F&F: The First Year

Apr 25, 2021by Julie - F&F

I recently wrote a blog about getting started and lots of you read it so I thought I’d talk about our first year at F&F - the good, the bad, and everything else. I know lots of people have side hustles or are interested in how you start and grow a business, or love F&F and want to find out more so I hope this is helpful.

We launched F&F on Nov 8th 2014. It was around 8pm at night when we pressed the 'button'. This is one of the most exciting bits of any journey and should be treasured. Once you’ve found your idea and seen it through to something quite tangible it's definitely time for bubbles.

When we started we had a few family and friends place orders but that was about it - I still remember very clearly receiving our first order and remember who placed it; that will stay with me. It was a really slow start and we sent out a handful of orders a week for quite some time. Completely to be expected because we didn’t have a community; we had to find and build them and that’s you! We launched with 500 ish products and 30 brands including those such as Vanessa Megan, Ere Perez, Trilogy, Dr Hauschka and Eco Tan. I remember meeting some of them and telling them what I was doing and was genuinely humbled that they wanted to support us on our journey.

Here are a few key memories from that first year - there are a lot so we've just highlighted a few...


Our First WebsiteOur First Website

The Website

Our first website was very much a start. It was a bit clunky and didn't have too many bells and whistles. We knew it wouldn't last us forever but it got us started and when you're a self-funded business you need something to get going - you can make it look really swish later, which was what we decided to do. For that first year all the graphics, product loading and anything website was me. At that stage we also had an ebay store - we don't now. 

The ShedThe Shed

The Shed

For the first few years we ran Flora & Fauna from our 'shed'. This is where we have some of our fondest memories. Our shed is a fairly decent size and was a pretty awesome place to hang out and pack orders of an evening. When we started we spaced everything out so it looked beautiful. As we grew that soon changed. By the end, it was a treasure hunt!

The White Glove TreatmentThe White Glove Treatment

The White Glove Treatment

This was one of those 'it was a good idea at the time' moments. I had the phenomenal idea that all orders would be packed with white cotton gloves for that extra special treatment. That is great when you're packing 2 orders a day. Scale it up and those white gloves soon turn grey and you're having to take them on and off to write notes. It was really impractical so we soon lost that - we did keep it going for around a year though!

Our First ExpoOur First Expo

That Expo!

One of the things that sticks in our minds most is an expo we did in june 2015 - that expo! It was a disaster but the thing we learnt most from on our journey. I am a firm believer in never regretting anything but learning from it. We had a lot to learn from this! The expo was in Melbourne so we decided to hire a truck, take almost all the stock we owned and make 400 beauty boxes for the show. We returned with 398 beauty boxes and all the stock we owned. So many things went wrong. We didnt have a great location, our stand looked terrible and we had no idea what we were doing. I also discovered at that expo I was very allergic to Spirulina and that was very unpleasant!

Tom and JulieTom and Julie

Just the Two of Us

For over 18 months it was just Tom and myself working in F&F. We packed orders in the evening and between us ran customer care, did the marketing, buying, graphics design and everything else. That's when we discovered we were a pretty awesome team and we really loved working with each other - phew!

Awards at F&FAwards at F&F


Within that first year we were finalists in the  Online Retail Industry Awards for Best New Retailer. We didn't win but it was more about saying we're here and putting ourselves out there, and it was an amazing recognition six months in. It also does help answer the critics that described our business as a hobby!

Our Learnings

We learned not to expect too much in that first year but also that we were learning who we were and what was important to us. We were really understanding our business and our purpose at a deeper level. 

We learned it was ok to make decisions that don't work out. If you don't try and fail you'll never learn. 

We learned we loved doing what we were doing and loved building a better business. It took me a while to think differently and for myself as I'd worked for someone else for 20 years prior to this point. 

If you want to follow me and my musings on F&F my instagram is @juliemathers. I also wrote a blog a few months ago about Getting Started

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