Category Archives: small business

Planters for Mom

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I have been back in the green house digging in my dirt and creating planters….I missed my green house plants….. I didn’t realize how long I had been absent from them.

There were a few request for planters for the upcoming Mother’s Day, so I did about three late nights this week. I managed to complete about twenty new planters and then spend some time on reworking – replanting some that were already done. Whenever I get into a planting mode, every surface in our home (that is Nala safe) has a planter. They take on a whole different appearance when they get put in a home environment, versus the racks in the green house.

I was able to do a delivery this week to our local bank. The banker that started my small business account is a big supporter of “My Little Green Thumb”.  He always puts in an order for every holiday and tells me to bring extra planters to the bank when I deliver his planter. He manages to sell off every last one of them to his co-workers. I really need to start cutting him a commission check.

Overall, I love my little business, but…… I just can’t seem to make a success out of it. I made the hard decision to take down the internet store. The running cost and shipping cost didn’t make sense. Right now, I am just making them per request and as gifts. Thank goodness my inventory can’t go bad. It just grows bigger.

Hubby doesn’t say a word….I had this grand idea and it didn’t go as planned. I’ll just keep plugging away at what I still have and see what happens.

The above picture is of two 6 inch planters currently living in my family room until they go to their new home.

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Wandering through the gardening department

I went to Lowes today to return some extra stuff from our most recent home improvement project. I had some time to kill before our next appointment, so Mr. D and I decided to check out what plants got delivered this week.

I was floored….it was like a jungle grew up overnight. I saw some pretty cool plants that I would love to add to my collection.

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I then saw this…

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Yes, thats right. A succulent planter under 18 dollars. Ugh….how do they manage. The plants were a nice size and well established. The containers were the size of my medium planters which I charge 30 dollars.

I am shaking my head at what to do next. I really need to rethink my business plan

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Getting back on the Wagon

Catchy title, yes? …. Wonder what I am going to ramble on and on about this time….Sorry to disappoint, but I am “getting back on my wagon of responsibilities.”……Hoping for something juicier to read about, let me tell you I would love too, but I am saving all that stuff for my memoirs.

So I haven’t updated or done any work on my website or my store page www.mylittlegreenthumb.com. It was one of my New Year’s Goals and I had given myself a deadline of MLK day. Well, that has come and past and now we are celebrating President’s Day, so I thought this would be a good time to focus on it. Like a lot of things that I have assigned deadlines for, I see the date go by with no progress done on them. I am not sure what is going on in my head, but something is not right. I normally am so good about deadlines and completing projects. It must be all the pop I am consuming. (That resolution went out the window quite some time ago.)

I wonder if this lack of follow through is a side effect of my mommyhood. Its the only logical explanation for this “so out of character” behavior I am exhibiting. As a mom, I have so many things to keep track of that are no longer really pertaining to me. The whole family’s schedule of events, meetings, activities, assignments, and obligations are all orchestrated by me. I am constantly referring to my color coded schedules to make sure nothing is missed or overlooked. With the kids getting older, more things seem to be piled on. I always felt that it would become easier when they became more independent. I was sadly mistaken. The simple things like getting dressed, eating, bathing, and toileting are easier. They are replaced with driving places, supplying things, and lots of time management. This leads to all my personal responsibilities going on the back burner. Updating the website can be put off. Where as laundry and grocery shopping can not.

Well, I decided to do something about this. Get back on track and get things done. My SIL contacted me after my post on Funerals, Succulents, & Bigfoot and said if I was serious about My Little Green Thumb she would help. She came by on Sunday and we went to work. Oh, did I mention that It just happens that she has experience in the floral industry running a shop, being a designer, and being a rep for a huge distributor. How could I go wrong with this help.

The first thing we did was make up some samples for her to go around to a selective number of shops who might be interested in this style of planters. We talked about the huge new trend in weddings is succulents and that could be a whole new avenue to look at.

Hubby then took the two “distractions” away to visit Oma and we girls fired up the computer and got to work. My site is through Go Daddy. At the time it was a one stop shop and if I had to do it over, I most likely would not have used them. But what is done is done and being the optimist, I signed up for a five year contract.

I literally forgot how to manage and work on the site. There was a lot of F—— around, but I was able to get some basic things done. The first thing was to put prices up and better contact info. I then completely took one page down “Little Thoughtful Gifts” and changed that into a page that focused on custom planters. I got stuck on the uploading of pictures, a few more expletives were said, but I managed to get a few pictures up.

