Poppy & Daisy Designs is an eco-conscious children’s brand headed up by owner and founder, Helen. The brand name is inspired by the names of her daughters and she makes fun DIY kits to encourage children to get back to nature. Despite the disruption of Coronavirus, Helen has found that families have an increased desire to slow down and spend some quality time together, so business has boomed.
After 12 months of operation, Poppy & Daisy has gone from $0 to $15k a month, with Helen making all kits by hand in her home workshop. And one of the most significant achievements is that Poppy & Daisy Design’s kits are stocked in over 50 stores across Australia. Helen’s story is inspirational, so we chat to her to find out how she got started.
Who are you and what brand did you start?
I'm Helen, a British entrepreneur living the dream in the Sunshine Coast with hubby and my daughters Poppy and Daisy, aged 7 and 9.
I am the owner of Poppy & Daisy Designs, which is an eco-conscious children's brand. We make fun DIY kits for little creatives to encourage back to nature play. Using environmentally sustainable products and packaging, our activities inspire children to get hands-on and creative with natural materials.
We hand-make a range of Let's Create Eco Kits with nostalgic gifts such as handmade paper kits and flower press kits, as well as kits to grow a mini garden or make clay necklaces and fossils.
We also have a range of mini eco bags, which are ideal for little activities and perfect for plastic-free party favors or stocking fillers.
We create kits that are great for the planet and great for young minds. I believe if we all take small steps to help protect our world, we can achieve great things together.
How did you come up with the idea, brand name and logo for Poppy & Daisy Designs?
I started my entrepreneurial journey a few years ago. I knew that I had a different path ahead that I was more passionate about, but I was waiting for my "ah-ha" moment to spark something special in me.
My lightbulb moment happened in 2019 when my daughters Poppy and Daisy celebrated their birthdays. Both had big parties and were given so many plastic toys with plastic packaging. It became clear that there was a gap in the market for sustainable gifting options for 5-12-year-olds. I just knew that something had to be done about all the easily broken plastic toys in landfill, yet still offer fun gifts for children to get excited about when opening.
So I took a leap of faith and pivoted my brand and can honestly say I now absolutely love getting up each day because I know my purpose. I love our gorgeous eco kits and that they are connecting so many families through nature in magical ways. With Poppy and Daisy's help, who were my perfect fun-factor testers, I created our six Let's Create Eco Kits, launching them in October 2019. In February 2020, we launched our mini eco bags.
The overall look and feel for my brand, the packaging, logo, and products is simple, stylish, and eco. We use a beautiful earthy color palette, and I was so clear from the beginning that I wanted my brand to feel elegant and appeal to "kids" of all ages, who are ultimately the decision-makers.
Describe the process of launching Poppy & Daisy Designs?
I had such a clear vision from the beginning of how I wanted my products to look and feel. I know that packaging is everything, and I’m a sucker for brown paper packages tied up with string!
I wanted each box to have its own color scheme, and with wholesale experience, I purposely designed them to look attractive as a collection in a store. I wanted my boxes to be different from boxes on the market that have sleeves. So I came up with the idea of having a biodegradable sticker on the front and back of the boxes so that you could still see the packaging design.
I worked with a local graphic designer to help perfect and turn my vision into a stylish reality. Together, we came up with the packaging, instructions, stickers, logo, colors, and fonts.
Making my products has involved a lot of trial and error. It's a constant evolution to improve and enhance as I go along my path. Perfecting my product includes finding the right clay, the exact ratios of water to plaster, the right sized soil pellet to include in the garden kit, as well as trialing lots of wood types that can go in water without causing issues over time. I felt a bit like a scientist at times with all my testing!
My biggest challenge has been finding plastic-free alternatives for my products. For example, I needed a sustainable solution to keep air drying clay airtight inside a tin to prolong shelf life in stores. I also required metal mesh for the paper kit instead of silicone, which is much easier to cut and handle.
I struggled at first, not having everything lined up perfectly from the start. However, now that I'm a year into the brand, I know this is a typical trajectory of growth and that I'm going to be constantly tweaking, improving, and finding better ways to make our kits as we go along.
