Last week saw the launch of Lockdown Gardener, a new type of business in the horticulture sector that is very customer-focused, digital in nature, born out of lockdown and driven by a sense of purpose.
The business was started as a response to the fact that Garden Centres were closed and the news was reporting that 1000’s of plants were at risk of going to waste. Lockdown Gardener is distributing the plants from a number of growers including Farplants and Crossland flowers in Sussex and delivering directly to homes in and around London.
The business, which took seven days from an idea to the website going live, was set up by gardening industry experts including Sussex-based horticulturalist Jonathan Ward, together with Justine Noades, formerly of Wyevale Garden Centres, and partner Ashley Pollak who has spent many years creating video & digital content for retailers and the garden sector. With the new retail environment emerging the team feel that a specialist horticultural retail delivery company is well placed to seize any opportunities
The trio report that the whole process of getting the business up and running has been surreal as Justine and Ashley couldn’t meet with Jonathan face to face or any of the suppliers due to the lockdown so everything was set in place by digital means, whatsapp and the phone. The small team also had to work at breakneck speed as the majority of summer plant sales are always April - June and the sun has been shining, driving Brits to get out into their gardens during lockdown.
One of the three Founders of Lockdown Gardener, Justine Noades said “From the moment we launched, it was obvious from the calls and e-mails how grateful our customers were to be able to get hold of plants and how important it is for them to be able to be productive in their garden during this lockdown period.
We are also not just selling any plants but hand selecting our plants based on what is most suited to the time of year, what is going to be most popular and what is available. We are curating what we put on the site in response to what we know about our customers and their needs.
We have lots of people that normally wouldn’t be interested in their gardens suddenly spending masses of time in them and they now are motivated to make them nicer places to spend time in but they have no idea what to do, so they contact us. This is a customer segment that traditional garden centres have not targeted or appealed to and we are reaching them”.
Justine also said that “One of the key parts of making this business a success was securing our supply of quality plants and it still remains the biggest challenge during lockdown so we are looking to expand our supplier network. We are grateful to our current suppliers whom despite the risks of working with a new customer, have given us the opportunity to enter the market at this time. We offer a new distribution channel for them, we are serious about making this a success and we have industry experience, although nothing can prepare you for a ‘start up’ during a lockdown!’.
Lockdown Gardener is donating 5% of all profits to Silverline the charity that supports the mental wellbeing of older people. The team said ‘We know gardening has a very beneficial effect on mental health and there has never been a more important time than now for helping support their work.’
Please visit lockdowngardener.com for more information.