Handcrafted Gifts and Gift Baskets.
Amy de Putron and her best friend of 20 years and sister in law, Meredith Watherston had noticed the limited availability of stylish and unique gifts and gift baskets. They share a love of quality handmade and local artisan products but with families and careers taking up most of their time, they understood what it is like trying to find time to make your own gifts. They decided to launch a website dedicated to sourcing gifts lovingly created by talented local artisans with the environment in mind.
Here is what Amy shared about running her business.
Q. What did you do before you started this business?
I worked in Trade Marketing for an alcohol company. Meredith continues to work part time as an environmental scientist.
Q. Did you have any business training before you started?
I had no small business training. It has all been about learning as we go.
Q. Describe your business and products/services you offer
Homegrown Gifts brings together style, quality and environmental awareness. We offer a range of gifts and gift baskets which are lovingly handcrafted and carefully selected. We love to support Australian artisans. We make every effort to source items that are locally owned and produced, using sustainable, ethical and environmentally conscious methods, although we will not compromise on style or quality. Our product range covers a wide variety of occasions including birthdays, anniversaries, new babies, gifts for house warmings and thank yous, with special releases each year for Mother’s and Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day and Christmas.
Q. How long have you been running your business?
We have been in business for one year and are really proud of what we have achieved in this time.
Q. How many hours a week do you work in your business?
Approximately 20 hours a week as I have two little kids to run around after as well.
Q. What kind of online and offline marketing do you do and which is working for you?
We have attended markets and provided prizes and samples for events. We invest in search engine advertising at special times of the year which really increases traffic to our site. We have also obtained some invaluable PR.
Q. Do you use social media as part of your marketing?
Yes. Facebook has been our key communication tool for getting the word out in our first 12 months. Most of our business has come through word of mouth and Facebook has played a big part in this. With some recent targeted Facebook advertising we are finding that we are reaching the right people. We are also getting some good engagement via Instagram.
Q. What mistakes have you made in running your business and what lessons have you learnt from those?
I don’t think we have made any major mistakes…..yet, although we have learnt that it is a constant learning process. We have found it a process of trial. One of our biggest lessons is probably not to underestimate the work involved in setting up and running your own business.
Q. How has your website helped you run your business?
Our website is our business – this is where our customers come to see our products and place orders. Opening a gift basket from Homegrown Gifts is a true experience and as our customers are not able to touch and feel the products, we present them in a way that tells a story and sells the experience they can offer the gift recipient.
Q. What obstacles or challenges are you facing at the moment?
Our biggest challenge is getting the word out with a limited marketing budget. Also, having to become an expert in many different facets or running a business is difficult and time consuming, fortunately though there are two of us to share the workload and we have been able to split our responsibilities to match our strengths.
Q. Any other comments / points you would like to share about running your business?
So far it has been an enormous amount of work and a steep learning curve, but it has been truly worth it. I am fortunate to have been able to develop a business idea with someone I love to work with that reflects our own personal philosophies and passions in life.