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Interview with Marco Paul Team: Unique Plant Accessories For Decor

In the realm of home and garden decor, one family-run business has been making waves with its extensive range of products and commitment to affordable prices.

Marco Paul, a renowned name in the industry, has captured the attention of plant and interior design enthusiasts alike. In an exclusive interview with the Marco Paul team, we delve into the inner workings of this thriving business and uncover the secrets behind its success.

From their diverse offerings of home and garden decor, furniture, tools, and gifts to their dedication to showcasing the extraordinary variety of plant accessories, Marco Paul has become a trusted source for all things plant-related.

Join us as we explore their journey, gain insights into their expertise, and discover the hidden gems of the plant world that they have so diligently unearthed.

Shudeshna: Hi, this is Shudeshna Pandey from Plants Craze. You’re watching our series of interviews where we talk with gardening and planting experts. Today we have a special guest, Miss Caitlin, on our show. She is the digital acquisition associate of Marco Paul. Welcome on board, Miss Caitlin.

Caitlin Johnstone: Welcome. Thank you for having me.

S: It’s our pleasure. So before beginning the talk, would you like to introduce yourself and your company to our listeners and viewers?

Caitlin Johnstone: So our work is as a digital acquisitions associate at Marco Paul. We are a garden and home brand that sells predominantly on marketplaces. We have our website where we sell plant care products, garden furniture, and home stuff. I handle marketing activities, from advertising to social media and other related tasks for the company. That’s my role while working at Marco Paul.

S: So, how long has it been since you joined this company?

Caitlin Johnstone: I’ve only been here since November of last year.

S: Would you please tell us more about Marco Paul and maybe a little about its background and how it came to life? How did the idea of Marco Paul was invented Or discovered?

Caitlin Johnstone: Yeah, we recently celebrated our 10th anniversary, and we were started by our manager and owner, Stephen. It’s still a very small family-owned business. We’ve got several of Stephen’s family members working in the business.

Initially, Stephen started the company by himself, buying and selling garden products. This eventually led us to be present on various marketplaces, including Amazon and eBay. We then launched our website and focused on moving our brand to the website, primarily selling from there.

S: So Caitlin, we began our interview with Caitlin Johnstone just now. Would you like to introduce yourself to our audience?

Caitlin Whyte: Of course, yeah. So I am Caitlin Whyte. I hold the position of Commercial Director at Garden Mile and Marco Paul. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to talk to you today. Let me tell you a bit about what we do.

We are a home and garden brand primarily based in the UK, but we also serve customers worldwide. There are only a few countries we haven’t reached yet. Our main focus is to provide our customers with high-quality items at the best possible prices. That’s what we strive to do every day.

marco paul
Marco Paul: Create Your Beautifully Inviting Indoor & Outdoor Space

S: We learned that the company has recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. How easy or difficult were these 10 years in terms of gardening and the modernization of technologies?

Caitlin Whyte: Yeah, so we’re still a small family business, and Stephen, our owner, actually started the business in his bedroom. We have a tight-knit team that includes Stephen’s mom, cousins, and other family members, which creates a strong family-oriented atmosphere here. Over the past 10 years, we’ve embarked on quite a journey. We initially began as sellers on eBay and Amazon, but our goal was to establish ourselves as our own brand here in the UK.

The real turning point for us came with COVID-19 when there was a significant shift from traditional brick-and-mortar stores to e-commerce and online platforms. This transition brought about incredible growth and allowed us to reinvest in the business. In terms of trends, COVID-19 played a significant role, as people were spending more time at home and focusing on enhancing their personal spaces.

Like many others, I also dabbled in gardening during this time, although my attempts at growing vegetables didn’t go very well. It was a shared experience where people invested in their living spaces. We observed a noticeable shift in buying patterns. People were no longer purchasing solely out of necessity; they wanted to decorate their spaces and make them truly special.

As a response, we expanded our product range beyond items like chicken wire, border edging, and patio tiles. Our customers began requesting garden ornaments, bird feeders, and even greenhouses to add that extra touch.

That’s when we started designing and manufacturing our own garden ornaments and planters, with a particular emphasis on supporting bird and bee populations. Encouraging wildlife in the garden has always been one of our primary goals.

S: Well, that’s absolutely true. The lockdown certainly awakened the inner gardener and plant enthusiast in many of us. But since you’re working on so many numbers of Stock Keeping Units, you sell more than a certain category of product. So how difficult is it to manage the inventory of these things?

