Released: February 24th, 2021
Since the very beginning of GP, I’ve always valued radical transparency, even when I have fears that sharing so openly about our company’s progress and position could be problematic. Our BTS FB Group specifically has historically been the place where I share my ideas and our team’s challenges, so that our customers have a better appreciation for what we do everyday and the hard decisions our team have to make from time to time. Writing these longer posts is also therapeutic for me, especially now being the owner of the business, because it forces me to see and express the team from a perspective I don’t get to have every day.
2021 has been about what we anticipated so far, as far as workload and team goes… the reality is that for the entire plant industry, this winter has been unusually cold. For us, as of the 2nd week of January, we had already spent more to heat our greenhouses than we did the entire winter last year. These colder temperatures for growers are a double whammy, impacting both the timelines for growing more plants, in the process delaying sales and income for growers, but at the same time, the temperatures also are driving up costs associated with growing plants like heating. Again, this effect is not just on Gabriella Plants but is happening across the entire industry from growers big and small.
Thankfully, our greenhouses have remained warm and we have over 35,000 plants growing in our greenhouses as I write this letter. However, I understand that not everyone has had an easy winter and our hearts and prayers go out to those in TX still without clean water and that went without power for so long, especially thinking of those plant parents who lost part or all of their collections last week.
The good news: Spring is on the way.
How am I doing? I’m so incredibly proud of this team. They accomplish so much each and every week and are growing in what they understand and the ways they find new solutions to problems.
For myself, to be honest, I feel just a tiny bit lost a day or two a week right now. It has been a challenge since the beginning to redefine the role that I play at GP at each milestone of adding staff. In the very early days, I did nearly every function from propagation to the post office, and as we’ve added staff, I’ve had the honor of training and ultimately trust others to do those responsibilities. That “letting go” isn’t exactly easy for me.
Furthermore, I have been investing in listening to audiobooks on leadership and I am always searching for new ways that I can grow to be a better leader for our company. My nature is to try to take every single idea and refine it to being the best it can be, I’m a problem solver by default… however, I am aware that this process of refining ideas can have the effect of eroding confidence in people’s independent decision making. I’m trying to be put extra effort into asking for the team’s solution first and encouraging them to make that solution a reality, without my input on how to make the solution better, because I want to build the confidence that the team can make decisions internally. Most often, the best solutions come from within the team.
One of the beauties in our careers is that most of the growing decisions are ones that don’t ultimately lead to the plant’s downfall, so we can make mistakes and the plants are gracious to show us how we can do it better next time. The key is to always keep the big picture in mind and know that there is another opportunity to do it better next month, when we plant more of those plants again.
My goal for this year is to best lead and help our teams grow, which has been an entirely new objective and is opposite of the typical way I define myself; in the work I do myself.
As we went into 2021, I shared with our team all of our objectives to hit as we cross through each quarter of the year. This is a document I spend a lot of time working on especially at the quarterly review times and I call it our “Future Roadmap”. I wanted to take some time today to share some of the accomplishments from our team over the first 7+ weeks of the year and I also want to share some of the things we are working on in the next few months:
We now operate in 2 locations, our primary growing location & our office/shipping location.
We have found our rhythm shipping from a separate location & have made great progress in how we efficiently get plants from our greenhouse to your house!
Nearly 80% of the available space in our greenhouses that did not have benches when I purchased the business from my dad now have benches! This means we can grow even more plants utilizing our space better.
Although we are not able to host larger open public events, we did get to trial a private shopping experience via appointment only a few weeks ago. That private shopping experience was a success, not only in getting to see our local plant community, but in getting to hold an event that kept our guests and our staff safe.
We have planted over 36 new species in 2021 already.
We have made incredible progress on building our own hardware and electronics we believe will help us be better growers, including beginning to 3D print our own enclosures that fit the devices we need in each box. Prototypes now monitor all sorts of GH conditions like temperatures, humidity, LIGHT and soil moisture and we are continuing to take steps to take the discoveries we make and tie them into devices that other growers & hobbyists can use one day.
We have made internal and external changes to the way we post inventory, giving more power to the Inventory & GH teams to create those Inventory Updates based on what looks best in the greenhouse each week.
We have welcomed the fast-paced development timelines for our internal inventory/greenhouse app, as well as the tools within that app that help us prepare to tell Every Plant’s Story later this year.
We have begun to print & track individualized plant nursery stakes, with the goal of being able to share that story including the people involved with growing that plant with our customers later this year. Every Plant Has A Story!
Wow! Writing that all out really reminds me of the progress our team makes every week. I am so proud but more than proud, I’m thankful. We’re thankful. Thankful that our plants are heathy, that our team is healthy & that we have such amazing customers like you. Our customers drive who we are and I am so excited for the future. Words cannot properly describe my appreciation for the trust that our customers and our team puts in me.
In March, we expect a lot more inventory to finally be ready to ship and as those plants leave for their new home, lots of space will open up for planting even more.
So what lies ahead? A lot more growing…because we’re always growing more!
Seriously... thank you.
Your thankful grower,
Founder & CEO of Gabriella Plants