Florence Kennedy of Petalon Flowers

Kelly Perry - 00:01 - You are listening to the Team Flower podcast where we talk about flowers and the people who've dedicated their lives to sharing them with the world. My name is Kelly, founder of Team Flower, and I'll be your host today. Can a flower shop help save the bees? Today's guest Florence of Petalon in London is doing just that. On this episode we're highlighting a business that values both the earth and being practical and has found a way to do both. Simultaneously. Florence and I are chatting about organizing delivery program, sustainable packaging, affordable, interesting flavor combinations, business progression, and writing a book about flowers. We're also talking about a smart shelving unit for holding bouquets. If you sell takeaway bouquets at a shop or a farmer's market, I really think you'll enjoy hearing about her shelving solution. If you happen to be a farmer, you've probably already got all the supplies you need to do a similar setup at home. 

Kelly Perry - 00:57 - It's all right here on the Team Flower podcast. This podcast is brought to you by the 2018 Team Flower conference called the future of our industry. We're gathering in March of 2018 at the reunion resort in Florida to be purposeful about where our industry is headed in the legacy we will leave behind for the next century of floral industry professionals. Online resources can only take you so far. Nothing can replace being in a room with people like you. Get connected in a mastermind group. Enjoy stage presentations and panels and speaking to what our industry will grow to look like during our lifetime. You can find the most up to date information@teamflower.org slash conference. 

Kelly Perry - 01:40 - Hi everyone. I have Florence from Petalon here in London and she is going to be answering a few questions for us about her shop and about what she does with flowers. Welcome. 

Florence Kennedy - 01:40 - Hello. 

Kelly Perry - 01:54 - So great to have you here today. Oh, thanks so much for having me. Yeah, absolutely. Well, one of the, one of the key things about your shop, and it is very apparent in your name, um, is that you deliver your flowers on bikes, so you're pedaling with flowers and you also have a bike pedals that you're riding along on through the streets of London. Um, which is so fun, it's not only friendly to the environment, but it's really fun for a passer by to see as they're walking to work and things like this. And I was just wondering, um, how do you feel like this delivery method, you know, your face to face with a lot of people on a daily basis with those bikes. And I was wondering if you think that this helps maybe create a little bit of buzz in your market or just what kind of feedback you get from the people in town? 

Florence Kennedy - 02:38 - Yeah, I mean it's really, we started delivering by bicycle purely from a logistical point of view. So I'm in London, may have to pay a congestion charge as a vehicle, so if you're, if you're in the center of London, New York having to pay money to be there. Whereas obviously bikes don't have to pay that and we don't have pay for petrol and parking and it just, um, it just logistically made a lot more sense. And my, my husband has a bike business which is kind of how the idea came about. And um, and yeah, and so we never really set out to be this kind of green company, but, and I hate using that word green, but you know, flowers themselves that they're not that friendly for the environment. The fact that, you know, pesticides are used and there's lots of stuff that as a florist you can't control, but, um, but actually our delivery methods and having their packaging that is biodegradable and recyclable, um, kind of is in our control. 

Florence Kennedy - 03:40 - So it kind of just felt like the more responsible thing to do. But then when we started we had these big trailers and had branding on the side, um, which was great, you know, because we didn't exactly have an advertising budget. That's how people would often hear about us as ecs cycling around with flowers. But then, um, they made or the cycle lanes bigger for normal bikes. And actually the trailers couldn't fit on either the road or the cycle path because they would make too big for the cycle path. And then, uh, and then it took up too much space for the traffic. So we had to kind of rethink things. And we were just spending so much time in traffic jams that, um, that then we switched to backpacks, which has actually been great because the riders can nip through the traffic really easily. Um, um, yeah, 

Kelly Perry - 04:28 - I've seen those on your instagram, the big flower backpacks. I mean they are intense. 

Florence Kennedy - 04:36 - and it does make people smile and you know, like contrary to popular belief, it doesn't rain that much in London even though that is Kinda the image you have a bit. But uh, but yeah, so it's not that bad with kind of wet weather stuff, but we've got covers and things that we pop on. But um, but yeah, it works much better and it's so quick for the riders to kinda scoot through town, drop off flowers and not have to worry about finding parking spaces and, and all that, just so I'm quite really well. 

Kelly Perry - 05:05 - That's awesome. Well, with doing a lot of them deliveries. It takes time. And I was wondering how you coordinate those flower handoffs to keep it really efficient for you. Do you see every client that you're dropping flowers off to? You just set them at doorstops. How do you handle that? 

