The florist in Melbourne had never dreamed that a decision costing $ 500 would make her a seven-year multimillionaire
Courtney Ray could never have imagined that an investment of $ 500 would make her a multimillionaire just seven years later.
But that’s exactly what happened to the Melbourne mother of two after her business grew to eight times its size during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mrs. Ray, 37, started a flower e-commerce store called Daily Blooms in 2014 with only $ 500 in her pocket.
By the end of this fiscal year, the online business will have revenue of $ 35 million in revenue.
She told news.com.au that she created the company as a passion project and that its dizzying success has “exceeded expectations in every way”.
“I went to do this crazy little project and it has turned out pretty well,” she admitted.
The former financial consultant believed that the coronavirus’ arrival on the Australian shores in March last year signaled the death knell for the Daily Blooms, but in a random twist, it turned out to be the exact opposite.
Instead, as their loved ones were separated through lockdowns and border closures, sending flowers became one of the only ways to stay in touch.
Mrs. Ray grew up in the small regional Victorian community of Freshwater Creek, which she described as “pretty idyllic” because she was constantly “surrounded by flowers.”
When she went to school, she often told that she would be a florist when she grew up, but instead “went the sensible financial career”.
She moved to Melbourne after getting a master’s job at the international consulting firm KPMG and stayed there for several years before moving to the merger and acquisition team at Orica. But on her honeymoon, she made a big decision.
“I had this revelation that I really did not want to go back to finance and I really wanted to give the florist a chance,” she said.
However, she knew that traditional florists had to throw a lot of flowers out at the end of the day’s trade, which she described as “heartbreaking”. So she came up with another business model.
“Going to the market and hoping that someone walking down the street saw a bunch of roses and wanted them, it’s crazy and leads to a huge amount of waste,” the entrepreneur said.
“I came up with the concept of buying flowers from the grower’s everyday life, the very best seasonal flowers, I wanted to make an arrangement, I wanted to take a picture, upload it to social media and my website.
“Very quickly I was able to buy my stock as I knew how many I wanted to sell for the day. It created a bit of scarcity, it coped with the waste, I was able to keep my prices reasonable.”
Basically, it was a same-day e-commerce delivery service for flowers rather than a brick-and-mortar store that relied on the passing traffic of passers-by to stay afloat.
Ms Ray set up the business. “It was literally $ 500, it was absolutely nothing,” she said.
The money went to building her website, buying a pile of flowers and flower tools, which she said were “all very basic and amateurish”.
In the first week, friends and family ordered from her “to be cute,” she said with a laugh. This soon followed with friends of friends.
“It was probably around the third or fourth week and I was starting to see customers coming through and I could not trace them back to a friend or a connection,” she said as the first indicator was gaining momentum.
In its first year, the Daily Blooms earned $ 500,000 in revenue.
Fast forward from then to today – where Mrs Ray had two children, now at 5 and 6 – where the business starts.
Daily Blooms went from 120 daily deliveries around Melbourne before March last year, to more than 1000 every day.
She has 82 employees, which is a mix of florists, wrappers, customer service or operations staff and in-house drivers.
There are a total of 53,000 likes on the company’s Instagram page.
Mrs Ray said her best months to date have been September and October, with Melbourne once again thrown into lockdown.
However, it has not all been smooth.
Mrs Ray launched a warehouse in Sydney in 2016 to supply the NSW people with her flowers, but decided to close it down due to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.
She admitted that this was a “massive mistake” as flowers could have been in high demand over the last 18 months, especially after Sydney’s 106-day lockdown just ended.
The brand plans to relaunch their warehouse in Sydney in January next year.
“People could not catch up and see each other, they could not give each other a hug (in lockdown),” said the millionaire florist.
“Instead of doing those things, people showed that they were nurturing through flowers. It was really just the means of human connection.”