Many of you may know I started my journey in flowers several decades ago …in fact, I have been flowering about the world since 1985 to be precise. In the early years, I promoted a disposable (recyclable) vase product. I was teaching floristry part-time at Easton College and doing weddings and events for the rest of the week. Fifty-six weddings in the busiest year!!
I went along to the local High Street to set up a business bank account and had a chat with the bank manager – he asked me about my business and I told him about teaching floristry and the wedding flowers. Then I showed him the disposable vase, I said it would be ideal for his mortgage clients as a thank you from Lloyd’s bank to deliver flowers in the vase all ready arranged and the new homeowners wouldn’t need to look for something to put the flowers in. (even then I was off the cuff!) He loved the idea and I started delivering locally to Lloyd’s customers.
It was considered a success and Lloyd’s asked if we could do it delivering to a wider network – I developed a box where the customer could pull out the bouquet from the top and found a courier and so it blossomed!
I developed printed cellophane with the Lloyds logo and had it manufactured, they had green vases and Lloyds green ribbons! The boxes had all the instructions printed on and a special insert to enable pulling out the bouquet from the box without damage. (there was water in the vase too!!)
All out of the spare room in my little terraced house back in Lowestoft, orders would come in by fax on a specially designed form, payments would go directly into my bank account … the courier would collect from our tiny fisherman’s terrace at the end of a culdesac. Back in the early ’90s, I believe this was one of the first floral boxed offerings.
Later I joined a company growing and selling Fairtrade Kenyan flowers. One day the commercial manager called a meeting and said Tesco wanted to do a boxed bouquet offer and we had to pitch for it – this was the start of Tesco.com. He was scratching his head and said how will we do this? How does the customer get the flowers out from the box? How? how ? how? I just shrugged and said
“easy! done it before … like this” … took out a pencil and sketched out what I had done for the bouquets in a disposable vase!! (that was probably my first mistake in the corporate world!!)
And so we pitched in and I designed boxed offerings for the first Tesco.com bouquets and later Drinks Direct.
Fast forward a couple of decades and here we are again – going around in circles creating my own boxed bouquet flowers again!!
A couple of months ago I saw the NatWest Back her Business crowdfunding project and thought, why not – let’s see if I can get my next development for British flowers off the ground. I have sent out some boxed gift bouquets and the trials have gone well. For sure there are many other companies doing the same thing Freddies Flowers and Bloom & Wild to name just a couple from the plethora of boxed offerings.
The thing is these companies aren’t sending out exclusively British products. I want to tell the stories of the products, where they come from and let people know about the passion the growers have and how the flowers make a difference, lower carbon footprint and fresher lesser travelled flowers. It’s taking our local story Nationwide!
The lovely ladies at crowdfunding have been great supporting the project all the way and offer advice on how to set up rewards on the page, publicity and getting it all going. This is a short crowdfund – just running for a month – it finishes on 23rd December. The timing was of course impeded by putting a heavy dose of politics in the middle where many people simply switched off from social media for a few days. It didn’t help, that’s for sure!
Then, of course, the festive season – it’s been crazy sending out pallet loads of flowers Nationwide to florists and customers, this being the first year of wholesale despatch there was no sales history to look back on!!
I plugged on – gaining some momentum and reaching the first target of £1450. That spurred me on and I received the first £50 bonus from NatWest! The next challenge was to generate more than 35 supporters to qualify for a bonus of £500!
Keep Calm and Carry On! Meanwhile wholesale peaked and retail started ramping up, in between multiple wreath making workshops!!
So the final push!! A fantastic array of supporters some who I know and some who I don’t know!! And some anonymous pledges too … it’s reached a whopping £2450 and has 40 supporters as of today!! There is still time to pledge against some of the fabulous rewards, afternoon tea with Tiny2 our London Taxi, flowers of course and even workshops!
I have been totally blown away by the support! It has been quite an emotional episode to pile this into a peak selling period there were a few moments of “have I been too ambitious?!?” I have always embraced challenges but sometimes do create rather a lot to do!
The funds will enable us to really get started, this is what we have planned;
- Develop a box to package the flowers in a way that helps to tell the story of our Eco-friendly British products.
- We will source flower food in compostable wrappers!
- Leaflets and cards will be printed to tell the story of the product
- E-commerce here we come! Develop the website to get some orders!!
There is so much to do in 2020 and I am so very grateful to all of you who pledged, donated and shared the project page. It’s been an incredible couple of months and we are looking forward to the last day of retail sales on Monday and then having a rest!!
Thank you so much 😊 from a very worn out florist, it’s so very much appreciated!
Your florist is for life not just for Christmas!!!
Lots of love and good wishes for the holidays
Yours in Flowers