What It's About
A financial analyst grows her budding side hustle from a lifelong passion.
Words of Wisdom
You don’t have to be an expert, you just have to know more than the people you are serving. Don’t let a “lack of professional skills” stop you from starting something you might really enjoy.
In the ruins of Pompeii, researchers found much more than the well-preserved skeletons and homes of residents. They found the remains of indoor gardening—terra cotta pots that had the remnants of flowers and other plants.
Notes from Chris
Episode 803It’s safe to say that financial analyst, Abi Downing, has a knack for tending plants—but she didn’t start out that way. Her experiences cultivating greenery started as a labor of love growing up in her childhood home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When the temperatures dropped, Abi’s mother took comfort in the bright, greenhouse plants she kept year-round. She wanted her children to share the feeling that came with keeping plants, so maintaining them became part of Abi’s chores. The more Abi learned about them—how to grow and propagate (or breed) those plants—the more she realized that maybe she wasn’t so different from her mother after all. It fascinated her that you could cut off a piece of vine, stick it in some water, and have a whole plant grow from it. When she moved out of her parents’ house, that love of bringing the outdoors inside went along with her. Before long, Abi had quite a happy little plant family over in her new home. And she realized that she wasn’t alone. Over the past few years, Abi watched a love of all things house plants spread its tendrils across the furthest reaches of the internet like wisteria working its way up a trellis. There were Instagram profiles and blogs completely dedicated to growing plants, and it was becoming more and more common to see neighbors scrambling for the keys to their front door while juggling a couple of spider plants in their arms. Abi had wanted to start a side hustle of some kind, and it made sense for her to nurture something with a product that she was truly passionate about. Growing a side hustle around her love of all things horticulture seemed like an idea too good not to let it take root. Her initial thought was, “Oh! I could sell my plants at fairs and farmers markets,” but she discovered that the requirements were steep. All of the markets that she found in her area required you grow the plants yourself from seed, and they needed to be organic to the region. So over the next year, Abi repotted her idea. She realized that an e-commerce shop could be the solution she was looking for. It would be easy and cost effective to start. She could keep inventory in her home and benefit from all of that extra oxygen in the air. And since she would be running it online, she could fit it in around her work schedule. With the idea firmly planted in her mind, she set out to start digging. When it came to picking plants to carry, she opted for plants that were low-maintenance, suitable for small spaces, and easy for beginners to take on. Not only did she think that all of these attributes would be desirable to customers—they might also cause fewer headaches when it came time to ship them. To develop a shipping strategy, Abi drew on the same detective skills that she used to find a wholesaler. To get an idea of the “industry standard,” she ordered plants from her competitors and took special note of 1) how they packaged and protected the plants during shipment, 2) how long it took to go from order to delivery, and 3) the marketing materials that came with the box. With all of her plants in a row, she built a website using Shopify and called her new shop Perrico Plant Co. She sells her plants in the traditional planters that come with the plants from the wholesaler, but she also has some upgraded options on her website—glazed ceramic and cement style planters that are popular with trendy horticulturists. There was one downside though: Abi discovered that this is somewhat of a seasonal business—at least online—because customers are hesitant to purchase plants that have to ship in the cold. When she saw that customers were visiting her site but not buying, she found ways to reach out to them to get an idea of why. And the overwhelming response from them was that they were waiting until the warmer months to make their purchases. To supplement a reduction in orders during the cold weather, Abi has found ways to sell her plants at local popups and has even brought in as much as $1,600 over the course of a single weekend. As a matter of fact, she completely sold out within two hours! Since the beginning, Abi’s sold over 200 plants and has made roughly $3,000 in profits. And you could say that while selling organic plants, Perrico Plant Co. is growing organically. Abi has really unearthed a new source of income doing something she enjoys.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Perrico Plant Co: Check out Abi's growing collection of organic house plants on her website
- Shopify: Abi created her budding business on the e-commerce platform Shopify
- Santa Barbara Gift Shop Sells Soulful Succulents: She had always wanted to open a bricks-and-mortar retail store, but it was always too expensive—until now
- A Side Hustle with Succulent Growth Potential: A Houston mom digs into a side gig with creative and community benefits
- IT Guy Earns Extra $50,000/Year Restoring Vintage Radios: He wanted to start a side business and put his engineering degree to good use. When he stumbled across two 1950s radios, he found an idea that was right on his wavelength
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