25 January 2024

Albion Park couple's backyard eucalyptus venture blooms into thriving business

| Kellie O'Brien
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The Eucalyptus House Albion Park

Michael and Riani Goodridge from The Eucalyptus House in Albion Park. Photo: Kellie O’Brien.

Albion Park couple Michael and Riani Goodridge stumbled upon an unexpected business venture after deciding to sell eucalyptus cuttings instead of discarding them around Mother’s Day two years ago.

This spontaneous decision marked the inception of The Eucalyptus House, a venture that then gained unexpected momentum due to a TikTok trend.

Two years ago, the Goodridges were inundated with orders on Mother’s Day when they offered eucalyptus cuttings for sale from the Baby Blue Eucalyptus tree and bush in their suburban backyard.

Soon after, a TikTok trend promoting the use of eucalyptus cuttings in showers for a spa-like experience and stress relief took the internet by storm.

Michael said while they weren’t TikTokers themselves, they benefited from the trend as people sought eucalyptus bunch suppliers.

“Riani’s always wanted Baby Blue plants, but because they’re eucalyptus, I’ve always been like, maybe not, thinking they’re going to grow massive,” he said.

“Then I finally gave in because nothing was growing in our yard.”

After acquiring two eucalyptus plants, to their surprise the plants flourished.

“They took off really well in the soil, so then I got to the point where I thought I probably should trim them back,” Michael said.

“We were speaking to one of our friends about it and she said, ‘Why don’t you try and sell cuttings?’

“We thought, ‘Oh yeah’, thinking we might have about five orders. It turns out it was Mother’s Day weekend.”

READ ALSO Picking plants that will survive (and how to help yours thrive)

Riani remembers the moment the business took root.

“I was home with our daughter Layla and Michael was on shift and I thought, ‘I’m just going to put it out there and see what happens,’” she said of posting on Facebook.

“It blew up.

“We found a lot of people really liked them because it’s native, and they last a long time in vases.

“We’ve still got customers from two years ago that say they’ve still got the original bunch all dried.”

Michael said they branched into growing and selling plants from seed after discovering it was hard for people to come by Baby Blue Eucalyptus plants after Queensland stocks declined.

However, he said they were now looking to move away from plants and instead focus on the bunches – freshly cut stems from the aromatic Baby Blue and Silver Dollar Eucalyptus trees and bushes – and dried yellow-headed Billy Buttons.

Baby Blue Eucalyptus Billy Buttons

Baby Blue Eucalyptus and Billy Buttons from the Goodridge’s backyard. Photo: Supplied.

Riani, a self-confessed black thumb who believes anyone can grow eucalyptus, said she always cut the bunches fresh.

“I cut to order, so we’re very particular with timings, which is why we need people to give us a time of day to pick up, because it’s literally cut fresh,” she said.

“People have sometimes got bugs in their bunches because they’re cut so fresh.”

Now, The Eucalyptus House is looking to expand its product line to include shower steamers, hair oils, and other eucalyptus-based items from high quality and ethically sourced businesses to help when eucalyptus stocks are low.

The couple, both working full-time jobs outside the business, aspire to one day turn their passion into a full-time venture.

Michael said while they weren’t operating as a nursery, it was good for customers to see their backyard and the benefits of growing eucalyptus.

“Most people say, ‘Eucalyptus, they’re 20 metres high, and I don’t want them,’” he said.

“So until you see these, you realise, oh, that’s not too bad.

“These will grow to five metres if you let them, but what we do is when we sell the bunches we cut them right back, which then allows them to be more bushy.

“You can pretty much cut them at the height that you want.”

READ ALSO Taste the joys and bitter disappointments of a wanna-be veggie gardener

They said other attributes included it being a good-looking and unique tree, plants growing as a bush or tree, keeping the flies away, and the relaxing smell.

“A lot of people say when they get to the driveway they can smell it,” he said.

Riani said they now plan to test shipping to see how they withstand transportation to allow them to cater to a broader market, with interest nationally and internationally.

For now, they have a strong Illawarra customer base who use the bunches for everything from art inspiration to engagement party decorations and dining room table features.

“Part of the rebranding recently was coming up with our slogan ‘Stop and smell the eucalyptus,'” Michael said.

“We believe this really captures what we are about. The meaning is the same as ‘Stop and smell the roses’.

“It’s important to stop and enjoy your surroundings, appreciate the beauty around you, and do what makes you happy.”

You can order eucalyptus bunches and Billy Buttons on their website.

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