In an exclusive interview, we sit down with Lisa Delane, the co-founder and COO of"Shop Living Gardens," a thriving venture dedicated to bringing luxury and high-quality outdoor furniture and decor to customers across the US. With a passion for design and a vision to transform outdoor spaces, Lisa shares her inspiring entrepreneurial journey alongside her sister Sacha McCrae, a renowned landscape designer and founder of Living Gardens Landscape Design. From humble beginnings to creating a remarkable e-commerce platform, "Shop Living Gardens" is redefining outdoor living, one stylish piece at a time. Join us as we delve into Lisa's insights, challenges, and her commitment to providing an exceptional outdoor living experience for all.
Chris Choi: Hey Lisa, it's great to have you here! Can you start by giving us a brief introduction of yourself and what inspired you to start Shop Living Gardens? I'm really curious to hear about your journey as an entrepreneur and how it all evolved.
Lisa Delane: : Hi Chris, my name isLisa Delane, and my company is Shop Living Gardens. I own it with my sister,Sacha McCrae. The journey began with Sacha, who has been an award-winning landscape designer for over 20 years. She's very successful here in OrangeCounty, Southern California. The majority of Sacha’s clients prefer to purchase new outdoor furniture once they have their gardens redesigned and construction is complete. Sacha was so busy with design work that she didn't have time to do all the research and purchasing that was necessary, so I stepped in to help her. I've been working with Sacha for a number of years on the marketing side of her business because I also have a PR company, Tigerlily Skye PR, and I work several luxury brands, including Sacha’s company, Living Gardens LandscapeDesign. I already understood her business and her goals and we have the same style aesthetics, and I had some time to help. We would talk about each project, and I would seek out furniture and decor, develop relationships with manufacturers, and start growing our database.
Since then, we have supplied furniture and decor to many of her customers and they are all very happy. Then, we started receiving calls from other designers. They didn't have the resources to find furniture for their clients and asked if we would be able to help them, which was such a compliment.
Our process includes making sure we have as much information as possible from the client ordesigner. We need the measurements of the spaces, as we have to make sure that the furniture fits into the allocated space. It is also very important to make sure the furniture style and color scheme flows from the inside to the outside, so it's cohesive. Things just snowballed from there. During COVID, we talked about the potential that other people might also like this service, or would like to purchase outdoor furniture and decor from us, so we decided to start ShopLiving Gardens. Our goal was to create an e-commerce site so that anybody inthe US could have access to and be able to purchase the same furniture that we provide our clients. Additionally, if clients hire us to procure their furniture and decor for them, we are able to access additional vendors that we don’t show online. Either way, we wanted to make sure we could offer beautiful,high-quality outdoor furniture and decor so that anyone can design the outdoor rooms of their dreams.
Chris Choi: Wow, that's quite an inspiring journey! I can see how your complementary skills and shared passion drove the creation of Shop Living Gardens. And I must say, your website looks fantastic, you did a great job on Shopify! Was it challenging to build the website? I can imagine there were some quirks along the way.
Lisa Delane: Thank you. I worked veryhard on that. I actually built the website using Shopify, but I did all thedesign and everything else that comes with it, so thank you, I appreciate that.
Chris Choi: Haha, I cantotally relate! Technology can be a tricky beast sometimes. But it's clear thatall the hard work and effort paid off, the website looks amazing.
It has its quirks, just like any custom builder. I worked in technology when I first moved over here from England, so I have a basic understanding of HTML and all of that, so that part wasn't difficult. But since my time in the tech industry, a lot has changed, and there are things that I just don't understand, so I hire people to help me with those things.
Chris Choi: That's great.
Lisa Delane: The structure, setting it all up, I understood how that worked. I can go in and I can edit some code, but then when it gets to more high-level stuff and new technology that I've never learned, then I hire someone to help me.
Chris Choi: Got it. And also, So, when did you officially launch Shop Living Gardens?
Lisa Delane: I think we launched thecurrent site sometime during COVID, so late 2020-early 2021.
During Covid, thePR industry was very slow, so I had the time to build the Shop’s website.Sacha’s business was still very busy as people were stuck at home and realized that they wanted to make changes to their outdoor spaces, and we saw the need for the e-commerce store. We decided to use Shopify to make our site look really elegant and hopefully be more functional. There are still things I work on every day to make it the best outdoor furniture store it can be.
Chris Choi: I can imagine how the pandemic added its own set of obstacles. But it's great to see that you've navigated through it all. Now, about marketing, how did you manage to attract your first customers, like the initial 10 or 50? What was your strategy like?
Lisa Delane: In the beginning, to be honest, we didn't really have a marketing strategy per se. We started with social media and at the same time, potential clients started sign-up for our newsletters so that we could do direct marketing. Coincidentally after this call, I have another one with a marketing agency that also handles SEO, becauseI'm trying to really focus on that right now. That is something that was introduced after I worked in tech, so it's all somewhat new to me. I understand the basics, but I need help with it, so I have a team looking at it for me.They will be able to tweak what we've already done to build our Google ranking and hopefully we can reach a greater audience.
Chris Choi: Right. What's been the consistent marketing brand messaging across the platforms, for example, let's say when you created marketing creatives, what are the messages you're trying to deliver to bring customers?
Lisa Delane: We want to show that we offer high-end, luxury outdoor furniture. We're not competing with Target,Walmart, or Home Depot. They are definitely not the same quality or price range as us. The quality of our furniture is greater, which is why it's more expensive. Basically, you pay more because you receive better quality outdoor furniture and it's going to last longer. You may pay less with another vendor for similar-looking furniture, however, the quality of the products may not be as high, and then you have to keep replacing it. We are very focused on the quality of the construction and the materials. Designing and building long-lasting outdoor furniture takes time and a lot of research to make sure the materials can stand up to the outdoor elements. That's pretty much our message - we're definitely not a bargain site, but we do have high-quality, beautiful furniture and decor that's sure to make a statement.
