My Small Rural Business: Little Triffids Flowers
According to the ABS, regional businesses account for over 800,000 businesses. As part of our Regional Heroes campaign, we're profiling some of these incredible small businesses, like Little Triffids Flowers to see what makes them (and their towns) tick!
What is the name of your business?
Little Triffids Flowers
What is your website? Instagram and Facebook too please.
Do you have a podcast?
When did you start your small biz?
Sophie started Little Triffids Flowers in 2014 as a (very) micro flower farm, mostly doing small weddings (just bouquets) and providing a seasonal flower subscription service. In 2016 I came on board (Beth) when we formed a partnership and expanded our business offerings to include larger weddings and events, corporate flower subscriptions, gift bouquets and workshops. Sophie is now working full-time in the business and the farm has expanded a lot. It’s still micro scale, but we produce hundreds of stems weekly in the Spring and Autumn. Production slows in the summer heat and frosty winters keep things quiet for a nice down season, perfect for overseas travel and taking a break.
Why did you start it?
Sophie was inspired by the slow flower movement which mostly originated in the States and the UK, and which is gaining momentum in Australia. It’s about keeping industry local, flowers fresh and vibrant and reducing waste and carbon emissions, things we’re passionate about.
Sophie is a garden lover and when she and her husband Tim moved to Wagga Wagga from Sydney they set about establishing their garden. It began as mostly fruit, vegetables and herbs with some flowers for fun, but soon the flowers took over and now the garden is mostly trees and flowering perennials, many of which can be cut from for use in our floral design work, as well as a few rose patches, a large cut flower perennial patch and a large annual patch which this past year has doubled in size.
Sophie and Bethany have both always been interested in creative pursuits and as the flowers and garden became Sophie’s favourite way to spend her time she set about learning the art of floral design too, in order to sell what she was growing.
Is it the only biz of its kind in your area?
Yes. Little Triffids Flowers is Wagga’s first and currently only micro flower farm and studio florist.
What do you love most about living where you live?
North Wagga sunsets!! Nothing like ’em. Slow pace, incredibly supportive client community, thriving arts scene and accessibility.
Do you have a shop front?
No, we don’t have a shop front. We work out of our studio onsite at the ‘farm’ which is also Sophie’s home. We generally meet clients at our favourite café or pub for consultations, and we host workshops at the farm for those who want to experience it.
How would you describe your client base?
We have some incredibly loyal clients who support our business and it does become a really special relationship. We have people who’ve attended our workshops multiple times, or those for whom we have provided their wedding flowers and then the flowers for their anniversaries and when baby arrives, and that’s the biggest compliment we can receive; return business.
Our clients value locally-grown product, as well as our particular aesthetic which we are known for.
Who/what do you consider your biggest competitor?
It can be hard to demonstrate the value of locally grown, seasonal flowers when you can pick up a bunch of plastic-wrapped flowers flown from overseas for half the price at the supermarket. But there are those people who get it, and who care about where their flowers come from and who grew them, just as they care about eating locally grown food or buying locally made products like clothes and jewellery; they’re our people.
How do most of your clients find you?
Being a studio florist (not a shopfront) we rely a lot on our website and social media presence to drive business. Word of mouth is definitely a key referral source and we focus really intently on our client relationships to provide them with warm, timely communication and excellent service.
Do you network with other small biz in your area?
Yes definitely, this has been a really important part of growing our business. So much can be achieved in collaboration with other small businesses and a leg-up is always reciprocated. We often work together with other creative, arts or events businesses on joint projects which allows for fun and creativity and a departure from client briefs. Mind you, we also have lots of clients who let us do fun and creative stuff too!!
Do you have a local chamber of commerce in your area?
Yes there’s a Business Chamber, we haven’t had a heap to do with it but there’s a Wagga Women in Business organisation which has been great for its networking and special guest speaker events, things like that.
What do you think is the greatest challenge your community/area/district faces right now?
Employment opportunities and economic growth so that young highly educated families who want to be here, can stay here!
Who is your greatest support?
Probably Sophie’s husband Tim who has backed her dream from the beginning. He’s had to put up with us taking over his shed, his house, and his garden as well as his weekends and his time with his wifey. Tim also tirelessly fitted out the wonky horse shed in the backyard as our studio, brings us cups of tea and toast on long days, and never ever stops smiling. He’s a wonderful support to the business and we couldn’t do it without him.
What’s your biggest goal for the next 5 years?
Establishment of infrastructure on the farm to improve efficiency and extend the growing season. We won a small business grant through Wagga Wagga City Council which has allowed us to expand on the farm. We’ll keep things small scale, but improving efficiency and thus profit margins would be a win.
What is your biggest challenge in terms of growing your business?
I think the biggest challenge we are up against at the moment is the cost of expansion. We are mulling over establishment of a retail space, as well as bringing on employees (we utilise a team of local freelancers at the moment) but those things carry financial risk. It’s also a question of how do we grow but keep the personal touch. That’s a big part of what our business is, so however we grow, we need to stay connected to that. It’s a flower garden in Sophie’s backyard, where we serve you homemade scones, you can pat the dog and chat under the rusty verandah while she picks armloads of fresh flowers for you to take home; we mustn’t lose that.
If there was one thing you could to make the biggest change to your business what would it be?
Probably expanding our studio space to allow for larger group workshops. Or a retail space. Or one in the same!!
What/where is your favourite place in your town and why?
The Victory Memorial Gardens is a beautiful place to take a walk along the lagoon, it’s very peaceful. We also love to have a locally-brewed (award winning!) beer and game of ping-pong at The Thirsty Crow.