Founder Focus: Plant Designs
Meet William Braid, the MD of Plant Designs with an impressive 39 years of experience to share.
Determined to bring biophilic design to London, William bought Plant Designs with the intention to demonstrate how to use plants to offset the effects of city living. Providing a range of bespoke interior and exterior plant solutions, Plant Designs have worked with the likes of LUSH to educate the masses on the benefits of biophilia (that means ‘the human need to connect with other living things’ to you and me).
Here at BALANCE HQ, we have two Plant Design Living Walls in the office and have certainly embraced the tropical touch it has bought to our working environment.
We caught up with William to find out how Plant Designs came to be…
WHAT WAS YOUR EUREKA MOMENT?
I started working with plants from a young age and always loved it. Of course, I knew the benefits of having plants but I saw the gap in the horticultural industry at that time of connecting plants with people who need them most; people in the city with stressful jobs. I realised that in doing this, I could make a good enjoyable living from working with and providing such a beautiful helpful product.
WHAT WAS YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH?
Without plants, we die, either from lack of oxygen or boredom. At Plant Designs, we help bring fresh air and beauty to the workplace, no need to worry about it as we will take care of all its needs. That was our message from the start and it’s pretty much remained the same.
HOW DID YOU KNOW PLANT DESIGNS WOULD WORK?
I spoke with a few architects and designers that were looking to bring something new to their projects and it became quite clear that well-maintained living plant displays were the answer! We’ve seen trends come and go but now we’re building on the benefits of plants, not just the aesthetics.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE THINKING OF STARTING THEIR OWN BUSINESS?
Firstly, make sure you’re prepared for the long days and weekend work! Second, be passionate about what your business does; if you’re not, you can’t expect anyone else to be. Finally, aim to be the best you possibly can and always work with integrity.
DID YOU HAVE A BUSINESS MENTOR?
I’m fortunate enough to have had my fair share of mentoring from people I greatly respect. Now those tables have turned and I mentor the young team I have working with me. They all have a raw talent which we work with to develop into the full package, combining design, logistics, and presentation. I get great pleasure out of helping people to achieve more than they thought they could, the capacity of humans to continue to grow and excel is unlimited.
WHAT IS THE BOOK YOU RECOMMEND THAT EVERYONE READS AND WHY?
There’re so many incredible books for whatever journey you’re on with your business or startup. But the one I always come back to is Stephen Covey ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective people’. A lot of his messages are simple and can apply to both our personal lives and business. Who wouldn’t want to be highly effective?
WHAT IS THE MOST WORTHWHILE INVESTMENT YOU HAVE MADE?
Quite simply, people; employees, colleagues, advisors, they are everything to any business. I’ve found that if you look after them and challenge them to grow – investing the learning and tools to do so – they will be an asset to your company. I’ve also greatly benefitted from investing in my own learning. Finding out everything I can about plants has been a joy. I am still learning.
WHAT ONE FAILURE ARE YOU GLAD YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED?
Our business requires us to present and bid against other companies, in the same way an architect or interior designer would do. Any loss of a bid can feel like a failure, particularly as we collectively put a lot of time and effort into developing plans to suit what the client wants. It’s particularly difficult when you’re so passionate about what you do, but instead of focusing on the ‘failure’ we look at what we could have done different and try to adapt for next time. You’ve got be thick-skinned, but I’ll always be passionate!
WHAT PIECE OF INDUSTRY ADVICE DO YOU OFTEN HEAR BUT DISAGREE WITH?
I often see other companies we bid against agree with the client just to get a sale rather than challenging what is being asked of them. We pride ourselves on coming up with the right solution and sometimes that might not be what the client has in mind. Promising a product that won’t survive just doesn’t make sense to me, especially when there’s very impressive looking moss walls and replica products available.
WHAT IS YOUR PLAN B?
To be completely honest – I’m not sure I have a plan B as I always want plan A to work. I think if you have too many plans there’s a temptation to not put all your time and resources into the one you should be focusing on. As the saying goes ‘fail to plan the plan to fail ‘.