Chris Choi: It's always good to adapt and fine-tune your strategies as you grow. And speaking of luxury and high-quality products, that's definitely a selling point for Shop Living Gardens. I checked out your offerings, and they are indeed stunning. With your experience in the industry, how do you manage your vendors, and what have been the top challenges for your business over the last few years?
Lisa Delane: Trying to start and then promote a company during COVID was quite challenging because just like so many other businesses, most of our products are imported, and there were supply chain issues causing a huge backlog in shipping. We don't store products here because we don't have a warehouse, so everything is done on a drop-ship basis. We were receiving orders, but it took a long time to fulfill them. For our landscape design clients, we had some vendors quote us 58 weeks for furniture to arrive. No one wants to wait that long, so they would cancel the order, and go to somebody else who said they had it, however, they didn't really have it in stock either, and the clients would wait just as long, but now they were extra weeks behind. At that point, customers started to realize that we were all in the same situation.
Lisa Delane: We always inform our customers about how long things might take based on updates we were receiving. I know people are excited and they want everything now, just like I do. Things are definitely much better now. We're experiencing a shorter time frame, still a little more extended than where we originally were, but things are much more acceptable now to customers. I think that has been the biggest challenge.
Chris Choi: Also, I'm curious about the growth of Shop Living Gardens over the last two to three years. Can you share some insights on how fast you've been growing? Are we talking about six figures, seven figures, or even eight-figure sales? I'm sure our readers would love to know more about your success!
Lisa Delane: We’re not there yet. We're still in the early days forShopLiving Gardens, but if we add in business from the design side then we're doing quite well. And that's good. On the design side, we sell a greater number of items to each client as they are buying everything new at the same time. I'll show the client a presentation for the dining area, the living area, all the decor, all the pillows, and the complete styling, and they just say yes. Whereas a customer coming through the website usually buys the furniture first, and then they'll return and buy the extra decor items, such as umbrellas, throw pillows, rugs, etc.. Overall, we're still building a following, so having you put the word out is hugely helpful for us because there is a lot of competition out there, and everybody has beautiful products.
Chris Choi: Makes sense. So, Lisa, as someone who's been an entrepreneur for quite some time, how do you manage to stay motivated? What keeps you inspired, and how do you tackle each day when you wake up and head to work?
Lisa Delane: I guess my biggest motivation is building something for my children. I also get such satisfaction out of people being happy with the products they've purchased and seeing how the finished result looks. If you look at the portfolio on our landscape design website, livinggardenslandscapedesign.com, you can see some of the latest projects that we've completed with not only design but furniture, decor, and styling. They look all beautiful, and our customers are so thrilled. So that makes me feel like we've done a good job and it's really motivating. Then I am ready to move on to the next project and have someone else be very happy with how their backyard, front yard, porch, or balcony looks, and how much they will enjoy being outside with their friends and family.
Chris Choi: I can imagine the logistics and shipping challenges must have been quite tricky during the pandemic. It's great to see how you've managed to find solutions and build strong relationships with your vendors. Now, as you're growing your business, do you have any specific goals for this year and in the next five years?
Lisa Delane: Well, year over year, I want to see our business build and reach a wider audience. If we can build ShopLiving Gardens into something that is really fantastic, I will then be able to hire all the people that I need and provide employment for other people. I really think that there's a great opportunity in the luxury and quality outdoor furniture niche, and I want to share our success with others so that they can also benefit from being a part of our company.
Chris Choi: That's a wonderful vision, Lisa. I'm sure Shop Living Gardens will continue to flourish under your leadership. And as a seasoned entrepreneur, what advice would you give to someone starting their own journey in the business world?
Lisa Delane: First of all, work-life balance. Because when it's your baby, you end up putting so much effort into it that you can get lost in it. If you don't also take care of yourself, you can't function as well to produce good work. You need a balance, and you have to be able to take the time needed. Persistence is also key. You have to keep going.Things are rarely an overnight success, you just have to keep working at it and working at it. Hire the right people to give you advice as you need to make sure you have people that have strengths to counter your weaknesses.
Chris Choi: Those are fantastic pieces of advice, Lisa. I'm sure they will resonate with many aspiring entrepreneurs out there. Thank you so much for sharing your journey and insights with us today. It's been a pleasure speaking with you!
Lisa Delane: Thank you, Chris! It was my pleasure too. If there's anything else you'd like to know or if anyone has any questions about Shop Living Gardens, feel free to reach out anytime.
1. Embracing Complementary Skills: Lisa Delane's partnership with her landscape designer sister, Sacha McCrae, showcases the power of leveraging complementary skills. Their combined expertise in design and public relations led to the successful launch of "Shop Living Gardens," highlighting the value of collaboration in entrepreneurship.
2. Persistence and Adaptability: Building a business during challenging times requires persistence and adaptability. Lisa's dedication to overcoming logistical hurdles during the pandemic, such as shipping delays and vendor management, reflects the importance of tenacity in navigating unforeseen obstacles.
3. Focus on Luxury and Quality: "Shop Living Gardens" differentiates itself by offering high-end, luxury furniture and decor, emphasizing the value of quality over quantity. This deliberate focus on upscale products sets the brand apart in a competitive market.
4. Work-Life Balance and Motivation: As an entrepreneur, Lisa emphasizes the significance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance to sustain creativity and productivity. Her motivation comes from the satisfaction of seeing customers delighted with their outdoor spaces, reinforcing the importance of finding personal fulfillment in business endeavors.