In terms of start-up costs, I spent on getting the brand right from the beginning. So for me, this was spending on high-quality photography, graphic design, and a great website. It's crucial not to lose customers due to a difficult-to-navigate website after working so hard to get them there in the first place. With experience, I found that it's cheaper and quicker to pay to get things done professionally instead of DIY-ing areas that are not in my skillset.
I was lucky that my timing to market was great. I launched just before Christmas, then covid hit, and people were scrambling to keep their children entertained at home.
With the way the world is at the moment, I think people have a desire to slow down, connect with their children over a mindful craft activity, go for a family walk to collect flowers to press, and create lasting childhood memories.
Our kits have created a sense of nostalgia for customers as they remember making paper or pressing flowers as a child themselves. Many customers tell me that I have inspired them to do these activities again with their children.
I can't believe our success in just the first 12 months. Seeing customer feedback and photos showing how they spend quality family time together while having fun using the kits brings me so much joy.
A significant achievement is that we're stocked in over 50 stores across Australia. I feel so happy because more children are getting the opportunity to create with nature and have fond memories to look back on. Not to mention we're reducing the amount of broken plastic toys sent to landfill.
Since launch, what has worked best to attract and retain customers?
The feedback I've received from customers is about the beautiful presentation of our kits and the high-quality products. I am a perfectionist, so any component that is not perfect does not go in the kit. I want every child opening their kit to be delighted and feel joy, and for everything to look and feel amazing and perfect.
We use only 100% recycled card and paper for our postcards and instruction booklets. In addition, we opt for biodegradable stickers, wood wool filler, water adhesive packaging tape and shipping packaging which is compostable.
I have thought about every element of the customer buying experience, thinking about how the packaging and products will make a customer feel when opening their kit. Whilst this can add extra time and certainly cost, we have made this decision in support of our greater mission to be a complete eco brand.
Customer service and communication are equally vital to me. I handwrite a note in every order, using each customer's name, so they feel special while personally thanking them for supporting my business.
Customers also receive an email a week after they've ordered to thank them again, and we ask if everything is ok with their order. I get a lot of lovely replies to these emails.
I make a point of replying to enquiries as soon as I can and resolve any issues immediately. In essence, I try to make my customers feel important and appreciated because I know they have lots of choices, and I do appreciate every single order.
With regards to business growth, how have things changed from a digital, revenue, customer and sales perspective?
Our business is growing every month, and we've seen a significant increase in sales during our 12 months of operation so far. We've gone from $0 to turning over $15k a month for products I hand-make in my home workshop!
As our brand awareness is increasing through social media, our network of stockists, and from people being gifted our kits, our online sales have increased, as have requests to wholesale our products. We started wholesaling in January 2020 and now have over 50 stockists!
We have a lovely community of 1,500 subscribers who we update every month with all that's going on behind the scenes at Poppy & Daisy, introducing our team to and offering early bird special promotions.
It's incredible to see how much it's grown in 12 months, so I'm really excited to see what will happen over the next year.
With regards to managing change through crisis, such as Covid-19, can you talk us through your experience and what you've learnt
Covid has helped our business grow as we’d only launched a few months prior. So since we offer activities to keep kids busy, our kits were in demand. We increased both retail sales online, and wholesale sales as shops were selling more activity kits in their stores and online.
So our crisis was how to keep up with production, which was tricky being a handmade business. We had to hire workers quickly to help assemble and pack orders, and we had to start ordering materials in bulk to manage the volume of orders coming in.
Shipping was a challenge, both in getting supplies to me and managing communication with customers about the speed of getting orders to them. When growth happens quickly, you have to develop better systems, automations, and processes to get the volume of orders made and out of the door.
How is the business doing today and what does the future look like?
Twelve months in, I’d say the business is going great! I have now hired four local mums to help with production and admin. We were bursting at the seams in my home workshop, so as of November, we’ve relocated operations to a new warehouse space. This has been a daunting and somewhat scary step in our journey, but also a necessary one to enable us to continue growing.
I am currently only shipping within Australia, but I plan to start selling overseas in 2021. We get many requests for overseas retail and wholesale orders but felt there was more than enough for us in Australia at this stage of business.
