So many stay at home mums are looking for a side hustle that adds some extra value back into the family and satisfies their need for a professional interest. Women pour so much of their hearts and souls into what they do, we are always thinking about the creative side and how to make customers happy.
Michelle Brady’s side hustle grew from a love of gardening into a full time business and here’s how she did it.
Congratulations on the success of Sow 'n Sow. What inspired you to start this eco-friendly gift of seeds business?
Thank you :)
I wanted to have a life with flexibility, to be in control of my day every day and not beholden to a boss! I knew I wanted to have kids and I didn’t want to be a full time working mum, so I aspired to run my own business.
The hard part was figuring out what business! I wanted it to be somewhat creative as I’ve always been creatively driven. A love of gardening and design drew me towards seeds and the idea of seed gift seemed like something that could work. I gave it a lot of thought then decided to just give it a go.
How did you first fund the business?
I had quite a lot of savings mainly from my days working full time while living at home with my parents when I was around 20.
I added to this over the years and eventually had enough to either put down a house deposit, or start a business! I decided to start a business and the funds supported me financially for the first couple of years while also funding all the initial expenses of getting started, which was mainly printing & design costs.
I also continued to work part time initially but when it got too hard to juggle everything I took the leap and went full time. It took about 3 years before the business was generating a decent income.
How many seed packs have you sold since launching in 2010?
About 400,000! That’s including custom designs and we’ve had a few custom design orders for 50,000 so that has certainly bumped our numbers up.
What other products have you incorporated into Sow 'n Sow
We sell beautiful brightly coloured gift tags and Flower Presses! We work with a craftsman in Melbourne and added our first flower press in 2014. They were slow to gain popularity but they’ve become in high demand lately and we can’t keep up anymore! We also distribute some products which tie into our 'gardening gifts' niche. Currently we have gorgeous little ‘Plant Animals’ which come from the UK and are brass animals which you attach to the stems of your indoor plants. They’re very cute!
What’s been the most rewarding thing about starting Sow 'n Sow?
Definitely seeing it grow and grow (pun intended) every year is extremely rewarding. Also hearing kind words from customers who’ve discovered our products or been moved from receiving one of our gifts.
We donate our ‘Forget-me-not’ Gifts of Seeds to a beautiful Brisbane based charity called Precious Wings who provide memory boxes to families who’ve suffered a loss of a baby or miscarriage.
Every time they request more packets they start the email with ‘Sadly, we need more of your beautiful seeds’. It really is sad to know that so many of these boxes are needed, but lovely to know that in a very small way we are providing a token of care & support.
And the biggest challenges?
Keeping up with everything! Trends change, technologies and social media keep changing! There is also a constant pressure to have new things and developing new products is a really big project. Coming up with the seed type, the purpose of the ‘gift’ and then designing it, marketing it and producing it all take a lot of time and effort. We work with an amazing designer - Daniella Germain and she always get the design bang-on what I had in mind so that certainly makes it easier. And we have some great suppliers who we’ve worked with for many years who know our standards, for example our printer in Geelong, so that certainly helps too.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs just starting out?
I think the fact that I was able to fund the business myself from the get go made getting started much easier. Being frugal all along the way certainly helps. While it is a lifestyle business, I’m not doing it just to keep myself busy!
I also love quotes like ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ - the hardest part is backing yourself and taking the first leap. Stop making up excuses (I did this for a long time), work out ways that the excuses can be overcome then start very small and just give it a go.
What’s one thing you do every day for yourself?
This is an area that I could really really work on. At the moment with 2 demanding young girls and a business I’m not sure I’m doing much for myself except for indulging in chocolate from time to time!
Spending time in the garden is indulging for me though and I do try to do a little bit of this every day, whether it’s just picking passionfruit, a bit of weeding or planting some seedlings.
Best piece of advice you’ve received?
Think of what your ideal life looks like, then figure out how to make it happen.
I read a book when starting out called ‘The E Myth’ which was talked about this and really inspired my business journey.
What are you most proud of?
I’m proud that I am able to support my family from this little business, and I love that I provide employment for some great locals including Jess who’s our main employee.
She’s just 20 but is super smart, wonderful and so capable that I’ve been able to take a step ‘back’ from the business since my second daughter Freya was born. I’m now able to juggle being a mum and spending time with my girls whilst focusing on the ‘bigger picture’ in my business such as marketing, systems and new products.
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