What l love most about our ‘Cambridge Payroll Loves’ feature, is being introduced to so many wonderful small business owners who are sharing their stories, successes, and struggles.
This month, l have interviewed Bridget Davidson, founder of the amazing florist Wild Rosamund. She was introduced to me by Jo Souster of Gatto Gateau. who said,
“When I saw Bridget’s floral displays, her rich, bold colours and strong but informal structures, I found it so refreshing and encouraging. It gave me the confidence not to try and emulate the current trends.”
So let’s find out a little more about Bridget, her business and her views of running a small business.
Bridget, I absolutely love your website, the colours and images are so vibrant and beautiful. Do you have any tips for creating a small business website?
Thank you so much! My website is absolutely crucial!
As I am a studio florist working from home without a shop, my website is my shop window, so I knew it had to be visually stunning. A London brand consultant, Cara Bendon, produced all my branding and she happened to be a photographer too, so she took quite a lot of the photographs on it. A local web design company Frost.digital built the website for me.
My tip would be to pay to have a website done professionally. It is a big outlay but a slick web presence will pay dividends in the long-term, and a lot of companies will let you pay in installments. A lot of my customers have contacted me purely because they loved what they saw there.
Have a clear vision of what you want your website to look like and to achieve before you get a quote, then go with someone you can work well with. James Frost and his team at Frost.digital were incredibly patient with me, and the many revisions I made during the process, but I never once felt like I was a nuisance to them.
You were a journalist before you started Wild Rosamund. What made you take the leap into running your own business?
I started doing an evening course in floristry just for fun while I was still a journalist and loved it! When a trainee position at a local florist came up, I went for an interview. I was offered the job, so I took it and never regretted the decision. Within two years I was managing a shop and a team of florists.
I left to have my son, who’s now five, then when he started pre-school, I decided it was time for me to do it for myself. I did a lot of preparation for about a year, including a business course at Hill’s Road College, Cambridge before I finally launched in June last year. It has been another decision I have not regretted.
What is your dream for Wild Rosamund and has this changed over time?
When I started I deliberately offered several strands of business: wedding and event flowers, workshops, corporate flowers and floral styling for photo shoots, to appeal to a broad range of potential customers. The corporate side of things hasn’t taken off at all, but I have had a lot of collaborations with other local small businesses, which I didn’t expect, such as becoming in-house florist for Fitzbillies’ wedding cakes, offering my floristry workshops at other business premises, such as PAUS in Bourn.
This has made me realise the importance of being flexible in my approach to potential business; different opportunities come along all the time. The skill is knowing which ones to take and which to leave.
Do you have any tips for someone wanting to start a floristry business?
Don’t do it on my patch! No seriously, I would recommend doing a professional floristry course first.
There’s a lot more to floral design than just the creative side. Stock control and rotation, dealing with people, planning, time management. Flowers are perishable goods, and a florists’ work is always time-critical, so you need to be super-organised. A good course will teach you all these things in an industry-specific way.
What has been your best moment as a small business owner… and your worst?
My best moment was probably when my website went live, and I officially started trading. My business is named after my Granny Rosamund. I used to pick flowers from her garden, and she instilled her love of flowers in me. When I posted on social media about my business opening I got loads of messages from my extended family saying how touched they were that I had chosen to honour Granny in this way. I had no idea that my business name would mean so much to others.
My worst moment was last year when I had to cancel one of my flower workshops due to lack of interest. I’d advertised it everywhere I could think of, posted several times about it on social media and even trudged the streets in the rain putting up posters but only a couple of people took it up. It hit me hard at the time, but I’ve bounced back from it and changed the way do things and have had more success since.
You offer fantastic flower workshops. I can’t keep a pot plant alive for a week! Is this something even I could benefit from?
My workshops are flower-based, rather than plants, as I’m no gardener either! I run them as small groups of up to 10 people in locations in the Cambridge area, at my studio, or people can book private classes for a group of friends at their own home.
Last year I did a Christmas wreath workshop in Kettering for a group of 12 friends. They all bought nibbles and drinks and after a few glasses of bubbly it got a bit rowdy, but they had a great time. I left about midnight that night!
My workshops usually take the form of a brief talk about the principles of floral design, followed by a demonstration of an arrangement. Then my students have a go themselves, with help from me.
People love the informal, friendly atmosphere and the chance to be creative. It’s wonderful to see the pride on their faces when they leave with what they made.
My next workshop, ‘A Foraged Fantasy‘, is being held at PAUS, just outside Bourn on Saturday 13 October. We’ll be going out foraging for berries and using them in our creations. It’s a great chance for people to reconnect with nature and bring it into their own home.
And finally, which local business would you like us to feature next month and why?
You should chat to Fiacre Muller from Spotlight Storytelling. He’s a great photographer and videographer. He did some of my photography and a little video of me on my website. The images he took are beautiful. As for the video, I was awful in front of the camera – nervous and fumbling my words – but he somehow calmed me down and edited the footage to make me sound interesting, passionate and, above all, coherent! That’s a real skill.
I hope you enjoyed reading the latest blog from the Cambridge Payroll loves… blog series, and a big thank you to Bridget for taking the time to answer my questions.
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