A ramble from H on life after moving and how we are continuing to grow.
(for background, see Moving To Bristol)
Why I run Mint like I do
This is a journey for me. I’m very open, and very vocal with pretty much everyone I meet. My heart is on my sleeve, if I’m having a bad day you’ll know it, and if I'm having a good day you’ll know it. I was no good in the corporate world, I was way too honest with both colleagues and clients alike.
The conditioning and lack of creativity I experienced in consulting led me to a dark place mentally, and I didn’t realise how much I hated every aspect of working for somebody else until it was almost too late.
This is why I run Mint in such an informal way. You’re all my friends, and the fact that you reward us with actual orders is a total bonus, honestly. I’ll call you up and tell you the truth if something has gone wrong, and I’m way too overshare-y no matter when you speak to me. From the very beginning I swore this would be the complete opposite of a corporation. In the middle I lost my way a little, trying to expand quickly rather than focus on being the best we can possibly be and wasting lots of time on crazy things like paid social ads (don't get me started on that) but we’re getting back there. Slowly but surely.
Life after the big move
Moving Mint to Bristol was a huge puzzle piece for me, especially Easton (see previous blog posts!) but seemed for a long while to put me behind. We moved at a time when the going was already getting tough. It was February, one of the quietest times of year for us, and I left behind a close-knit community for a completely unknown environment on Stapleton Road. It takes years to build up your customers in a given area, and I wasn’t quite ready for that comfort blanket to be ripped out from underneath us.
Add in a war on European soil and a financial crisis on top of uncertainty reverberating up and down the country from Covid, and you’ve got a recipe for retail disaster. It’s fair to say we’ve been cash strapped for the best part of a year now, as have many small businesses I know and love, and I had no idea the impact this would have on my mental health.
I went into overdrive, saying yes to every hint of an opportunity that came along, and in June, I found myself with 3 major events and a holiday booked in the same 7 days. I rode on adrenaline the entire time and had the most unbelievable crash once it was all over and done with. By November, I couldn’t think straight, had no clue who Mint was or where we were going and was totally burnt out from all of it. Not to mention coparenting a toddler at the same time. Sometimes I would sit outside of my own shop physically unable to go inside from the stress of it all. Something had to give!
The crippling fear of failure
One thing I will be forever grateful for is the people I have met throughout this journey. A very special person noticed this stress was making me bubble over and offered some coaching. They called it coaching, I called it one of the most powerful 90 minutes of my life! Days later I was talking and thinking freely and a few major things hit me smack in the face.
What did I do all of this for? It wasn’t to compete with anyone else, to be ‘the best’ or to do anything other than make my life feel fulfilled. What was I so scared of? Failure. What was the worst that could happen if all of this did fall in on me? I’d go and run my own greenhouse in a field full of cats. And what was so bad about that?!
A city centre greenhouse?
I didn’t have a greenhouse, I had a shop. So I thought to myself, why not make the most of what you’ve got and create the exact environment you dream of. Let’s turn the shop into a greenhouse. It was absolutely bonkers, but I suddenly felt all my fear disappear in an instant. We could focus on the plants we love, stop worrying about what to stock and when, and channel all our energy into one thing. Before we moved out of Wotton I was able to do this and just ran with whatever felt right in the moment. But somehow the pressure of such a big move, both emotionally and financially, stopped me from remembering what I loved doing in the first place.
I just love plants! And I have become increasingly more obsessed with cacti and succulents, especially the private collections of home grown plants that are completely unique, old, and precious. And so do all of you. These are the plants that give me unbelievable joy. In going and meeting the people that have grown them, ensuring them that their plants will be loved for a whole new lifetime by their new owners, and saving them from the skip. It is the most fulfilling, rewarding and exciting part of my job, so why not go hell for leather on it.
Going for broke
Fast forward to January 2023, and we’re going hell for leather on it! We have sold off pretty much all of our existing stock, freeing up that desperately needed cash for a pivot into cacti, succulents and statement plants.
We are partnering with our dear friend and adviser Tony Irons, who provides unique and beautiful cacti and succulents to the whole of the UK from his home in Portishead. We have started stocking pots from specialist suppliers such as BEF and Soparco with help from the wonderful Maries Pots Direct, and will be expanding our range of sundries to include specific gravels and grits ideal for growing arid plants.
We are also in the middle of a refurbishment of the shop, removing an entire wall of units to make way for greenhouse style staging, a potting station and a full stock of terracotta pots. And, we have our first private collection visit booked. This involves a hotel stay in a secret location 4 hours away with snow and flooding in the forecast, so may be eventful! The collection is a very large and important one. Boots and warm weather gear is packed, and maybe skis will be needed at this time of year! But needs must, if we are to bring these incredible plants with such an incredible choice to our customers.
We’ve got a lot to do, and a lot more to announce, but as it’s nearly 1am and I am due back in at 9 in the morning, I’d better wind this up. If you’ve managed to get this far, well done! I thank you for indulging me in these long-winded explanations of things, but somehow, it’s therapeutic. We’ve still got a few half price plants, pots, seeds and accessories on our website, and will be back open in a week or two with an incredible array of collectors' cacti, succulents and large statement houseplants. Remember our giant Monstera deliciosa? Get ready to welcome another one (slightly smaller as we’re on a budget but you get the jist)!
So much love and gratitude,