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The Adaptables: Featuring Herbivore Florals

In this Adaptables episode, we speak to Lucas Stone, owner of Herbivore Florals, a booming floral design business in Melbourne for the past 20 years.

Lucas owns and runs Herbivore Florals, which boasts contracts with a handful of major airlines, as well as contracts with Victoria Racing Club and Moonee Valley. With the outbreak of COVID-19, these airline contracts dried up along with all of Lucas’ work in events and weddings. But, to stay afloat, he developed a new suite of products to cater for people stuck at home seeking comfort items showing he truly is one of The Adaptables.

Herbivore Florals' advice on staying afloat

Check in with your staff. “The first point of call was making sure that the staff were comfortable and happy to be there. Because, at the end of the day, if they weren't, then they're the ones that are talking to the customers a lot, that sort of vibe comes off I think if, if they're not wanting to be there.”

Keep your stakeholders updated. “Communication with all of this is the key. It's speaking to your suppliers and your banks and making sure they know where you're at and having good relationships with them because if you just shut down, they automatically think the worst.”

Pivot to what’s still possible. “Fortunately we had the online presence there, so we've just pushed a lot harder into that space. It's worked really well for us so far and it's kept us afloat.”

Plan ahead when you can. “All of our growers and wholesalers sort of went into panic mode … making decisions on whether to plant crops or not that’ll be ready for Mother's Day. We needed to be really aware of what everyone was doing in that space, because we decided to push on and try to stay open, so we needed to know that we had solid suppliers in place for that time of year. Funnily enough, it was busier than it's ever been because everyone was in lockdown and couldn't visit so they just all sent flowers.”

Adapt to the new normal. To make their product more relevant to the times, Stone and his team started thinking of what people needed right now, adding wellness packs and food hampers to their offerings. “If your elderly mother hasn't seen you for two months, what do you want to send to her? And everyone loves having fresh flowers when they're stuck at home and they're a really nice thing to be able to do. I guess you sort of feel like you're doing a little bit of a community service at the same time.”

Be generous where you can. Though it may seem counter-intuitive when cashflow is limited, Stone decided to start offering free delivery. “What I noticed was there were no cars on the road, so you're twice as quick, and the staff were here … so that enabled us a little flexibility. The way I thought about it was we can take a hit right now and that'll help people—and in the long run it's good for business as well. You’re taking a hit in one area but you pick it up in another.”

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