My Writtle University College
I chose to study at Writtle because from when I first visited at an open day I clicked with the place. Everyone was so friendly and the grounds were beautiful. I was also attracted by the close proximity to London as there are loads of leading florist shops there... two of which I ended up working in during my studies.
The contacts I got from the floristry lecturers were amazing and I still use some of them today. My business is being featured in Florist & Wholesale Buyer Magazine in September, which is something I am sure wouldn’t of happened if I hadn’t of been introduced to the Editor whilst I was studying at Writtle! Also being able to compete in the Chelsea Flower Show was amazing and an opportunity I never thought I would get!
The friends I met in my first week at Writtle remained my closest during my three years of study and I met loads more along the way. Again I am still in touch with a lot of them, although living on the Isle of Man has made it difficult to see each other as often as we would all like!
My Career Path
Floristry had only ever been a hobby of mine so I hadn’t had any work experience before I started the course. During the course I worked in two London florist shops, as well as a florist on the Isle of Man during the holidays. I also took a year in between the Foundation Degree and the top up year for BSc Hort to work with the National Trust for Scotland. I believe these placements were all so valuable in helping me decide what direction I wanted to go in after graduation.
Immediately after graduation I had a seasonal gardening job with my local council, but when that finished I got a job as a florist. This was only a part-time position though so I started looking for other jobs to boost my income. I was then asked by Tynwald Mills, a shopping centre, to put a proposal together to open a florist in their area. They liked my ideas and have supported me as business advisors ever since. I also received assistance from the Isle of Man Government with their Small Business Start Up Scheme.
My shop has been open since March 2009 and since then I have been on an almighty learning curve. I do my own book-keeping, ordering and stock control as well and being a florist and shop manager. I work seven days a week most weeks and don’t pay myself much at the moment so that my business doesn’t get swallowed up in the recession. I had to make one of my part time florists redundant recently which was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.
The degree doesn’t teach you everything you need to know to take the path that I have chosen, but the experiences that are available to you whilst studying are so valuable that these two things together give you a pretty solid grounding.
My Current Job
As already mentioned I am the manager, florist, book-keeper etc for the business but I also have a network of freelance florists and drivers as well as family & friends that help out at peak periods such as Mothers Day and Christmas. We have recently taken over the management of a small garden centre in the Tynwald Mills shopping complex, which call on the knowledge that I learnt in the top up for the Hort degree.
I love my job because every day is different, and I am constantly challenging myself. I love the relationships I build up with my customers and to be able to give them the best service is my goal. I go home most nights with a smile on my face and I don’t think I have woken up yet and dreaded coming in to work!
I want my shop to be as successful as possible and to maybe open a second shop or a larger one than I have at present! I really enjoy doing workshops so maybe one day I will have my own Flower Studio School!
Hints and tips for Writtle students
Take as many opportunities as you can, even if sometimes they scare you!