So as you all know I love to support local and started a segment where we could share, learn and inspire! It is so important to support local and share your findings with others.
During lock down, we are going to do a whole lot of these to highlight these businesses – many of which are taking HUGE strain during this time – and shed some awareness and love to all.
Today’s special local feature is Frances Green! A divine business selling pots for all your plants – across all sizes, colours and shapes you can imagine. So think pot plant stands, baskets, terracotta pots, hanging planters – this is definitely a one stop shop.
We chatted to the lovely Ansu, founder of Frances Green and she had this to say to us!
Tell us a little bit about your business.
My business is a online store dedicated to selling pot planters. Our main focus is indoor planters, we do not sell plants. We sell the pots, baskets, ceramics, plant bags, anything you can put plants in. The business is new, we started in April during lock down which is not the greatest timing! Although the website was launched in April during lock down, we started earlier, half of the stock was received before lock down and the other half during lock down.
I started the business actually quite randomly. I was moving to Cape Town and was going to stay by myself for the first time ever. I always loved plants and just wanted a plant wall with lots and lots of plants. I could not find any pots that I liked. There is a quote: something about you should write the book you want to read. So I started the business I wanted to be there. So that was that!
The business is called Frances Green. Frances is my middle name and Green is because of the plants. It is an online store but we have a show room at Casa Caro Lifestyle – located on the Sweetwell Farm, in Stellenbosch. So you can buy anything off the floor. Some of my pots are standing there. A lot of people struggle to get the size right without seeing the actual thing. That is why we looked at a place to showcase it.
What are the top 3 learnings you have had to find out the hard way since starting your own business?
Everything you think you are going to need, double that. You need R10 000, you will actually need R20 000. You think you will need more income in a week, the bills start stacking up really quickly. I thought an online store would have lower overheads but I currently am working out that is not the reality! Your marketing costs are a lot higher, because there are not walk in customers. You have to market more to build more trust with people before they buy. So that is quite expensive!
The second thing, time management. To get everything done in time, schedule everything so you can still have a life and not work while you sleep. It is a lot more difficult to separate work and your home life if your work is so personal.
The third thing I would say is… there is a lot more information out there for free then you actually need to pay for. Lessons cost a lot. I tried to make my own pots but I did not have the knowledge. I got a mold maker to make me a mold thinking I will then be able to do it but no. So that was an expensive learning! Now I am working with a company that will do some of my pots, and we will start a new range. So some of my products are sourced locally but they are manufactured overseas. But then we are working on 2 exciting projects, launching our own range of baskets which are manufactured locally as well as our own ceramic ranges which will also be manufactured locally.
Where do you see your business is 5 years?
I still want to have the online retail store, but I definitely want to go into wholesale. I would love to see Frances Green pots and baskets in boutique nurseries. But I want that to only be the locally made pots that we designed to go into wholesale as well. And the other thing is to be able to pull a salary. I do not see that I will be able to pull a salary within the next few months or even a year.
What is your advice to individuals out there wanting to start their own businesses but are too scared?
There is another quote. If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late. – Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn
My business started by myself. My website I did myself. Everything I’m doing by myself. I’m the only person working: I’m packaging, marketing, finances.
So I think the scary part is, you should just do it, it will never be perfect enough, and if it is perfect then it is going to be too late and you will have missed the gap in the market. So just take a leap of faith!
What are the two best things about having your own business?
Best part is my own working hours. If I want to sleep late I can and if I want to take a Wednesday off I can. But that also means now I am working on a Saturday. In my previous job I worked in a massive company with 1000s of employees and my department had like 300 employees. So you only work on a small part of the business, you do not see the full picture.
So that is the second thing I like is seeing the full picture. I know from the beginning from what it cost to getting and what effort goes into getting it. To liaising with couriers or fighting with couriers because there may be issues with delays on deliveries. To see everything as a whole like to see everything from the beginning to the end. And knowing everything. I think that is the really cool part! Where as when I was in a big company I was a small part in this big machine and I did not see the end product.
How has Lock down effected you ?
It gave us a slower start then it would have been without lock down. Also I had suppliers, local manufacturing suppliers that has to close their doors. But on another note, mentally it is hard on you.
And also I do not really have a team, my family is my support structure. But to bounce ideas off business wise is more difficult but fortunately I have a brother who is a businessman. So when I have questions, at least have that support to be able to speak to him.