Florence Kennedy - 05:20 - It totally depends on the place that we're delivering. So obviously we do a mix of residential and commercial, so a lot of our, of our deliveries, we're going to big office blocks and some of them are going to huge banks in the city and you know, we've delivered flowers once. It got x rayed for security. Okay. And then the other ones will be you know a dude at number 56. So it's a real kind of mix of the customers that we have and they kind of need different things. So basically I just try and think of it. If I was the person sending the flowers, what would put me at ease is that I'd know who you handed the flowers to at that massive bank. So getting a name of someone, they've often got these huge kind of postal rooms and things do get lost. So if you've got something that people can kind of track because for security reasons we can't always give it to the person who they're intended for. 

Florence Kennedy - 06:14 - Um, and then if it's for residential quite often, you know, people aren't men or if it's their birthday they've gone out for the day and things like that. So, um, so it's just about giving choice, you know, do you want us to hide them a new recycling box or do you want us to give them to your neighbor or should we just hide them kind of on the doorstep so that they're out of view from the street and everyone's houses are different. Some people live on the fifth floor of a block of flats and other people have whole houses, so it's kind of not a one size fits all. So kind of a, there's a real disparity between kind of how we, we deal with each delivery. 

Kelly Perry - 06:52 - Okay. And do you just deliver on one day a week, one day of the week or certain timeframes? How do you organize it in terms of timing? 

Florence Kennedy - 06:59 - So we take all orders every morning, Monday to Friday, and then the right is all come at lunchtime and then they take them all through town throughout the afternoon and then lost deliveries at 6:00 PM. 

Kelly Perry - 07:10 - Okay, perfect. So one of my favorite things about your shop and the setup is the way that you're holding and displaying these finished bouquets. 

Florence Kennedy - 07:19 - Complete accident. They're hay feeders, Animal Hay feeders. But I didn't realize that the bouquets would fit through the gaps so snugly, but just the more and more quantities we did, you can't really have them all on the floor. So, uh, yeah, it just kind of made more sense. But um, but it looks lovely. I'm very pleased with the outcome. 

Kelly Perry - 07:44 - Yeah. Here in the states for some of those who maybe haven't seen the pictures of what that looks like, but you can pop onto the instagram to see those. But we call it cattle fencing here. So yeah, just different names for the same. Yep. Yep. And then it just like shelving that has that and then the bouquets go right in between. And I think for people who are setting up, like here in the states, we have farmer's markets and things like that where people are, their primary product that they're selling are bouquets and it, it, it can't be a little bit challenging to figure out how to keep them all upgrade so that they are in that little bit of water reserve and things like that. And I'm not going, you know, all about. So I love that. And um, of course your packaging materials, like you had mentioned earlier, using the burlap and all of those things, the recyclable materials, I think all of that is really a fantastic. 

Florence Kennedy - 08:38 - It's great. The, um, I think you call it burlap. Well, yeah. Hesi and burlap is the, um, is that it was purely to, to keep them safe on delivery because obviously they're going and trailers and backpacks and things that we didn't want the petals to bruise. So it's just really good that it looks quite 

Kelly Perry - 08:59 - nice. Yeah. And I think what's really fun about those weekly bouquets is the variety of flowers that you include in them. Whenever I've popped on your website and seeing, you know, the options that you have primarily you just have, you have two different designs that you offer each week and then two different sizes. Is that correct? 

Florence Kennedy - 09:14 - That's right, yeah. 

Kelly Perry - 09:15 - Okay. And you have so many different types of blooms in those bouquets, which I love. I bet it's the first time that some of the people who've received them have ever experienced that flower unless maybe they're an avid gardener. 

Florence Kennedy - 09:29 - I think that's kind of why we did it was when I'm trying to find bouquets that we're at kind of a lower price point and that kind of someone of my means at the time of setting up could afford it. You cannot, you can. There's so many beautiful florists in London, but it's very expensive to get flowers delivered and it's understandable because they're using expensive flowers and they have to hire someone's come and deliver the flowers and you know, all these things take money. So, um, the idea was that you just make a smaller bouquet with one stem of lots of interesting flowers that you can't get at your local supermarket or you know, they're just slightly more expensive maybe, but you know, that. Interesting. And that was kind of the premise for the beginning. 

Kelly Perry - 10:16 - Yeah, yeah, exactly. And with just offering, you know, two designs but ever changing designs, you're still offering your customers, you know, a lot of variety over the course of the year. But it also cuts down on waste a little bit. You know, we treat the shop because you're not having to do all these different color palettes and things. 

