Kelly Baker-Jamieson had always aspired to run her own business, so walking away from her corporate career at age 27 to launch Edible Blooms was a dream come true.
The young entrepreneur used her savings to launch the unique gifts business, which kicked off with just one store in Brisbane and a range of nine fresh fruit bouquets. Within 12 months, demand was so strong the business had gone online and expanded to Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide and upped its offering to over 100 gifts.
Baker-Jamieson’s head for business allowed her to build an efficient company with an extensive national delivery service and, as a result, sales tipped the $1 million mark in the first financial year. Under her guidance, Edible Blooms has delivered half a million gifts to consumers in Australia and New Zealand to date – no mean feat given how economic uncertainty has impacted discretionary spending since the GFC hit in 2009.
Baker-Jamieson reveals how she guided the business through the global financial crisis to Dynamic Business, is sharing some words of wisdom for other entrepreneurs.
Q. What kind of growth is the business seeing, year-on-year?
I believe that if you look after your staff, they look after your customers, who in turn look after your bottom line.
For the previous three financial years, Edible Blooms has delivered consistent minimum year-on-year growth of 30 percent. Our customer database, which began with just 50 people, now sits at more than 100,000 and is still growing.
Our Facebook page is growing rapidly too – by nearly 1,000 people each week.
Q. What were the biggest obstacles you faced in the business’s early days? How did you overcome these?
There have been plenty of obstacles in our seven years in business, and I believe that we’re all stronger for it.
In 2008 we invested in IT infrastructure, phone systems and purchased our business premises in Melbourne. Then the GFC arrived, and I installed rigorous weekly cashflow budgets. It was a period of high stress, but within a year we had traded out of our cash strapped position and achieved 30 percent growth. This is why I now live by the mantra: ‘cash is king’.
Another challenge I’ve experienced is the inherent seasonality in our staffing. To combat this, about three years ago I fixed our wage costs and implemented a unique productivity incentive. The Edible Blooms company reward program gives all staff a percentage of sales if they exceed productivity targets – and the results have been outstanding, with individual staff achieving up to $15,000 in annual bonuses.
Q. You support flexible working and have built a unique rewards program for your staff. Do you see business culture as having a significant impact on a start-up’s success?
Absolutely! I firmly believe that knowing who you are and what your business stands for is fundamental to creating a great business culture. For example, my core values – and those of Edible Blooms – are having fun at work, delivering fresh and innovative product designs and always being authentic with myself as well as with my team.
I think living and breathing company values as a leader is critical to a business. Providing incentives for staff, flexible work arrangements, and creating a true sense of a family-friendly culture reflects the kind of workplace we’ve created at Edible Blooms.
Q. What’s been the biggest learning curve you’ve experienced since starting the business?
When I started with the concept of Edible Blooms back in 2005, I had never worked in retail, used MYOB or studied floristry and creating my own website was like a foreign language. But I didn’t let this get in the way of following my dream!
I would certainly say that the first 12 months were the biggest learning curve I’ve ever experienced, but it was also the most exciting period in my working life to date.
Q. Do you have any words of wisdom for other entrepreneurs?
Success as an entrepreneur is not about doing the same as everyone else – it’s about harnessing your strengths, hiring other people that make up for your weaknesses, and forging your own path.
Embrace all opportunities to step outside the square and do things differently, it’s the key to standing out from the pack.
Q. What’s next for the Edible Blooms business?
The next few years will see a roll out of clever gift alternatives to traditional flower bouquets. In addition to our range of delicious cake pop blooms, which I think are amazing, the newest offering is our recently launched range of live plants in beautiful reusable packaging.
This Australia-wide delivery service offers beautiful flowering plants delivered in unique containers – from bird cages to rustic watering cans. Green Thumb Gifts uses environmentally friendly materials – even our brochures and gift cards are printed on 100 percent recycled stock.