Changing lanes - from selling gifts to delivering houseplants

When Pigeonhole founder Johann Kim decided to (temporarily) close down all his 10 stores at the end of March beginning of April and go from a team of 65 to 15, was a huge transition and a very stressful time for all involved.

However, where (literally) one door closes another one opens and for Kim it was all about plants.

“A bunch of my stores had been selling indoor plants for the last few months,” he explains.

“As things started to shut down, we were in a position where we feared that all our beautiful indoor plants might end up locked down in the stores and die from neglect. We felt compelled to adopt them out as quickly as possible to new homes and this spurred on the idea that perhaps we could deliver them to our customers who were in lockdown.

“I thought that maybe people in isolation in their homes might appreciate having a living thing make their space that little bit happier to be in during this crazy time. So I approached one of my nurseries about the idea, and catalogued their range of plants. I spoke to my team who were on JobKeeper who could potentially deliver the plants and then called in favours from friends all around the world to do graphic design, web design, photography and writing to help get this project of the ground.”

And so Hello Houseplant was born.

It’s a delivery service based initially in Perth, delivering beautiful indoor plants from nursery to your home. The emphasis of this venture has since shifted to being a ‘plants as presents’ concept where people are encouraged to send their loved ones a plant rather than a bunch of flowers―a living breathing gift that gives back by cleaning your air, making your home feel that bit cosier, and giving you something small to look after and care for.

You can add a pot to your plant, a bottle of local WA wine, handmade Margaret River chocolate or a four-pack of beer from a local Perth brewery.

“We want to support local and allow our Perth customers to have an offering that gives back to our local community,” reiterates Kim.

“We’ve also decided to plant a tree for every plant that we sell. We’re partnering with One Tree Planted which is an international reforestation organisation. They have partners on the ground here in Australia who are developing reforestation programs for bushfire ravaged parts of our country. It’s an exciting initiative to be part of and something close to our hearts.”

Kim has started a business from scratch before, even though under very different circumstances, but he felt confident he could do it again and build something out of nothing.

"I basically got to the point where all my bank accounts had hit zero. I didn’t have any money but I had staff that were eligible for JobKeeper. I thought we might be in for six months of lockdown, and because my nursery didn’t have a minimum order for me, I thought I could launch this businesses without having to buy stock and could get orders on the site, place them directly with my nursery, and then send one of my JobKeeper staff to pick up the order and deliver to our customers.

“It’s set to launch in the next week or so, so we’ll see whether I’ve made a good or a bad call on this I guess. At least it’s been a fun experience,” he enthuses.