The Melbourne florist could never have dreamed that a decision involving an investment of $ 500 would turn her into a multimillionaire in seven years
Courtney Ray never imagined that a $ 500 investment would turn her into a multimillionaire just seven years later.
But that’s exactly what happened to the Melbourne mother of two after her business grew eight times during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ms. Ray, 37, started a flower e-commerce store called Daily Blooms in 2014 with just $ 500 in her pocket.
By the end of this fiscal year, the online business will have sales of $ 35 million.
She told news.com.au that she started the business as a passion project and the amazing success “exceeded expectations in every way”.
“I went out to do this crazy little project and it turned out just fine,” she admitted.
The former financial advisor thought the arrival of the coronavirus to the Australian coast in March last year signaled the death bell for Daily Blooms, but in a fortuitous twist, it turned out the exact opposite.
Instead, sending flowers became one of the only ways to keep in touch as loved ones were separated by locks and border closings.
Ms. Ray grew up in the small regional Victorian parish of Freshwater Creek, which she described as “pretty idyllic” because she was “constantly surrounded by flowers.”
When she was in school, she often told people that when she grew up she wanted to be a florist, but instead “pursued the sensible career path in finance.”
She moved to Melbourne after starting a postgraduate position at international consulting firm KPMG and stayed there for several years before joining Orica’s merger and acquisition team. However, on her honeymoon, she made a big decision.
“I realized that I really didn’t want to go back to finance and I really wanted to try floristry,” she said.
However, she knew that traditional flower shops had to throw away a lot of flowers at the end of the day, which she described as “heartbreaking”. So she developed a different business model.
“Going to the market and hoping that someone walking down the street sees a bouquet of roses and wants them is madness and leads to enormous waste,” says the entrepreneur.
âI had the concept of buying flowers from the grower’s everyday life, the best seasonal flowers, I would create an arrangement, take a picture, upload it to social media and my website.
âI was able to buy my inventory very quickly because I knew how many I would sell for the day. It created a little scarcity, it managed the waste, I was able to keep my prices reasonable. “
Essentially, it was a same-day delivery e-commerce service for flowers, rather than a physical store that relied on pedestrian traffic from passers-by to stay afloat.
Mrs. Ray charged the deal; “It was literally $ 500, it was absolutely nothing,” she said.
The money went towards building their website, buying a bunch of flowers and floristry tools, which in their opinion were “all very simple and amateurish”.
During the first week, friends and family asked her to “be nice,” she said with a laugh. This soon followed with friends of friends.
“It was probably around the third or fourth week and I saw customers coming through and I couldn’t trace them back to a friend or connection,” she said as the first signs of it started mounting.
In its first year, Daily Blooms had sales of $ 500,000.
Fast forward from then to now – during that time Ms. Ray had two children, who are now 5 and 6 years old – where the business is becoming an aisle.
Daily Blooms rose from 120 daily deliveries in Melbourne before March last year to more than 1000 daily.
It has 82 employees who are a mix of florists, wrappers, customer service or operations representatives and in-house drivers.
There are a total of 53,000 likes on the company’s Instagram page.
Ms. Ray said her best months so far were September and October when Melbourne was locked again.
It wasn’t all smoothly, however.
Ms. Ray opened a warehouse in Sydney in 2016 to supply the people of NSW with their flowers, but decided to close it due to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.
She admitted that this was a “massive mistake” as flowers may have been in high demand over the past 18 months, especially after the 106-day lockdown on Sydney that has just ended.
The brand plans to restart its Sydney warehouse in January next year.
“People couldn’t catch up and see they couldn’t hug (in lockdown),” said the multi-million dollar florist.
âInstead of doing these things, flowers showed people that they were interested in them. It was really just the vehicle for human connection. “