The hashtag #plantsofinstagram has over 12 million hits on Instagram. We have slowly but surely become obsessed with bringing the outside in, and Florida-based company Bros with Hoes Plant Co is primed and ready to help you achieve just that.
What started as a chat about dream jobs with friends very quickly became a thriving business – the success of which nobody could have predicted at the time. But even running your dream business, where the stock literally grows itself, isn’t without its challenges. We caught up with Carlie, one of the business’s four founders, to talk about growing the business, the secrets behind their engaged 100,000+ Instagram followers, and what’s round the corner for BWH.
Hi Carlie! Can you tell me a bit about Bros with Hoes Plant Co, and how you came to start it?
Bros with Hoes Plant Co was started by myself (Carlie) and husband Jason and our best friends Gail and Kyle. The four of us met in college at the University of Central Florida. What started as a crazy idea to create a pop-up plant shop while chatting about dream jobs soon catapulted into a business only a few months later. Within weeks of the initial idea, we filed for a business license, met with the Department of Agriculture, and began renovating our mobile plant trailer.
In May of 2019, the first Bros with Hoes pop-up event took place! Word of our new mobile plant shop spread quickly through social media and people all over the country started asking us to ship our plants or bring the trailer to other states! Jason and Kyle started off manning the trailer operations while Gail and I helped on the weekends in between our corporate jobs. With so many requests for plants outside of our local community we realized we needed to open additional avenues for customers near and far to shop. In September 2019, we launched our online shop and BWH Plant Co. began shipping nationwide! We never anticipated that our passion project would turn into the opportunity for the four of us to jump from our corporate day jobs to full-time BWH in less than a year.
What’s a typical day like for all of you?
Every day is different for us because we all do a little bit of everything. On a typical day, Jason & Kyle work out of Apopka where they handle all of greenhouse and shipping operations. You’ll typically find them propagating plants or working with our fulfilment team to pack and ship out online orders. Gail and I work out of our retail store located in College Park, where we support our awesome retail team and manage all things digital — web design, marketing, social media, customer service, etc.
I can see you’ve built a really impressive Instagram following. What are your top tips for building an engaged and loyal audience for your business?
- Create a community around your brand – One of the ways we did this was to encourage social sharing through the use of tagging @bwhplantco and using our hashtags. Our customers have always organically shared their content because they love the product and want us to share it too! We are always highlighting customer photos, reviews, etc through our channels. People love to have their content re-shared by brands and this helps build brand credibility as well. Potential customers can see photos and feedback from real people. A high follower count doesn’t hold much weight when there’s poor engagement. A brand can have thousands of followers but if you’ve never heard of it, can’t find real reviews, photos from customers, etc. you may be a bit hesitant to buy.\
- Post engaging photos, videos, and stories that your followers can interact with or find value in. Don’t just share strictly product images to try to “sell things”.
- Give your followers a glimpse at what’s going on behind the scenes so they can see the people behind the brand.
- Always engage with your customers through social so they know they’re being heard. This can be tough to keep up with for small businesses as your brand/following gets bigger but it’s something we’ve kept as a top priority and feel has made a massive impact on our customers and their experience with our brand. Genuine customer engagement goes a long way and helps build a loyal customer base!
Tell me about some of the standout moments from the last two and a half years of running BWH
The past two years have truly been a whirlwind. A major moment (and the day we realized this would become more than a weekend hobby) was during our first online plant launch. We figured we might have a handful of orders and ended up selling out completely within hours. We had to set up shop in Kyle’s grandparent’s garage which ended up being our HQ until the day we bought our 5-acre greenhouse! Another big moment was when the four of us officially took the leap to run BWH full time, in the middle of the pandemic! Lastly and most recently, bringing the vision of our new retail store, Jungle Room, to life.
If someone is reading this post and thinking ‘that’s my dream job!’, what advice would you give them?
It can feel far out of reach to dream up something and bring it to life, but if four friends who opened a mobile plant shop as a way to do something fun on the weekends and make some beer money can do it.. you can too. You don’t necessarily have to run out and quit your day job tomorrow to bring your ideas to life. Our business started as a weekend activity and evolved into a full time operation over time. Do your research, figure out your brand, and start small. This allows you to test the waters and see what direction you can go in.
And I have to ask — if you had to pick, which is your favourite plant?
This is a tough one! It feels like every week we all have a new favorite plant but I’d have to say the Monstera Albo is one of the top picks across our entire team. Each plant produces such unique leaves and variegation, it’s truly a show stopper!
Lastly, what’s coming next for BWH?
We actually just opened the doors to our new brick-and-mortar store “Jungle Room by BWH Plant Co” this past month! We’re still settling into our new store but some of our long-term plans are to expand our greenhouse/shipping facility and open additional stores. So much has happened in the past two years it feels crazy to think about what else can.
Thank you so much for sharing the BHW story with us, Carlie! The store looks great, and we look forward to watching you guys go from strength to strength. You can find BWH on Instagram @bwhplantco, and be sure to check out their website, too.