Online entrepreneur and recent Telstra Business Women’s Award winner, Kelly Baker knows a bit about making people happy – Along with her business Edible Blooms, she has brought over 250,000 scrumptious smiles to people all over Australia over the last six years.
In 2005, at the age of 27, Kelly left her corporate career and with all her savings opened her first Edible Blooms store in Brisbane, launching nine products, all beautiful fresh fruit bouquets. Kelly is now celebrating the sixth year in business with four stores across the country, 25 staff, further offshore expansion on the horizon and a swag of business awards under her belt.
Within 12 months of launching, demand for the Edible Blooms product enabled expansion to Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne, as well as increasing the product range to more than 100 gift ideas. “The first 12 months is a critical time for most small businesses, I had a strong business plan, a premium product, I invested in building our brand and I surrounded myself with other like minded business people to ensure Edible Blooms would reach its’ full potential,” she said.
And reach its potential it did – efficient production and an extensive national delivery service resulted in sales jumping to $1 million in sales in the first full financial year of trading. In the subsequent years they breezed through the GFC at an average of over 30% growth rate.
Critical to the success of Edible Blooms was finding a gap in the competitive gifting market and staying ahead of online business trends. “Our premium alternative to traditional gifts and flowers is developed with the consumer in mind, from masculine to feminine, chocolate to cookies, celebratory champagnes to plush toys for baby births. Chocolates have definitely been a hit as we use about 200,000 a month,” Kelly said.
But like most small business owners, Kelly’s journey to the top hasn’t always come easy, dealing with cash flow requirements, staffing issues to multiple server crashes, due to the rapid increase of web traffic has certainly caused issues in the past.
“Like all business owners it has been a journey and lucky for me overall a fruitful one, but there has been many mountains to climb and indeed the biggest has been the evolution of online businesses and ensuring we were at the forefront of that growth,” she said.
The business stays ahead of the competition by constantly refreshing their product range and refining their business systems. Today, Edible Blooms is one of the top ten Google search items for gift and flower delivery in Australia.
“Becoming tech savvy has allowed us to provide customers with an online shopfront offering 24 hours service, real time tracking of our gifts and to build our customer base to more than 75,000 people,” she said.
“I’m also thrilled that our IT based cloud systems allow me to remotely run a national business from our Victor Harbour farm, which has also enabled me to explore work life balance as I now have a family and business to run.”
Kelly’s vision for the future involves going against the trend of conservative spending in the current economic climate. “I’m seizing every opportunity to grow our business. Part of our strategy is to invest heavily in our infrastructure to enable overseas expansion, re-branding, launching a brand new website and ensuring our latest products are the most outstanding ever”, Kelly said.
Ultimately this investment is all focused on delivering a first class experience to Edible Blooms loyal customers and there is no stopping Kelly, with her plans for taking Edible Blooms global.
“I dreamed of this sort of success for the business and I believed in the product, my next dream will see the successful model of Edible Blooms transferred offshore” Kelly said.
Even with international expansion plans, Kelly says Edible Blooms’ biggest achievement has been winning the national awards of MYOB Telstra Small Business of the Year in 2009.
“The award recognition provided us with a new level of creditability and opened up some amazing opportunities and partnerships. The year we won the title saw our sales grow by more than $1million,” Kelly said. Adding to this accolade, Kelly’s achievements have been rewarded at the 2011 SA Telstra Business Women’s Awards, picking up SA Business Woman of the Year, Commonwealth Bank Business Owner and Marie Claire Young Business Woman Award.
“As a small business with big ideas, I have recognised where I need to invest in Edible Bloom for us to grow,” Kelly said. “Overarching everything, I’m most proud of the work and home life I’ve been able to create and my amazing team and family that have enabled me to get there.”
Edible Blooms offers same day delivery to major capital cities with over 100 ‘blooms’ currently available at www.edibleblooms.com.au