This week I’m excited to introduce Laura who founded London florist; Gray & Greenery that delivers flowers, bouquets and arrangements in the London area. I must say that the flowers are beautiful, scroll down for a nose.
Laura went from working full time for an independent florist to setting up her own business in 2017, and has had to adapt her business this year with weddings and events being cancelled due to Covid. In normal times she has found a way for the business to work around family commitments and her three children. I particularly admire her top tip about being honest with yourself when setting up your business and the business purpose. Are you setting it up to inspire your creative side or to support you financially, or both. Overall make sure that your business purpose is something that you enjoy doing. I couldn’t agree more. Do have a read of Laura’s story below…
Tell me a little bit about you, your background, and your business?
I am a florist and mum of three girls, aged 11, 8 and a three-month old. My business, Gray & Greenery, delivers gift bouquets and flower arrangements for homes, offices and businesses, and creates wedding and event flowers as well as running seasonal floral workshops at venues around London (although the events and workshops are of course all on hold at the moment, during the coronavirus pandemic). I work mostly by myself, with freelancer support on larger events, and run things from a little studio in Wimbledon.
What were your motivations for setting up your business?
I absolutely loved my old job, a full-time position for an independent retail florist – but shop hours were difficult to balance with school terms & childcare. In setting up Gray & Greenery, the idea was that I could focus on the elements of a floristry business that worked best for me in terms of logistics, income and childcare. Of course, there was (is!) still plenty of hard slog & juggle, and it certainly wasn’t a quick or easy way to generate a liveable income for the family, but with time and a fair bit of trial & error I think I’ve figured out which bits to focus on and what works best.
How do you balance the business around your family and childcare?
It can be one extreme or the other in terms of how busy things are – so it’s important to have some flexibility, but I do plan meticulously. And of course at the moment – summer of 2020 – weddings and bigger events are all postponed, which has put a very different spin on the season and the business.
My days involve early morning trips to the wholesale flower market (I’m up and out by about 4.30am on a buying day) – while my partner and the kids are still asleep. Once I get back I can focus on the school run during term time, and generally starting the day at home – and then work from 9am. A normal day would involve flower prep and conditioning, creating and sending out gift bouquets, perhaps meeting a couple at their wedding venue to go through ideas (or at present this is by phone or Zoom!), or it might be a day at the laptop working on quotes and updating the accounts. When they’re happening, wedding weeks can be hectic – but again it’s all in the planning. The balance means that I am usually able to do the school run and be around and focused on the kids for the afternoons, but then might be fully work-focused on the weekend of a big wedding or event.
Since setting up your business what’s been your biggest success to date?
I set up in 2017, and I consider the success to be the fact that I’ve found a way to balance and blend work and home life whilst making a living and still loving the process of ‘doing the flowers’. Some things have taken me by surprise, and I really enjoy parts of the business that I didn’t expect to, for example running bouquet and wreath workshops – these have been really successful and popular, and so have evolved into a bigger part of what I offer.
What are your top tips for anyone who is thinking about setting up their own business?
I think it’s important to be realistic about what you need from the business – whether it’s an artistic enterprise that is fulfilling you creatively, or one that you really need to work by a certain point in order to keep a roof over your head – and plan accordingly. That might be savings to live off for a few months if you can, or staying in your current role at least part time if necessary. And whilst planning is crucial (time planning, financial, childcare logistics etc) things change and sometimes you have to roll with it and rethink. And, as obvious as it sounds, don’t do it for the sake of it – it’s not the easy option! – so make sure the business purpose is something that you love and enjoy doing. Lastly, with my sensible hat on, get used to updating your accounts early on – Xero or Quickbooks are great – and keep on top of it all.
Thank you so much Laura being part of my series, it has been fantastic to feature you and I wish you all the best in the future.
If you like what you’re reading and would love to be part of my Parents in Business series just drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or have a nose at some of the other businesses I have featured in the series: Oliiki, Sprout, and Talented Ladies Club.