Geo-fleur’s Sophie Lee on how crowdfunding helped grow her botanical business and why cacti are cool.
Geo-fleur combine their love for succulents, plants and all things cacti with geometric design and ceramic, brass and concrete pots and holders. Throw in a bit of macramé and it’s like we’ve hit the hygge style living jackpot.
Sophie Lee who grew her Scandinavian inspired plant business from her London flat (where the lack of garden made her more creative with her greenery) now has a shop in East Village London, hosts workshops and runs a plant subscription service.
However, geo-fleur only came about after she was made redundant and decided to turn her part time botanical business into her full time job. We chatted to Sophie to find out how crowdfunding helped her dreams come true and what you should know if you want to run your own workshops…
Where does your love of plants come from?
My mum is a florist and she always had gorgeous blooms and plants around the house. My uncle is also a head gardener at the National Trust. He was forever giving me succulents to propagate from an early age, so that’s where the addiction started!
Have you always been crafty?
Yes, I studied fine art and I specialised in abstract painting so I’ve always loved getting my hands dirty. As a child, I collected pens and pencil cases, I had 89 pencil cases and I’m sure I’ve got more than that now! #stationarygeek
What does you average working day look like?
I’m an early riser, so Sally (my business partner) and I start with an espresso whilst watering the plants at our shop, and chat about what Netflix show we’re addicted to, pretending we don’t have a gazillion orders to wrap or new products to launch. After that – and a bit of time on Instagram – I start to check the orders that came in the day before, and start prepping those which can either be making the concrete pots or planning products for our next event.
How do you go about sourcing your plants?
I now source my plants directly from the growers in Holland, Denmark and Belgium. It’s very exciting when a huge truck pulls up and its filled top to bottom with plants.
How did you grow your business?
Right at the beginning I decided to do a Kickstarter campaign, which was a great start. We needed some money to buy a van, so we wouldn’t have to carry all our plants on the tube! We got so much more from it than just money though. It helped us find out what worked and what didn’t and I learned how to effectively promote geo-fleur. I also have to thank Instagram for part of our growth – it’s been phenomenal!
What advice would you give makers thinking of crowdsourcing too?
I’d totally recommend it, it was absolutely amazing opportunity. My advice would be to over-research what you want to achieve, how to get the funding, what sources to tap into – there are a lot more ways of sourcing funding now, even a year later – and make sure the rewards super good so people will want to buy everything. Also try and get some good press, I was constantly tweeting publications and big companies to share our funding page.
What gave you the idea to start a plant subscription service and how does it work?
It actually started from our Kickstarter page. It was a last minute reward idea, which actually turned out to be our top source of funding. It’s a monthly surprise box of plants or plant accessories, sent direct to your door. There is a care card and a history about each product included in each package and you can sign up for just a month or get a 3, 6, or 12 month subscription and save some pennies.
Who are your favourite makers and why?
Oh the list is endless, where do I start? Zeena Shah inspired me to never stop working! Jode Pankhurst for her beautiful ceramics and Clare Nicolson for her beautiful use of colour and styling. Girl power!
What’s been your proudest project?
We’ve just secured Tate Britain as a client, and we will be styling the Turner Prize with plants! I’m so excited It’s a dream come true for me, as Tate is one of my favourite galleries in the world.
What’s your top tip for teaching and running workshops?
Relax – don’t let the workshop attendees you are nervous at any point, even if you’ve forgotten half the workshop materials. I helped my mum to teach workshops so learned a lot from there and you need to network. . I was introduced to the PR manager at West Elm at an event, and we decided to host terrarium workshops from there!
Why are cacti cool?
They have a mind of their own, which is fascinating. However, my favourite plant right now is the Pilea Peperomioides. I love selling the huge plants that we have, for example banana palms and huge Monstera Deliciosa’s, but then I also like the teeny tiny cacti that we have too. I’m a total plant geek!