Megan and Luke Austin – Vine & Branch Collective

Megan and Luke Austin - Vine & Branch Collective

What’s the origin story of your business? 

We started during the pandemic. We’ve been interested in plants since we got married in 2017 and the pandemic left us with a lot of free time so we decided to open up an online store. Murfreesboro didn’t have a place to just buy plants. We have a Lowe’s and a Home Depot, but not a place with people that are knowledgeable and passionate about plants. We started our business with a desire to build a community and connection while also creating beautiful things.

What’s an obstacle that you’ve had to overcome to build your business?

We are the only ones doing this so it’s rather difficult building a reputation that is high quality and getting the reach we need. We are also an online store that’s main business is perishable goods. Shipping, in general, is difficult and expensive, but shipping perishable goods add a whole extra level of issues.

What is unique about owning and running a business in Murfreesboro?

Both of us have lived here for over a decade so we love the community we’ve gotten to be a part of. Murfreesboro is a college town with college town demographics. We have a very interesting mix of people and we’re working to create a community within our business that can cater to anybody.

As a business owner, what keeps you up at night? 

The availability of products. We try to scope out items to resell, but if we don’t get to the seller the day they get a new product we don’t get anything. There’s also the problem of being an online store. When clients order product, they are ordering it without seeing it so it may not look exactly like the product pictured online. We also want to maintain our brand and ensure that our customers are well taken care of.

If you could wave a magic wand and make one problem go away in your business what would it be? 

We deal with perishable goods and as much as I love it, it can be terrible. If we’re not full-time with taking care of our plants and we lose track of one, we lose track of everything. At the end of the day, our finances are connected in part to the health of the plants.

If you could travel back in time to the day you started your business, what advice would you give yourself?

Slow growth doesn’t mean no growth. Sometimes, one person or the same people buy a majority of our product and that can be disheartening as we can’t measure the true growth we’re having. However, opportunities will come. The work you put in will make things happen.

What time of the day are you most productive?

Megan is more productive in the morning and early afternoon. Luke has a second job that keeps him productive in the morning and early afternoon. So when he gets off, if he’s in the right headspace, he’s productive from the late afternoon to night.

What’s one thing you’d say to a person starting a new business?

Understand your niche. It’s hard to hit a target when you don’t know where you’re aiming. We started out by trying to find our audience and pitching to the group we thought might be interested. But none of that would have mattered if we weren’t passionate. If you want to make a connection, you need to do something you’re passionate about so instead of trying to sell a product you’re selling your passion for what you’re doing.

What’s one thing you’d say to a person who’d owned a business for a long time?

Be open to change. There is something to be said about being established and successful, but things always change. People change. Situations change. Everything changes. You have to be able to adapt what you do to meet the changing needs of your customers.

Learn more about Vine & Branch Collective by visiting their website!

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