A Life Well Lived

As part of our journey to redefine Wealth we are exploring what “A Life Well Lived” means: interviewing artists, entrepreneurs, explorers, and change-makers as they share their stories and ask “what is my life well lived?” Here we talk to Freddie Blackett, Founder of Patch, about his business and what living well means to him.

Freddie had the idea for Patch, the London based online garden center, in 2016 shortly after moving in to his girlfriends flat. Their mission is simple explains Freddie, “we want to make it as easy to connect with nature as it is to connect to the internet.”

On Founding Patch

“I loved my job and didn’t really have any aspirations to do anything different until I moved here, into this flat, with my now wife, Clemmie.” explains Freddie. “It was her flat so there was a very big Clemmie stamp on the place. I wanted to try and put my own stamp on it somewhere because it was going to become ours – but you have to be quite sensitive about that kind of thing.”

“It’s not like moving into a new home where the quicker you can get to the walls and put up your posters you’re the winner. The only space I had to play with was the balcony, which at the time, was a bit of a dumping ground. I tried – and failed – over the course of a long weekend to do it up and noticed how difficult it was for someone with no experience of plants to get into gardening, especially when you live in a city like London where there are very few garden centers around.”

“I had spotted this problem, and thought somebody else was probably going to have a crack at it, but two years later, after I had gathered a bit more experience of plants, I thought now I am the right guy for this. I raised some investment and got started in 2016.”

On Milestones

"It's small things we’ve done along the way, tiny problems that we’ve solved that actually have an amazing effect.”

“The strongest memories I have over the past few years have often been some of the smallest things. There’s our first customer of course, that incredible adrenaline hit when we realised there is someone out there who is actually going to part with some money for our proposition. But it’s small things we’ve done along the way, tiny problems that we’ve solved that actually have an amazing effect.”

“We started putting plant tags into our deliveries, because quite often our customers have never bought plants before so they don’t know what plant it is. It also helped our drivers to recognise what it was and where it was going; it solved two massive problems with this tiny little thing which costs less than a penny on a unit basis.”

“And now, every time someone joins us it starts a new chapter for our business. So speaking for my business partner and me, those are the moments we look at and go ‘Wow – this baby of ours is growing up’.”

On Success

“We think Patch is built on this global trend which is urbanisation. More people are moving in to cities which pushes up land prices, and makes it very difficult for a garden centre to operate – you need at least half an acre to really deliver a good offering. Now that not only costs a lot, but the number of people who are required to deliver the kind of service that we deliver online is expensive. And this a problem that is all over the world.”

“We’re not trying to conquer the world, but we’d like to conquer a good slice of it. If we can help more people get into gardening and get into plants, then I suppose that’s success for us. I just wont put a number on it just yet.”

On Being an Entrepreneur

“There is definitely this exciting perception of entrepreneurialism which exists – it is definitely there – but then also, the majority of my time is spent dealing with things that people don’t even think of when they imagine starting a business. The number of unfortunate daily processes I have to run – which you probably offload as you grow and so hopefully I will soon.”

“One of my processes for example is paying our drivers. 15 of them are out on the road on a daily basis and so I go through the process of checking their hours against what has been recorded, etc. etc. And that should feel like work really, but when I look at the list of drivers we’re paying on a weekly basis and that list keeps growing and that’s incredibly exciting. So that goes through my mind when I’m pressing send on a payment.”

“So no, I don’t think it feels like work, I never get out of bed and think ‘oh, another day at work’ but all that being said, my week is perfectly structured around five days at work, and two days at home with my family and friends.”

On Living Well

"Without that support system I don’t think anything else is possible, at least it doesn’t feel like that for me."

“I think it starts with your family and having a strong unit around you, I’m completely blessed to have a great family around me, both my parents and my bother, but also more recently my wife and my young boy. Without that support system I don’t think anything else is possible, at least it doesn’t feel like that for me.”

“But then being able to do something that you’re passionate about. But more than that, something that you’re passionate about, and good at. I’m finding that at the moment in leading a business that has a strong brand behind it, and is solving a problem that I am completely passionate about.”

On Retirement

“It exists on my radar at 8pm. Gardeners world is on Friday evenings and Monty Don who is the presenter is my idol. He lives in Herefordshire and he has this beautiful plot of land on which they film Gardener’s World. It’s a garden for all seasons and it just oozes calm and he is so passionate about it, that I just think when I’m Monty Dons age, I just want to do that. That sounds great.”

“But I don’t have an aspirations for it to come soon, you meet people who have retired at 45, 50 and a living awesome lives, but that’s not something that’s on my radar necessarily. But when it does come, I can think of nothing better than a few acres of land somewhere on which to build a beautiful garden.”

 

 

You can find out more about Freddie and Patch by visiting their website, or by following their journey on Instagram