Have you ever wondered how it would be to work as a florist? In this article series, we give you a peak in the life of a florist. This week’s article features florist Kelly Jordan, owner of Charmaine of Southsea. Over the years, Kelly has served many customers (including many celebrities!) and learnt to be a lot of things besides ‘just’ a florist.
Written by Kelly Jordan – Charmaine of Southsea
In at the deep end
Thinking of what you want to do as a career was daunting. My dad always used to say that it would be better to have a trade rather than just a job. I liked animals so I started training as a veterinary nurse – this wasn’t for me. Then I saw an advert in my local careers office for a florist. I knew I enjoyed helping my nan in her garden and talking about flowers. That was in 1988 and I haven’t looked back. Over the years I have worked in 3 florists with 5 different bosses.
In 2007 my boss gave me and my husband first refusal to buy the business. It wasn’t something I had looked into doing, as I thought it would be too much hassle. However, we thought “Why not, let’s give it a go.” As if we hadn’t, we would always have been wondering, what if! Our first trading day was on the 1st of December, 2007. We threw ourselves in at the deep end for our first peak as bosses, having to make all the decisions.
We have been lucky over the years to have had a diverse range of customers and events we have supplied flowers for. For example, decorating a yacht when she came into port, which was on her way to France for a holiday. But we also serve corporate clients. Working at the opening of Ben Ainslie Racing, arranging the Portsmouth University’s Graduation flowers and decorating Twiggy’s dressing room and the stage that Tim Peake gave a talk on.
We also delivered to Sandi Toksvig, Sheila Hancock, Vicki Michelle, Su Pollard, John Inman and a host of other stars while in panto at The Kings Theatre. And on top of that, we supplied the flowers for the charity evening, when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth was launched. We watched The Queen leave before we were allowed on board.
We have learnt to be a variety of things. From being chirpy for day to day gifts to understanding when someone needs a chat. It’s amazing what you get told!
My day generally starts at 7.30am. I like to get in, a quick check of emails and any orders that have come in overnight from our website and put the kettle on! I then put the front out – it is amazing what can fit into the shop when packed properly. After that, we get the first round ready. Generally, the drivers start at 9.30am. Funeral orders and morning deliveries take priority, then anything else that fits into the route. In between this, we serve our customers, whether they have come into the shop or telephoned us.
Each day for us varies, but it always includes conditioning the flowers and foliages we have received (we get fresh most days). We also sell plants, so we keep on top of any watering and upkeep of them.
Changing our window display is something we really like. We pick appropriately and highlight our peak seasons: Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter. In between times, we pick any up-to-date topics like Wimbledon, FA Cup, Remembrance Sunday and Halloween. The challenge at the end of the day is to bring the front back in, this is when you know you would be good at Tetris.
We have a great team at the moment. Right from the start, we have been family orientated. Mum and dad helped with deliveries. My sister also came in and when she couldn’t go out with deliveries, or help with being ‘a runner’ when she was heavily pregnant, she worked in the shop. My sister-in-law was talked into helping with writing cards and other little jobs. She is still with us now and has actually become a great florist. My husband Paul helps in the shop when he isn’t working at his full-time job as a motor mechanic. Which he even takes holidays from, so that he can be an extra driver at peak times.
We were very proud to celebrate our 10th birthday in business so we decided to do something daring, a few of the team abseiled down Emirates Spinnaker Tower, in aid of German Shepherd Rescue South, a local charity that helps and rehomes German Shepherds, where my mum and dad got Luna from.
The diversity of floristry
People often think that being a florist is always a “lovely and easy job”. However, quite often other aspects are forgotten. Like lifting heavy buckets, working with cold water and being in a cold place in the winter. It’s a chore going to the toilet with umpteen thermals and layers on!
We also have learnt to be a variety of things. From being sympathetic for funerals; chirpy for day to day gifts; a confidant for the person who has ordered two bouquets for their wife and lover; a detective for finding addresses when we have been given the wrong one and can’t get hold of the customer and being understanding when someone needs a chat. It’s amazing what you get told!
Have a look at Kelly Jordan’s designs in our Florist Finder. Go check it out!