Kelly Jamieson, Co-Founder of Edible Blooms, took her passion for chocolate one step further than the rest of us and created an innovative business model around the concept of floral gift bouquets that you could eat. Recognised as SA Telstra Business Woman of the Year in 2011, Kelly and her sister Abbey have grown Edible Blooms into a business that has enjoyed over a decade of success.
Selling over $1 million of products online in her first year, Kelly has continued to innovate. From initially making everything herself, doing deliveries with a street directory on her lap, and dressing as a giant Strawberry to advertise the business, Edible Blooms Group has expanded. The brand stable now includes Edible Blooms NZ, Edible Hampers and Green Thumb Gifts, an online range of live plant gifts, including trees, herbs and flowers, which is run from the family farm in Hindmarsh Valley, South Australia. For her next challenge, Kelly has international expansion firmly in her sights.
You left your position as Director of Marketing and Business Development at Minter Ellison to start Edible Blooms. What was the catalyst to make such a significant change?
Following my passion and a good dose of naivety (always a good thing if you ask me, because you don’t ask ‘why not’, you just go for it) were definitely the two things that made me jump from a successful corporate career to starting up a business. In fact, when I told close friends that I was going to start up a florist-like business that only uses edible items to create the bouquets they thought I was quite mad…until they saw pictures of my Edible Bloom prototypes and then they were sold too!
What characterises your leadership style? How has it changed since starting the business in 2005?
I believe in leading by example and being a positive role model for my team. I can always find a positive out of any challenge presented. When Edible Blooms first started it was a roller coaster ride. We opened four stores around Australia in our first year of business. Whilst I have always been a planner, things were moving so fast that we were often more reactive than proactive. I am always learning and improving my leadership skills and as our business has grown, I put more emphasis on planning and communication to keep our business moving forward.
What did you learn at the exclusive leadership retreat on Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island in 2016?
What an amazing experience it was to spend time in the presence of Sir Richard Branson and his amazing team, I feel very fortunate to have been part of this experience through Business Chicks. Initially I was totally overwhelmed by the incredible people I was surrounded by, the speakers and the other guests. However, learning that they are all real people with real challenges put everything into perspective. The best thing about my time on Necker Island is by far the network of people I met on Necker that I am now fortunate to call friends. In fact, most our Necker alumni (including Marc Randolph the founder of Netflix and his wife Lorraine) are making a trip to South Australia next month and we are hosting them at our farm for a special dinner. I am very excited to see them all again!
We are sisters-in-law. You are in partnership with your sister Abbey. Do you have any tips you would like to share on working with family?
That is great that you get along so well as sisters-in-law! Abbey and I have always got along well and our first business together was baking and selling melting moment biscuits to the local bakery in our country town of Balaklava. Growing up on a farm meant that to earn pocket money we had to think outside of the box. We used to bake the biscuits in our kitchen at home and we would pay Mum for the ingredients and we kept the balance as our pocket money. I think the greatest thing about working with family is that you can have robust discussions and get to conclusions quickly. In our case, Abbey and I bring different strengths to our partnership and that is a key ingredient to why it works for us.
Edible Blooms has moved from a startup to the largest store network of gift delivery stores in Australia, with a business partner in New Zealand. What moments have been the most exciting?
Without a doubt, the most exciting moment for us was four years into our business journey when we won 2009 Telstra Small Business of the Year for Australia. We had been heads down working really hard, and this recognition was incredible. It gave us the confidence to keep going and going through completing the awards process. There are a lot of questions to answer before you make the shortlist! We had great clarity on where we were heading.
What has been your biggest challenge?
We have boot strapped our growth and so by far our biggest challenge has been careful management of our cash flow. On the bright side, this has made us creative with solutions and careful with decision making. At times this has slowed our growth, but overall it has made us work a lot smarter to achieve our goals.
What are you most proud of?
In 2008 we took a big leap of faith and moved all of our business systems to the cloud. We have used technology well to run our business and it has created a systemised business that gives Abbey and I great flexibility. Flexibility in the way we work means we can work where and when we want to. For example, as a Mum I can work remotely from our business in my home office part of each week. I aim for 3 days working from home but realistically it’s often 2 days that I achieve! This allows me to spend more quality time with my husband Andrew and our two children.
If you had one piece of advice for future female leaders, what would it be?
Spend your energy focused on what you CAN do – your strengths, passions and knowledge. When you focus 100% on this, the rest will fall into place.
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