Name: Nicky Paul
Role: Weddings and events florist and retail shop owner, Paradise Blooms
Where did you grow up? Birmingham
Where do you work? Birmingham and beyond
I’m a former primary school teacher specialising in children with special needs. While teaching, I studied interior design. I think I’m a naturally creative person, so I’ve explored a few creative paths. I started an evening course at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and I fell under the floral spell! It was all very new and exciting.
I didn’t work in any other shops before starting my own business but I wouldn’t advise this, as I’ve found hands-on experience is invaluable. I’ve been working as a full-time florist with my own shop for two years now. Before that I worked on my business part time – so I’m still quite a newbie.
What is the best thing about your job?
I think there are two things. The first thing is that you get to be creative every day. The second thing is that you get to play a part in people’s life events. Whether it’s their weddings, their funerals, or even a bouquet for someone’s birthday, I always feel really touched to be a part it.
What is the biggest challenge?
It’s freezing and I hate being cold! Flowers need to be kept in cool conditions and I’m a natural fair-weather person, I don’t enjoy the damp and washing out cold buckets. Conditioning flowers takes a long time – especially when you’re standing in a cold shop!
Trying to be eco-friendly while running a commercial business can be challenging. There’s a lot of wastage in the industry in terms of packaging and how flowers are distributed, so that’s something that I think should be changed. Most of them come wrapped in plastic cellophane so I try to do my bit and wrap my flowers in biodegradable cellophane and craft paper. I’m trying to use more foam-free designs.
Another challenge is trying to educate the public on the cost of flowers, which has recently gone through the roof due to various reasons outside of our control. People have a cost expectation in their head, so when the wholesale price of flowers goes up it’s difficult trying to produce bouquets that look the same, and the same size and standard, while maintaining your own style. I do use quite a lot of luxury flowers, which can add to the challenge.
What advice would you offer to newcomers?
Practise as much as you can as it allows you to develop your own style.