Owning a plant hire business is always going to be dynamic, changing with the seasons, but the past year has been quite a different year for Gold Coast business The Borrowed Nursery. With the business usually catering to events and experiences, owner Lauren Lance adapted to the times when COVID-19 hit, helping people decorate their home offices instead with greenery. Plus, indoor plants are scientifically proven to improve mood, health, and even productivity, so it’s never been a better time to fill your house, office or event space with them!
We spoke to Lauren about how the business has changed over the years, the tools she uses to help run her business, and how COVID-19 has changed buying trends.
Tell us a little bit about how The Borrowed Nursery got started, and what running your business is like today?
I started The Borrowed Nursery about five years ago - it all began when I was helping a friend style their wedding and we were collecting assorted pots and vessels, mixing them with different plants for table decorations. From there, I saw a niche in the plant hire side of things and thought it would be a good opportunity to offer plant hire for boutique events like weddings and private parties. Since then, it has grown to a retail store, plant hire and venue hire - with locations on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane.
How is your second location in Brisbane going? What made you decide to open a new location?
We’ve had a great start to our Brisbane location, fortunately! For some time now we’ve wanted to expand there, with many of our customers travelling down to see us quite regularly. It has not only been good for our Brisbane customers but has also got us closer to our Sunshine Coast clients. We’ve also found that our inner city customers are becoming more interested in home decor since spending more time at home due to COVID-19 and remote work.
What is the most rewarding part of your work today?
Definitely just knowing that I started it from nothing and having grown the business to where it is today - pun intended!
Do you have a favourite product or project at the moment?
At our Brisbane location we have a separate sister store called Foliar - it’s a small florist where we use locally grown flowers. It has been a HUGE learning curve as well as a challenge to learn a new industry and adapting to a different customer experience.
What has kept you motivated as a business owner facing the impacts of COVID-19 in 2020 and beyond?
We were extremely fortunate to maintain trade during COVID-19 as people were staying home and wanted to make their homes lush and green. Having close and longstanding relationships with suppliers also allowed us to maintain a good level of stock during this time.
What was your biggest learning as a business owner from last year?
Do not put all your eggs in one basket. Try to diversify because you never know what’s around the corner. We worked to our strengths last year due to the fact that we have multiple offerings. Initially our plant and venue hire disappeared due to COVID-19, so having a retail set up gave us a buffer. Our other sister business - Botanica Box (a gift hamper delivery service on the Gold Coast) saw an increase in orders as well due to people not being able to celebrate together - so instead they sent our hampers.
Why did you choose Square to help run your business?
Square is extremely user friendly. It has great functionality as a system compared to competitors - and of course, the value for money is exceptional. The reporting feature to do comparisons across all stores is very helpful.
Have you seen any benefits to your business so far using Square Register?
The customers are very impressed how easy it is to use and love how they can see as items are added. All the information is there at their fingertips. Our regulars have noticed the difference on the new register - 9/10 customers comment on how good it looks and easy to use!
Square Register: Payments and point of sale, streamlined.
The first fully integrated POS terminal for any kind of business.
What tools do you use most with Square?
The dashboard feature allows us to see all the venues to track how they are going in live time. Using the iPad for offsite events is also good for separate locations which helps us with markets/pop up shops.
Do you have any exciting plans for the business in 2021?
At the moment our focus is building our events again - especially at the new location. I’m hoping it will be a big year of celebrations from all the postponements from last year.