Botanic Box Australia: A subscription to success?

By Gabrielle Stannus

Meet Rhiannon Campbell from Botanic Box Australia, the creator of a new plant subscription service designed to capitalise on the growing demand for indoor greenery.

Rhiannon Campbell is the founder and owner of Botanic Box Australia, a plant subscription service operating out of Brisbane. However, Rhiannon’s previous work life was quite different to the one she is now enjoying.

“I worked in a corporate environment for all of my career, moving from Brisbane to London, Melbourne and Newcastle then Brisbane again. After some illness, the death of my father and a 40th I decided it was time to change things up a bit!” says Rhiannon.

Rhiannon came up with the idea of a plant subscription service after looking for a housewarming gift for a friend that was not a cheeseboard or a set of wine glasses. “I have always loved indoor and outdoor plants and grew up in a family of gardeners so when I started thinking about creating something plant related as a business, I tried to think of something that was not already in the market. I had heard about wine subscriptions and cheese subscriptions, and I knew that Australia was often behind in terms of retail compared to the US and UK. I researched and realised I had found a niche in the market, which said to me I was onto a winner!” says Rhiannon.

“People love plants but sometimes they are time poor or do not really know what to buy. People also like to gift things that are unusual and are an alternative to a bunch of flowers. Giving people an alternative that is literally delivered to their door really takes any decision making out of the process. Each month we have a different plant and pot and we collaborate with local small businesses (makers, artists, and growers) to bring subscribers a variety of pots and plants, delivered right to their doors,” says Rhiannon. She sources her plants from wholesale and other nurseries around Brisbane and the Gold and Sunshine Coast.

“Each month, we do a launch around the first of the month to let people know who our collaborator is for the month and what plant our subscribers will receive, then we post the photos, care cards and collaborator details on the website. We initially had care cards printed and sent with the products each month but due to the volume and the fact that we are planning months in advance, it is easier to publish the information online on our website,” explains Rhiannon.

Going the distance
Botanic Box Australia offer 3, 6- and 12-month subscriptions, as well as gift vouchers, with deliveries to Queensland, NSW, ACT and Victoria. “We hand deliver to those in Brisbane and the remaining we send via courier. The most popular is always the 3-month subscription, that way people can ‘trial’ the service and see if it suits them. We have long term subscribers who have been with us since the inception of our brand,” Rhiannon says. Subscribers range in age from 20-65 years, with the majority being women (90%).

To ensure her plant subscriptions arrive in tip-top shape, Rhiannon has developed a set of procedures to suit her business’ specific needs. “We deliver to Queensland, NSW, ACT and Victoria and send via courier. We only send on Mondays because we aim to get the plants to our subscribers before the week’s end, so they do not end up in a warehouse over a weekend. This has been a constant source of working and reworking due to the nature of courier deliveries! We wrap the plants and pots as tightly as possible to ensure that they arrive in the best condition possible, with the plants watered the day before being sent, wrapped in a plastic bag, taped to the box and as stable as possible. We ensure that the boxes are labelled as fragile and use ‘This Way Up’ stickers. However, it has been the hardest factor in the chain to control,” says Rhiannon.

The Plant Lounge
Rhiannon now has over 120 subscriptions per month all around Australia. However, that has not slowed her down. Four months ago, Rhiannon started a bricks and mortar indoor plant store called The Plant Lounge in Brisbane.

“We stock local Australian artists, larger wholesale plant products, as well as high end designer brands. We also source locally as much as possible. I love being in the store because it means I can be hands on with my customers and running regular workshops means I get to spend time with customers and this really encourages repeat patronage,” says Rhiannon.

Rhiannon says that there is not a lot of crossover between her two businesses: “I tend to run them as two different businesses because people that enjoy browsing in a plant store may not be the same type of people that buy a plant subscription. Botanic Box takes the choice away from time poor people, whereas The Plant Lounge is for people to browse and take their time to choose. Both have certain joys and suit certain people.”