Natural Grower is taking the garden retail sector by storm. As the market for organic and vegan-approved gardening products heads skywards, the business is experiencing rapid growth. Despite only launching in February, Natural Grower is much more than a fledgling brand. It has already secured an impressive network of stockists and has snapped-up two major awards that propelled the enterprise from an ambitious start-up to one of the most talked about and exciting fresh brands of 2019.
Recognition of bringing two innovative products to market – Natural Liquid Fertiliser and Natural Soil Conditioner – has come thick and fast. First, Natural Grower was named as winner of the GIMA Innovators’ Seed Corn Fund 2019, announced at the Glee garden trade show in September. It will benefit from £6,000 of support, ranging from assistance with development and marketing costs to business support tools.
Just a few weeks later, Natural Grower was announced as one of the 50 most innovative companies in the Midlands. The 2019 Innovation 50 Report, compiled by law firm Mills & Reeve, celebrates the region’s “industry ground-breakers and rising stars” – with judges praising Natural Grower’s “eye-catching branding” as well as its website and social media presence that’s helping the business to gain traction.
With an estimated 3.5million vegans in the UK, retailers are looking for organic and veganic gardening products that will appeal to a new generation of consumers who want to garden in a manner that’s kinder to the living world – and Natural Grower products tick all the boxes. Owner of Natural Grower, female entrepreneur Charlotte Beaty, successfully identified a gap in the market and, through vision and determination, devised a sustainable brand that’s rapidly gaining a loyal following of eco-friendly consumers.
Charlotte’s story will inspire budding entrepreneurs because she has proven that, even in a crowded and fiercely competitive marketplace, there is always room for newcomers if they identify a suitable niche. For Charlotte, part of a family that has farmed in Leicestershire for more than 50 years, that lightbulb moment came after the farm invested in an anaerobic digester in 2014 – a smart piece of kit that digests maize and converts the resulting biogas into electricity to power the National Grid. It was a by-product of this process, called digestate, that was worth its weight in gold and held the key to creating Natural Grower.
Charlotte harnessed the power of the digestate and, following extensive trials, Natural Grower was born. The company’s ‘hero product’ is Natural Liquid Fertiliser which is diluted and added at the base of plants, injecting nutrients right where they’re needed. There’s Natural Soil Conditioner, too, a rich, eco-friendly natural soil conditioner that doubles up as a long-term slow-release fertiliser.
With two major awards secured in the space of a month, we speak to Charlotte and find out how she deals with the daily running of a rapidly growing enterprise in true entrepreneurial spirit.
Quick Q&A with Natural Grower Owner, Charlotte Beaty
Do you follow a morning routine or daily schedule to maximise productivity and well-being?
I start very early in the morning before everyone else is at their desks, so I can respond to emails and complete tasks before the phone starts to ring, or more emails come in. I like achieving as much as I can while it’s quiet! Starting work early means I can then give my full attention to my young children when they come home from school.
Natural Grower is expanding fast. What has been the biggest challenge that you’ve had to overcome as an entrepreneur?
Building up a network within an industry that is new to me. A good network will ultimately make the business succeed. Sourcing eco-friendly packaging that works with our products and our ethos has been a challenge, and is one that will constantly evolve as new products come to market.
What’s your technique for solving problems that arise?
I carry out lots of research and talk to countless people and organisations for ideas and feedback, carrying on until a solution is found. There are lots of people out there who are happy to assist – it’s simply a case of finding them!
Do you have any mentors or coaches who have helped to develop your business?
I have had a lot of support from an organisation called GIMA – the Garden Industry Manufacturers’ Association. GIMA has provided plenty of advice and support, while introducing me to key people who have helped my business to grow. It was fantastic to win GIMA’s Innovators’ Seed Corn Fund for 2019.
How big is your team, and do you have any tips on hiring employees or contractors?
I have four people on my team at Natural Grower. I have focused on choosing people who share the same passion for launching a new company and promoting a product that they truly believe in. Unless you are passionate about what you are producing and selling, you won’t have the enthusiasm and positivity that will make it a success.
What tips can you share for women who would like to start their own businesses?
Research thoroughly and understand what your industry needs, then go for it! There are plenty of business support networks out there for men and women. Look online for business groups meeting near you and make full use of their shared knowledge. Innovators and entrepreneurs are key to the UK continuing to meet business challenges and develop new products and ways of working. It is hard work launching a new company. Taking your idea from a sketch on a piece of paper to reality costs a lot of money; it’s stressful and takes up an enormous amount of your time. However, being part of that process is very exciting and extremely rewarding.
What are the pros and cons of being a female entrepreneur in 2019?
There are a lot of female business support groups out there to tap in to. A quick search on Google will find groups near you. I have found the garden industry to be very welcoming and haven’t experienced any negativity towards the fact that it is a female-led company. For any business to succeed takes drive and determination, regardless of whether you are male or female. I have strived to succeed, networked and kept positive, and as a result of that I haven’t experienced any cons with being a female entrepreneur. I have loved every minute of it!
After achieving so much success, what do you struggle with now?
Finding time to look after my own garden!
For more information about Natural Grower and the company’s award-winning products, visit the website at www.naturalgrower.co.uk