How I Changed My Life and Founded
a Successful Floral Design Business
Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hola! I am Fiona McLaughlin and I am the founder of Fiona Fleur, a floral design business based in London. We specialise in florals for events such as weddings, brand/press events and anything that involves us being magically creative.
I founded the business in June 2019. Since then, I have taken on freelance florists to help with larger projects. Freelance works best in the events industry so I can account for the larger jobs.
What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
Having worked in PR and marketing for nearly a decade, I could have ticked on with this career. However, I knew the Sunday fear would never go away until I did something I enjoyed. (P.S. for those reading this, if you get Sunday fear, your gut is telling you something..)
I LOVE doing things on my own time and I like to be in charge (I’m a control freak) to make things look exactly how I want them to. I always wanted to be more hands-on and creative in my career. The ‘sitting behind a laptop in an office’ lifestyle just wasn’t me anymore. Flowers allow me to be instantly creative and they make people happy which makes me feel good about what I do. I feel like I am doing something positive for others.
For me, Fiona Fleur came from having a passion to do something I was proud of. Something I can look back on and be remembered for. I wasn’t trying to create a new concept or reinvent the wheel. I just wanted to do something that made my soul happy and that didn’t cause me anxiety, stress or tension.
Life is what you make it, no-one forces you into a job you don’t like. It is your choice to design the life you want. I had to go out and make it happen – before it was too late.
What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
I spent about five months planning the business before I launched and quit my day job. The five months was more about mental preparation than anything else. I needed to be 110% confident of what I was doing, so I could be ready to walk the walk and talk the talk when it came time to launch.
My friends, family and clients know my full story – they know I am not a florist/floral designer by trade and, to be honest, I find the silver lining in not having years of training is that you design florals in entirely your own style, rather than a style which has come from being taught by someone else. Clients don’t ask me about my experience or previous projects before they agree to work with me, they look at photos on my Instagram and that shows them the ideas and styles that are a window to my mind.
Who is your target market?
I work with many different brands since I can utilise my background in the PR/events business. This allows me to give clients a different perspective that they can relate to. I can work to a specific client brief or offer a design that will take their brand online through press and influencers. My professional background also helps me to support the creative aspect of the business.
90% of my clients have been received via word of mouth. This is reflective of my approach of placing client satisfaction comes above everything else. Maintaining a strong human relationship with all of my clients is more important to me than anything else.
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
Instagram! It is my shop window and an insight into how my creative mind works. The visual nature of the platform allows me to showcase my work and captures my personality. It is by far the most important platform for me and my work.
Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
As mentioned previously, the clients are always my priority. If you don’t show your clients that you care and want to deliver them the best floral designs then what is the point?! Humanity is about being real. Show clients respect and tell them what can and can’t be done.
Be honest and open and give maximum flexibility. I have wonderful relationships with my clients and value all of them as people. I have turned down work previously when my first interactions with the client were unpleasant. It isn’t worth it to work with disrespectful people.
What kind of culture exists in your company, and how did you establish it?
Kindness and respect! I believe you should give everyone you work with the highest respect. Value them and give them every faith that you believe in them. There are good, honest, kind people who do incredible work. As an employer, you should be kind and understanding in return and show them you are human.
What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
The business is still in its first year, so we are still learning as we go! One thing I know is that I should have done this much sooner. It makes me much happier and life is too short to live with negative emotions!
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Being incredibly proud of the fact that it was just me who started and created my floral business. I love to tell people about Fiona Fleur and to share my floral designs with them.
What is your LEAST favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
To be honest I am still loving not working for someone else, so right now…nothing! (Ask me again in a few years and I am sure there will be loads of things!).
What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
The podcast ‘Conversations of Inspiration’ has been really good and inspiring to listen to. The constant examples of someone building something from nothing were very encouraging!
Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
I would like a larger team with some permanent employees to run the administrative side of my business. This would create more space for me to be solely involved from a creative design perspective.