When Janae and Chris married in 2014, locally grown, chemical-free flowers were hard to find. An extensive search eventually led them to Grown and Gathered (Instagram @grownandgathered), where they traded home-reared black-faced Suffolk lamb for buckets of gorgeous blooms.
Their search also sparked a dream, they fell in love with the idea of growing flowers themselves and producing unique floral bouquets and arrangements for local customers who support small-scale ethical farming. Fleurs de Lyonville caters to a niche market, and Janae and Chris have since built the business by investing in social media, connecting with their followers, and being part of a thriving Instagram community of flower growers.
The small town of Lyonville is in the Hepburn Shire, home of Spa Country, where tourists head for the natural mineral springs, luxury day spas, locally produced gourmet food, restaurants, antiques, beautiful B&Bs and destination weddings. Both primary school teachers who met in Melbourne, Janae and Chris now manage an eight-acre farm – nearly two acres are under horticulture with dahlias, sweet peas, ranunculus, many different annuals and perennials and, more recently, lilacs and waratahs. They also have a large vegetable patch, and 24 egg chickens to feed the family and sell or trade the excess. The farm aims to close the loop, so there are seven sheep and an alpaca whose job it is to produce manure and eat the flower scraps. No chemicals are used, and they make their own fertilizer out of comfrey, which they also grow. Janae even asks her business customers to return wilted flowers for compost. Fleurs de Lyonville has bloomed, literally, into a successful enterprise of flower design, farmgate sales and markets, while supplying the local bed and breakfast industry with fresh flowers and welcome baskets full of fresh produce, including eggs, bread, seasonal fruit, vegetables, and local tea from The Cottage Herbalist (Instagram @thecottageherbalist).
The business owes much of its recent success to investing in social media marketing. While out walking the dog in mid-2017, Janae met a new neighbour who runs Shine Communication (Instagram @shinecommunication), and who just happened to need a guinea pig for her new Instagram course for small businesses. In six months, Janae has grown her Instagram following from 160 to more than 700 followers through the power of storytelling, branding, targeted hashtags, and hard work. Many visitors to the farm gate have seen Janae’s posts and made a special trip to buy beautiful flowers that you won’t find in most florists. Janae has also found the Instagram community of flower growers a fantastic source of support, and other growers generously share their farming knowledge or tips on pest control.
Flowers make people feel good, both in real life and through the sharing of gorgeous images on their social media channels. Janae and Chris are working towards growing the farm to two acres under floriculture, with the eventual goal of it supporting them both as full-time farmers. In the meantime, they continue to teach and grow while sharing their love of making things beautiful.
Find out more about Janae’s business:
Just go to Paquin-Bowden – Fleurs de Lyonville