Florence Kennedy - 10:34 - Well that was the original thing was I kind of set the business up when a real shoestring. So, um, it was a pity I couldn't afford any waste at the beginning. Um, and my kind of thing was only having two choices is if you really don't like pink, then the other bunch won't be pink or you know, if you don't want white flowers then the other bunch will be colorful. And it's never been a problem before. No one's ever sort of said, oh, I wish there was more choice because also selfishly I want to design something else the next week. If we just did kind of three months at a time of the same 10 bouquets, I think we'd all get a bit bored in the studio. It's nice to, to change it up each week. 

Kelly Perry - 11:17 - Yeah. So many great reasons for taking that approach. I love it. Well, I was wondering what one of your favorite responses has been from somebody who received flowers from you? 

Florence Kennedy - 11:30 - Um, we get such lovely emails. I'm trying to think of if there's a one that kinda stands out alone, but um, because whenever the delivery riders deliver bunches, they'll always send an email confirmation to saying they've been left with Dave or whatever, just so that the sender knows that they've arrived and if we've had to kind of leave them anywhere, then we always send a photo of where it is. Um, and then it just means that we get a really lovely email response back, which I kind of feel that it's maybe some of the large, big companies here in the UK, they don't get to have that, that side of it. So it's really nice to be able to be able to get that. 

Kelly Perry - 12:10 - Again, another, another multi, a multi use piece. They get to know where their flowers delivered in, that kind of thing. And then you're also getting feedback. It makes it easy for them to give you a little bit of feedback and tell you about, you know, what they loved about the flowers, which I really love. It keeps that customer connection there.

Florence Kennedy - 12:31 - It's lovely and also, you know, in this age of social media and instagram especially, you know, flowers are incredibly visual and when you get a bunch of flowers you, you kind of do want to show off about it because it's a treat and it's special and you know, it might because it's your birthday. So we get a lot of people will tag us on Instagram of pictures of our flowers. So you get to see them in their new homes or um, or that kind of thing, which is always really special. 

Kelly Perry - 12:59 - That's so fun. I love that. Well, in addition to doing these bouquet deliveries that you're really well known for, you've also had a natural demand for wedding flowers that have come out of people experiencing those weekly bouquets. And I imagine that maybe the workshops that you also do have come that way as well. I was just wondering if you could talk a little bit about how that has progressed and how um, you've just, you've sort of let that market demand guide where your business was headed a little bit. 

Florence Kennedy - 13:30 - Yeah. I think um, I've never started a business before. It was all pretty new and I think it was never my intention to be a wedding florist or kind of have a sharp or do events and things because you know, you start out with it's very clear business plan in your head that you going to do a flower delivery company. But I think part of kind of growing as a business is trying to be flexible and be able to kind of take a step back and look at what people actually want and what they're using you for. And we, yeah, we did a couple of weddings at the beginning and it was just, it was so much fun and the brides would just so lovely. I think it was just something really lovely about helping someone create that that day and that kind of dream wedding that they have in their head. 

Florence Kennedy - 14:18 - And the great thing is about weddings in London, I guess weddings anywhere is that they're all so different and you know, you have ones where they've just taken over an east London pub and you know, there's just flowers everywhere and it's relaxed and whatever. And then you have these kind of big formal ones and, and all sorts. And I think the beauty of being able to do the wedding flowers that are want to do is that it's not our bread and butter, it's not the main core part of the business. So it's a kind of, it's a really nice addition. But if we don't book weddings for a month, it doesn't, it doesn't matter, but, which is also meant that if you get a bridezilla or someone you just don't really connect with, you don't have to do it. It's, you know, you can turn down business and it doesn't feel churlish or, and then you know, you get to choose the products were sort of the projects where you feel like they've come to you because they like your style rather than it's convenient or the price is right or, or any kind of other reasons. 

Florence Kennedy - 15:20 - So, um, it's been really, it's been a real learning curve and it's been really enjoyable. And for me personally, I think being able to work out creative kind of, yeah, I guess what your creative start is and what you like and don't like. Um, yeah, which has been really good fun. So, um, yeah, that's kind of the part of the business that I concentrate on now. So even though I designed the two bouquets each month, each week, the um, the girls in the studio and make up, the bulk of them we've got riders now. So I don't need to go on delivery anymore, we have a kind of flower delivery manager who, um, make sure that everyone gets the bunches that they're meant to and they have the right messages and that the riders know their roots and it's lovely that I've been able to step back from that side and be able to kind of delegate and then be able to deal with kind of the more creative side of stuff, which is really fun. 

