In 2019, Rebecka Bjelfvenstam Keeling decided that she wanted to start doing something more practical than working in PR and communications. ‘I also wanted to teach my kids about things that actually matter,’ she says. So, she leased around half a hectare of land in Matakana, a village 70km north of Auckland, New Zealand. Her business idea was inspired by her native Sweden: to create a garden that's open to visitors, who can walk around cutting fresh flowers to make their own bouquets or harvesting herbs to cook with. Playing on the ‘slow food’ movement, with its emphasis on produce that's in season and grown locally, she chose to name her business Slow Blooms.
Her main challenge when changing industry was accepting that, ‘as Erin Benzakein of Floret Flowers has said, from Instagram followers to investment money to number of customers, there's more than enough for everyone to succeed. I've always had competitive jobs, where you win or you lose. When I launched the flower farm, it was hard to make sure I didn't continue behaving in [that] way.’
After launching Slow Bloom, similar businesses started popping up. ‘But just because someone else is doing the same thing, it doesn't discount what I'm doing. If others start copying, see it as affirmation that you're doing something well. If you stumble across someone on Instagram selling [your product] more cheaply, don't freak out. It was a hard lesson to grasp, but you never look back once you do.’
For our ‘25 big lessons from small business’ series, we scoured the world to find inspiring people to share the lessons they've learned from running their own companies. Click here to read the other stories.
This special feature was first published in Courier issue 45, February/March 2022. To purchase the issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.