Meet Lesley Nash, funeral florist extraordinaire and owner of Jennifleurs florist in Colchester. With 26 years experience, Lesley has a sharp eye for good floral workmanship and the business brain for the finer details of retail floristry.
Why did you decide to join the Good Florist Guide’s advisory panel?
Actually if I’m honest it was more a case of being very flattered to be asked. Whilst I have 26 years experience, a high turnover shop and would consider myself to be pretty savvy business wise fundamentally my expertise is in commercial floristry. I’m always happy to pass on my experience in business along with the techniques I use in my floristry, particularly where bespoke floral tributes are concerned. Hopefully that’s why I was asked to be part of the panel?
What do you think you bring to the panel?
A good business head and an eye for profitable and appealing commercial floristry. That doesn’t necessarily mean high end design just honestly priced, quality floristry that wows the customer and makes a profit. I also think I’m extremely thorough when marking applications which means I take the job seriously and give an honest, objective opinion. I think all the panel have struggled having to be so critical especially when you see examples of florists doing a much better job with things like branding and social media than you have yourself but that has certainly spurred me on to improve things in my own business, which can only be a good thing.
Best business decision?
Easy question – leaving relay. Also the hardest decision but definitely one I’ve never looked back on.
Worst business decision?
Easy question – ever working as a supplier for a relay company.
If you weren’t a florist, what would you like to do?
RETIRE. Having said that I do have a desire to pass on my experience in floristry when I sell my shop so I suppose my answer is “do something other than retail floristry”..
Your perfect day?
Personally? Relaxing on a cruise ship. Filling my face with luxurious food on a cruise ship and, if I’m honest, simply relaxing on a cruise ship. Business wise? Getting to the end of a challenging job and knowing my customer will be blown away.
My hot tub, my hot tub, my hot tub and fabulous food.
What’s your biggest pet hate?
Unnecessarily rude people. I’m a softy at heart but I turn into a rattle snake if someone is out and out rude, especially to my staff.
Florist websites that have absolutely none of their own work on it. I’ve looked at applications from some absolutely amazing creative florists, their Facebook pages are crammed with individual, inspiring designs but when you look at their websites all you see is the same old stock images. These images say nothing about who they are or what an amazing, creative florist they are. It’s so easy to upload your own images to a website these days but it’s a score killer for me if I see nothing but stock images.
What do you find most difficult?
Accepting the fact I can’t physically do as much as I used to. I survived breast cancer a couple of years ago but the longterm effects of the treatment and surgery means I can’t swing from the chandelier or burn the candle at both ends anymore.
Is the customer always right?
I feel I want to say “yes” because as a general rule as long as I can do the job tastefully and they want to pay me I’ll do whatever they want. However, recently I had a bride bring me a picture of a bouquet which she asked me to recreate EXACTLY as it was shown. It was so terrible that after giving her all my best advice and her still insisting she wanted it EXACTLY like the picture. I had to say “I’m sorry but I’m not comfortable creating something I wouldn’t be happy to put my name to”. Based on that the answer has to be NO the customer is not always right.
Best piece of advice to someone starting out in the industry?
If you plan to open your own business from scratch do not be tempted to join a relay simply to establish a turnover. The work is soul destroying and even if you’re tight on your costings you’re barely looking at 10% profit. The biggest problem is once you’re invested in the branding etc it’s very difficult to get out. Invest your time building your own brand, never use your skills to promote someone else’s!
Be very careful if you’re buying an established business that has a high turnover of relay order sales. The shop may be busy but that turnover has so little profit that you should not be fooled in to thinking that means it’s a gold mine.
What are you most excited about in the next year?
I can’t wait to see The Good Florist Guide grow. There are countless florist directories but GFG is the only one that requires its entries to be evaluated and accessed before they’re allowed in. You can’t buy your way in to it you have to show that you’re good enough. I’m excited about the potential GFG has when promoting its credibility to the consumer and I’m equally excited about the opportunities that will arise from networking with fellow GFGers.
You’re stranded on a desert island, only one flower grows there, which would you choose?
I was gonna say daffodil ’cause you can eat them and I prefer food to flowers but I actually hate spring flowers so I’ll happily eat Witchetty grubs and fill my island with the sweet scent of Lily of the Valley which with a bit of luck will be enough to mask the inevitable effects of an upset tummy.
And finally, the plug…
I’ve been the owner of Jennifleurs in Colchester for the past 13 years, previous to that I had another florist for 13 years which I sold after a family breakup. Despite some ups and downs, some hard economic times and one or two poor business decisions my shop is thriving. I’ve been able to invest in new staff recently so I can take things slightly easier. I have a great team of 7 girls one of whom has been with me for over 20 years.
Our policy is to always offer a quality product and a friendly, personal service. I think that’s why Jennifleurs has been so successful. To my mind there’s a consumer out there that’s looking for more than just a cheap bunch of flowers. I believe I’ve catered for that whilst not getting caught up in being too niche.
Over the years I have become particularly known for my attention to detail and creative skills designing bespoke floral tributes. All my girls are as proficient as me hence I’m so proud of the l methods I use to get great results and my willingness and ability to pass those techniques on to the next generation. I hope I can continue to do that into my latter years.