No one knows this better than Teerawat Ananpiriyakul, a 25-year-old who has grown his passion for cacti into a thriving enterprise.
Last week, The Nation Thailand interviewed Teerawat at his home on a Chom Thong housing estate in Thonburi, Bangkok. His house doubles as a cactus farm and shop, demonstrating that you don’t need big fields to become a commercial grower.
We chose him because he launched his cactus business at the young age of 21 when many of his peers were still students. Four years later, it’s still going strong even as other businesses wilt under the pressure of Covid-19.
Teerawat began by explaining that he runs his farm as a part-time job alongside his main duties in the family business.
Although growing cacti is not his main career, returns from the business are impressive and depend on the amount of work and time he puts in.
“There is no set value for cacti, so the plants are normally traded at prices agreed between sellers and buyers,” he said. “Cactuses are more like collectables than plants. People will generally agree to pay as much as necessary for the plant they want to collect.”
Teerawat said he became interested in cacti around 5 or 6 years ago, when growing the spiky desert plants began trending in Thailand.
He was living in a townhouse at the time, and when his collection of plants grew too large for the limited space, he decided to start selling them. He soon realised that his hobby could also make money.
He faced a steep learning curve, however. Cultivating cactuses was a new world for Teerawat. The plant was popular in Thailand since it needs less space and attention than other garden plants. But there are more than 1,700 species of cactus, and each requires different amounts of water and sunlight.
And as well as the challenges of growing and propagating cactuses, he had to learn how to cultivate his customer base. It took around 3 to 4 years until he was professional enough to build a following of loyal customers.
Teerawat said joining the world of cactus sellers was easier than people might think. “If you are skilful enough to produce beautiful plants, customers eventually get to know you alongside established names in the market,” he explained.
Turning to the subject of Covid-19, Teerawat said physical trade in cacti has suffered badly during the pandemic. But the absence of cactus fairs and exhibitions has been compensated by a surge in online trade. “Basically, I can say that my business was not hit hard by Covid-19, thanks to online channels.”
Though based at home, Teerawat also has customers from overseas, namely China and Singapore. Foreign clients place their orders via his “Cactus in Wonderland” channels on Facebook and Instagram. The purchased specimens are then hand-delivered to their homes abroad.
However, overseas trade has gone quiet during the pandemic. “I expect the situation to improve once the Covid-19 crisis is over,” he said.
Teerawat’s story demonstrates that success in business is not some faraway dream, but the result of hard work, strategy, skill and time.
Asked what he would say to anyone planning to start their own business, he said one easy way was to think about how you can make money from your favourite activity or hobby. “When you realise that you can make cash, you need the courage to turn your hobby into your own business,” he added.
Published : June 23, 2021
By : Thanachart Chuengyaempin, The Nation Thailand