Thursday, 9 January 2014
Joining flowery forces and growing a business
Yes I'm trying to do a bit more exercise, yes I'm trying to eat virtuously and all the other stuff we all vow every time January 1st rolls around. But perhaps more importantly on the flowery front, I've finally taken the plunge and joined Flowers From the Farm (FFTF), a network of British growers which has been at the heart of the upsurge of interest in locally grown flowers.
I always thought that self employment might be a lonely path and that I would miss the sociability of working with a bunch of other folk, but either I've become more self-contained in my old age, or my love of what I'm doing more than compensates for a lack of collegiate chat around the (often malfunctioning) photocopier. But in this internet age, I feel very much connected to a whole new lot of like-minded people who pop up on twitter every Monday evening, and who share questions, bulk buying opportunities and nuggets of advice via Google groups daily. I don't feel out on a limb, and I don't feel unsupported - it's all rather marvellous really! I feel happy in my work, fulfilled and in control of my own work life, even if I still need to sort out the financial aspects of it all a bit more systematically.
This time last year, I was nervously applying for farmer's market stalls for my flowers and looking in from the outside, feeling very much like a kid who'd just arrived at a new, and slightly scary, school. But now various markets and events are taken in my stride (most of the time!), I am on tweeting terms with lots of well-established growers and can even go "OOOOOH, it's Gill!" when she (Gill Hodgson, one of the founders of FTTF) appeared on Rachel de Thame's BBC feature on British cut flowers in last week's 'Great British Garden Revival' programme along with fellow flower tweeter, Rachael Petherham. Looking at Rachael's wedding jam jars, I felt a surge of pride that we grow such lovely things and make such lovely natural bunches!
Even better, next week is the great #britishflowers twitter meet up in Cullompton, Devon and I'm very much looking forward to meeting the actual people behind the tweets for the first time and having more than 140 characters to share ideas in! I'm also pleased to be hosting a flower tweeter from Glasgow later this year when she comes to do a wedding in Birmingham.
All of these lovely flowery networks help to nurture small enterprises and provide a very welcoming environment and an internet presence to promote the flowers we are all growing, on various scales. They have helped me grow (both flowers and confidence) over the last year and made such a difference in every way. The past year has seen me go from looking at Flowers from the Farm and thinking, "but I don't really qualify to join that group" to being a fully paid up member. And that, in a nutshell, sums up the experience of 2013. Looking forward to this one with my first wedding bookings in. May the sun shine on us all in the next twelve months!!