SupportBiz presents an exclusive conversation with Dhanya, co-founder of Green Essence, about the garden equipment industry in the country at present, the store, and entrepreneurship, among other things.
Since when has Green Essence been in operation?
The pilot phase for Green Essence started in December 2010. Initially, we used only do sales in events and retailed out of other stores. The first Green Essence retail store was operational in March 2011.
What are the different kinds of products that you offer?
We offer garden products, which typically cater to urban lifestyles with small balcony spaces and terraces. We offer a wide range of services and products to enhance the green quotient in our customers’lifestyle.
Our product mix consists of quality- and value-oriented garden accessories and gifts to the independent homeowner, lifestyle stores and corporates. We have different kinds of planters, varieties of garden accessories like water features, bird feeders, lights and trellises, as well as several kinds of potted plants.
How big is your team, at present?
Our core team consists of the two partners – myself and Shabari - and 4 permanent employees. The rest are hired on an as-needed basis.
Are your sales driven largely through your retail outlet or website? What is your observation?
Nearly 50 percent of our sales is done through our retail store in Indira Nagar, which has been operational since 2011. The other 50 percent is through referrals, projects, our Facebook page and website.
How is Green Essence different from other garden stores?
Green Essence sets itself apart from other garden-related stores with its products, which typically cater to urban lifestyles with small balcony spaces and terraces.
Unlike our competitors, we offer end-to-end solutions and products that match the tastes of the new-age gardener. We also offer facilities like online shopping facility, home delivery, and customization of products and gifts - a unique concept in this industry. We tailor our offerings to meet the needs of our customers.
Green Essence has firmly established its identity through designing and customizing its products in-house.
What are your expansion plans in the near future?
We plan to start a second retail store in the month of September 2012.
What are the major challenges that you face?
The concept of urban gardening is still very new in India. It is still a very small market, but expected to grow rapidly. We find that even though people realize the benefits of growing plants, many are still apprehensive about taking owning some and caring for them. Educating people on right plant care is also a challenge.
What do you think about the garden products industry in India at present? What are the major trends that you have been observing of late?
The present trend is to say it with potted plants. Corporates and individuals, especially in urban areas, are becoming more environment-conscious and are constantly looking for gifts that are eco friendly. Potted plants and garden products top the list.
The city’s landscape is changing drastically. Ninety percent of the people in most cities live in apartments with small balcony spaces. With increasing environment-consciousness, and awareness of the health benefits of growing plants, more and more individuals are taking to balcony gardening. Of late, there has been a huge rise in the demand for garden products and accessories that suit small garden spaces like railing planters, wall-mounted planters and vertical garden set-ups.
How far do you see the demand for garden products growing in the near future?
Right now, one is every 10 houses has a little garden. However, we foresee that, with growing awareness, within the next five years, you will see a garden in every second house.
What have been your proudest moments as an entrepreneur?
Every time someone appreciates our products and every time we have a repeat customer, it makes us proud.
What have been your three best learnings from business?
You may have the best product, but if you do not market yourself well, it is of no use. Hard work is important, but more important is well-planned and well-targeted work. Believe is yourself and have patience.
What advice would you give to a potential entrepreneur?
Be hands-on, in every aspect of the business, at least initially. This is critical to building a strong foundation. Also, it is extremely important to plan as much as possible. Having a well-thought-out business plan is very important. Set your target goals clearly and measure yourself periodically.