Small Business editor of the NZ Herald

Small Business: Home delivery by subscription - Melanie Holt, Bloom Social

This week, small business editor Caitlin Sykes talks to business owners about home delivery by subscription.
Melanie Holt, co-owner of Bloom Social.
Melanie Holt, co-owner of Bloom Social.

Melanie and Darryl Holt are the owners of Bloom Social, which delivers flowers and candles via subscription as part of its operation.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

I have another business which I started four years ago called All the Frills, which does event styling. I still run that business, but after about three years I recognised that it wasn't necessarily the best money-making venture for me. I'm a very detail-oriented and creative person, so I found I was becoming very involved in coming up with and executing these amazing ideas; I really wanted a business that tapped into my creativity, but was a lot simpler.

I had started working with flowers as an event stylist and developed a real passion for them. I'd seen The Caker, who would put up cakes she'd made on social media, and thought maybe that was something I could do with flowers because I'm pretty good on social media. And when I started seeing all these subscription-based businesses popping up I thought maybe I could combine the two models.

So that's the basis for the business we started in April last year. We make one style of bouquet a day, put that up on social media and people can buy that as a one off, and on the other hand we have subscribers who love our aesthetic and receive our bouquets weekly, fortnightly or monthly.

So what proportion of your revenue comes from those two different sides of your business?

It's relatively even at the moment, but the subscription side is the most exciting part for us because those people are taking a leap of faith that we'll deliver something they'll love. There are a lot of benefits with a subscription model. It's great to be able to predict volumes in advance, it reduces wastage, and it's obviously great for cashflow. We also get to know subscribers well, and they'll give us feedback, which helps us always improve what we're doing. And from a customer point of view it's a time-saving and convenience factor.

What's helped to get your name out in the market and to let consumers know what you're doing?

It's the most amazing business to market, because as soon as people get the flowers they're sharing them on social media. I actually say we're a social media business; we started building our social media presence about three months before we launched because we knew how important it would be to build a following for a business like this. Instagram in particular is really good for us because it's a beautiful product, and people like and share flowers pretty much straight away.

What have been some of the challenges?

We've pretty much put no money into the business, and I taught myself to build my own website, which I did over three months. So we're not a business like My Food Bag, which has some amazing technology behind it. I'd love to get to the point where we have a system like that, but we'll have to earn it. Our website works well now, but I think in another year's time we'll probably need to up the ante on the functionality we have there.

In the beginning we also delivered everything ourselves, and I think you have to do that to learn how it all works. I did that for months, and it was so hard, but it does help me appreciate why we now pay others to do that.

Also, although it's not a challenge for us because there's such variety with flowers and they're so seasonal, I can see that maintaining variety could be a challenge with a subscription business. Keeping it fresh is so important.

You've since extended the business to offer candle subscriptions. How did that come about?

I've noticed that people will often spend a lot of money on candles, and on a regular basis - I personally know people with a candle addiction. I also love them myself and we make our own, so I thought offering them to be delivered once a month would be a great idea for those people, and also as a gift. They took off over Christmas, but it's still a very new part of the business and I'm just going to see how it goes.

- NZ Herald

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