Time After Time.
It's hard to believe that Wild Atlantic Garden is just two months old. However, it's probably not too much of a surprise that starting a new business takes a lot of time! It's something of a cliché, but very true, that it takes a lot more time and energy than you'd expect, truly! There is so much to learn, but in the midst of all the late nights and unexpected curve balls, every step has been so enjoyable, even in the midst of slight frustration when faced with one's own technological ineptitude :)
In the early days of late summer however, this learning curve also involved a lot of muddy walks in local forests, getting dirty fingernails while digging in the earth and having local herbs explained in great detail by botanist, herbalist and horticulturalist friends.
Trainers got ruined, jeans got torn, and many dashes into thick canopies ensued, in efforts to try try and shelter from sudden onslaughts from Galway skies (always futile). Many evenings were spent in hot baths after rain, with that wonderful fresh air tiredness that always somehow reminds you of your childhood.
At this stage, Wild Atlantic Garden was just an idea. We knew that we wanted to create something that would allow for people to create tiny gardens in urban spaces, but the overall project was towards something more exciting.
As a group of botanists, gardeners, academics and ecocriticsm philosophers, we had enough combined knowledge to know that plants have an intelligence, and a consciousness and a form of communication that we know very little about. It was also something we all felt on our skin, and in our homes, and in our nostrils while in a forest after rain.
We wanted to help make green spaces possible, affordable and easy for people, with an overall mission to help people to grow their own food in a beautiful way in tiny spaces. But we also wanted to support minimalist living, agreeing that plants were not 'possessions' the way that other objects in our home can be. Rather plants were parts of our lives that we all saw somehow differently, as comrades, unique characters, story tellers, mood-reflectors, historians, even companions.
But the most beautiful part of these early stages of ideation, was the sense of collaboration from people, from a place of real love, that had nothing to do with anything, other than a beautiful mission to bring this intelligence and kinship and good green vibes into everyone's homes. We wanted to create something that was a force for good. There was quite a lovely network, or ecosystem of support and discussion in the early stages, mostly from those who didn't want necessarily (or couldn't) be involved in the whole process in a long-term way, but who were delighted by the idea, and committed to fertilising the ideas we were all discussing. To all of you, for the late night conversations, the rainy walks, the discussions of local buildings and visions of sustainable development possibilites, the surprise bunches of wildflowers and gifts of herbs on our doorstep, thank you.
A special thanks must also go to a tiny bunch who were part of passion projects that we all worked on together, giving feedback to one another as we tried to realise our different ideas for contributing something unique to local Irish, and to global culture. All of you gave wonderful feedback, thought, and care to the project as a whole. I hope that some of you are reading this, because you know who you are. You have stood the test of a very challenging and interesting 2018. You know who you are, and you all are amazing. Thank you for your constructive criticism, your encouragement and your care in all of the things that you do.
Thanks also to our families, for the late night phone calls after viewing this or that prime time television show, for being guinea pigs, for giving your honest opinions, for the encouragement and belief, and for the unconditional support. You are amazing people, that support has meant the world.
We began building the site (more of which later) but in the meantime started to document some of our plant love on Instagram. In a very short space of time people were reaching out sharing their interest in the idea of what Wild Atlantic Garden could be. You mirrored and exceeded our enthusiasm, and our love for the quiet moments of peace and nourishment that our natural spaces afford us. This surprisingly warm response really nourished our little seedling project, and gave it vibrancy that we were not quite expecting.
The fact that Wild Atlantic Garden would raise money for important green initiatives through profit sharing was something that captured many people's imagination. Even then, we could not have anticipated the response that we actually received. Thank you to all of you.
One of the most common things that you mentioned that you enjoyed were the posts in which we shared what we had learned, especially about practical, sustainable, green topics. Whether it was helping you save your different species of plants, or teaching about homemade toothpaste many of you mentioned that your favourite posts from us on Instagram were those that taught something, or helped to share what we had learned. For some it was the botanical histories, stories of plant evolution, or curios and myths surrounding different plant species, for others the idea that you could make bread out of raw vegetables or grow your own salads. This is what we hope for our blog, that it will be a resource to explore and grow in ways that you feel are important. Throughout all of this, you have been so generous with your feedback on the site, and on the project. Thank you! Feel free to post your thoughts here if you have ideas about what you'd like to see here, or just reach out to us on different platforms if you like. Our hub is here if there's anywhere else you'd like to join us.
Perhaps one of the most exciting early moments in the building stage was the designing, and eventual finalising of our logo. The designer of our logo, Ciaron Fitzpatrick is a very talented Dublin-based Galwegian graphic designer. You can see his beautiful description of the concept behind this logo in our Instagram post here. You can also reach him at email@example.com if you happen to be in need of some beautiful design work.
Of course, as mentioned, a big part of the process was building a website to host all of our ideas, and the minimalist indoor gardening products that we were sourcing and creating. We were fortunate in that it wasn't necessary to learn how to do all of it from scratch. However, it's one thing to know how to do something in theory and quite a different thing to put all of the theory into practice yourself!
