Nicolas Rousseau never considered entrepreneurship as an option. He just knew that it was a part of who he was. After years researching plants as a horticultural researcher in France and Canada, Nicolas wanted to find a way to connect people with nature in their own homes. He then realized the potential of the Wallflower Living Frame, where plants grow in picture frames that can be mounted on the wall. With commercial success in Europe, the concept hadn’t reached Canadian shores yet. So, he decided to fill the gap in the market.
Finding Support and a Partnership
Nicolas enrolled in a self-employment program to develop his own living frame system. It was in that program that he met Fred Collay, who was looking to develop marketing packages for small businesses. Their friendship and complementary skills propelled their business forward.
Keen to further develop their skills, Fred and Nicolas enrolled in a mentoring program, which was offered by their financing institution, as well as participating in many of Small Business BC’s seminars.
Developing the Design
Through his research Nicolas found that while many homeowners admire regular gardens, not everyone has the space, money or ability to maintain them. This is where Nicolas saw his niche.
When developing his product, he realized the need to adapt the original European design, which focussed on more desert-like plants, to become more like our Canadian rainforest ecosystem.
Together with the help of local artists, he developed a system that allows even the most gardening-challenged customers to keep their living design alive.
Reinventing Interior Design
With a vision to create a new trend in natural interior design, Nicolas splits ByNature’s business into two. The first, a wholesaler of planted products for home décor stores, florists and garden centres. The second, as an interior design consultant helping Vancouverites bring moss and living walls into their homes. He is quick to admit that he benefited from being in the right place at the right time. With more and more Canadians craving more natural décor and ways to connect with nature, he has been able to capitalize the trend and have become top-of-mind supplier to those trendsetters.
But his success has not just been down to luck. His dogged determination, hard-work and commitment to his vision has powered him through even the most frustrating and disappointing setbacks, on his journey. His advice to small businesses starting out is to find a niche with low competition and “just keep at it”.
Watching His Ideas Grow
Today, ByNature employs six people and generates over half a million in sales. ByNature products are constantly changing and evolving, as the company works with local and international artists to bring unique designs and innovative ideas.
“We want to become the link between talented designers and Canadian retailers,” says Nicolas.
And with a network of over 180 retailers across the country, he is already providing an invaluable link for those designers to commercialize their products on a large scale.
After just three years, ByNature has already left a mark in Canadian home décor, and indoor plants in general. And, it’s upon this success that ByNature will continue to grow both its brand and its business. “I envision live art forms on the walls and on the desks of every home and office in Canada,” says Nicolas.