The first in a series of photography blogs looking at some of Essex’s most exciting and innovative small businesses.
Earlier this month I met up with the charismatic trio behind Modern Mint to find out about their bespoke and ethical approach to catering for all of your gardening needs.
Upon meeting Darren, Chloe and Stefano, I was immediately impressed by their passion and knowledge for all things horticultural and was eager to find out more about how Modern Mint is fast becoming the go-to business for garden design and products that are as beautiful as they are practical. Read on to find out what Chloe had to say.
What is Modern Mint?
Modern Mint is the place to go for all things gardening. There are three of us that work here. Darren is the plantsman in the Essex and London area, Stefano works on the garden design drawings, and me – I run the online shop.
What made you take the plunge into the world of a start-up?
The idea and challenge of setting up a shop from scratch really excited me. Perhaps its in my blood as both my father and grandmother ran shops! Before I joined Modern Mint I worked as an PA to the President of a large company. This work gave me the opportunity to get involved in running different areas of the business, discovering the nitty gritty of how it all worked – an experience that was brilliant training for Modern Mint.
Getting the confidence to run your own business takes time, it is worth starting small or building some career capital from the job you are in, but now I have done it I wouldn’t want to work any other way! You learn something new everyday, stretch your skill base and it has been a positive and healthy change of lifestyle!
The shop was never in the original plan – how did that come about?
We decided to add the shop after a year or so of setting up the garden design business. It was a natural progression. Going to garden centres we kept seeing the same stuff over and over again. With Darren’s gardening work he had grown tired of working with tools that kept breaking, planting up pots that were ugly (or even worse, boring) or using synthetic fertilisers that harmed the environment. He had gradually tested and refined a palette of products he could trust and start with for the shop.
What was the first product you sold online?
It was the Seedballs. When we made our first online sale, our merchant bank refused to work and the customer called complaining that she couldn’t pay. We were in a state of shock that someone was actually buying something off the website and calling us up about it along with utter frustration at the bank for being so unhelpful! Thankfully it was all resolved quickly, and our first customer has turned into a regular one.
How do you source your products, and is there anything exciting coming up?
The garden industry is not really that green – which seems ridiculous really as it is all about working with the environment. There is lots of waste in the form of plastic pots, overuse of chemicals and excess waste that ends up in landfill. We didn’t want to part of this. We garden organically so it would be totally against our ethos to just buy mass produced items, poorly made with a negative effect on the environment and community where it is made.
We sell items that we know are good quality, have come from suppliers and makers that care and use recycled materials if possible. A good way to run a business is to sell an amazing product and avoid customer dissatisfaction. Who wants to deal with complaints? We like our customers, enjoy getting to know them and want to build up a long term relationship with them.
The new ideas come from listening to our customers. When we first launched the shop last year we were told constantly our stuff is great for gifts. So we are spending the summer putting together a gift range for all our products, with gift wrapping options too ready for the Christmas season. We aim to launch this in September, along with a very exciting range of indoor gardening products.
How does professional photography benefit your business?
We pride ourselves on only selling high quality, ethically produced products. Therefore it’s really important that these are photographed in a way that visualises the craftsmanship and skill that has gone into creating each item. Professional photography helps Modern Mint to communicate our brand to potential new customers, who may not have had the opportunity to experience the products in person and are viewing them for the first time online. We also feel that by photographing our products in the environment in which they are to be used, we can clearly communicate a sense of size and scale and help clients to see how great an addition they would be to their own gardens or homes.
I had a great afternoon photographing the team at Modern Mint. To see more of the products Modern Mint sells you can visit their website at www.modernmint.co.uk
If you run your own business and require professional photos to help you sell your brand, please visit www.rosswillshercommercialphotography.co.uk to see more examples of my work or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a complimentary consultation. I look forward to hearing from you.