Name: Farima Perry
Role: CEO and Founder of Farima Perry Florals & Events, solicitor at Perry’s Law
Where did you grow up? I was born in north London, I’m from an Indian family
Where do you work? London, and we just opened a new boutique in Essex
I’m a relative newcomer to the floral world as I was a banking lawyer for 15 years before starting my flower business, and I’m still practising law but this time supporting wedding and events companies.
When I was young, despite having great schooling, as an Asian it was a challenge to get a training contract to practice as a solicitor, so I knew I needed to set myself apart from everyone else and pursued a banking and finance degree first before undertaking a law degree. Thankfully I made it and I progressed to work with the most prestigious global magic circle law firms and blue-chip banks as a banking lawyer. Whilst I faced those pitfalls in the world of law, I had no reservations when I came into floristry. Not only has the world changed since then but I knew my background would help as I can cater to all markets – we create Muslim, Hindu, western, fusion and all types of events, which has been a massive asset.
My experience has also paid out as I had confidence from seniority in my earlier career. My previous clients were CEOs of banks and big companies, so I’ve learnt how to talk to anyone without feeling neither inferior nor superior. If you go into something thinking there will be prejudice it can bring you down, but when people sense confidence, they trust you.
After nearly 15 years I began to feel less enthusiastic in my legal career and I wanted to do something for me; something creative. Whilst working as a lawyer I travelled a lot – Hong Kong, New York, Singapore – and I would see beautiful flowers everywhere. They quite literally cheered me up. I had a eureka moment and took a flower course and soon afterwards I left my job. I had zero experience running a business, but I knew I’d love the events aspect, so I took a wedding planning accreditation course in America and several floristry diplomas in the UK.
In 2018 I opened a boutique in London’s Belsize Park and it exploded from then on; we became big incredibly quickly. As I started at a later stage in life, I knew I couldn’t spend ten years building it from the ground up. Instead, I put everything into the business and I hired highly trained senior florists from the outset to help me and to bring me up – choosing the best people I could possibly find who themselves had many years’ experience. For me, it was about creating a brand and building a business with flowers, which is where my background came in.
We spent a lot of money on the first boutique, but it did enable us to build a brand that is now considered a top florist. It was a massive gamble but I wasn’t naïve; I knew it would be hard work and I knew I had skills to bring to the table, including business acumen and of course ascertaining and carrying risks. We took huge risks!
I pushed forwards and wanted to excel even more because of how much I craved a change from my legal career. I thought, “I’ve given it all up, so I better make it work!” Within three months I had a call from Condé Nast, the media company behind Vogue and Brides, inviting me to create something for the Brides show. I didn’t believe it! Our display even won the editors award and on the same night I was contacted by Fleurs de Villes, a Canadian event, inviting me to take part in their London showcase which involved partnering with luxury brands, where we won the Florist Choice Award.
We had our first destination wedding in Florence within six months, and more weddings took off from there. We became synonymous with luxury, which was always my aim, and in 2019 Harvey Nichols invited us to open a concession in their famous department store in Knightsbridge – we decorated the outside of one of their entrances which led to our store.
Just before Covid hit we decided to close both London branches, and during lockdown we donated floral rainbow installations to the NHS. At the moment we’re busy working on a wedding in collaboration with Hello magazine and Bridelux for an NHS couple and I’m donating and covering the cost of all the staff, flowers and decor to create a spectacular floral dream at the Rosewood Hotel.
Next, in the summer of 2020 we opened a new boutique in Loughton, Essex. A member of my team lives locally and could tell the area was dying for a luxury florist, so I offered her the role to manage it. I have so much trust and faith in my team and she was right – it’s completely booming.
Now, we’re about to open a new concession in Canary Wharf and in the meantime I have joined the UK Weddings Taskforce as their General Counsel, using my legal expertise to support the industry’s fight in navigating out of the pandemic. I have also started a company called Perry’s Law where I advise wedding companies and suppliers in their legal matters.
With three businesses running at once I work 17 hours a day, but I love it. I believe it’s not just talent that brings success: it’s about having a really strong work ethic, making decisions that are right for you, knowing how to take risks, and most important of all, having a great team who share your vision.
What is the best thing about your job?
That every job and every client is different. Plus, one surprising and delightful aspect is that a lot of my wedding clients have become really good friends. As a wedding planner you sometimes have to be a counsellor of sorts; clients put a lot of trust in you, and I think they start to see you as somewhere between a parent and a friend.
What’s the biggest challenge?
There are many things that are all challenging at the same time, but to pinpoint a specific aspect I would say destination weddings. They can be described as ‘runaway trains’ because you never know what you’re going to get. There are so many backstops with planning, designing, coordination and logistics, but they’re also the most satisfying as you know they’ll love it when it’s done.
What advice would you give to newcomers?
Work hard and target a specific market. Don’t try to diversify too much, even at the beginning. Instead, choose the market you want to focus on and specialise in that – be it economy, middle market or luxury. Remember, they all earn money and in fact a four-star hotel usually makes more revenue or has more turnover than a five-star hotel!
Finally, the best advice I can give is to surround yourself with people who are better than you in every field; they will have an impact on your goals. People whose behaviour is better than yours, people that are brighter than you – they will lift you up. I aim for this throughout every aspect of life.