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Beth Chapman, an interior design and nature enthusiast, created Leaf Envy as a solution to her struggle of buying unique houseplants.
What started off as a pop-up shop on her sister’s canal boat quickly became a fast-growing e-commerce business. To date, Leaf Envy has sold over 28,000 orders and is experiencing high YoY growth!
In this interview, we sat down with Beth to learn more about herself, Leaf Envy and the future plans for the business.
Tell us about the move to LA which ultimately led to you starting Leaf Envy?
I moved to LA with a tech company I was working with at the time to drive their west coast business development strategy.
When I arrived at my empty apartment, I decided that I wasn’t going to spend money on meaningless “things” and only purchase things that made me truly happy. So I decided to design my home with plants and that they were going to be my biggest interior investment!
Having worked in tech for high growth e-commerce brands throughout my career, I was surprised there wasn’t a modern-day/ digital first plant brand that spoke to me as a consumer.
So I took this as a unique opportunity to create a company that helped with the decision making process for consumers, and could become a destination for budding plant enthusiasts.
With other plant brands out there, what makes Leaf Envy stand out?
Apart from the unique digital experiences that we have created on our platform (an SMS VIP Plant Guru service, and a plant care course delivered to your inbox), we are unique because we design all our own products in house.
We offer a unique range of rare and unusual species to help customers become plant collectors. The wide variety of plant species & ancillary products we offer explains in part our high order repeat rate of 45%. Of those who buy our subscription, at least 20% go on to purchase from the website – further contributing to the lifetime value of the customer.
We also have a strong B2B side of our business where we design and install luscious green schemes for some of the biggest brands in the UK (Google, Grind Coffee, Adidas to name a few), wholesale (Soho Home and Oliver Bonas) and offer corporate gifting.
Our B2B revenue stream is growing substantially YoY. We saw a 364% increase in revenue from ‘20-21 and are forecasting double the revenue this year.
Describe a day in your life in the initial stages of brand building, and a day now where you have more responsibility, you’re fundraising and managing a team.
I started Leaf Envy doing pop-ups on my sister’s canal boat in 2019! It was about guerilla marketing then and getting as much feedback from customers as possible to shape the brand and product. The community of plant lovers we have built from the early days remain with us today, which is testament to the brand we’ve built.
Instagram was a key channel for us, so we spent a lot of time creating engaging content which meant more people organically found out about the brand, signed up to our Plant Care course and then became customers!
My day to day is still incredibly varied, which I love. A lot of my time is spent on analysing commercial performance and reviewing new opportunities to grow. This means I have to wear multiple hats at once, working across Operations, Product, Marketing, and Finance.
Managing my team and external stakeholders is also an important part of my role. I’m truly passionate about the product and brand we are building, so I enjoy strategising ways we can elevate our service and offering!
Who is your target customer and how do you market to them?
We have a 60:40 split between female and male customers, and they all tend to be in the 25-40 year old bracket.
We target our customers through creative engaging online content and email, alongside collaborating with like minded brands on competitions, product collaborations and getting featured in top-tier PR publications.
We’ve built a strong SEO content platform where we create useful tips and tricks on how to be the best plant parent you can be. Therefore, the majority of our traffic is organic and direct. Only 20% of our traffic comes from paid advertising, which is a fantastic achievement and rare!
Could you tell us about some of your biggest achievements to date?
I’m super proud that revenue has been driven by 80% non-paid for traffic and word of mouth. We’ve fulfilled over 28,000 orders, have over 20,000+ customers nationwide and our subscription has gained over 1,600 customers so far – growing 90% YoY (Dec 20 vs.21).
Another milestone was onboarding luxury retailer Soho Home as a B2B client and launching our own plant decor range on their website. At the same time, we launched our very own bespoke pot range – which are designed in house in Hackney.
Our B2B sales channel is going from strength to strength, and we have had the pleasure of working with renowned brands such as Google, Grind Coffee and Accenture and designed plant schemes for a multitude of businesses.
We also are extremely popular in the press, with features in The Times, Telegraph, The Week, Elle Decor, Harper’s Bazaar, Stylist, GQ, Sheerluxe, Grazia, Livingetc, Red Magazine, Evening Standard, Cosmopolitan to name a few.
How do you plan to create a scalable and profitable business model?
Our unit economics are already strong and we are ready to scale operationally and logistically – we just need more eyes on the brand! With more capital to spend on marketing activities, we will benefit from increased brand exposure and awareness.
We have plans to scale the B2B side of our business by developing a proprietary platform.
What do you plan to do with the money you raise?
We are still only a small team (4 full time equivalents), which is why a large portion of the proceeds will go towards hiring. The key roles are: growth marketer and a development hire/agency to help optimise our digital experiences and build out the b2b proposition.
Once we have our growth marketing hire, we will explore methods of deploying a marketing budget in the most efficient way.
What do you love to do in your free time?
My ideal day would be waking up early, working out, going for brunch with friends, tending to my plants and then going to a jazz concert with family. The simple pleasures! If money was no object you’d catch me travelling the world!
If you weren’t building Leaf Envy, what do you think you’d be doing?
I’d probably be working on another start up!
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far building Leaf Envy?
Being a sole founder, I tended to do everything myself early on and not ask for help. Delegation and asking for advice are the two things I do regularly now.
Want to help Leaf Envy bloom and take the plant industry by storm? Check out their campaign here.