have been making goat cheese for a few years now and I was surprised how many people did not know how to convert other recipes to goat milk. I am happy to be able to lend a hand with what I didn’t realize was becoming a rare skill.

Simbi has helped my business blossom.

My tips for Simbi members: keep it going. Share your skills so others can grow, learn, and then share their own skills and creativity. Don’t forget to help others; check requests often, as your skills may be needed. There are lots of deals to be had. This is not a place for large payments and it doesn’t use money. It is purely neighbors helping neighbors by passing on the help and kindness. They then pass it on to others and the cycle continues. Oh! And don’t forget, don’t be afraid to say you can’t follow through with a deal if something happens. Be honest about it; we will understand here in Simbi.


Simbiotic Stories are real anecdotes told by you and other Simbi community members. Tell us about your Simbi deals and experiences with other members. If your story is published, we’ll credit your account with 150 simbi. Submit your entries by starting a conversation with us via this link.


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