Cindy Hubble and Deb Wilson-Smith always loved gardening – but for many years it was just a hobby.
For the last eight years, however, their passion has been transformed into a business, Gardens of Joy, and this same passion has been noticed by the Aurora Chamber of Commerce with their Home-Based Business Award, part of their 2021 Business Excellence Awards.
Not bad for a business venture which started quite by chance.
“We met when our kids were at school,” says Wilson-Smith of how she first crossed paths with fellow Devins Drive Public School mom Hubble. “Our youngest sons were headed into high school and we were both looking to do something a little bit different from our normal day jobs. We both love gardening; a friend of ours put us together, helped us come up with a name and it just went from there.”
Gardens of Joy quickly blossomed, picking up clients through word of mouth throughout the GTA.
One such client in Markham was, for Hubble, a sure sign that they did indeed take the right career path.
“They were parents of a local family in the area of Devins Drive,” she recalls. “They had a big, beautiful home, lots of gardens, but they were aging. We did their vegetable garden, their beautiful planters, and they were so pleased. For me, that is the moment when I realized ‘This is fun. I really like this.’ I have a bit off PSW experience, so I love working with seniors and now we have customers who work with us, too. It is about having those conversations out in the garden.”
For Wilson-Smith, that “ah-ha” moment was when people simply asked them organically to look after their gardens.
“It was realizing people want our help and are appreciative of the work we do.”
It is a two-way street and this relationship between they and team with their customers is paramount to their success.
“It’s really important to listen,” she continues. “Early on, we heard a lot of stories from clients who had people come in, they didn’t listen to what they asked or gave them something they didn’t ask for. For us, it was the realization that listening to our clients was going to be the most important thing. We want to build a relationship. We get to know our customers, we get to know what they like, what they don’t like and it gives us the opportunity to go above and beyond and give them more than they were expecting.”
Adds Hubble: “When they drive into their driveway, even if there is a weed at the curb, I am going to grab that weed. Maybe we don’t have to, but it is the first thing they are going to see and I don’t want them to see that first. It is the whole picture.”
From its humble beginnings, Gardens of Joy incorporated in February and as their team grows, the company founders are hoping to continue to grow as well, moving into design and opening up new Gardens of Joy locations throughout the GTA.
“When we first started, we thought it would just be until our boys were out of high school but we put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this,” says Hubble. “It has to mean something. We were at four years [when they were out of high school] and now we’re at eight. We have grown and it is exciting how much further we can take this. It is also exciting to build the team. When it was just Deb and I, it looks a lot different now that we have a staff of eleven less us. We’re learning every single day how to make it better next week and next year.”
Adds Wilson-Smith: “We have had a lot of support from people who aren’t our clients but have appreciated the work that we do. We need to say a big thank you to them because we know we do a great job for our clients, but it is really nice when other people are noting us as well and we’re very grateful for all the support. Now that we have this [Chamber] award, it feels really good, like we’re doing something here – we’re growing, we’re part of the community, doing our jobs, building beautiful gardens and ultimately when we’re doing our jobs we’re in our happy place.”
Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran