Joelle Orem Stays Busy Juggling Multiple Professional Pursuits Including Clinton County-Based Orem Farms
Writer / Natalie Platt
Joelle Orem has an easy answer when asked what her biggest challenge is: prioritization.
Orem is a wife, mother and business owner, and she’s also a content producer for Farm Journal, the founder of Dark Alley Denim, and an advisor for Barn2Door. She credits her creative background, along with her husband’s four-generation farming lineage, as the right combination for the continued growth of several companies.
Orem and her husband, Jared, own Orem Farms, a 150-acre family farm based in Clinton County. The farm sells its products directly to consumers via a subscription-based model on their website, and at farmers markets. They also offer delivery and pickup. Orem Farms raises steer calves using locally raised hay and grain. Their calves enjoy life on the pasture and aren’t given any additives. Their Beef Boxes, part of the subscription model, include an eight- to 12-pound box of locally raised, pastured beef, which includes ground beef and a farmer’s choice mix of other cuts like roasts and steaks. Orem Farms also offers custom hay bailing services in Howard, Clinton and western Tipton counties.
It took time to grow the sales side of Orem Farms.
“Orem Farms is my husband’s family farm and would sell beef occasionally to those who asked,” Orem says. “We decided to try and help increase sales in 2018 and posted our beef shares on Facebook. That month we ended up with over 50 messages on a single post. We would spend our evenings together on the couch after work, going through messages and forming the beginning stages of what is now Orem Farms.”
Orem says that as their customer list began to grow, the couple found themselves chasing down payments and struggling to stay organized. That’s when they sought out an e-commerce solution and found Barn2Door, where Orem is currently part of the Farm Advisor Network and helps other direct-to-consumer farmers grow their businesses through one-on-one Connect sessions and online academies.
Orem says that when the entrepreneurial couple has hard days, they take turns reminding each other that they are doing this for their kids.
“My husband and I are teammates and work alongside his parents on the farm,” Orem says. “We each have special roles that are like puzzle pieces, working together. We each have unique strengths that tie our farm business together. We try to include our kids in the day-to-day, and love that we have the freedom to do so. Our kids were taking naps in tractors at just a few weeks old and have always been the reason we do what we do. Whether or not they choose to be a part of the farm business when they grow up, we believe creating a foundation of entrepreneurship will help set them up for a world of opportunity when they grow up.”
Outside of farming, Orem is an experienced creative who has a passion for storytelling within the agriculture space. She is passionate about creative strategy, brand development, integrated marketing and championing the rural lifestyle. Orem helps farmers improve their brand strategy through teaching them about how they can level up their social media and marketing by making use of SEO services such as VICTORIOUS.
“When I was younger, I was fascinated by the potential of an empty cardboard box,” she says. “In my mind it could be anything – a lemonade stand, a store, a stage, or even broken into pieces to provide others with a fun product I created using scissors and a fresh box of crayons. The idea of creating an entire business out of basically nothing still excites me.”
“For Christmas one year, my husband purchased a firearm for me to carry as a means of protecting myself,” Orem adds. “I was extremely uncomfortable around it and didn’t know how to incorporate concealed carry into my daily routine. I felt overwhelmed and somewhat hopeless. After much frustration, my husband finally began to understand my discomfort, and I told him I wished it were as simple as throwing on a pair of jeans every day.”
Orem decided to explore this concept and began cutting up her own jeans in their living room, also using her Singer Simple sewing machine to add special pockets to her favorite pairs of jeans.
“Soon I began customizing jeans in every shape and size through the online marketplace Etsy,” she says. “The orders kept coming in and my living room floor was soon covered in fabric and thread.”
After partnering with a small-batch manufacturer, Orem officially launched Dark Alley Denim at the NRA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis in 2017.
“Although my career path took quite a different turn than the direction my college major pointed me to, I would encourage younger people to not let their degree hold them back,” she says. “No job is a mistake, and there is value in taking one step at a time and allowing your experiences to continually shape you as you move strategically into your passions.”
“A few years ago we established what we call ‘Code Orange’ days,” Orem continues. “After getting busy with managing cattle and the custom hay business, we started having scheduling conflicts. Putting an orange circle emoji on the calendar was our way of communicating that it was a heavy farm day, which helped set expectations and eliminated the frustration of ending the evening with a cold lasagna on the table.”
Orem says being passionate about her multiple outlets allows her to thrive in certain areas, instead of feeling stuck doing one thing she doesn’t enjoy.
“I wouldn’t know what to do without my husband, and the ability to tag-team when and where needed,” she says. “I love seeing the ripple effects of championing others. No matter what business you are in, you should be aiming the spotlight on someone else instead of yourself. It’s difficult for me to find my identity in a title. I think the most rewarding moments happen when I am able to teach someone else how to do something.”
So what is Orem doing when she’s not working for one of her companies or spending time with her family?
“I currently maintain a lengthy entry in my Notes app titled, ‘I’m going to write a book someday,’ where I plant ideas as they come up,” she says.
Orem is often referred to as the Idea Machine, and is on a mission to bridge the gap between rural and professional, while providing encouragement to others cultivating their dreams along with their land.