Plants are obviously about aesthetics, but it's also the benefits they have for your health, your well-being, mental health, productivity and air quality ...
Lauren Lance fell into the world of plants and botanicals when she started The Borrowed Nursery more than two years ago. The former interior designer has grown the popular boutique into a flourishing business with a solid following of locals, businesses and event planners who just can’t get enough of her green goodness. Now, plants were huge in the 70s, but thanks to crafty folk like Lauren Lance, they’re back in vogue in a very big way. At just 30 years of age, Lauren remains humbly at the helm of a rapidly growing business – she’s incredibly talented, has a rad sense of humour and a passionate eye for style and detail … and to top it all off, she’s (clearly) a pretty damn good businesswoman. We had a chat to Lauren about how it all began, how she juggles business and life, and endless plant puns.
Let’s take it back – how did The Borrowed Nursery first come about?
It started off when I was doing a wedding for a friend, it was like a Mexican fiesta theme, and we were doing table settings with cactus and succulents instead of flowers. And we were finding tins, pots and vessels to pair them with. In doing that, I sort of thought there was potential to create a business on its own for just plants. Plant hire was obviously around, but not in a boutique sense or in a smaller sense. So that’s where the ‘borrowed’ element of the name came from, it really lends itself to the hire side of things. There was a real gap in the retail side of things too. There wasn’t really a one-stop shop to get a really nice pot and plant and get advice about where it would look good in your house. For me, that’s where the interior design aspect comes into it because it’s about how you use plants to finish off a space. We found the perfect industrial space which was the perfect backdrop for plants, and from there is was just about growing the business, literally and figuratively – and here we are now.
Did you always have an interest in plants growing up?
For me, it was more about the design side to things. When I was young, I was into collecting and I was always into old stuff … which is not a direct link to where I have ended up now, but I think you learn things along the way and take little bits from all of your experiences and apply them to something. The biggest thing for me was knowing there was a need for something and providing for it.
Was it daunting going into business for yourself?
If definitely was. Each step is daunting. But I think each of my steps have been pretty measured, you know, like not going into it full time straight away, and staying in a full-time job as long as I could then stepping away eventually to go full-time with The Borrowed Nursery. It’s always a balance – the more time you have to put into a business, the more you can get from it. But also, not putting so much pressure on your business to succeed. That’s the reality. You hear all these great mantras like ‘just go for it’, and it is all about that, but it’s about measuring the risks you take and being able to back yourself and knowing when it’s a risk worth taking. So, moving into this new space was another big step, but I’m confident in what we’ve built over the past two years. We just found we were outgrowing it … ah, there are so many puns to use – growing, blooming, planting the seed. We could go on! Haha.
What do you think has brought plants back into trend?
I think its about design, and that people are now utilising plants really well in their interiors. Plants have been around forever, and there was a real hype in the 1970s, but now it’s about bringing them back in modern ways. It’s weird that they went out of fashion after the 70s, maybe they just weren’t used right and people got over it. Nowadays, plants are obviously about aesthetics, but it’s also the benefits they have for your health, your well-being, mental health and air quality. There are heaps of studies out there that show that plants do help productivity, so they have lots of practical benefits. I think anything that can visually look nice, but also serve a purpose is a real winner. People really enjoy adding plants to their homes. It’s a really cool decor piece that actually does something for you – it’s not just a nice ornament that just sits there. It’s that, and more.
You’ve recently turned 30 – how do you balance running a business and still having a life?
It can be challenging, but I think I am at the point at the moment where it’s going very well, which is great, but its that point where I need to work out where I need to employ help and in what areas. I think the biggest challenge at the moment is that it’s just head down and work, because the work is there. But making time for those proactive steps, planning, and all of that is where it’s difficult, especially when you’re wearing ALL the hats. I’ve got help from my Mum which is amazing – but the goal is definitely to recognise where I need help and how I can do that and still have the business operate well. It is hard, but it’s a great problem to have.
So, how do you handle a growing business and stay motivated? What are the challenges?
It’s easy to get bogged down in the day to day. I think it’s a balance between being able to reflect back on your business and acknowledge where your development areas are but understanding that you can’t fix them overnight – like, I know what I can do better, but I get frustrated when I can’t fix it straight away. I love having a list and crossing things off, but when I cross one thing off, like three things are added at the same time. You’ve just got to stay motivated but not be too hard on yourself when you’re not doing things as quickly as you’d like. It’s an exciting time for the business, but it’s also pretty critical … without sounding too overdramatic, but it is because you’ve got so much potential and then you get too busy that you can’t fulfill everything you take on. So sometimes that’s about saying no, or saying yes but only in the capacity that you can deliver. I’ll probably still acknowledge these things in a year’s time! But really, if you’ve nailed everything and it’s a well-oiled machine, then where is the challenge in that? I think I just want to make clones of myself …
What’s on the cards for The Borrowed Nursery?
I really want to focus on streamlining the events and hire side of things, especially because events are growing on the Gold Coast, it’s just getting bigger and bigger. Especially in the lead up to the Commonwealth Games, there’s so many corporate and commercial events coming up on that side of things. So we’ll be refining those elements. And continuing to get really nice plants for indoors, working on getting more handmade, local products in for the retail side of things. Also, improving the online system with a new website platform and delivery, including interstate.
Where do you the plants and botanicals industry going?
In terms of pots and vessels for plants, concrete has been a really big thing, but then things went more toward the well-made light-weight pieces. Personally, I really like the aesthetics of really clean, simple designs. I think that we’re moving away from colour as well with pots, so it’s more about natural colours and neutral tones. There are so many local, Australian-made brands that are producing really nice pots and ceramics for plants, and I think there is a real shift toward local shopping and handmade, Australian-designed products. People are really getting on board with it. In terms of plants, moving forward I think there will just be more and more of it. And the fact that people want to support local business – you know, the people just out there having a go and doing it themselves and going up against the bigger competitors. I think people appreciate quality, and they are willing to pay for it – the prices don’t have to be out of everyones reach though. Affordability and good quality is a fine balance.
Grab a coffee and breakfast … Good Day Coffee in Tuges. That’s my end of the coast. I am there pretty much every day. Great ham and cheese toastie.