For the latest in the new series of editorials on Her.ie on Irish Women in Business, we’re chatting to Joeanna Caffrey who set up her very own bespoke florist company.
Here, Joeanna talks about what it’s like to be your own boss as well as setting up her first Christmas pop up shop…
My mum was very creative and was always decorating our home through the seasons especially Christmas and I would always love helping her out. I always loved decorating and making things look nice in our home but it never really dawned on me to go down the creative route straight away. I completed a degree in business and then embarked on a sales and marketing careeer. I had always been working on creative projects such as decorating people’s businesses and homes for Christmas and I also did a lot of display and merchandising work both within my marketing role and outside.
It was not until I left my job and went travelling that I discovered I really wanted to be in a creative role full time and floristry was the obvious option to me. I felt that travelling to London, where the floristry industry is seen as an art, would be the best opportunity for learning and gaining expereince in one of the global centres of the creative floral industry. I really learnt the fundamentals of floristry in London and after my course I got involved in work experience both at Jane Packer’s store and also another great florist called McQueen’s both in London.
Having trained and worked in London, I returned home and worked as a full time florist in Dublin. Having learned the fundamentals of floristry I took the plunge and went out on my own just under three years ago. I haven’t looked back since!
I’m still a relatively new business so there’s a lot done but an awful lot more to do. I just followed what I felt was right. I wanted to be a florist so I just went and did it, I didn’t really stop to think to be honest. When I first went out on my own, it was scary but I started just before Valentines Day so that gave me a good start and I just went from there. I work very hard every day of the week and I feel the harder you work the more opportunity comes your way. I am not where I want to be yet but I feel one who works for themselves is constantly striving for the next step.
You have to be 100% dedicated to making it work and that sometimes means that you can not do certain things like socialise. I took it step by step making decisions along the way. You can only plan to a certain extent as opportunities present themselves and then it is up to you how you react. I always give 110% on every job I do whether it be one order or a large wedding. I have gained the majority of my bussiness to date through word of mouth which is the most powerful form of generating business. This is why every single thing you do is important as it may lead to your next job.
There are challenges every day working for yourself. I have some people to help me now but for the first year it was very tough as I was predominantly on my own and worked from home which was very difficult with the mess that flowers create! I never wanted to give up but there have definitely been trying moments.
I have also had many moments where I get that little happy flutter in my heart and that is why I do what I do. My favourite part of my job is definitely the creativity and seeing a job through from concept to completion. This would be particularly true for weddings and events. From the very first consultation with a bride or client to seeing the final result on the day, there is truly nothing like the feeling of seeing my creations come to life when they have been in my head for so long and then hearing afterwards from the bride. It is a fantastic feeling when I know I have made even a small contribution to what is frequently the most important day in a bride and groom’s life.
I really try to be as different with my creations as possible. I offer a bespoke service to all my customers and clients. I would like to think that myself and my team go above and beyond to deliver a truly unique product and service. I am extremely hands on and have a role in every single wedding, event or occasion floral arrangement that has our branding on it. In terms of wedding clients I meet with brides all the time and feel that this contact not only ensures I am aware of the requirements of their special day but also keeps it fresh for me, as we treat every event as a unique occasion. I truly believe the creativity and attention to detail we offer is what sets us apart from others.
Since deciding to become a florist I have always dreamt of having my own shop but have not taken the plunge until now due to the obvious realities of the overheads. I am almost three years in business. I am always looking at properties but decided I would love to test the waters first and then decide if it was the right move for me. My shop is now open a couple of weeks and I am loving it. It is great for me to experience having a shop during one of the busiest times of the year. If it is right for me and my business going forward perhaps I will take a premises full time and that is the luxury of the ‘pop up’.
I would love to continue to grow my wedding business and also grow my client base for occasion flowers. A good space to work from is in the plan as I could move my whole business there to include a retail space, workshop and bridal consultation space. I feel doing the ‘pop up’ that it is invaluable to have a ‘home’ for your business where people can see, touch and feel your identity from the moment they walk through the door. Whether that will be a shop or a work-shop location, we will see.
For more information on Joeanna Caffrey Flowers please visit the website or Facebook page and don’t forget, if you still have a few festive bits and bobs to pick up, to head over to her Christmas Pop Up Shop in Sandymount Village. Until December 22nd she is offering 10% off ALL orders, in store or over the telephone, to those who mention Her.ie.
To suggest other great Irish women to feature in this series, please drop us a line to [email protected]