Building the site ourselves was an incredibly important and interesting learning curve. Thanks to the many of you who gave such lovely feedback. I know we probably said it to you at the time, but your input and encouragement has meant the world to us.
Light, Shadow & Sound.
One really lovely journey in the midst of all the many learning curves, has been a tentative beginning into the world of photography. We have learned so much, and are starting to really experiment and to explore the interplay of light and movement while exploring the green spaces inside and outside of our homes. It has been a wonderful creative outlet to express the energy and aspirations behind Wild Atlantic Garden, and a beautiful way to explore the changing seasons, and the endless intrigue of the indoor gardener's evolving adventures. Most of that exploration lives on our Instagram page though we've just recently started to play with Pinterest for this too.
Another medium that has been startlingly wonderful is that of film. You can see some of our cinematic results linked throughout this blog post, and there are some more currently in the pipelines. This has been the most delightfully exhausting and time-consuming journey of surprises. Thanks so much especially to Annabel and James for your craftsmanship, creativity and endless laughter.
Starting a new business as first timers means that you will inevitably make quite a few mistakes along the way! There was one such mixed blessing when it came to our launch day. We had painted ourselves into a corner somewhat as we had made a launch video in which we stated an explicit launch date of the 24th of October. In classic "it seemed like a good idea at the time" mode, this definitely added pressure to the final stage of the process! Sometimes however, pressure can produce diamonds :)
There's so much more to finishing a site and preparing for launch than we had ever anticipated. Formalising product descriptions, resizing product photos, working out glitches with payment gateways, recoding the layout of certain parts of the site..hammering out shipping policies, final finalising with suppliers, checking that all links were working, worrying about packaging, stocks, carbon footprints, layouts, fonts, colours, checkouts...On and on with a myriad of details.
Above is a picture of dawn on the Long Walk in Galway, Ireland, after we went for a walk to clear our heads before one last push as the sun rose on the morning of our launch. It was an exquisite dawn, honestly, and it's difficult not to remember that day and night and day, with a little bit of happy nostalgia.
We also had been working on a launch video to announce our arrival, again part of our incredibly rich collaboration with Annabel and James. This was so much fun to make, and we received lots of love for the video as it really seemed to make people happy. It's quite hard not to find it cute in fairness :)
Green Friday Bio Monday
And to hearken back to the start of this process, the launch phase was by no means followed by a nice period of calm serenity and relaxation. It was so exciting to receive our first orders, it made everything seem real and it was a joy to interact with our community in new ways.
After our first few weeks, Green Friday (Black Friday) arrived. We decided to offer all of our supporters some special offers to say thank you for all the support. The BFCM period saw a deluge of visitors to Wild Atlantic Garden who saw it as an opportunity to support us as a new business and to avail of some of the offers we had running.
The best thing about this successful first promotion of course was seeing our little internal barometer start to creep higher and higher towards as we raise money for the Rainforest Alliance. Our "Black Friday Cyber Monday Season" also saw Sergio the dog make his cinematic debut as we continued our cinematic endeavours :)
The Road From here.
It has only been two months! And yet so much has happened. In fact, this blog post was going to turn into quite the never-ending doorstopper if we were to try and recount all that has happened since October 24th!
There's so much more that we wanted to talk about here, sourcing products, trying to find a sustainable alternative to shipping plants and glass, collaborations with wonderful Galway Artists, Japanese hydroponics teams, Turkish Glass makers, beautiful minimalist Californian home gardening suppliers, local seed producers, local carpenters & 3D printing providers. There is a certain measure of care that goes into each product at all times, in fact, it's hard not to view each item that we have, as something of a plant itself. Each requires tending, and nurture, and its own proper environment and attention. It's really nice to write this at the beginning of the year, as we know what's in the pipelines, and we're very excited about what's to come. We hope that it will bring you great pleasure.
We also have very much realised the importance of community here, so we have started to create calendars with events that you all have been recommending, or that friends and colleagues are organising. This was a relatively new idea and is very much a work in progress, but you can see the first January 2019 edition here.
It makes us happy to know that we are helping people to create greener homes, bringing a focus to creating more biodiverse environments and creating spaces for conversation. However, while writing, it emerged (also rather organically), that to summarise our first two months, we could only really end up with an extended ode to all of you. So I guess that is the TLDR of our great two month adventure so far :)
To all of the people who we have interacted with, and spoken to, all of you who have felt that Wild Atlantic Garden was offering you something of value...whether it was inspiration, the joy of creating your own tiny gardens, new spaces for conversation, useful information, or beauty of some kind...this all is, and ever will be, for you. We are looking forward to sharing our new projects with you the weeks ahead, and in the meantime, please enjoy our January sales offerings too if you feel like greening up your space!
There's a lot more to come, so watch this space!
The Wild Atlantic Garden Team