Victoria Wetherall, co-owner, The Flying Zucchinis, Melbourne, Victoria
Tell me about The Flying Zucchinis
I originally started The Flying Zucchinis in March 2020 with my brother Harry, in response to the Covid-19 lockdown.
My brother then went to live in New Zealand with his girlfriend, so my best friend Caity Meyer came into partnership with me at the start of this year.
We work out of our warehouse, and although we have some extra hands for packing and delivery, Caity and I are completely hands-on in every aspect of the business - managing orders, buying, packing and delivering to our customers.
We deliver fruit and vegetable, vegetable-only and fruit-only boxes to our customers within a radius of 10 kilometres of the Melbourne CBD.
More recently, we have also introduced a Winter Warmers box, which is a specialty meal box for soups and stews, perfect for the cold weather.
What do you specialise in?
Both Caity and I are passionate about good produce and maintaining a good environmental footprint so we specialise in seasonal and local, when we can get it.
We are also the only produce box delivery service in Melbourne owned and run by two women
What sets your business apart from other delivery services?
We try to be as sustainable as possible; any food waste is either composted or donated to Lentil as Anything in Thornbury, to use in their community restaurant.
Our boxes are also plastic free, as requested by our customers. We use a lot of social media for our marketing and have about 100,000 followers posting and sharing our stories.
We use our faces to identify with the brand; we are not just selling produce we are selling our story as well.
Where do you source your produce from?
We source all of our produce from the Melbourne Market in Epping where we have started to build some good relationships with wholesalers.
We take turns doing the market trip each week to buy the freshest seasonal fruit and vegetables from our premium suppliers for our produce boxes, which our team deliver within hours of leaving the market.
Who are your customers?
We have a range of customers from working couples to families, and although we started the business during lockdown we have maintained about 80 percent of those original customers.
How did you get into the fruit and veg business?
It really was a response to the initial Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.
It was a very competitive job market, and I thought it was a good idea to do build something ourselves instead of sitting around on Jobkeeper or Jobseeker during lockdown.
We saw a gap in the market when my brother and his girlfriend were in isolation for two weeks after arriving from the UK.
They found it next to impossible to have food delivered as every delivery service was stretched to the limit so, combined with our love of fresh produce, we launched The Flying Zucchinis.
What do you enjoy about the market?
I am still trying to get used to the early mornings. At first the market was quite daunting, however now that I have been going for over a year I have started to build good rapport with our suppliers and it's great to chat with them and learn more about the produce.
It was a challenge at first as newcomers to the industry but now I enjoy the market run.
How has Covid-19 affected the business?
Given that we launched the business during the lockdown, we have been conscious from the very beginning about the need to minimise. We take online orders for delivery only. We don't have a pick-up option.
During the recent lockdown in Melbourne we saw many of our customers return to order from us, which is great to see that they were coming back to us rather than a competitor.
We also saw that many people were struggling financially at the moment so we created a Wait List of those in need and took the opportunity to launch Pay It Forward, where people can pre-pay for a box of produce and eggs for someone doing it tough.
The response has been overwhelming with over 250 boxes bought and delivered so far to those in need.
What is the secret to a successful business?
High quality customer service is the key to our business. Being a small business Caity and I can give a very personal customer service response to our customers and suppliers, which I think they really appreciate rather than faceless contact.
What does the future hold for the fruit and vegetable industry?
I would like to see more women in the industry as it is a very old-school, male-dominated culture. It is happening gradually and where we can we try to support other women in the industry.
It is always going to be a struggle to compete against the supermarkets, however one of the positives to come out of Covid is the large push to support local which we hope will remain.
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