Business-advice

Edible Blooms Celebrates 10 Years Of Gifts From The Heart

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.

RELATED: Bare Blossom’s Blooming Business

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.

Edible Blooms, businesswoman, women in business

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.

Edible Blooms, businesswoman, women in business

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.

Edible Blooms, businesswoman, women in business

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.

November 2, 2014

How to Leave Your Job and Start Your Own Business

Sharon Zeev Poole, director of Agent99 Public Relations, explains what not to fear when leaving a corporate role to start your own company.

About seven years ago, I was working for a mid-sized public relations firm in Sydney and was ready for a change.  In fact, I wanted my boss’ job…which wasn’t going to happen given that she owned the business!  Although I had brilliant clients who I had a fantastic relationship with, amazing colleagues who are still my friends today, and great work life balance, I knew I had more to give.

I had many years’ of experience under my belt in the PR industry and the choice was either to go to a large firm and manage a team as an Account Director, or start a business where I could really take all I had learned and shape a company according to my values.  Despite serious nerves, I opted for the latter and started Agent99 Public Relations. I haven’t looked back since.

What I did learn on this journey was that the fears were much greater before I embarked on my mission then when I actually took the plunge and opened the doors for business.  So, if you’re in a similar situation, you have a marvellous idea and want to take that leap, here are my top five tips on the fears you shouldn’t have:

1. I’m too scared to give up my secure job and that steady income

Regret the things you don’t do, not the things you do. That was one of the first things that my husband told me when I met him.  I think it would be such a shame to be left wondering in life “where would I be if I had done this”…

At the same time, if you’re the type of person who loses sleep at night if you can’t pay the bills (like me), and you want to enjoy the journey, save up enough cash or work towards seed funding. That way, you will feel secure enough to take the plunge for a set (and realistic) period of time.  Once you have that, go for it!

2. What if I fail?

Most successful multi millionaire entrepreneurs have failed a number of times before ‘making it big’.  You need to think as positively as possible and back yourself 100%.  That conviction will also get you through the toughest times, and believe me, there are plenty of them, so be prepared to feel uncomfortable.  But to me, that’s part of the journey.  If you see yourself as a resourceful and determined person, failure just won’t be an option.

3. If I fail, what will my friends and family think of me?

Just by taking the plunge, you are doing more than what 99% of the population will ever dream of doing.  Your friends and family will think you’re courageous for doing it in the first place.  It will also become apparent very quickly as to whom the most positive of your supporters are.  Get very close to them as they will see you through the challenges, and be there to celebrate the good times with you too.

4. What if I don’t know enough about business?

Learn.  There are tons of inexpensive short business courses that are run by the government.  To that end, there are also lots of grants to tap into.  Do some research and you’ll be amazed at what you find.  While you’re saving for your venture or writing proposals for funding, spend that time investing in your knowledge in the spaces that you feel a little unsure about.  Once you’ve started your business, keep educating yourself.  It’s the most worthwhile investment you’ll make.  Also, get a business coach.  The right one will push you to the next level and are worth their weight in gold.

5. What if I lose a whole heap of money?

That’s what your savings are for.  Set a timeline that you feel comfortable with, so you don’t go into serious debt if this is a real fear for you.  For me, it was to replace my salary within six months, or get out.  Everyone is different, so write a plan for your business and a personal one that aligns to that.  And stick to it.  The worst thing that can happen is that you burn through those savings and the business doesn’t go according to plan.  Pat yourself on the back for having tried, dust yourself off and look to the next thing as Donald Trump would!

Clearly, it’s much easier in hindsight but those principles are still very relevant to me now, even seven years down the line.

Whilst we have an incredible team and a gorgeous office in Surry Hills, and we get to work on some amazing corporate and consumer brands such as Evian, the Hunter Valley Region, and MTV, there are fears to face daily.

The challenging economy and changing landscape in our industry means there are always threats to guard against.  So, we need to check in and see if we’re on track in terms of our goals, and apply the same rules to overcome any fears.

Business is like a Luna Park ride. Some highs can lift you to the sky, and some lows can turn your belly inside out.  But no matter what the outcome, you’re always going to have a smile on your face when you’ve done it!

Are you thinking of starting your own business?

Having worked all over the world on high profile brands such as Warner Bros. Pictures and Starbucks Coffee for over 13 years, Sharon founded Agent99 Public Relations in January 2007.  An agency built on strong strategic and creative credentials, Agent99 is in constant pursuit of the unconventional, routinely implementing bold brand campaigns that capture national attention in unexpected ways. Committed to achieving unbeatable results, Sharon is always innovating to keep the agency one step ahead of the competition. Today, Agent99 represents an enviable list of lifestyle, consumer and business-to-business clients across the food and wine, travel, health, beauty, online and non-for-profit spaces.

September 27, 2013