I was able to get the web pages done, but I am not pleased with the picture quality. I need to read up on how to stage my planters and work on lighting them correctly. The shots I’ve taken outside are so much better than the ones indoor, however, that’s not an option with the current weather. I’ll need to mull over how to solve this issue. Possibly fabricate some kind of light box to stage them in.

Overall, the website looks presentable, so I turned my attention to the store. ARGGGG….after figuring out the taxes, shipping charges, getting pictures to products, and setting it up to be user friendly, I thought I was done. Nope….I needed to set up a PayPal account and link it up to my shop. Simple enough, right?…..not so much…..I had to link it to my bank account and get approved.

Where am I standing after spending an entire day on “getting back on the wagon.”

1. I have a presentable website that just needs a little work on photos.
2. I have a store ready to go, just waiting on bank approval from PayPal.
3. I have a new business relationship with my SIL.
4. I have a very neglected family in need of mommy.

Who would have thought that I didn’t even have an email address two years ago and I had no clue about the Internet. Look at me now, I am a huge apple fan with a desktop, iPad, and iPhone and I am even on Facebook. As my dear Shopping Buddy would say “You’ve got your big girl panties on now!”

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Love those plants

My client meeting went well. We discussed ideas for a planter for the funeral and came up with a lovely idea.

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This creation is a combination of a four inch planter stacked within an eight inch planter. I created two of these “double deckers” and put them on the shelf to give them a chance to take root.

I also had the opportunity to do my first donation to a silent auction for the local women’s shelter. I hope this might be another venue to get my name out and make some much needed money for this worthy cause. I priced it at fifty dollars. Let’s hope there are some women in attendance who love succulents and decide to fight over this cute little planter.

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Also during my client meeting I was able to sell some of my adorable globes.

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I got to put my hands back into my dirt barrel today and get my creative juices flowing. I haven’t had the need to create any new planters since my last show and I so much enjoy planting.

I want to thank my client for getting me back into my planting groove and for appreciating the work I do. Who knows, I just might make a success of this buisness yet!

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Funerals, Succulents, & Big Foot

I was given a new business opportunity this week.  A friend, who has her own successful business, presented me with an idea of doing planters for funerals.  It sounds like a great way to expand the marketing reach of my company, but I wonder.  Funerals? Am I up  for this?  Would people really want a succulent planter to remember this somber occasion?  And most importantly would my planters be good enough to honor these people who have passed on?

Let me give you a little background info so that you better understand my thinking.

I come from a very small family.  I have just one older brother.  Both my parents were only children, so I have no aunts, uncles, or cousins.  My parents  immigrated to the United States right before I was born, so I have little contact with any extended family and therefore have not been to those funerals of the older generation. From what I understand in Belgium they don’t really embalm the bodies.  You are laid out on refrigerated beds and flowers and candles with very strong scent are used.  Oma would always comment on how some strong scented flowers reminded her of a funeral.  That’s an association I am glad I don’t have.

When I married Hubby, I was excited to be married into a family that had some limbs to their tree.  Sadly, Hubby has been to several funerals of the older generation.  I did attend the funeral of his grandparents and saw the wonderful floral displays at the funeral home and church.  We even brought home a planter with some palms that currently reside in the sunroom.

Now…….I know that I would rather have a planter versus a bouquet of flowers for any type of occasion.  Flowers only last so long and then they need to be thrown away.  Cut flowers are pricey and a large bouquet can be very expensive.  I know that I could work with the price range, but still…….I am kind of creeped out about the whole thing.

With all my luck this would become successful.  I mean, so succesful that I get some weird nick name and that my work is associated just with death.  I can see me driving around town delivering planters for the dead.  Knowing where all the funeral homes are located and going to the back door like it was nothing.

Not to be harsh, but I was hoping my planters would be gifts used to bring joy and happiness.  Not this….

I am questioning myself.  Is this a good choice  for the company?  It probably is.  It opens the door to a whole new possibility of customers.  Can I emotional handle the sadness that surrounds this occasion?  Probable not.  I’ll have to deliver the planters to the funeral home myself, so there is no detaching myself from the situation.

Oh, did I mention that I am a huge scardy cat.

I have this theory if I plan for all the bad things, they might not happen……like I said its just a theory.  I get thoughts or scary images in my head and there is no sleeping that night.  I would highly recommend not watching the movie “I AM LEGEND”, I didn’t sleep well  for quite some time.  Ugg….I still can see flashes of that movie in my head.

