Meet Jo Christoforides, Founder of Make Me A Garden
Q: Can you tell us a little about your business?
A: We believe that garden design with beauty and practicality at its heart plus gardening techniques that work, when applied with simple environmentally friendly choices can enhance the health, wealth and happiness of every homeowner in the country. Make Me A Garden is a digital business striving to make the upside of outdoor life accessible to all by delivering affordable, flexible garden and planting designs within the framework of a supportive and knowledgeable service.
People who live in houses with smaller, regular shaped, predominantly level gardens are our customers, or those who like to approach their larger gardens on a ‘room by room’ basis. Our homeowners want and need to make the very best of their outside spaces and they can do so by implementing our designs, made easier with the opportunity to purchase plants from the plans and garden products that emphasise and enhance their chosen style. We show customers how to transform their gardens in a way that fits; with them, their homes and their budgets.
Q: Where did your business idea come from?
A: Having decided upon a change of direction, studying planting design and coming into contact with people who worked in horticulture, I recognised that many of the challenges that I had to overcome when building a design-based business in fashion years ago still exist and apply to newly qualified and establishing garden and planting designers. I decided to put that knowledge and experience to good use, while also bringing professional garden design within reach of every homeowner in the UK. We call it democratising gardens!
Q: What makes Make Me A Garden special?
A: Make Me A Garden’s speciality lies in delivering exemplary customer service coupled with support that goes far beyond the norm for the duration of what is often a collaborative project built in stages or over time. We sustain a continued focus on customers after they’ve purchased designs, keeping up levels of guidance and support.
The aim is to demystify the design process, including how to select and look after the plants that suit the garden, choose materials that suit the budget, how to assess and engage the best contractor to build the garden, and even to help and support intrepid garden DIYers! Make Me A Garden intends to build relationships that last and has plans in the pipeline to make that happen.
Q: What are your business goals for the next 6-12 months?
A: Make Me A Garden aims to launch a minimum viable product (MVP) in the next 6-12 months, to get the business up and running and to form solid partnerships in collaboration with designers, suppliers and customers.
Q: How do you feel about being chosen to join the Somerset Catalyst programme?
A: I feel excited and validated. Validation is something that we all need most of the time. It can be a lonely place sat at a desk day in, day out. The extra brain power in the form of external points of view will come in handy too!
Q: What have you taken from the advice and workshops so far?
A: So much valuable information has been delivered and taken on board so far. It’s so true that you don’t know what you don’t know, but also that what you think you do know is best examined from every possible angle if you’re going to gain a semblance of the full picture.
Q: Why do you think Somerset is such a great place to do business?
A: I’m Somerset born and bred, so very loyal to my home county. In the past I used to feel at a disadvantage because I wasn’t London based, but these days location really doesn’t matter. We have Taunton and Bristol for digital innovation and inspiration locally, and there are plenty of cutting-edge folk living out in the sticks too. I’ve always found Somerset an extraordinarily creative county and I relish that.