Want to start your own retail business? Kate Maxwell runs her own floristry company and told Moving On how she planted the right seeds to grow the business.
“I finished school with eight GCSEs and an Advanced Level GNVQ in Art and Design (GNVQs are now called BTECs). I then went to The University of Central England (UCE) in Birmingham, to do a foundation course in Art and Design. My dad would have liked me to follow him into advertising as a career but I really couldn’t see myself putting on a pair of heels and smart clothes and working in an office! I hoped the course would help me decide on a career but nothing stood out, so I decided to take a gap year.
“I ended up in Australia and was flicking through the job pages of the Sydney Morning Herald for inspiration when I came to the ‘Florists’ section and thought, “That’s something I might enjoy doing!”
“I gave my CV to loads of florists – and heard absolutely nothing back! Then out of the blue, one of those florists phoned me. Luckily, she liked me, my art background and that I didn’t mind getting my hands dirty. I worked for her floristry retail business two mornings a week, really enjoyed it and decided to train as a florist myself.
“I came back to the UK to do a floristry course in London with well- known florist Jane Packer. After training, she offered me a job in her retail business in her Selfridge’s concession in London. Then she asked me to join her retail business team at the new Selfridges’ store in Birmingham.
“After three years I decided to start up my own floristry retail business. I sold my car, got a van on HP and rented a freezing cold garage to work from, with no electricity or water! I wasn’t easy running my own retail business at first and it has been a difficult few years – the services of a florist, and flowers are luxury items and the recession meant I had to work really hard to find and keep new clients. But on the upside, I’ve learned SO much about running a retail business!
“My floristry retail business, In Bloom, is based in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. I have two employees and some wonderful, loyal customers. In Bloom gets lots of repeat business and recommendations for weddings and events and we do flower arrangements for hotels and other businesses in the city. I am very proud of In Bloom and all the amazing displays we‘ve done over the years. Being a florist and running my own retail business is a great job – it’s not big money but it’s an active, creative, social job and no two days are the same. If I had to go back to that dinner table in Sydney, I would do it just the same and choose to run my own floristry retail business all over again!”
Florist’s Fact File
Salary: Florists can earn between £16,000 and £25,000 a year. If you’re self-employed, depending on the size of your retail business, you can earn in excess of £40,000 a year.
Hours: Florists have to get up early! They also spend a lot of time on their feet and have to be flexible about their hours to suit their customers. Florists have to work at weekends – weddings mostly happen on Fridays and Saturdays.
Read our article on how to be a young entrepreneur if you fancy setting up and running your own business and you need some sound advice on how to go about it.