HAVING children often means putting your career on hold – but that’s exactly what prompted mum-of-two Tracy Anne White to launch her own online flower shop and now business is booming.
The 35-year-old Londoner quit a lucrative career shortly after giving birth to her second daughter Lara to launch Blend & Bloom, a flower subscription service, in 2016.
Tracy-Anne, who worked as the personal assistant to the deputy Vice-Chancellor of the SOAS University of London, told the Sun Online: ”I did go back to work after having my girls Amelia and Lara, but I felt like I was missing out on big events in their lives. It was tough.”
“My husband once brought me a bouquet of flowers for no reason and I thought of the difference a few blossoms can make to someone’s day.
“That’s when I first started looking into making a career out of it.
“I realised I’ve been sitting at a desk for eight years and I wanted more flexibility to spend time with my daughters, so I eventually took the plunge and quit my job.”
Starting and operating a profitable floral shop isn’t easy.
The mum-of-two, who had no previous experience with floral design, started by doing an intensive five day flower arrangement course, which cost £1,300 and was a gift from her dad. This was followed by a year of apprenticeship at Chez Michele, a flower shop in Borough Market in central London.
She said: “There’s more to setting up a floristry business than throwing together a bunch of lovely blossoms and foliage.
“I wanted to learn about the technical side of it – how to handle the customers, what are the costs involved or which suppliers to use.”
Tracy-Anne launched her company with a small budget of £1,300 that she used to set up a website and started buying blooms from wholesalers.
She then started selling flowers at Oval and Alexandra Palace’s farmers market in 2016 – and since then she hasn’t added a penny more of her own money.
Blend & Bloom provided flowers for 25 weddings in 2018 and the firm is now projected to hit an annual turnover of £55,000 by the end of this financial year.
Tracy’s tips to set up a successful business
- Believe in yourself: It’s never too late to change. You just need the drive. It’s hard work – you’ve got to really want to do it.
- Do your market research: You need to decide what sort of florist you are going to be, what you’re going to sell, and who you’re going to sell to. You also need to understand and have a clear idea of what makes you different from your competition.
- Be patient: Raising capital is the hardest part about having your own business. Make sure you have a financial plan and learn to be patient.
- Promote your business through social media: Most of our clients come to us after seeing a post on Instagram. Make sure you post regularly and talk back to your customers. Reply to their requests and look at how they react to your post.
She said: “The build-up to a wedding can be quite overwhelming but seeing the joy that flowers can bring to people – make up for it. It’s one of the things I love the most about my job”
The online business is still in its early days. Tracy-Anne makes all her flower arrangements at home and hires freelancer whenever she gets a big order – but she no longer needs a full-time job to make ends meet.
So what has made Blend & Bloom a success? According to Tracy, it’s using social media to promote her business.
She said: “There’s no point producing beautiful flowers if nobody knows about it. We now have more than 4,000 followers on Instagram and that’s where a lot of our new clients come from.
“I try to post regularly and reply to questions and requests each time a potential clients gets in touch.”
The business is set up to entice repeat customers but you can choose to pay weekly, monthly or make a one-time purchase at £35 per bouquet with no additional delivery costs.
The mum-of-two said: “I design and dispatch two different hand tied arrangements weekly to ensure my clients never get the same blooms two weeks in a row.”
Tracy-Anne says the hardest thing about starting a business is finding the cash – and getting investors to believe in you.
She said: “The most difficult part of having my own business is raising capital. I want to do things quickly but you have to learn to be patient and make sure there’s a balance between what you spend and what you earn.”
“But my girls are my biggest reward and it’s what keeps me going. My daughters love my flowers and they don’t even remember the time when I wasn’t around. I can now make sure I can drop them off and pick them up from school each day and that’s priceless.”
Earlier this year, The Sun Online also spoke to a dad-of-two who quit banking job to set up children’s hairdressers and it makes £650,000 a year.
We also revealed how a mum-of-two’s quest to spend more time with her kids is now a £130,000 a year business.