The very stylish Hannah Burgess is a former criminologist with a house full of plants who started her own business selling succulents as mail order gifts. Her foray into the trendy houseplants started simply when she bought her first succulent for her new home. “One succulent, soon turned to 10 and suddenly, I found myself obsessed by them,” she says.
This sparked an idea for a business and she spent 18 months developing Say It With Succulents, going back to uni to study project management. Eventually she left her job to focus full-time on launching the brand in February.
“I was instantly surprised at the positive response I received from the public. I kept the idea on the down low from just about everyone I knew, so it was good to hear such honest and positive feedback when the final product was released. We have grown since then, introducing a few new products and colours along the way, but for now, our focus is making the product a trusted household name.”
Succulents are trendy all of a sudden and their poor old cousin the cactus seems a little out of favour. Hannah says it’s easy to see why: “They are beautiful, low maintenance plants suitable for any skill level. When I bought my first succulent, there was a big push for consumers to consider drought hardy plants. It was during a time when we needed to be conscious about our choices. So I think people realised that not only were succulents a responsible choice, they were, by virtue, easy to look after and especially great for those leading busy lives.”
I’m a firm believer that every home should always have something green and living in it, whether it’s plants or cut flowers. Hannah agrees that plants bring life to your home. “They really can transform a lifeless corner into something interesting. Pairing your plants with your favourite books and artwork plays favourably into the overall aesthetic of your home, and really gives you a sense of peace. My home is my indoor jungle.”
Her beautiful packaging is key, however. “Without the packaging, I would have no product,” says Hannah. “Good branding is key to the succuss of any new business and with this comes your packaging considerations. I knew that I wanted my packaging to speak for itself. To be versatile, useful and most of all, reflect the brand’s beliefs. Running a faceless online business means that consumers will judge your brand solely on the tangible product they receive.”
All sorts of people are ordering Hannah’s succulents for all sorts of occasions. While her dad is her number one fan, succulents seem to work for all ages and tastes. “Flowers will always be a wonderful and thoughtful gesture, but it is so much nicer to receive a living gift,” Hannah says. Her own nan’s death proved a defining moment when she was planning her business. “I gave my mum a plant instead of flowers and after a week she had a house full of dead flowers and a cute gerbera still sitting on her table. She said every time she looked at the plant, she thought of her mum. This moment still makes me realise the importance of plants in one’s life. The joy that plant brought my mum could not be replicated with flowers and I wanted others to feel the same when they received a living gift.” Going one further by packaging the plants with handmade pots and bamboo coasters for them to sit on, Hannah feels she is also playing a role as interior decorator.
Hannah’s 3 top tips for healthy succulents
“Simple! Light, water and fertiliser.
Succulents detest the dark. No matter how much love and care you give to your succulent, without light they will look miserable, and quick. Succulents live happily indoors, although you need to find that spot in your house that provides enough light to keep it thriving. Sunny windowsills and rooms that capture northern light are your best bet. What I love about succulents is how easily you can identify a problem with them. If you leave a succulent in a dark spot for too long, they will become ‘leggy’. The stems will grow, but the leaves will space out. If this happens, pop your succulent outside for a week or two.
Succulents only require minimal watering: once to twice a week depending on where they are and how they are planted. In pots, they will need a little more watering, if they are in the ground, they don’t really need much more than rain.
If you have your plant potted indoors, make sure you check for signs of dehydration. Conversely, overwatering your plant indoors can be a common problem if they aren’t getting enough sun to compensate. If your leaves are turning brown and mushy, stop the water!
Finally, pick off dead leaves and flowers to promote growth and consider organic fertiliser options like worm juice to keep your plants looking their best all year round. Fertiliser gives your plants that nutritional boost they need, so look for signs such as loss of colour as a good time to fertilise.”