I’m only a few minutes into a video call with Rachel Brennan from Blossom and Grow Florist when I notice that the wall she’s sat in front of is wallpapered with a vintage flower print. I ask her if she’s speaking to me from her shop, but she tells me that, no, she’s in her living room at home.
“Oh, I have flowers everywhere,” she tells me. “Four walls of our house have flowery wallpaper.”
When the call is over, I understand that Rachel’s choice of home décor sums her up perfectly. Her passion for flowers is pervasive.
Running a florist’s shop is more than a business to her, it’s a vocation, it’s life.
Rachel was just 15 when she knew that she wanted to be a florist. She did her Year 10 work experience at a local independent florist and was soon hooked.
“It was the creativity that I loved,” Rachel said. “The lady who ran the shop was so lovely and the work experience was so hands-on. I learnt so much from her in a short space of time. I never looked back after that.”
Upon leaving high school, Rachel embarked on a college floristry course. That may sound idyllic, but she didn’t make life easy for herself. At the same time, she undertook a photography course at a second college and signed up for a job at Currys.
“I was doing seven days a week,” she remembers.
After graduating college, Rachel was given a job at one of her town’s most established local florists. She worked there for eight years before being given the opportunity to take over the business herself.
“They were closing the business, and it was a case of take redundancy and walk away or take redundancy and give running my own business a crack. We went from there.”
And so, Blossom and Grow Florist was born
While Rachel’s former employer had championed very traditional floristry, Rachel wanted to offer a more contemporary and creative service.
"I like being able to look at trends and adapt them for our client base".
“A lot of the time, our customers trust us to do what we call ‘florist’s choice’, Rachel explains. "That means we can introduce customers to things they might not normally go for.
“People put their faith in us because they know they can rely on us for both the quality of the flowers and the craftsmanship. They’ll always get something good.”
Giving the people what they want
The Blossom and Grow website states that ‘We do like a challenge’ and the local community has certainly taken her to task on this claim.
“One of the biggest challenges I’ve ever been given came in the first few weeks of running the business,” Rachel recalls. “A lady who had always shown poodles had passed away and we were asked to make a poodle that resembled a specific dog from flowers.”
In the past two years, Rachel has become an expert in bespoke work, creating everything from helmets and motorbikes to cricket bats out of flowers.
“We’ve never said no so far!” Rachel explains cheerily.
Keeping the plates spinning
As well as having to adapt to tricky briefs, Rachel has had to adapt to the realities of running a small business in the past couple of years. This is where the seven-day work ethic that she learnt as a teenager comes in.
"The shop is open five days a week but it’s a seven-day job," she tells us.
“I have to be everything in the business, from delivery driver to bucket cleaner to IT manager to social media content creator to website manager.”
For the latter task, Rachel uses GoDaddy’s Online Store Builder.
“I chose GoDaddy because it wasn’t possible to pay a web designer to build a website from scratch for us at the beginning.
We didn’t have the time to sit down with one and go back and forth.
“After comparing a few options for building a site myself, GoDaddy’s Website Builder looked like the best choice. It was really easy to build the site and it’s easy to maintain, too. Our customers are happy with the site as well. They tell us how easy it is to use.”
Florist to the stars
Fortunately, Rachel’s dedication and hard work seems to be paying off. Recently, she received a phone call from the VIP team at Interflora, asking her if she could fulfil a last-minute order for a well-known television presenter who had been let down by another florist twice!
“We were asked to make a large bouquet at 4.20pm and we had it delivered by 5pm!” Rachel says. “We got a lovely message back from him. He took the time to find us on Instagram and thank us.”
So, what advice does Rachel have for entrepreneurs who are spinning as many plates as she is?
"Always try!" she says. "If you fail at something the first time, learn from it".
“It’s also important to build a support system. They may not be able to physically help you with your work, but it’s important to have someone you can call to talk to about your day if you need to. Don’t try to do it all alone!”
In the coming months and years, Rachel is looking to expand her business by taking on a delivery driver and a second member of staff.
Who knows? Maybe a 15-year-old will come into the business looking for work experience and Rachel will be able to inspire the next generation of florists, the way she was inspired herself all those years ago.
To find out more about Rachel and Blossom & Grow Florist visit blossomandgrowflorist.co.uk.