Family flower farm

by Karla Napoleon on Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Zoe Julian and her husband Ben live on the Isles of Scilly with their two children. They run a flower farm with Ben’s parents, Hilary and Andrew.

Old job: Zoe was a teacher. Ben was a manager for a commercial grower.
New job: Co-owners of Scent From The Islands, a flowers-by-post business.

“The advantages of working with your family outweigh the disadvantages. We have a range of talents and work well as a team.

My parents-in-law swapped London for a flower farm on the Isles of Scilly, and started by planting narcissi bulbs, then summer flowers. One day, a tourist asked if they could post the blooms and they ran with the idea.

When we joined the business, it had eight full-time workers. We were full of ideas, but Andrew and Hilary reined us back. That can be frustrating, but we have pushed them to do things they wouldn’t have done.

We wanted to change the website, so we redesigned it and relaunched it in 2006 to appeal to a wider range of customers.

Ben and I have learnt on the job. I deal with publicity, marketing and personnel, while he deals with IT and farm production. We’ve invested in a storage warehouse and six new ensuite rooms for staff, which cost £150,000 to build.

People are still buying flowers, but they’re not spending as much. We’re adamant we shouldn’t run scared, so haven’t cut our advertising and marketing budget. It’s more important now than ever.

We’ve won lots of awards and were named the Top Budget Florist in The Independent. I feel enormous pride in the company and love living on Saint Martins. It’s an idyllic life.”

For more: visit scillyflowers.co.uk

START-UP COSTS Nothing.
FIRST YEAR’S TURNOVER £640,000 (2002).
BEST MOVE Focusing on customer service.
WORST MOVE None… yet!
TOP TIP Have regular meetings – you may see family all the time, but you still forget to say things.

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