Of all the alternative careers that academy footballers can pursue after being released, it is fair to say that selling plants does not often, if at all, come up in discussion.
But for ex-Wolverhampton Wanderers apprentice Dylan Stringer-Moth, it is a pathway that has developed into a profitable business venture.
The 25-year-old had graduated with a degree in Sport Coaching and Development, but felt that it was not his “true passion” and kept himself open to other options.
At the start of lockdown in March 2020, Stringer-Moth volunteered his services to a garden centre owned by his girlfriend’s family, which sparked a budding interest that would turn into a full-time project.
He told LFE: “When the pandemic hit, I had a lot of free time because I couldn’t go into work, so I started helping out at the garden centre as they were still able to do deliveries.
“I was doing drop-offs all over Manchester and that inspired an idea between myself and my girlfriend to create our own service across the whole country. We did a bit of research and convinced ourselves that it was something we could do.
“We started the business last August, called One Click Plants. We have a garden centre where we grow our stock, but it’s an online store and we deliver across the UK and Northern Ireland.
“We do garden project enquiries as well, so if someone wants their garden transformed, they’ll send us their budget, a photo and the dimensions of what they need and then we’ll provide recommendations for them based on the plants we sell. We also create videos for people, showing them how to grow their plants.
“My girlfriend is a lot more knowledgeable than me, but I’m learning every day about all the products, seasonal trends and what sells best throughout the year. I’ve enjoyed the process so far.”
As with any startup, establishing the business has been a challenging operation, with Stringer-Moth juggling several roles across the different aspects of the company.
“My girlfriend and I are running the business and then we have one other person who is basically a picker and packer,” he continued. “We have to do all sorts of things, like customer service, social media and marketing, sorting stock and orders, handling finances, managing the picker and packer, and so on. We’re constantly busy, but that’s how I like it.
“I think you learn on the job in business. You’re not going to get it right first time every time, so you’ve got to be resilient and keep believing in your project. You probably learn more from the failures than you do from the successes.
“At first, we were a bit sceptical whether to take the plunge and commit to the business full-time, so we’ve been really surprised by the success we’ve had already.
“We’ve had a year now to learn our trade and stay afloat, so now we’ll be setting some objectives and projections for the next 12 months and beyond.”
One Click Plants is emerging as a reputable brand, with over 200 five-star reviews on Trust Pilot and almost 12,000 followers on Instagram, with renowned home improvement accounts now using the service.
“We try to stand out from the crowd by offering a fast delivery service,” he added. “Our stock enables us to be ready to provide next day delivery. Our plants are also a bit bigger than the norm, and therefore better value for money than a lot of our rivals.
“We sent stuff to Kady McDermott from Love Island, whose home account had a crazy number of followers. Courtney Black, who is a popular online fitness instructor, has also collaborated with us. That kind of thing is great exposure for us because we can use their platform to advertise to a new and much bigger audience, which leads to more sales.”
Stringer-Moth’s only prior experience in business came via his startup clothing brand, called Attivo, which offered a sports clothing range and enjoyed plenty of success, until production was stopped in favour of his current venture. He believes all apprentices have the skillset to succeed in the industry.
“Everyone has more to offer than just football,” said Stringer-Moth, who still plays semi-professionally for Chadderton FC. “Progressing through the academy ranks, you have to be self-motivated to pursue your goals and resilient when you encounter adversity. It takes a lot of effort, sacrifice and determination to get to the apprenticeship level, and that’s exactly what is required in business.
It can be a little intimidating at first to drift out of that comfort zone, but sometimes it’s the only way you’ll find your true passion.
“I never would have imagined that I’d be enjoying running a successful plant business, but you never know what is going to be your calling until you give it a go.”
Dylan Stringer-Moth features in Issue 42 of LFE’s Touchline magazine.