Caitlin Whyte: Well, we have an extensive inventory with over two and a half thousand products, including various colors and variations. Inside our warehouse, which is right behind me, we store approximately 5,000 different items. To manage this, we follow a seasonal approach.

About 500 SKUs are available year-round, while the rest are seasonal. For six months, our focus is on Christmas, and the remaining six months revolve around gardening. Currently, Caitlin and I are fully immersed in the world of gardening, so it’s relatively easier for us compared to other brands. However, one challenge we face is keeping up with seasonal trends.

For example, after the Christmas season, we immediately shift our attention to the latest gardening trends and designs. To address this, we work closely with local suppliers in the UK, as well as manufacturers, for our own designs. We engage in discussions with them to identify the hottest trends and assess the purchasing quantities and prices to meet the demand.

It’s an area we are continuously working on since we sometimes find ourselves too focused on the opposite season, which is typically when other brands make their purchases for the upcoming season.

S: That’s a perfect way to do things when you have so much product to focus on. Speaking of the theme, could you please share how your preparation begins before Christmas? How do you project sales, and how do you prepare the products for the upcoming Christmas season?

Caitlin Whyte: Yeah, so at the moment, Hannah, who manages our Christmas department, is currently covered in gunk and everything because she’s in the Christmas Zone. You can clearly see the difference between the marketing theme compared to the purchasing theme. As for us, we rely on the data we have accumulated over the past decade.

We consider ourselves fortunate to have access to data from various marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, ManoMano, and Etsy. This allows us to observe trends. However, since COVID-19, everything has changed, making it quite challenging. Particularly in the UK, unexpected events like the King’s Coronation can have a massive impact, even though we couldn’t plan for it and didn’t stock up on items specifically for that event.

Therefore, it’s about finding a good balance between being proactive based on the available information and being reactive to unforeseen circumstances. Caitlin and I make it a point to regularly assess upcoming events and trends during our spare moments.

For example, we recently concluded Gardening Month, which we were aware of in advance, but we also keep an eye on the next holiday or event to ensure we have the right stock. In cases where we may not get it entirely right, we rely on strong relationships with local businesses to have a backup plan, ensuring we never disappoint our customers.

S: Yeah, customer satisfaction is the key to running any business. So people have been more interested in gardening, just like you mentioned, since the lockdown. But some people, like students, have little pocket money for themselves. So what is your take on making gardening thrifty or feasible?

Caitlin Whyte: Yeah, we have definitely focused on those aspects as well. Personally, I always emphasize looking at the little things, especially if you have limited space. I have experienced living in London without a garden, so I understand the importance of being resourceful and budget-friendly.

One example is utilizing food waste to create compost, which can be an affordable way to enrich your soil. Another approach is using seeds from fruits and vegetables to grow new plants, such as regrowing spring onions from their tips or sprouting a new onion from its base. These practices allow you to be thrifty with both your waste and your garden space.

S: That’s actually very interesting and useful. Speaking of ways to be thrifty, at Plants Craze, we create readable content about planting, gardening, and various tips and tricks for addressing different plant problems. So, in relation to that, what suggestions would you give to a budding garden enthusiast, someone who is just starting out in gardening, regarding what they should consider investing in?

Caitlin Whyte: Yeah, when I first started gardening, I took an entry-level approach. I invested in a PVC greenhouse, which was quite affordable, priced at around £20 to £30. It provided the necessary space for seedlings to grow, especially considering the unpredictable UK weather. You can keep the greenhouse in a corner of your home or in your garden if you have the space.

Additionally, if you’re someone who appreciates visual aesthetics and spends a lot of time in your garden, it’s worthwhile to invest in things that bring you joy and enhance the ambiance. This could be as simple as solar lights or garden ornaments, such as colorfully painted yogurt tubs. You don’t need to spend a lot of money, but it’s important to think about what will bring you the most satisfaction.

So, start with something practical like the greenhouse, and then treat yourself to something that will truly bring joy and bring your garden to life. Furthermore, I suggest starting with plants or vegetables that you genuinely enjoy. Instead of trying to grow every type of vegetable or plant, focus on what you really want to grow, start small, and expand from there.

S: That’s quite well put together. So talking more about the website and the product you sell, which category of product is the most popular amongst Marco Paul’s customers?

Caitlin Whyte: Yeah, so it’s probably not specific to gardening, although it is related to the garden. Our number one product is fire pits. Anything related to fire pits, barbecues, and spending time in the garden once you’ve put in all that hard work to enjoy the space. That has been the primary focus of our product lineup. We currently have some fantastic offers available.

