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From struggling plant mum to running a M’sian succulent delivery that’s now 4 years old

Despite how easy the care for cacti and succulents is supposed to be, I’ve never been able to keep them alive. My biggest blunder likely came from overwatering them and keeping the plants in a room that’s exposed to little sunlight.

As a beginner plant parent, it was a common mistake CarrieAnne made too. 

She would often find a succulent sitting on her desk whenever she came home from her travels, gifted by her landlady. Though she gave the fleshy little plants lots of love, she still struggled to keep them alive.

“There were quite a handful of casualties and I was really frustrated because I had no idea what I did wrong,” she told Vulcan Post.

Determined to change the fate of her succulents, she confided in her landlady who shared a couple of tips with her, and did her own research to learn more.

As her collection grew, so did her experience and insights. That gave CarrieAnne great confidence in caring for them, enough to eventually launch Dóro, an online gift shop specialising in succulent arrangements.

A virtual plant business since day 1

Dóro started with a capital of about RM20K, bootstrapped between her and her partners from their own savings. The website’s development and photoshoot for the products were all carried out during a 4-day long Merdeka weekend in 2017.

Since then, they’ve been operating solely online and launched a sister brand, Bloomspace, all without a storefront besides the occasional participation in bazaars pre-pandemic. “We have always focused on online retail as we strongly believe in the potential in e-commerce,” said CarrieAnne.

While it’s commonplace for businesses to operate exclusively online since the pandemic hit, solely being an e-commerce brand in 2017 would’ve been challenging. People would have wanted to browse the plants in person before making a purchase, so it’s likely that Dóro’s presence in bazaars pre-pandemic helped with building its reputation online too.

You can find huge succulent arrangements, or little individual plants / Image Credit: Dóro

During the MCO, it’s also become commonplace for customers to go online for items they usually would buy in person, such as groceries and skincare. Dóro similarly saw an uptick in their sales, especially from first-time house plant shoppers as more people were trying out new hobbies like gardening.

While the brand couldn’t share any specifics, Dóro revealed that it’s able to sell over a thousand potted plants and succulents each month. They’ve also supplied their arrangements to clients including multinational corporations, private fashion brands, local companies, and royalty.

Like nature, there came some rapid changes

One of the major changes CarrieAnne recalls over the 4 years of operations was during the end of 2018 when one of Dóro’s partners decided to move on to pursue other interests. 

At that time, Dóro was still home based and CarrieAnne had recently given birth to a son, making it difficult to run the business while caring for her newborn. The founders quickly decided to build a team to take over the day-to-day operations at Dóro, and subsequently moved to a larger office.

Each arrangement can have between 8-15 succulents / Image Credit: Dóro

In 2020, the team launched Bloomspace to sell readily potted house plants, shipping them throughout Peninsular Malaysia. It seemed to be a natural expansion for the brand, seeing that its aim is centred around gifting in the form of plants.

[Business] certainly is not smooth sailing all the way, whereby the growth varies from year to year, especially so when we launch new products—in the case of Bloomspace, a completely new brand. But Bloomspace has grown fairly quickly over the past 1 year, and today contributes a significant portion of our revenue.

CarrieAnne, co-founder of Dóro.

A plant made for gifting

To CarrieAnne, what makes succulents special is how there are over ten thousand species of the plant that come in a large variety of colours, textures, and characters. 

“They are stunning and unique. Their colour intensity changes with the amount of light received, that itself is an element of surprise,” she expressed. 

A bright environment is necessary when it comes to growing a succulent. As they thrive on neglect, not much care is required if they’re getting sufficient sunlight. Even watering is only required once every few weeks, which makes them a great option for busy caretakers, according to CarrieAnne.

Plenty of care goes into selecting healthy succulents for the arrangements, and the team of 6 also pays attention to the minute details such as the succulent’s colours, texture, and build, along with how it’s packaged and presented.

Details like the succulent’s shape, colour, and texture are taken into account when putting them together / Image Credit: Dóro

Hence, it can take the team around 30-45 minutes each to complete one piece of the brand’s Dóro Life arrangement (RM169). Roughly, each team member is able to create 10-20 pieces per day. 

It’s likely that customers appreciate the level of care put into the products too, as they’d often share unboxing videos of the succulents on their social media. 

“Just knowing that every gift that we send out plays an important part in someone’s day, gives me a sense of fulfilment and purpose, even until today,” chimed CarrieAnne.

When asked if she ever plans on opening a physical nursery for customers to browse and visit, CarrieAnne shared that they are adamant about maintaining the e-commerce model.

What they do plan on doing, however, is refreshing the range of products that Dóro offers, because even though Dóro Life is their flagship product, the team wants to further challenge themselves to create better gifts.

-//-

While the brand faces plenty of contenders in the space of online plant delivery businesses, most of them tend to generally sell succulents as standalone potted plants.

Therefore, it could be said that the succulent arrangements that Dóro specialises in stand out as more of a niche, and the startup likely has found its own place in the gifting market, if its years of operations thus far are anything to go by.

  • You can learn more about Dóro here.
  • You can read other plant-related articles we’ve written here.

Featured Image Credit: CarrieAnne, founder of Dóro

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