Despite their beautiful appearance, the flower industry has a dirty secret. Most commercial flowers in Australia have been heavily sprayed with pesticides, synthetic fertilisers and harmful chemicals. Which is how former Victorian school teacher Janae Paquin-Bowden came up with a new business idea.
Janae and husband Chris began Fleurs de Lyonville from their property in the Victorian hamlet of Lyonville.
Together with their two kids and snazzy band of sheep, chickens, pigs and an alpaca named Jon Snow, they’re catering to the demand for organic flowers.
Janae tells Mamamia how she established Fleurs de Lyonville and all the things she’s learnt along the way.
Tell us about Fleurs de Lyonville… What is it?
There is increasing demand for locally grown, chemical-free flowers. We provide freshly picked organically grown flowers so that floral designers and local grocers do not need to source from wholesale markets that supply flowers that are often chemically laden and imported and lack the unique look and beautiful scent that provoke old and new memories.
Our flower farm can supply direct to floral designers as well as the public. At Fleurs de Lyonville we focus on growing unique natives and old fashioned heirloom varieties for floral designers, brides and speciality stores throughout central Victoria and Melbourne.
What were you doing before you went into business for yourself?
I have been a French and primary school teacher.
What made you want to start your own business?
To be home with my children and to be able to work from home and make an income from our beautiful property.
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How did you come up with the name?
My husband came up with it, based off of where we live (the hamlet of Lyonville) and the fact that he is a bilingual Canadian and I lived in France for two years and have also been a French teacher.
What’s the single best piece of advice you got?
‘When you confuse you lose’ which emphasised how you need clarity with your brand story, ideal customer, etc.
What’s the one bit of advice you would give yourself if you were starting again?
Do the LSU course before you start a small business!
At Mamamia we have an expression “flearning” – failing and learning. What have been your biggest flearnings since you have started your business?
Pricing our products to compete but also be fair and realistic in terms of earning a reasonable income. Trying to do too many things rather than honing in and focusing our business in a few key areas.
What do you do when you’re feeling like you’re in a hole emotionally (or financially).
Talk to my husband and family to receive support and advice and ensure we talk about learning from our mistakes and how we can improve next time.