If you’ve recently visited our website, you’ve probably noticed an increase in traffic. We are proud to share that our customers have nominated and voted us as the number one retailer for home and garden in the UK on Trustpilot. This recognition has led to a significant influx of visitors to our site, particularly in the garden decor and outdoor heating categories.

Located in central Scotland, our warehouse is where we operate. Given the weather conditions here, we celebrate whenever the temperature goes above 10°. As you can imagine, we like to have an outdoor heating element for any time we spend in our garden. Therefore, fire pits and barbecues have been immensely popular with us.

S: I mean, it’s a must, especially in the UK, considering the weather and various reasons. Moving on would you like to tell us some of the garden accessories or home accessories that you sell?

Caitlin Whyte: Yeah, because we’ve been in the business now for 10 years, and Stephen really is a visionary. He always wants to make sure the customer gets exactly what they want. So we go through this cycle when we’re buying every year.

We ask ourselves, ‘What did the customers tell us they loved about it?’ For example, our garden resin dog used to be made of metal. Our customers loved the shape and size, but they weren’t keen on the metal rusting and giving a rustic look. So we turned it into resin.

We pride ourselves on offering a wide range, although sometimes it can be challenging to list and present such a big catalog. But we have garden accessories for everyone. Whether you’re a Harry Potter fan, a bird lover, or an animal enthusiast, we have it all. Swinging koalas, fairies, realistic-looking animals, you name it, we have it. And it’s all based on customer feedback. Before we start buying and designing again each year, we review our feedback, especially on Amazon, where we receive a lot of our traffic. We pay attention to what our customers are saying and what they want us to do differently.

This approach has helped us become a destination for garden decor. My favorite product at the moment is a little cat ornament that sits on my desk, even though it’s meant for the garden. It’s a cat-eating gnome. Where else could you find that? It’s so unique. I’m a cat lover, and it’s just gorgeous. What’s your favorite one, would you say?

I think the grass-eating giraffe and elephant are so cute. So no matter what your favorite animal or passion is, we will have the perfect garden accessory for you. And we try to keep the price point accessible to everyone. Compared to the high street or other retailers where you might spend £30 or £40, our products are priced at £10 or £15 for great quality items that last season after season.

So yes, we have a lot to offer for the garden. And when you think about homeware, once we come out of summer, our homeware collection is expanding. We’ve focused on candles because we know people are spending more time at home. We listen to our customers, and while we have always partnered with Yankee, the number one candle brand, we wanted to offer a more affordable range as well. We have designed our own gorgeous decorative candles and fantastic eight-hour burn tea lights that we import from America. They not only look great in the home but also come at an entry-level price.

We’re all about giving customers great value. Who doesn’t love a candle, right? And the most exciting part is that we are in the midst of launching a new brand called Done It Tools. We have partnered with B&Q and have them on board. Donut Tools is primarily a tool brand, as the name suggests.

So for all the DIY enthusiasts, just like we did with gardening, we want to provide tools for DIY projects. Customers were asking if we sell pliers to go with our chicken wire, and we thought, ‘Yes, we should.’ So we have just launched our new brand, Done it Tools, which is very exciting.

S: So, I can’t wait to explore Done It Tools as well, considering how passionately you talk about your products. Now, moving on, since a significant portion of your business comes from online marketing, how do you perceive the evolution of online marketing over the past 10 years?

Caitlin Whyte: Yeah, so I think that’s what we were just discussing, the concept of vertical gardening. There’s actually a lot of innovation and advancements in the gardening field. For us, it’s always about identifying the next trend and finding our own way to participate as a prominent garden brand. We strive to stay ahead of the game in the marketplace.

As you mentioned, your audience consists of beginners and enthusiasts in the US. We are excited to announce that we are about to launch in Walmart. This presents an opportunity for us to expand our brand. It’s truly exciting for us as a business as we aim to make our mark in the home and garden sector. Additionally, receiving feedback from a diverse customer base enables us to learn and improve our products.

As we have entered Europe, particularly Germany, we have noticed specific trends, such as high demand for bird feeders. Each country has its own unique niche and feedback, which helps us enhance our offerings. Our goal is to ensure we reach as many places as possible, delivering our products wherever feasible.

With advancing technology, we are exploring options like sending direct containers to Europe, considering direct containers to the US, and even exploring opportunities in unexpected places like Singapore, where small-space gardening is prominent. This allows us to offer tailored products for specific customers. I believe gardening will always retain its essence, providing a moment to step back from technology and find solace.

However, we aim to leverage technology to enable our customers to have that moment and experience that sense of relief, whether they are indoors, by a windowsill, enjoying a book, or in their garden with a fire pit. That’s how we stay up to date with technology and integrate it with the world of gardening.

