20 Cheeky Questions: Elle Prince

Words by
Georgina Reid
| December 9, 2016

Elle Prince is an accidental businesswoman who never envisioned a career in horticulture. However, whilst working in her husband’s family’s plant nursery as a young mum, baby strapped to her chest, she came up with a brilliant idea tying her old love of selling things on Ebay with her new love of plants. Plants in a Box!

Elle Prince, co-founder of Plants in a Box
Elle Prince, co-founder of Plants in a Box

Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself, and your life with plants?
First up, I see myself as a mum to three really fun kids. I’m an accidental business founder who didn’t ever see a career in the plant game. As it turns out, my husband’s family have a rich history in horticulture that goes back 40 years.

The nursery is where I worked as a young mum, with a baby strapped to my chest. I had an eBay addiction and loved selling items online. When my attention was turned to trying out plants online I saw these babies in a whole new light. We trialed and tested our model on eBay, everything else was going that way so why not us? I can remember starting out with ten varieties and we were so excited when we sold a box a week!

Today we sell over 350 varieties online and we still squeal over each sale. Over time the whole plant thing just rubbed off on me. The day I could name plants was a proud moment. I now can’t seem to get plants out of my head!

My kids think I’m crazy, often saying “Mum, we’re so not interested in your plants.” I’m sure one day they will think differently, like I did, and most of all I hope they will be proud.

Over the past few years, I’ve found a sense of calm in horticulture and a deeper connection with the importance plants play in everyday life. Starting a business around plants always felt right to me. It is something we will always need and it’s something meaningful. Every plant that gets sold, becomes something that makes a difference and I feel good about that. Unlike a lot of products, the older a plant becomes the more it gives to its owner, to it’s street and to the character of an area. It’s a real feel-good industry to be involved in.

Can you also please tell us about Plants in a Box? When did you start, what’s your role, what do you love about the business.
Plants in a Box is an online only plant store shipping cheerful little plants to the backyards of keen gardeners right across Australia. Our plants are really well priced and come in a variety of pack sizes. We’re all about engaging a younger generation of gardeners and sharing a whole lotta knowledge from the generations that have been and still are doing it.

I am one of the co-founders of Plants in a Box, alongside my mother-in-law. We’re now three years old and my role mainly focuses on developing our brand, managing our content and digital strategy.

I’m lucky – I get to wake up every morning and do something I love. Plants in a Box has a great culture and a dedicated team of people who enjoy coming to work. I love walking into the sheds and hearing their cheeky banter and their laughing!

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What’s your most popular Plants in a Box plant?
The answer to this question changes with the seasons but star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) is a favourite at the moment as it’s in full flower.

If you were a plant, what would you be?
If I was a plant I’d be a house plant as I need nurturing, love and time.

What cheers you up?
I love nothing more than pottering and moving furniture around my home. I like to create a new look out of what I already have. To make me really happy, take me home to NZ to see my mum!

What is the habit you are proudest of breaking or want to break?
I’d like to let go of my house a little. I’m a visual clean freak and admire the mums who can just let things pile up and be.

What is your favourite word?
I love the word crap! It’s got so many meanings…

Have you ever been in love with two people at the same time?
I’ve been with my husband since I was 16. We’re inseparable and I’m not sure I’d know how to cope with two people at once! Besides, he’d be utterly sad if I said yes…

Name a skill you wish you had?
I’d love to be more organised. I’m terribly un-organised and think this may worry my mother-in-law at times, as we’re in business together. Thank god she’s on top of things.

What’s the most played song on your playlist?
Little May “Sold” but if you checked my Spotify most recently played list it would be Australia’s Hot Hits. I have two girls who love music. Max, my six-year-old son and I really don’t get a look in when they are around.

If you had to make a garden with 3 plants what would they be?
1) Bougainvillea ‘White Cascade’. I would plant it along the fence line to frame our house; 2) I love Zoysia (no-mow grass) which I would mass plant on a raised mound in the yard. This is one of those plants you just have to touch; As simple as it sounds, I really like Liriope. It’s easy care plant that offer a great visual effect – providing a mass-planting wow factor.

What makes somebody sexy?
Cooking skills.

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What do you miss most about being a kid?
The simplicity of life. The world now feels full of many new and silly pressures. It really was simple back then.

What’s the first thing you notice when you meet a person?
My husband says I’ve got a terrible filter! If I get a smile from someone straight up, they’re in. So, definitely a big smile.

What qualities in people do you admire the most?
I’m drawn to anyone who has worked hard, who is real, caring and takes risks.

What would you be doing in an alternate life or career?
It’s a hard one to think about other than what I’m currently doing. I often dreamed of running a company closer to my family who are based in Nelson, New Zealand (I’m a proud Kiwi gal). I’d probably start up a funky hole-in-the wall cafe with lots of atmosphere, great coffee and damn good cheese and cayenne pepper scones!

What’s your perfect three-course meal?
I’d start off with corn fritters, lettuce, ginger, mint and chutney followed by a red Thai fish curry, washed down with a spoonful of coconut ice cream. It’s what I always order at my favourite restaurant The Spice Den at Salt up in Northern NSW

What is special about where you live?
We live by the sea in Northern NSW. Our children can ride free along the bike paths, and the beach is their backyard. It really is a beautiful place.

If you could control your dreams, what would you dream about?
Hmm, I’d probably dream about what people were planting in their gardens, and killer backyards!

How many people are you completely yourself with?
My mum and my sister. We are a tight bunch of three. I can be my bubbly, silly self at all times with them. I’m pretty lucky to have them.

What is your favourite kind of weather?
I love spring. The colour, cooler nights, warm days, no humidity and my cut flowers last longer than in the hot summer days.

Check out Plants in a Box’s WEBSITE / INSTAGRAM / FACEBOOK

All images supplied by Plants in a Box

Plants in a Box co-founders Debbie and Elle
Plants in a Box co-founders Debbie and Elle

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