In the box … Kelly Baker-Jamieson and her husband, Andrew, say their living gifts are not throw-away items.When Edible Blooms’ founder, Kelly Baker-Jamieson, starts work in her home office every day, she can see rolling hills, ocean views and the angus cattle on her farm. Out the back is a converted historic shearing shed, and surrounding her property are large dams and flower gardens.
As Baker-Jamieson reflects, it was almost meant to be that her farm in regional South Australia would one day become the home of her new sustainable online venture, Green Thumb Gifts.
Launched recently, Green Thumb Gifts gives customers the chance to send their friends and family living plants via the internet – beautiful orchids and African violets for birthdays, sets of fragrant Italian herbs for housewarmings and budding magnolia trees for sensitive occasions.
“It fits that real want and need out there for environmentally aware and sensitive gifting. It’s not a throw-away item and customers can keep, grow and enjoy the plants for a long time,” Baker-Jamieson says.
Baker-Jamieson and her team began actively working on the launch of Green Thumb Gifts six months ago when her husband, Andrew Jamieson, joined the business as general manager.
He quit his full-time corporate job at a large global company and promptly swapped his suit for a pair of jeans to convert the old shed into a nursery with an automatic sprinkling system for the business.
Other responsibilities range from researching packaging options and purchasing stock to helping take customer orders over the phone.
”In the future, we also plan to leverage Andrew’s network and years of experience working in the US, China and South-East Asia to continue to grow the Edible Blooms Group of companies,” Baker-Jamieson says.
It has been seven years since she first launched the multi-award winning Edible Blooms, which allows customers to send bouquets of chocolate and other delicious gifts to loved ones. At the end of its first financial year, the online store had sold more than $1 million in products. It now has 35 employees, 100,000 customers in its database and five offices across Australia and New Zealand.
It’s a long way from when Baker-Jamieson first hired a giant strawberry costume to walk up and down Oxford Street in Paddington to spread word of her new venture in 2005.
Green Thumb Gifts was launched to complement Edible Blooms, says Baker-Jamieson, and the two businesses leverage off each other. Both businesses share the same courier network and similar logistics and business systems, which were first built for Edible Blooms.
“The Green Thumb Gifts brand gives our customers the opportunity to stay with us for a longer lifetime. For example, someone who has sent an anniversary gift from Edible Blooms one year can then delight again with a growing gift from Green Thumb Gifts the following year – and vice-versa,” she says.
While consumer sales at Edible Blooms have continued to grow at double digit-rates this financial year, Baker-Jamieson has noticed a slowdown in retail spending recently, particularly from the corporate sector. However, she believes businesses still have the capacity to succeed in the tougher economic climate.
“You can spend all your time complaining or you can make things happen,” she says.
”People are still spending money. They’re being more selective, but if you offer an amazing product and an amazing service to customers, there’s definitely demand out there.
“Things are a lot tighter than they once were and you have to work a lot harder to get customer loyalty compared to 12 months ago. But when things get tough, you have to go back to the real basics like delivering on your promise. It’s not the bells and whistles and extra technology that help you stand out, but good old-fashioned customer service.”
When she launched Edible Blooms in 2005, online retail was still a relatively new concept and she has learnt many lessons which she plans to integrate into Green Thumb Gifts.
She learnt to embrace social media when Facebook and Twitter first became popular ways of marketing for small businesses.
According to Baker-Jamieson, transparency and honest communication are key to running a successful social media outlet. If an unhappy customer posts negative feedback on the Facebook wall, it is immediately managed by an Edible Blooms staff member in an open forum, so other customers can view how the business deals with problems.
Another major lesson for Baker-Jamieson was the importance of continually improving the Edible Blooms website.
Work is under way on launching a mobile version of the business’s website. “You can never sit back. When you’ve got a website, you need to keep investing your time into it. You have to keep making it fresh and innovative for customers,” she says.
”It’s like a shop window. People will stop coming into your store if they don’t see the window changing.”
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