Leading up to Christmas we have new kit deals which are now live online with limited stock. So get in fast for those + taking advantage of our current discounts and free express shipping upgrades.
Next year, I have plans for a subscription box, creative in-person workshops, and education packs. I’m never short of ideas – it’s time that I’m short on.
What’s been the biggest learning experience since starting your own brand?
My biggest learning experience is to focus on yourself and your business. It's so easy to go down a rabbit hole of comparison, which can lead to self-doubt. So stay in your own lane and keep improving as you go along. I was once told that if you don't look back and laugh at your first launches or products, then you're not making progress!
I've also learned that everything has a solution. I have challenges that I spend time and energy worrying about, but we end up finding a solution. So I need to learn to relax when an issue occurs and be comforted in knowing that it can be figured out.
What are your top 3 tips on how to setup an Ecom store for success?
1) Branding is everything, so think about how you and your brand shows up in everything you put out and invest in it early if you can. You get what you pay for, so don’t go with the cheapest option when choosing who to work with.
2) Good photography is key to building trust and emotion with your customers. Shopping online means that customers make their choices based entirely on your photos and how they make them feel.
3) A good website is vital. You’ve done the hard work getting customers there, so don’t lose them through broken links, poor images, or hard-to-find information. Personally, I think communicating shipping costs upfront and clear on the homepage is important.
What are some of your favorite online business tools you use to run Poppy & Daisy Designs?
I work at home on my desktop but have access to all my tools on my phone. Being a mum in business means I can reconcile transactions in Xero, schedule social media posts, add ideas to my Trello boards and attach files to emails, all while watching the girls at tennis lessons.
I couldn’t be without:
- Trello to store my thoughts and plans,
- Klaviyo to automate email marketing to customers, subscribers and wholesalers,
- Adobe Illustrator to create all my graphics, marketing, and product materials,
- Xero for helping me stay on top of my numbers and manage invoices
- Planoly to help create and schedule a nice looking Instagram grid
- Dropbox to store and get easy access to files on the go from my phone
Type Tool Name Platform Woocommerce Project Management Trello Email Marketing Klaviyo Reviews Woocommerce Analytics Google Analytics CMS Hubspot Shipping Ready to Ship, Australia Post Accounting Xero Productivity Trello Payments Paypal, Stripe Social Media Tools Planoly Design Adobe Illustrator Inventory Google Spreadsheets CRM Hubspot
See what business tools other founders are using.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts or other educational resources?
I love anything Denise Thomas Duffield says. She is so relaxed and chilled and makes me realize we’re all figuring things out as we go along. She makes me laugh and stops me from taking myself so seriously. Plus, I love all the manifesting and trusting the universe she talks about. I refer to her as my friend giving me advice!
Who have been the most influential people for you during this business journey?
I have a little group of business besties, and we created our own mastermind. We chat weekly on Zoom and are there for each other to run everything by or pick us up if we’re having a hard day.
Also, my mum over in the UK has been with me every step of the way. She’s listened to all my highs and lows, researches things for me, and helps with all the creative and crafty ideas. She’s my creative inspiration!
Any other advice you’d like to share with other aspiring entrepreneurs?
Just get started with an idea you have, follow your dreams, and see where it takes you. Don't worry about what people will think or if you may fail. Just follow your path and your passion, and the rest will happen naturally.
I have also learned I can't do it all and that outsourcing is the best way to keep ticking along to have some level of work-life balance. It seems crazy to spend money to make money, but you have to move forward from DIY-ing everything!
Believe in yourself because that positive energy transforms into everything you do and say in your business.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now or open to new investors?
We have just hired four ladies to help make kits and pack orders, but I’m thinking some more help on the admin side of things would be great, like blogs, emails, and newsletters. I’m always up to meet like-minded people to collaborate with.
Where can we go to learn more about your current offers/promotions/programs?
Joining our online community is the best place to hear about what’s going on and about any promotions. We’ll be releasing our new kits exclusively to our email list for 24 hours before going live. You also get 10% off your first order. You can sign up here https://www.poppyanddaisydesigns.com.au/join-our-club/
We’re also always hanging out on Instagram if you’d like to come and say hi: https://www.instagram.com/poppyanddaisydesigns/