The South Australian sole trader behind sustainable mini-garden start-up Fleurieu Gifts was crowned the winner of the inaugural PACK & SEND Small Business Logistics Grant on Thursday night following an all-female final.
Charlene Maney, who quit the corporate world in 2014 to found Fleurieu Gifts, prevailed over seven other female entrepreneurs to win the prize. She received a $10,000 worth of parcel and freight services from PACK & SEND plus a year’s worth of parcel and courier freight advice from the company’s account manager and a three-month mentorship with Hannah Staples, co-founder of Peppermint Grove Australia.
“We know that cash flow, marketing and time management are some of the key challenges small business owners face,” Michael Paul, CEO and founder of PACK & SEND, told Dynamic Business. “Our Small Business Logistics Grant aims to take the organisation and cost of courier and freight services off the hands of business owners, allowing them more capacity to focus on other business needs, such as marketing and innovation.
“We received over 130 entries from small businesses across the nation, spanning a variety of industries including health and wellbeing, electronics and technology, food and beverage, art and culture, fitness and fashion. While entries came from a fairly-balanced mix of male- and female-led businesses, an impressive group of female leaders presented as the strongest entrants, as per the judging criteria and aggregated scores.”
“To be eligible for the grant, businesses had to be Australian based, have less than 10 employees and turn over less than $2 million. Eight finalists were selected from a shortlist of 38 following a thorough assessment from our judging panel. Judging criteria included: whether the applicant offers a service that benefits the environment, others in the community and/or people in Australia; whether they provide a product or service that meets a gap in the market; whether they clearly articulated reasons why the grant will be valuable; and they the exhibited insight and competence in the way/s they can successfully grow their business.”
Maney spoke to Dynamic Business about the purpose and success of Fleurieu Gifts, which is an ecommerce venture based in South Australia, and how she will use the Small Business Logistics Grant to realise her growth plans:
“Our core service is providing ecofriendly, sustainable gift alternatives to cut flowers. Made with living plants, our gifts are designed to provide lasting joy and their unique, handmade charm allows Fleurieu Gifts stand out from other plant based businesses. I source a majority of my products, including plants and produce for teas, locally because I truly believe that being a sustainable business does not only encompass being eco-friendly. Sourcing products locally does cut down on fuel miles, but it also creates community sustainability. I support other local small businesses and by doing so I actively commit to a more prosperous and sustainable local community. In South Australia we have seen our share of hardship over the last few years with the closing down of many large businesses and that has made us very aware of the importance of choosing local and supporting our local businesses wherever possible.”
“In April, I’ll be celebrating the 3rd anniversary of Fleurieu Gifts. I’ve grown the business from scratch, visiting markets and doing my own SEO, and have now a six-figure turnaround. In the past year, I’ve managed to grow our local SA sales by over 500% by holding pop-up shops, hosting workshops and generating business through word of mouth and a reputation for great customer service. Interstate sales continue to grow as our brand becomes more recognised and traffic to our website grows organically.”
“The big goal in the short term is to triple sales over the next two years and increasing products that can be wholesaled. By doing this, I hope that my husband will be able to join me full time in running the business. That dream seems just that little bit closer after winning the grant! It will allow me to reallocate funds usually spent on courier services towards other parts of my business, such as marketing and better photography. Meanwhile, the mentorship will be invaluable to help me identify areas for growth and implement them. Learning from someone like Peppermint Grove’s Hannah Staples is a money-can’t-buy opportunity that I would never otherwise have. Meanwhile, in circumstances where sole traders, such as myself, tend to be somewhat isolated, the grant presented an invaluable opportunity to network with other finalists.”