The flower girl
I think I was always destined to be a florist. My first floral memory is from when I was around 8 years old picking handfuls of petals from my mum’s rose garden (sorry mum!) and mixing them with water to create a perfume – can you imagine how that looked or smelt?! I would spend masses of time stirring the petals to get the water nicely scented, decant into small glass bottles and sell them from a little table I set up in our front garden hoping to get customers from the pavement beyond (it was a popular dog walking route – I had my fingers crossed!).
I started as a Saturday girl in a local florist in Ryde when I was 13 years old. Literally starting at the bottom – washing out dirty buckets and vases, watering and repotting plants and making bows – so many bows! All this before I was even allowed to touch a flower and get arranging. I didn’t mind though, I think it’s important to learn your craft from the bottom up. I really loved going to work on a Saturday with such a great group of people and learning new skills.
Next up, I moved to a florist in Southsea. I would commute over on the boat five days a week and on the sixth day I attended Highbury College. The college provided a fantastic opportunity to study traditional floristry skills so important for any budding florist. Loaded up with my armfuls of flowers, oasis frames and huge folder of work and books I would travel by boat and then train. I was known as the “Flower Girl” to the group of regular commuters I saw daily! After getting my NvQ level 1 & 2 in floristry I carried on working in the beautiful Southsea florist learning all I could.
Fast forward a few years (spent working my socks off and gaining even more ‘hands on’ experience) I went to Holland which was a real ‘lightbulb’ moment! The florist shops over there were a thing of beauty. I’d never seen anything like it. A creative wonderland. Each shop had its own style whilst using lots of unusual textures to create arrangements and displays. My brain went into overdrive and I knew then that I wanted a little shop of my own.
So in July 2006, on my 22nd birthday, I opened the doors to a teeny tiny shop on the High Street in Ryde with the help of my amazing family and friends. I made sure we had a good quality supplier with regular fresh flowers being delivered a few times a week and we slowly gained momentum. I spent every hour within those four walls honing my craft, perfecting different techniques and trying ways to make the business work. Tweaking every display until it was just right.
Since then we’ve had a couple of premises moves (I’ve promised my husband I won’t do it again!) and now feel totally at home at 51 Union Street. It’s the perfect shop for a florist with beautiful large windows (letting in heaps of natural light to showcase our creations) and a nice cool basement to keep the flowers fresh. It’s ever changing with each season and I just love that.
Still to this day I cannot believe the huge gamble I took when taking on a long lease and crazy business rates all on my own but it was totally worth it. Each day is totally different. You never know what the day will bring when you open the door and greet the morning…