In my capacity as Tesselaar Flower’s blogger, I get to speak to many lovely, inspiring florists, all of whom have their own take on the industry. Some are very pragmatic business-first types, others are more sensitive souls who are all about the flowers and the artistry but not so enamoured with the sometimes harsh realities of staying afloat.
However there is one florist who is an amazing hybrid of both hard-nose business practicality and very touchy-feely, New Age “flower philosophy”. Her name is Anja and she runs Flowers of the World in Brisbane’s busy Southbank precinct.
I had a long chat with Anja on the phone the other day about her take on flowers, floristry and life itself. I hope you find the following words by Anja as inspiring as I did…
Building A Remarkable Flower Shop
“We just let the flowers speak. And you can’t do every job the same, every order has to have that “it” factor, that passion in it, that it has been touched by angel. And that is possible as long as you only stop to think that flowers are more than just a commercial entity.
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“You see, I have my own definition of the word florist – using the letters F.L.O.R.I.S.T. – I see it as meaning Fresh Love Offers Rebirth In Spiritual Tranquility. And you see spirituality to me means nothing more than knowing consciously that humans are a part of nature.
“We talk to customers about this on a daily basis and the amazing thing is we don’t just have customers anymore we have supporters. You need supporters! Some customers we have had for more than 25 years and they keep coming back for more so we must be doing something right!
“I do brides now that are the grandchildren of brides we have done in the past! I’ve been in business 32 years – a long time, all my life since I was 16. I am more passionate now than I have ever been before because I understand so much more.
Floristry As A Discipline
“Floristry is so time and labour intensive to do properly.”
So how do you deal with this?
“Very strict discipline. If you don’t have it … well, we wouldn’t be alive!
“Every flower – the way we handle every flower, it all must be done in the same way so you get to spend as much time with your customers. The cold room has to be set every day, the freshest go to the back, the oldest to the front. Just practical. Every day the staff go through the whole shop and clean everything – not a dead flower in the shop.
“We sell a lot of vases – no-one is allowed to use a stock vase for the shop to display flowers. We have a strict ruling that certain flowers have their own vases. If you have your gerberas all in the same vases, then you have it regimented, so it looks neat.”
Do you write all this down for your staff?
“It’s verbally communicated but also written down. It is a strict discipline – but within this discipline there is freedom. ”
Making Money As A Florist
I rolled out one of my favourite quotes here, something about “creativity loves constraints”.
“Yes, yes, exactly. The constraints are practical. If you don’t work practical, you don’t have a hope in hell to survive. You can have a passion, but passion alone doesn’t give you any food. You have to understand money. I have used the word “money” itself to get a greater understanding of what I do: M.O.N.E.Y. – Magic Of Nature Eludes You.
“What I mean by this is that money is not the main aim, but if you do what you need to do with a lot of discipline, money is always going to be there. But you have to be practical – I have 150 square meters on prime location – you can imagine what rent I have to pay! But we are successful – our rent is only 10% of turnover. So I just do what I do – but I do it well.”
She also runs a café in the same premises…
“The café is nearly 45% of turnover. That has become a business on its own. I just started it as a little corner that did coffee and cake if the customer has to wait for their flowers. We didn’t want to compete with all the cafés on Southbank, but now we have 60 seats and on a Sunday we now do a few thousand dollars just on coffees. We now have a large amount of people pass through for their take-away coffees.
Click here for part two, wherein Anja talks about her Feng Shui shop layout, why men love her flower shop, sustainable floristry and the secret to scoring well-paid corporate flower jobs.
Written by Seamus – Tesselaar’s website manager and marketing nerd
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