In Conversation with Rob Slade from Heron Hawker
So you're an ex-Twitter and record label exec, whose now running a successful terrarium, indoor plants and installations business? What made you take the leap into becoming an entrepreneur?
It was a very scary moment when I decided to leave the world of digitial marketing. Partly because I loved it and also as I would be leaving behind a secure job. The pull of being able to steer something exactly how I wanted though was very exciting and ultimately won me over. For period I was doing a bit of both my full time job conjuring up campaigns for music acts whilst building plant displays in my own time. It was clear that something was going to come tumbling down as our succulent terrarium orders were increasing so I had to choose between the two. I think when my partner and I finally made our mind up and decided I would go for it our plan was always to reassess after six months. It's been 2 and a half years and sometimes when it's super early and I'm heading to the plant market I do fall into the dream of having a much simpler job again. Something where the role is defined, but then I realise I have so much freedom and creativity within my business so I'll buy something new and exciting to play with. It could be a new plant or terrarium vessel and I just get creative in our little north london terrarium shop.
Where does the name Heron Hawker come from?
Throughout my life I've geeked about many things. At one point I was really into airplanes... very rock and roll. I loved the old biplanes and I thought about how these were such beautiful machines that were built to do harm in some way. We were all about growing things and enhancing lives with green things, so I thought about reversing or combining the names and seeing what came out. We ended up with Heron Hawker.
You offer corporate and private terrarium workshops in London, can you tell us more?
It's so fun because people are always genuinely surprised about how great their creation looks. They're so proud of it. Essentially we bring along more plants than you could ever use to a client event or team away day, and then provide everyone with a terrarium vessel. We show everyone the process and set them free to get a little messy and create their own succulent terrarium. We also run mini terrarium workshops at parties and events where attendees can make a little version in around 15 minutes or so. Our clients always seem to book the top floor in a building without a lift, which is perfect when lugging around tubs of sand stone and soil!
What plant would you suggest for someone who loves the idea of having house plants but doesn't have much time to maintain it?
There are a fair few really hardy plants around which are great for people with no time to care for plants. They can sometimes feel a little office like though. So i'm going to suggest three plants.
Something weird - Living stones or Lithops.
Something leafy - Bird's Nest Ferns or Aspleniums.
Something else weird - A Panda Succulent or Kalanchoe Tomentosa.
If you could offer one piece of advice to a budding business owner, what would it be and why?
Someone said to me that business is all about being brave and taking risks. I agree with this to a point, but you I'm all about taking a well judged, or partially calculated risk. If I just took risks and jumped on every opportunity we'd either loose our reputation or it would all be over by now. Be brave and bold but don't be blinded by being too brave or too bold.
If you could invite any five people to a dinner party, who would you choose and why?
My Mum - because she's wonderful
Bjork - because she's just the most inspiring person ever.
Napoleon Dynamite - the character not the actor. Because.... because.
Yossi Ghinsberg - his book about his solo survival in the Amazon was amazing.
Boudica - I think I'd want her on my team if things escalated into a food fight.