Kelly Perry - 16:14 - Yeah. I love how you've set that up and your wildly creative. I love the pictures that I've seen of the weddings that you've done. They're all so different and so interesting. And you've written a book recently that's, that's coming out very soon and I love this book because it really goes into a lot of the details and mechanics behind some of these installations and then some even more basic pieces. So whether you're beginning and flowers or maybe you're more advanced. I, I love the range that this covers. It's super fun. I was wondering what your favorite part of the book is and then I'm going to tell you what mine is.

Florence Kennedy - 16:55 - So I only managed to hold a hard copy of it, kind of a couple of days ago, arrived in the post. It's very exciting. Um, but yeah, hugely. Yeah, hugely touched to be to be asked to write it and um, it was kind of quite cathartic getting to write out because it's, it might, there's no kind of real wrong or right with flowers sometimes and I feel like this is just sort of my journey of how I figured things out. So I'm sure there'll be florists like why is she doesn't like that surely should be like this, but this was just kinda like how, how it came to be with us and um, and how I went down. So yeah, hopefully it will save some people some kind of tears and time. Yeah. Well my favorite part to do, I think the autumn chapter was my favorite. It was a really good kind of seasonal produce around at that time where you get that kind of late summer vibe with everything. 

Kelly Perry - 17:54 - The colors are fantastic. 

Florence Kennedy - 17:58 - Super kinda. Yeah. Just lovely new to things. And I just been to see my dad and he's got this orchard is an overstatement, but he has quite a few fruit cheese and uh, and yeah, and I just hacked off of branches before we came home and then made this kind of arts with them and yeah, it was one of my favorite things just because it was a bit unexpected and it's Kinda nice to use ingredients that have a bit of a story which can be hard when you're sourcing all your flowers in them in a major city. But um, being able to use stuff from kind of my dad's garden was really special. Yeah. I enjoyed that.

Kelly Perry - 18:35 - Well I love the meadow table display that you have a good friend. It's simple. It's beautiful. Yeah, it's not a hard project. It's one of my favorite things to do and the colors and everything that you used in that. It just was so lovely and it was just, it was very cheerful. Made me feel happy. So thank you for doing that. I appreciate it. So sweet. Whenever I'm. It's interesting with flowers that we get to a lot of times create an emotional response in people and, and bring joy to people. I've never seen anybody that's frowned whenever they've held flowers they were getting.

Florence Kennedy - 19:14 - And that's the best thing about it. That's what the riders love about it as well. So, uh, so all our riders, for our deliveries, a lot of them are kind of freelancers or setting up their own business or they're waitresses as well or yoga teachers, so they kind of fit it in around other kind of part time or, or kind of starting out projects and uh, they just say that, yeah, it's just so nice that you're, you're not handing over a bill or a uh, or boring piece of post or something, you know, and whoever receives and even if it's the receptionist who they're not even for. It makes people smile and I think it's really nice to be able to do that. 

Kelly Perry - 19:51 - Oh, I love that. Well, is there anything else that you have coming up on Petalon that you would like to chat about while we're here today? That was the last question that I had for you. 

Florence Kennedy - 20:03 - I guess the book is just the main kind of new exciting thing for us. Um, we're moving to an event space which is kind of the next stage, which is really exciting. So I'm, the studio will stay where it is, but it just means for our workshops that we're going to have a bit more space and then it gets used a lot for kind of shoots and, and events and stuff as well. So that's happening in May. Um, so yeah, it's an older, it's an old dairy for the cows that used to be on the masters just on the edge of London where we are in, um, in Hackney. It's a very surreal building for, um, yeah, I'm really excited about it. 

Kelly Perry - 20:43 - Okay. So that'll be available to host like, if you want it to have your wedding, there would be a place that you could do your workshop 

Florence Kennedy - 20:52 - Yeah workshops and events and stuff. So, um, we've got quite a few kind of, um, the East London has got quite a lot of food events. We've got a couple of them booked in and yoga things as well. So a really exciting. 

Kelly Perry - 21:06 - Oh, very good. Well, thanks so much for coming on and sharing all that with us today. This has been really fun to have you here.

Florence Kennedy - 21:06 - Thanks for having me. 

Kelly Perry - 21:15 - Thanks so much for listening and remember the deep importance of the work you do. A flower is not just a flower. It's a conduit for passing the hope and love inside your heart to the people you share them with.

Natalya & Fiona of PYRUS

In Full Flower