Indoor Plant Start-Up Leaf Supply Branches Out
When Sophia Kaplan and Lauren Camilleri met for the first time in 2016 on a blind friendship date, neither of them expected to walk away with a plan for a new business. But over a cup of coffee and a long chat, something transpired. The two bonded over a shared plant obsession, an eye for good design and a knack for knowing how to fill a niche; they each left that initial meet up with a newfound friendship and the inklings of new venture – Leaf Supply.
Fast forward 18 months, and Leaf Supply is still Sydney’s premiere monthly plant delivery service, offering a demystified and simple approach to plant ownership. On the Leaf Supply website, you’ll find varieties of indoor plants at three different price points, plus practical advice on how to care for and style greenery in the home.
“All the plants we sell on Leaf Supply are indoor and shade-friendly,” Kaplan says. “You’ve got a bit of a head start there, ‘cause they’re not too difficult to take care of.”
The plant selection changes monthly, as do the pots that house them and the accessories that make owning them even more joyful. Kaplan and Camilleri will bring back particularly popular species occasionally, but there’s always a new variety each month so customers can grow their collections and discover new plants. Nail the next gift you’re in charge of, or treat yourself to an interiors lift. Even for known plant murderers, this one’s a cinch.
“Basically, what we’re trying to do is build a community of confident plant owners,” Sophia Kaplan, Leaf Supply co-founder tells The Upsider.
“We found that a lot of people are quite nervous to own plants – they’re not sure where to get them, how to look after them or even how to style them. We’re looking to make plant ownership more accessible, and make people feel more comfortable by creating a community – with their friends, and with us, too.”
The old adage that says if you love what you do you never work a day in your life rings true in the case of Leaf Supply.
For lack of a better word, the development of the business was…organic, coupled of course with a welcome dose of near-perfect timing. Leaf Supply arrived on the scene at a time when public fervour for indoor plants was reaching a crescendo, and luckily for the girls, it hasn’t really died down.
“Our obsession with plants has been long-standing,” Kaplan says. “Lauren and myself both saw a gap in the market for an accessible, interesting and beautifully curated indoor plant delivery service. We were always wanting to send plants as gifts ourselves, and were frustrated at the lack of availability of such a service. In part in the timing was lucky in that we were both ready to start a business like this, but also we definitely did our research to ascertain that there was a current and enthusiastic demand for such a business model.”
Perhaps the shift towards owning indoor plants is do with the fact that more people are living in high rise apartments (away from the earth, away from naturally-occurring plants) in Australia than ever before, and that owning plants or being connected with greenery in some way is seemingly advantageous to our mental and physical health. Plants are more than aesthetically pleasing additions to the home or office – we actually need them. For Kaplan and Camilleri, it was almost like the business marketed itself.
“We did all the marketing ourselves,” Kaplan explains. “It’s an idea we believe in really strongly, so it was easy for us to promote. In the early stages of the business, we hit up any contacts we had and asked for a bit of a PR push. We were lucky to have a great reaction.”
Of course, starting and marketing a small business with next to no actual business experience wasn’t without its own unique challenges. Even though Kaplan gave up a career in advertising to launch her own floristry business, running Leaf Supply proved to be a totally different ballgame. Until Leaf Supply, Camilleri’s art direction background rarely intersected with running a business.
“Everything’s new,” Kaplan says of the initial stages. “Even though I successfully run my flower business, being an event business is totally different to having an e-commerce store. Everything you do is new, but it’s really satisfying figuring it out. Figuring out how to make a business profitable can definitely be challenging.”
Enter Ariella Werner-Seidler, the go-getting, business savvy new addition completing the Leaf Supply lady trifecta.
“She’s our new business partner, and she’s bringing to the table all these things that we were fumbling over,” Kaplan says. “She’s got all the experience Lauren and I lacked, and she’s given the business a huge kick of momentum in 2018.”
Werner-Seidler has been the driving force in plans to upscale and expand the business in 2018, into tier one cities like Melbourne and Brisbane.
“We haven’t quite figured out the model that will work best, but we’re exploring a few options that would allow us to provide these cities with the same high quality of plants we’ve been sending out in Sydney,” Kaplan says. “We’re also looking to find more products that we can send Australia-wide.”
Expansion wouldn’t be possible without serious hard work (“It’s a constant thing,” Kaplan says. “Emails ‘till midnight, and 4am starts the next day.”) and truckloads of passion. Kaplan and Camilleri’s obvious shared flame for Leaf Supply isn’t going out anytime soon.
“You have to be so dedicated and passionate, because a new business does tend to take over your life,” Kaplan says. “But if you find something you love and genuinely believe in, and it doesn’t feel like such hard work.”
Published 09 March, 2018