S: Moving on, we were discussing gardening and what it entails for us. When we think about gardening and plants, our process typically involves visiting a nursery, selecting plants that suit our preferences, and then acquiring additional accessories like trowels, pots, watering cans, and so on. Nowadays, life has become much easier, even for gardeners, and we understand that you also specialize in selling plants, right?

Caitlin Whyte: We only do artificial plants. Oh, yeah, I just wanted to clear that up. So, anybody who goes through the website of Marco Paul will see a number of artificial plants that can be used as decoration for your aesthetic. I mean, it is easy for somebody who does not have time to take care of the original plant but still gets the feel of the plant trap.

S: So, where do you envision Marco Paul five years from now? I mean, any plans or how you guys are working to take it to the next level and make it the ultimate stop for any garden and home accessories brand?

Caitlin Whyte: Yeah, so for us, the next five years are a massive growth period. As I mentioned, we have made significant progress. In the past six months alone, we have successfully launched six new marketplaces: four in the UK, one in France, and Walmart, which operates across multiple countries. In five years’ time, I want our brands to be recognized outside of the UK, in whatever capacity that may be.

We understand that becoming a household name within five years is not realistic, but by aiming high, we believe we can achieve great success, right, Caitlin? Therefore, our focus is on tapping into the international market. Specifically, we are targeting the big four in Europe: France, Germany, Spain, and Italy. These countries offer ease of shipping and present excellent opportunities for building relationships.

Additionally, the United States is a key market for us. It is relatively straightforward to handle stock logistics and provide customer service since it is predominantly an English-speaking country. This ensures that we can meet our customers’ expectations without overburdening our operations.

In the next five years, we also aim to establish additional smaller brands, such as Done It Tools. We have a toy brand in the pipeline, which will be launched in time for Christmas.

Furthermore, our goal is to truly dominate beyond the borders of the UK while staying true to our roots. We remain passionate about maintaining the small business mentality, no matter how large we grow, with Stephen, Zane, and the entire family contributing to that genuine family feel.

S: Many of our viewers might relate to the dynamics of a family-run business and the range of emotions involved. The hard work and effort put into it extend beyond the regular working hours. As we near the end of this interview, we would like to ask for your suggestions to our viewers and your customers on how they can make the most of your brand.

Caitlin Whyte: That’s a really good question. For me, the reason we have multiple names, like Garden Mile, is that we are not solely focused on gardening. We also cater to the home, encompassing your entire living space. Your garden can be a part of your home in various ways. I would recommend visiting our website.

Despite being a small family business, we are actively involved in the day-to-day operations. In fact, I’m currently wearing my high-vis vest because I was just packing orders. So if you place an order, there’s a chance it will be packed by us as well. Additionally, don’t hesitate to contact us if you don’t find something on the website. We have a strong network of suppliers and can offer competitive prices.

If there’s something we can’t provide, we value customer feedback and often design new items based on it. Considering the current cost of living crisis, it’s important to consider where you want to invest your money.

Personally, I won’t be going on any extravagant vacations this year. Instead, I plan to spend more time in the garden, which is cost-effective and enjoyable throughout the entire summer. Reflect on what you truly desire from your garden and make decisions accordingly. I can assure you that Marco Paul has a wide catalog and is likely to offer something that matches your needs.

S: That’s quite nice to hear about. I think our viewers are not aware of how to take advantage of your websites and how they can get everything gardening special. So both Caitlins, we’d like to thank you for joining us for this interview.

Caitlin: I know. Thank you so much for having us. I’m really excited to see it published. One last thing from ourselves is if you also know our website is just UK based, you can find us on Amazon and eBay, and that is worldwide. We also have social channels where we post gardening tips and hints, and that’s just Marco Paul on all social channels. So thank you so much for having us. It’s been great to chat.

S: Thank you for joining us. It was our pleasure.

Our interview with the Marco Paul team has shed light on the exceptional offerings and unwavering passion. Their commitment to providing a wide range of high-quality products at affordable prices has made them a go-to destination for home and garden enthusiasts.

With their extensive knowledge and expertise, they have uncovered a world of hidden gems within the plant realm. They offer plant enthusiasts a treasure trove of unique accessories to enhance their decor aesthetics.

Marco Paul continues to evolve and expand with their dedication to customer satisfaction. Its ability to stay ahead of trends ensures it remains a trusted source.

In the ever-evolving home and garden decor world, Marco Paul is poised to inspire and delight plant lovers for years to come.

Happy Gardening!