A business that was started in 1996 with a capital of `25,000 has grown exponentially, and going green has further boosted it.
A business can only sustain and grow if it is adaptable to change. When the world is going green, Sonali Srikanth doesn’t want to sell only artificial plants at her shop. Her business, Forget Me not Florist, also started selling natural plants, flowers and providing other services like landscaping and walls. Today, 30-40 per cent of the revenues come from natural products and services.
Sonali says, “I did commerce in my graduation. I am a plant lover and chose this business idea when I had a three-month-old daughter. It was in 1996 and I took `25,000 from my husband to source these plants. The idea did not burden me too much and allowed to do something of interest. Although, these are artificial plants, there is an art involved in creating them. I used to get stems, flowers separately and work on them to create different plants with flowers. A friend of mine has similar business in Mumbai and her inputs helped.”
For any small-scale business, marketing is crucial and she acted herself as sole marketer for many years. “I used to put the plants that I made in the car and meet 10 clients ever day out of which, 2-3 people used to turn customers. The market conditions also helped me. It was the time when IT companies started their operations in the City; everybody wanted these decorative plants in their houses and maintaining natural plants in interiors was always a challenge,” she recalls
On value addition, she says, “All the major super stores offer these plants. The value addition we create to customers is by giving necessary inputs and services in choosing the plants by seeing the wall colours of the room, setting and area. Aesthetics and customers interest towards the interiors also kept in mind while decorating the house.”
However, the major turnaround for the business came when she decided to concentrate more on natural plants in 2008. This helped the business to spread across different verticals like natural plants, flower bouquets, landscaping, interior natural plant services and decorating for marriages. “We realised artificial plants is not the way to go forward. The companies are going green and looking for certifications like ISO, for which having natural plants are very important. It is also important to understand what our clients are looking for and tune the business accordingly.
The business got operational breakeven in first eight months. The revenues of the business are growing at around 15 per cent for last four years and also started an online store by which people can gift flowers for their loved ones on any occasion. It also had plans to increase its retail base to 12 shops in a year with shop-in-shop format.