Our Business Advisors have been a reassuring and consistent source of support for the owner of house plant shop Tiny Utopia
Born from a love and passion for plants, Tasha Allington followed her dreams of owning her own business and in 2019 opened Tiny Utopia, Torbay’s only dedicated house plant shop. Tasha uses the art of conversation to match plants to people and places.
Tasha will take the time to find out from customers why they are looking for a new plant and use that information to advise which plants best fit the customers’ requirements, giving the plants the absolute best chance to thrive in their new environment.
Following a long and successful career, Tasha was ready for a career change and in 2018 the time was right to pursue her passion. The next step for Tasha was turning her passion for plants into a viable business idea.
Tasha realised that she needed a little help and guidance to get the concept of her new business idea off the ground. After quickly researching online, Tasha discovered our Business Support service and quickly booked an appointment with our Business Advisor Kim Thornton.
“Kim has been involved in my business since the very beginning and remains a reliable, trusted and regular source of support to me, through what has been an incredibly challenging time for small business owners over the past few years. Kim’s guidance and encouragement has helped me immensely,” explains Tasha.
As part of our Business Support package, our advisors can offer impartial advice and guidance you can trust. Kim was able to talk Tasha through the start-up loan process and explained how to apply for funding as well as how to go about registering a new business. This support was funded by ERDF enterprise Coaching. Kim supported Tasha when she was writing her business plan, helping with a growth projection and a vision for the business.
Tiny Utopia started life, based from Tasha’s home, selling bespoke and creative succulents at local craft markets. This proved extremely successful, so Tasha decided to take the next step and leased a shop premises in Chelston, Torquay. The doors opened in June 2019 and is now home to this fabulous little plant shop, which is packed with the most gorgeous plants and showcases the most amazing window displays.
Opening the shop was a big step for Tasha and she reached out again and sought the guidance and advice from our Business Support Team, looking for reassurance that the business was heading in the right direction.
“It was fantastic, Kim called me straight away and we revisited my business plan and projections. Kim gave me some great advice and invaluable impartial perspectives on how best to balance my strong ethical aspirations with good business sense. I walked away with the confidence that I was on the right business path” recalls Tasha.
Then in March 2020 COVID hit, which threw up significant challenges for small business owners like Tasha. Kim kept in regular contact with Tasha throughout the various lockdowns to make sure she was informed about all the various grants that were available at the time. “I felt incredibly lucky to have Kim checking in on me, through what was an extremely challenging time. TDA and Torbay Council were very efficient in paying out grants which was very much appreciated and helpful during what was a stressful time” says Tasha.
During the lockdowns Tasha had been busy launching a web shop in order to keep trading whilst she couldn’t open the doors to her shop. Although this proved financially successful, it did not fit the ethos of the business. Tasha was unable to talk to clients and give that personal service her business is all about. For sustainability, ethical and quality issues Tasha has since decided to remove her online shop, which is now no longer available.
The challenges of trading through a pandemic left Tasha feeling exhausted and she reached out to Kim for inspiration.
“Kim was such a great sounding board at this tough time. It really helped me to have somebody to contact and talk to who wasn’t family. It can be isolating being a small business owner. Kim put me in contact with various network groups and on Kim’s recommendation I attended TDA’s Female Entrepreneur Day. It was just what I needed; to reconnect with others, get energy from other small business owners and to hear their stories of hope and resilience. Kim has been a constant contact through my business journey. Her advice, guidance and ongoing support has been invaluable to me – everybody needs a Kim!” says Tasha.
With renewed energy Tasha is on a mission to strengthen her business as a destination plant shop and plans to increase her product offering further to include a greater range of plant accessories in store. Tasha is also looking to build her corporate client base further offering packages to ‘green-up’ office spaces.
Alongside this Tasha is determined to strengthen her brand as a community business, by working on projects with local schools and alike to help make plants more accessible for all.
“Plants have so many positive attributes – they bring the outdoors in, they provide fresh air in the home, they give people something to look after, all things which are great for our mental health. I believe that this should be available to all, which is why I am motivated to develop my community initiatives around this” explains Tasha.
Kim Thornton, ESW Business Advisor said, “It’s been a privilege to watch Tasha launch her business, grow it, and overcome recent challenges. Tasha’s extensive plant knowledge and passion for exceptional customer service along with her sustainability ethics, determination, her uncompromising product quality and drive to succeed best place her to continue to move the business forward. I am in no doubt of that. It has been great to be part of Tasha’s business journey so far and I look forward to continuing to be there as a support for Tasha if she ever needs it.”
Tiny Utopia is on a mission to make plants more accessible for everyone, whether you have three acres or a one-room palace. Their independent shop in Chelston, on Old Mill Road, has become a beacon for exciting, beautiful plants.
Find out more here> https://www.tinyutopia.co.uk/
Tasha’s support was enabled by the ERDF Enterprise Coaching funding.
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