Updated: Oct 21, 2018
Fact: I did not hit my goal of having @HortikiPlants Eco-friendly Gardening Kits available for purchase by January 2018. Or February 2018. Or March or April, or the first week of May - 2018.
Fact: I have despaired, questioned my ideas, doubted myself, etc.
Fact: This is not the best use of one's time.
Fiction: I failed.
Truthfully, I never thought that I had much in common with Thomas Edison. I am so awed and humbled by his persistence that, while I find him inspiring, I don't find him very relatable. After all, I'm not working away in a lab or workshop trying to create a new power source (not yet anyway). I just want to put the right supplies together in a box, to help people in small spaces happily and easily experience the joy of gardening.
Such a simple goal shouldn't be difficult, but it has been. It's been challenging because I care about how and where the supplies are made. I care about the environmental impact of the kits. I care about the health impact for you, your family, your pets, and anyone else who comes into contact with the kit's contents. It's also been challenging because I care about the impact on the planet after disposal of the kit's contents, packaging, shipping materials, etc. I also care about building a business that supports economic justice, good working conditions, and living wages, and that means I want my suppliers to support those things too.
Finally, I care that I am giving you everything you need to really be successful. Thus, when I peruse Amazon, see the kits available and ask myself why I'm making this so hard, why not put a few seeds, a soil pod and some cute labels in a box and call it a day? I'm stopped by my desire to truly help and provide the best service I possibly can.
Noble, but not very productive.
Yet, after many months spent refining my business ideas (i.e. wracking my brain over what to do and praying for new ideas and creative solutions) I've unexpectedly begun to see what I perceived as failure and frustration pay off. Products made from plant fiber instead of the plastic that's clogging oceans and takes millennia to decompose. Creative ways to use products from other industries and re-purpose them for gardening. Pro and con lists that have been equal for months finally showing a clear choice for the most sustainable packaging and shipping options. All the things that kept me "failing" - kept me from successfully launching the gardening kits and putting them online - suddenly are points of distinction for my product.
I frequently ask myself - what is it that your product will do better than anyone else? Why should someone buy from you? What problem are you solving and how are you solving it better than everyone else? Usually this leads to despair - I don't yet have an app or the technology of other systems. I don't have the beautiful packaging of other products. I don't have years of experience as a gardening specialist (or even as a gardener!) like other bloggers.
But when I asked myself that question yesterday after realizing that so many of my product development challenges have been addressed, I had a quick, clear answer come to mind: My kits are the most complete, most eco-friendly gardening kits on the planet.
On the planet?
Really Dr. LeBeaux?
The scientist in me demanded that I quickly rephrase that claim. After all, I haven't run tests. I don't know what the universe of garden kits looks like, nor do I have the means to take a representative sample and test for completeness and eco-friendliness (vague terms which would first need to be defined).
But before I let my inner scientist completely shut down my flickering glimmer of confidence, I asked, why? Why did I not hesitate to make such a bold claim?
Quite simply because I have 'failed' so much.
I have spent months, actually, over two years, agonizing over every one of those sourcing questions I mentioned earlier. I've done countless hours of research on sustainable materials development, working conditions abroad, traceability, environmental impact of the horticultural industry, and more. I realize that every time I 'failed' to find a solution for what to put in my kit, I succeeded in gathering data on the quality of what is currently available.
That data leads me to honestly say that I would put my kit up against anyone else's in a comparison of utility and environmental impact.
Of course, my kits aren't perfect and I will continue striving to make them better and more useful. But they are something I will be proud to share with the world.
I'm now confident that my kits will be helpful to gardeners. I'm confident they minimize negative environmental impact. I'm confident in the decisions I'm making to support economic justice.