Arrange Floral Fantasies with Peonies from Pluto
“I try to have fun with it, so if I'm not enjoying what I'm making then I don't make something to my best ability.”
Our interview with Alice
From starting her floristry business in a shop, to selling flowers from a horsebox, Alice shares with us how she created Peonies from Pluto. Her journey hasn’t been all roses, but her passion and enthusiasm are what shine through when starting a business.
Twill: How did you break free from the 9-5?
Alice: It was completely by accident. I took a floristry course to gain more experience within the industry. One thing led to another, and the florist who I was working for became pregnant, so she stopped working for a while. I had no work, and I thought we had to keep going with the business.
Twill: What motivates you about your business?
Alice: I have to play around and find the excitement in stuff, hence my logo being my cat with a flower crown. Maybe I have more fun with it because I wasn't expecting a business to come out of it. Perhaps I was looser with my ideas and not set on something in particular, so I definitely think that helps make it unique as well.
Running your own business is all about balance. Whilst it’s important to get the workload done, it’s equally as important to have fun and enjoy the process.
Twill: What does your day-to-day consist of?
Alice: It’s quite a lot harder than when I had the shop in the high street, because now I’m temporarily running my floristry business from a horsebox. My days consist of early starts because everything I have on display outside the horsebox goes back in at night. Then in the mornings, I have to get it all back out, so physically it's quite hard work.
Then it's conditioning flowers, making up any orders for the day, thinking about any events in the week (like weddings or funerals, other things that I might have to pre-order for), replying to emails, answering the phone … the list goes on!
Twill: What makes Peonies from Pluto unique?
Alice: I’d say the horsebox was the highlight for a lot of people because it looks like a little gingerbread house – it’s really cute and pink. All of my branding is pink; I have a pink van and my wrapping is pink, so I feel like that's a selling point.
I suppose it's quirky; people want to come and visit because it's different. It's just a bit weird really, but I think that helps as a selling point. I also try to make my designs very different to supermarket flowers because I think, why would you buy from me if you could just go and get them on your weekly food shop?
What makes your product stand out from the rest is an important factor in the running of any business. Branding is another key element – with Peonies from Pluto, the theme of pink and cats makes the branding stand out.
Twill: What obstacles have you faced so far?
Alice: I run my flower business from a horsebox in a newsagent car park, so of course there are obstacles. There's a lack of space; I have to bring all my stock out everyday, put it all away again and it's absolutely freezing right now. Flowers don't like the cold. But I've done it all without any loans from banks. I've been very lucky that I had savings I was able to use to do it all.
Obstacles are part of the process. They reveal the parts of the business that need fine-tuning and help us to learn, adapt and become more experienced entrepreneurs.
Twill: How have you found going solo?
Alice: I’ve learned that you must always trust your gut. If you have the slightest inkling that something won't work, it won't because your heart won't be in it. I have also learned to take risks – there have been some amazing things that I've been able to do because I haven't played it safe when I normally would. I kind of contradicted myself there saying always trust your gut, but equally there's this fine line.
Twill: How capital intensive are you finding it?
Alice: I believe it depends on your business. I work with flowers which are perishable and they are a luxury. I have to buy flowers fresh every day, so whatever I don't sell at the end of the day will either get reduced or thrown if it's too old. My (literal) dead stock is probably a lot more wastage than someone who maybe does something online. Also, I think if you've got the online presence from the get-go that's amazing.
Twill: Where do you currently export to?
Alice: I can now distribute all bouquets nationwide using freight shipping services - except for Northern Ireland, I can't get over the sea yet. One day I’ll hopefully use ocean shipping to distribute further afield.
Twill: Any advice for other budding entrepreneurs?
Alice: Do it. If you find yourself in the financial position then yes, one hundred percent go for it. There are things I've done where I look back and think ‘that was a great choice’ or ‘I shouldn’t have done that’, but I did. Those things have perhaps led me to something better and I don't necessarily know it – it's just this magical little scenario that I think happens.
I think a lot of people assume businesses have to be serious, and I never until five years ago would have thought I’d have my own business. I thought it would be too hard and too much responsibility. Then it just kind of evolved and it happened. Literally, every day is just a little extra slice of business happiness.