Interview with Susan Naing from Aye Gardening
Read how Susan Naing and her husband Aye have grown their business Aye Gardening from a one-man-band with a B&Q strimmer, to a successful landscape operation.
What’s your career background?
I always wanted to be a teacher since I first stepped into school at 4 years old. All through school I geared the choices I made for GCSE’s and A Level’s to reflect the fact that I wanted to go to University to become a teacher. Each and every class I have taught I have enjoyed so much- they are all unique and teaching is never boring!
How did your career change after having children?
Interesting question – I would say that my career changed because I had children.
We have four children- 7, 5, 3 and 1. My husband started his business the day before the first one was born. I continued to teach part time while he grew his business.
We always knew we wanted a big family. So we made the decision for me to have our family and join in with the business and it worked very well.
Where did the idea for your Aye Gardening come from?
Mainly a combination of my husband’s background in Burma and Thailand and the fact that he is very entrepreneurial and wanted a business to get his teeth stuck into!
How did you move from idea to actual business?
Aye started with a B&Q strimmer and home-made flyers for grass cuttings. It all grew from there. It is amazing to look back and see where we came from and what we have achieved.
What’s your USP?
We work with the client to listen to their needs and desires and create a garden that is not only stylish but also practical and manageable.
Who’s your target audience?
Families with little ones who want a child friendly garden. And clients who are looking to change a dreary garden into a place to relax and enjoy with friends and family.
How do you spread the word about what you do?
We use social media platforms to share before, during and after photos of our projects and this draws a lot of attention to what we do.
Clients like the openness and insight into our business and the way we work and often feel they know us before they have met us. We also get a lot of enquiries from neighbours of the sites where we work as they admire our work and want similar in their own gardens.
What’s been your most successful marketing strategy?
Half way through 2016 I started a new hashtag on social media: #365gardens. It is a 365 day look at our business- every side to it including the family aspect. We have had many people contact us because of it. It shows the real us and people like that they can see who we are.
What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
Myself! I really don’t have a business brain and I most certainly not a sales person. I think this holds us back. Aye says it doesn’t because he believes clients like to be listened to and guided, and that is what I do best.
And your proudest moment so far?
My proudest moment is being accepted as a member of the APL (Association of Professional Landscapers)
In the early days of our business I would watch those members and their work and think one day we will be as good as that. As our team grew and our landscaping skills we were able to win more interesting contracts which enabled us to apply for membership.
Why is work so important to you?
Work is important as it puts food on the table for my four little ones. It shows them that you can’t just sit still and expect everything to land in your lap. Work also helps my brain keep alive! (Although I still get mummy brain daily!)
Who inspires you?
Our children inspire us every single day. They just amaze us, how they grow, how observant they are, the wise comments that they make. They make Aye and I want to become better people, better parents and work hard to give them the building blocks for their own lives one day.
How do you balance your business with your family?
Holidays and time away with the family. Work hard when you need to work and then when it is time to get away- forget it all and concentrate on the children.
What are your three top pieces of advice for someone wanting to start a business with their husband or partner?
- Work out what you are both good at and stick to that – concentrate on your area of the business. Aye is good at leading his team and driving the business forward with decisions on equipment/investments etc and I am good at social media and quotes.
- Make time for yourselves and ban ‘work’ talk when it is ‘couple’ time.
- Be yourself. There is no one like you. No one can do what you do like you!
You can find out more about Aye Gardening on their website.