We have all been there – you’re on your way to see a loved one for a special occasion when you suddenly realise you don’t have a card for them.
That’s exactly what happened to Leah Dezsery, but when her visit to the supermarket proved futile it sparked an idea for her now business.
“We were going to a birthday party and we were rushing and we didn’t have a card so we went to Woolworths,” the Adelaide woman told news.com.au.
“They were so overpriced … I was looking at all the cards going, ‘Look at all the plastic on them and they’re huge and so expensive and don’t look that nice either.’”
Annoyed, Ms Dezery didn’t buy one as she didn’t see the point in spending money on any of them.
“We actually ended up going without because I disliked all of them and I thought, you know what I’ll just make do,” she said.
“I think I just got a piece of paper and wrote something nice on it.”
But the experience got her thinking — just how many of us are buying expensive cards we don’t like, but feel like we have to give, only to have them go in the bin afterwards?
Ms Dezsery, now 26, began thinking about whether there was a way to make gift cards more sustainable for the environment — and remembered learning about seeded paper while studying visual communications at university.
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Feeling unsatisfied creatively by her work at a marketing agency, the graphic designer decided to make her own gift cards that not only would be made from recycled materials but also contained seeds, which meant they could be planted and later bloom into native Swan River daisies.
“That’s where I came up with the idea of doing plantable gift cards because it’s not just a gift card, it’s also a gift in itself, it grows flowers,” Ms Dezsery said.
After six months of designing her cards and sourcing materials Ms Dezsery launched Nurturing Nature Cards online, also making an Instagram account to promote her work.
“(The idea) was not intentionally to have a business, it was really just to create something that I love and put it out there,” she said.
“Instantly I got two sales from the first (Instagram) post and I was like woah, that’s crazy, I didn’t think I would get any notice at all. And then from there it just kind of rolled on.”
In the beginning Ms Dezsery would get two to three orders a week but as her cards began being stocked in local shops, word about Nurturing Nature Cards spread.
At the beginning of 2020 business was booming enough that Ms Dezsery decided to take a “leap of faith” and go full time with the business — only to have the coronavirus pandemic strike just weeks later.
Concerned because her shop stockists, which accounted for roughly 50 per cent of her income, were having to close their doors, Ms Dezsery had to make a quick business decision.
“It did affect me in the first couple of months because of COVID, but then as time progressed I decided to pivot and focus on my retail clientele and give them something extra,” she said.
“I offered a free handwritten service where I would write in their cards for them so they didn’t have to purchase the card and then the card get to them, then send it to a friend. I could send it to a friend on their behalf.”
Today Ms Dezsery’s business has made a full recovery, with sales already up 127 per cent on last year.
She’s incredibly proud of the success of her business and her cards are now stocked in 150 stores across Australia and New Zealand.
However Ms Dezsery has no plans to see her cards, which she still makes by hand, stocked in a big supermarket.
“Because it’s handmade it would be hard to make it accessible to a supermarket because that’s the nature of sustainability — if it gets too big it’s almost not sustainable anymore,” she said.