Updated: Jan 1, 2021
A year that most would rather forget, a new business was born...
I honestly never thought for one second that I would eventually start my own succulent business...
I've always had an interest in being an entrepreneur, ever since I read a book on palm-reading when I was ten and then charged my fellow school pupils 50p for me to tell them their future! Not that I made money on that mind... I gave it all to the charity that the school was supporting at the time. Nevertheless, I did it off my own back, and I chose a route that no one else was going down. This certainly wasn't cup cakes - not that there's anything wrong with cupcakes mind you, I just can't make them!
Fast-forward 27 years and I'm pretty much doing the same thing, except with succulents and I get to keep the money I make. At least for now anyway... I admire philanthropists like Taylor Swift and Michelle Obama and the dream would be to one day, turn my business into a global empire and give to the charities close to my heart. For now though, it's about starting small, tending to it every day, giving it the time it deserves and growing a healthy business.
That being said, I'm not going to sit here and pretend that this is an amazing thing to do. Not when my husband is a police officer who spent half the year on the front line, and not when many of my friends work for the NHS or in the care sector and risked their lives every day of the year during a global pandemic. Those are the people who do incredible things every day and constantly put themselves last.
Starting this business was not about trying to better myself. Growing succulents and making new life was my way of coping in a world were people seemed to be quickly losing control. I was one of the lucky ones who was able to work from home thanks to the excellent support of my employer, so although my day job didn't slow down, I had more time around it to practise my hobby.
This included reading eBook after eBook on growing succulents at home and what species originate from what countries. I'd spend hours taking photos and making videos of my new succulents for social media. I got heavily into soil and water leaf propagation to make more and more succulents out of the ones I already had. I've even grown some from seed. Hours have been lost to exploring the internet for succulent sellers of rare breeds and those I couldn't buy and propagate from in the garden centres around me.
Living in Swansea, you're not exactly surrounded by places selling a wide variety of succulents. To find your rarer Echeverias, Sedeverias, Pachyphytums or Agaves, you've got to go online. Think Etsy, think eBay, think overseas sellers. I will say that it's rather frustrating to see fellow enthusiasts growing amazing, colourful species in their gardens in places like the U.S., Australia, South Africa and South Korea. We just don't get the weather here for most to survive. Sure, a Sempervivum can withstand the cold, British, Winter temperatures but that's about it. The grander, more colourful and elaborate succulents can only survive in the warm so they are confined to indoors here, I'm afraid. Here and my father's greenhouse! Thanks dad.
It's safe to say I've come to terms with this though. My husband has been extremely tolerant of my many pots and succulents taking up every bright zone of the house. That's because he knows what this means to me. My customer base is growing and the orders have been flying in these last four months. That's meant really taking care of my stock, being organised (thank you Trello and Excel!) and going into comms and marketing overload. Thankfully, I'm a Communication Manager by day anyway so it's nice to use those skills for myself. My @StaceysSucculents101Instagram account is growing from strength to strength and is a great way to connect with other succulent lovers around the world. We learn from each other which is really important. There's only so much you can take from reading books and internet pages. Learning from those who have more experience than you is the best way - pure, free and undiluted advice. If any succulent experts out there are reading this and fancy mentoring me, give me a holler - I'm game!
So here I stand. The start of 2021 and my Stacey's Succulents website is live. Now you know what I was doing in those days between Christmas and the New Year when we couldn't go anywhere! I've even added some succulent merchandise to my shop. You'll see products like t-shirts, phone cases and face masks with my favourite Haworthia image. I took that pic back in the summer of my beautiful 'Lady Pearl' who lives in my dining room. These products are great for those who are finding themselves becoming slowly succulent-obsessed by me. Plus, you can't buy them anywhere else!
Lockdown and a stock that grows slower in Winter, means that I can only deliver locally at the moment but one has to start somewhere! I look forward to growing many more beautiful succulents, expanding my collection and hopefully making succulent enthusiasts out of all my customers!