I sleep with the hall light on (ummm..thats in case the kids wake up).  I have the security system always set in case a crazy mad man decides to visit our neighborhood.   I make Hubby sleep on the side of the bed closest to the door. (you know, just in case)  I do believe that there are ghost……What kind……I am not sure, but something is out there, otherwise there wouldn’t be all these stories.  And don’t get me started on Big Foot.

I always talk out bad situations with the kids, so that if they might encounter it, they might remember how to handle it.  When boarding a plane I alway discuss our escape plan with the family (this does freak the kids out a bit)…..

Do I sound like a person who could handle funeral home visits?

I think that I could create something that I would be proud to present to my costumers and they in return would be proud to sign their name to the card.

Yikes…..just thinking about it is causing me stress.

Tonight, I meet up with my first client on this topic.   I have a feeling that bedtime will be late and the lights will be on.  Poor Hubby, what did I get myself into now.

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Little Globes

I found these little globes that were meant for candles. They are about four inches and have a flat bottom so they can actually sit on a shelf, but I prefer to hang them. I had planted twenty globes for my holiday shows and these five are what remained. They are quite difficult to plant. It invovles some chopsticks and delicate hands. The first in which I have no skills in and the second in which I genetically don’t contain. They are time consuming to create and must be done in the dead of night, so no little ears are burned with the vulgarity that spews from my mouth with frustration.

(I just impressed myself with that descriptive sentence. I may become a  blogger after all.)

Back to the subject at hand….I have one large rolling rack in the greenhouse that just contains planters that are made up. Hubby goes down and helps himself whenever he is in need of a gift for a coworker or client. He uses it as his own personal store, which it kind of is, since he finances the whole thing.

Anyhow……I just couldn’t bear putting these cute little treasures on the “rack”, so in the house they came.  I am limited in my “safe” plant space. Nala does enjoy chewing on foliage and is very ball driven. She can reach anything on counters and my sunroom looks like a jungle. Solution….some bent paper clips (classy right?) and ribbon pulled from the famous “craft closet.”

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These little treasures are currently hanging from my kitchen light fixture. Safe and sound!

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Blooms in the Greenhouse

I went down to the greenhouse to do my weekly watering and rotation and look what I found.  This little succulent has a real leafy appearance, not your typical thick cactus leaf look, but more like lettuce.  It grew a stalk and bloom in about two weeks time and it’s flowers will last quite awhile.

This next plant has a short dark green leaf  and it grows upwards versus being short and bulky.  The flower it produces is  small and delicate.  It looks much like a white daisy.

Some flowers really look like  lawn weeds.  This one reminds me of a dandelion, yet doesn’t fall apart when touched.

As you can see from the photos, I keep my plants on large rolling racks.  Opa installed grow lights at the top of each rack and those are placed on timers.  Also, all my normal light fixtures are swapped out for grow lights.  There is a nice blue hue coming from the greenhouse.  I wonder if the neighbors ever question what is going on at our place. (We are the crazy young ones of the neighborhood.  You know, the ones that set off fireworks for any occasion they can think of.  That’s us!)

Ok, back on topic……all my seedlings are planted in 3 inch pots with drainage.  I have them in groups on trays.  This makes it easier to pull them down when caring for them and when I’m planting.

Currently the business is going really slow.  I mean, like no sales this year slow…. but I am alright with that, I think?  I don’t have any shows lined up, but have some leads on some spring home shows that I might be interested in having a booth at.  I did a lot of gift planters for Christmas and I think I will do some marketing for Mother’s Day.  The online shop is still not up and running. (there goes that resolution)  I looked at what would be involved in shipping live plants during the cold season.  There are these heating packs you can use, but they only work for a limited time period and are quite expensive.  I have a big concern of plants freezing during transport in this cold weather.  So, I pushed back the online store until the weather in warmer and I don’t need to worry about shipping them.

My inventory won’t go bad, it will only grow bigger.  I just need to put the work in maintaining them and not killing them.  I see this as a positive, or at least trying to!  I am able to see how these succulents grow and at what pace and size.  I also am seeing the blooms and life process of plants that I would have normally turned around quickly and sold.

Hubby just calls me a “plant hoarder” (in the most lovingly way) and that this business of mine is just a way of legitimizing my need of acquiring these little plants.  I just love looking through catalogs and picking them out.  When they arrive, I spend hours unpacking and repotting them.  It is unbelievable the variety of succulents out there.  We have “Ohio Hardy” succulents that can weather out the winter, but they are just standard and there is really nothing special about them.   I am dealing with the more delicate varieties.  I have them shipped in from California and they are just amazing!

I only hope that with time I will be able to get this business profitable, or at least breaking even and pay for my little plant addiction.

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