As human dynamo, businesswoman Kelly Baker-Jamieson, Managing Director of The Edible Blooms Group, gears up for her company’s big, 10-year birthday celebrations next year, she shares the secrets to her amazing success.
Kelly, 37, is the brains behind Australia’s original chocolate bouquet company, Edible Blooms, via www.edibleblooms.com.au, which opened its colourful doors in Brisbane in 2005.
A unique concept in the Australian market, Edible Blooms began with a range of just nine blooms. Now, it offers more than 100 unique gifts, playing an active role in people’s important and emotional events and milestones – everything from Halloween to housewarmings, cheering up sick loved ones in hospital, celebrating reunions between Aussie soldiers and their loved ones, wedding proposals and more.
A family-owned and operated business, Edible Blooms “come from the heart, are handmade with love and are delivered with happiness,” says Kelly.
Happy almost-10th birthday. How has the company grown and developed in that time? Thank you! We are getting close to our big, ten-year celebration and really excited about where the company is heading and also investing time reflecting on what we have achieved in our first nine years of business. Edible Blooms started as a unique idea with big visions of delivering a consistent and high-quality gift service across Australia. Beginning with just me, my sister joined me in the first year as my business partner and we have since grown to a busy team of 35 people and multi-million dollar sales each year.
How many stores do you have? We have five stores – Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Auckland. In 2015, we will be opening a sixth location in Perth.
How did you start the business? I started Edible Blooms with optimism and also a touch of naivety – I didn’t question what could be done, if I had an idea I just did it. To get the business rolling, I used my personal savings of $20,000 and committed to a commercial lease from day one. I traded in my car for a purple delivery van and set up a full ecommerce website to accept orders. In the beginning we had more phone orders, but quickly saw a trend towards online purchases growing and so invested as much as we could developing our online presence.
As MD, what do you love most about Edible Blooms? I love that we make people happy every day – we are part of our customers’ special life moments, ranging from welcoming new babies into the world to celebrating anniversaries and saying heartfelt thank yous. It’s a privilege to be trusted by our customers to deliver these messages with a personally selected edible bouquet.
What are some of your proudest moments or milestones on your path to business success? I think the turning point where we knew we were doing something pretty special was in 2009 when we were awarded Telstra MYOB Small Business of the Year for Australia. We were so busy with our heads down working hard towards our vision that we hadn’t taken the time to look up, celebrate and reflect that we had created an amazing business and workplace for our team.
Winning this prestigious award gave us a lot of confidence to keep going and also the credibility with our corporate clients that they could trust us with large orders to thank their suppliers, staff and clients with edible bouquets as a point of difference. As our corporate clientele has grown, we consistently get a “wow” from our clients that they’ve received so many more thank you messages from sending their gifts than ever before. We take our job of making our clients look good seriously.
Do you juggle business and motherhood? Yes, since starting Edible Blooms at 27, I have married and had two children. It is a juggle, but being a business owner means that I can determine when I work and when I spend time with my family. Often this means late nights catching up on work when I spend time with my children during the day, but the flexibility really helps to make the most of all of my children – Edible Blooms is definitely one of them!
What new challenges lie ahead? We continue to grow at a strong rate year-on-year, so there are always new challenges. However, my personal challenge for the year ahead is focusing on the personalisation of our gifts for our clients. We already offer personalised gifts for our corporate clients with logos incorporated and custom colours, but we are keen to introduce these special options for every customer so watch this space – designing your own creation is just around the corner!
What other businesswomen do you admire? Where do I start?! So many women inspire me daily and on the weekend I was fortunate to be invited to speak at the League of Extraordinary Women’s 2014 conference “Run the World” which profiled nine entrepreneurial women sharing their stories, mine included. This was an incredible day and every speaker inspired me and motivated me to reach higher – from Jodie Fox of Shoes of Prey to Abigail Forsyth from Keep Cup and Jane Lu of Showpo.
What advice would you give other businesswomen? The key piece of advice I have, especially to those women keen to start up their own venture, is that your speed to market is becoming increasingly important. You can’t wait to perfect every part of your concept, you need to launch it as soon as it’s close to ready and listen to customer feedback. Today’s business environment is all about listening to customers and consistently refining and improving your offering. If you spend too much time behind the scenes before going live, chances are that 20 other people will beat you to the starting line and have captivated customers by relaunching an improved version of your concept before you even start.
What are some of the biggest business mistakes you’ve made? In my “get it done” mentality, I invested heavily in a VOIP telephone system for the business a few years ago that was too sophisticated for our needs. It cost a lot to unravel and I went back to my tried and true simple solution and have never looked back. Never overcomplicate something that can be simple!
Have you had to overcome any major obstacles? When the GFC arrived in 2008, we had committed to a new office building purchase, moving all of our systems to an expensive cloud based ERP system and also purchased our first server. Just as we had started to get in front, we were hit by our first slow-down in sales since opening the doors. After an initial freak out, we rationalised a strategy of developing a large “under $5” gift range and managed to keep our top line sales growing by 30 per cent through that tough time. Whenever a major obstacle comes along, it forces lateral thinking to create a solution and I find that we are always stronger for it.
How do you stay inspired? By surrounding myself with positive people and on my office wall in front of me I keep lots of inspiring quotes and messages to keep me smiling and focussed.
Do you have any business mentors? Yes, mentors are really important. You need to find mentors who will ask you the tough questions and keep you accountable. If your mentor only gives you positive feedback, find another one! They should make you feel uncomfortable and continually question what and why you are doing things.