Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Somewhere

over the rainbow :)

I (and the other guys here) had heard talk about a rose known as a rainbow rose; we have seen photographs of such a rose, but until today I had never seen one in the flesh.  Being the bright, vibrant person I am, I think they are great; one of the guys thinks they are awful (the jury is out on the others). However one thing I am not convinced about is whether the dye used in them will run or not.  As the colour is taken up through the stem (check out this wikipedia link for how they apparently colour the petals - although don't 100% trust what's said as it's a given that wikipedia is known to not always be correct).  The reason I mention the colour running is because after de-thorning them all (there were an awful lot of thorns on the things too) I noticed my hands were covered in coloured *grime*.  I can only assume this grime has come from the leaves that are also coloured (although not in the same way the flower itself is).  I can only assume if this dye was to get wet and drip, there could be many a table cloth, or carpet that would be ruined. I am hopeful this won't be the case as I would dearly love to offer them for sale in the shop, but until I know for sure they will remain a one-off. We were specifically asked to get them in for a lady that has had them before, so should hopefully know how the colour is on them.  I do know a lot of shops sell them, but they also sell the dyed oak and eucalyptus leaves (which I personally think are beautiful) but refuse to send out in orders as I have myself experienced how the dye runs and ruins things. It's a shame as they are sold to us with the promise the colours have been stabalized but sadly this is not the case. There must be florists out there that have been sued by customers; of that I am certain. This is why I won't use them in orders.

So back to the rainbow rose. It's created quite a stir in the shop that's for sure, and even though it's not out for sale, and is in fact tucked round the corner, everyone that has been in has noticed them (must be the colours). What do you all think?










Take one of the above ivory roses.... add someone who thinks outside the box... add them a pot or 2 of coloured dye and you get....


 



A rainbow rose (or 8 as there are in the photograph above). 

Aren't they just fab? I love how each one is different. You could honestly say to someone if you were to buy them a bouquet of these, that each is unique. No 2 will ever be the same.  But then I guess you can say that about anything. While some may look similar there will never be anything identical. The difference with these roses is nobody knows what colour is going to affect which petal; whether it will stay a true colour, or if it will blend with another to give something completely different.

I am sure they are just a novelty for now that will quite possibly fade out in a year or 2, but for now I hope they stick around a while. What better way to brighten up a dull, dismal day than with a vaseful of these bright beauties?



Saturday, 27 October 2012

Floral design brochures.

I had a delightful bride in earlier this week. We're quite lucky I must admit with our brides; it's very unusual for us to have a Bridezilla. We did have a bride not so long ago though,  that throughout the whole consultation kept checking her phone and looking around. I ended up dealing with her Mum as it was obvious she just couldn't be bothered, and I felt as though I was wasting her time, rather than the fact she was wasting mine.  Her wedding wasn't until 11 months further down the line, but she was informed that we will only accept so many bookings for one day. Not a word was heard and so I assumed she had gone elsewhere (we were about the 10th shop she had visited for a consultation). Then 5 weeks before the wedding she came in to verify everything and book us. By this time we were already fully booked and you should have heard how she huffed, puffed and kicked off at me because I hadn't held the day for her.  You just can't win them all.
 
Anyway; I digress.  Our bride this week came in armed with photographs of flowers she had downloaded from all over the internet. I love brides when they do this as it really does give me an insight into the styles and colours they would like (although some can be so diverse it's obvious the bride just likes a certain colour, rather than a particular style).  As we were chatting she mentioned that another florist she had visited had produced this massive professional wedding guide of varying styles for brides to look through. She asked if I had anything like this. The answer to that question is a big NO.
 
My reasons for not purchasing these books and guides are because the work in them is not mine; it hasn't been made by me or anyone working with me. Anyone (from a great aunt down the street; to an office worker who needs something to do at the weekend) can buy these guides. However, just because they have this gorgeous bound catalogue, a large comfy sofa in their shop/studio (or even their lounge) doesn't mean they are capable of making any of the bouquets in said book. I actually know of 2 women that did 6 courses at a local night school on flower arranging, who then decided they were florists, so bought a shop that was for sale. They turned it into a designer paradise; they bought every exclusive bridal floral guide going. They talked brides through different flowers from a calla lily to a phalaenopsis; they talked the talked brilliantly. What they couldn't do was produce the work the brides were then ordering. They had no idea where to start, or the skills to construct the bouquets they were talking their brides in to; this left some very upset brides on their wedding morning.
 
This is the reason I will never purchase one of these books. I have photographs of the designs I have made (one day they will be printed in a professional looking book) and I will only ever show a bride photographs of my work. This way I can guarantee to them that I am capable of making they design they want for the most important day of their life. They know they can book me with absolute confidence.  I am sure I have lost out on wedding orders in the past because I didn't have the sofa and brochure, but at least I know every wedding we have booked, the brides have left the shop confident in the knowledge that I am more than capable of making the bouquet of their dreams.
 
It's the same with costs; I know I have lost out on orders because I don't charge the extortionate prices these other shops (the ones with the brochures and sofas) charge. I find this sad because we all use the same wholesalers so it doesn't mean I am cheaper because I am buying a lower grade flower; I just don't see the point in out-pricing myself. In fact I know of some shops who charge 3 (maybe 4) times more than I do that actually buy a lower grade flower than the ones I buy (I will only buy the top grade, best quality); when I've pulled these other shops up on it the response has been "Well they only need to last a day". They may be charging £120 where I would charge £45 and yet their attitude is "they only need to last a day". I find this shocking.
 
I guess it's like everything in life; it's not always about looks. Something can look totally amazing but be of the lowest grade you could ever find; something else may be a bit more relaxed but will give you exactly what you are looking for.
 
The old saying works perfectly for this "Never judge a book by it's cover".
 
 

Monday, 22 October 2012

Wear your poppy with pride

It's that time of year again. The time when poppies are in the shops (ours are on the main serving counter in front of the cards if anyone wants one). A time for us all to remember; not only those brave men and women that fought in the 1st and 2nd world war; during 1982 and the Falklands conflict, or the 1991 Gulf war (and many more in between), but also our brave military personnel deployed overseas fighting on distant shores as I type.

Yes I blogged about Remembrance Day last year; I will be blogging about it this year (as you're reading now). I will continue to blog about it for as long as the shop is running and I am in charge of it. Whether we agree with our troops being stationed overseas; whether we think they should be home protecting our own shores; whether you think it's "out of sight, so out of mind" remember these brave men and women are fighting on our behalf. They're fighting so that we can remain free to have our own voices; our own ideas and opinions. If it wasn't for those brave souls that have fought (and died) in wars fighting for us our freedom, or those currently deployed we could be living in a country of tyranny; a country where having a difference of opinion could get you shot; or thrown into a rat infested prison cell for the rest of your lives. It was their sacrifices that gave us what we have now.


I am sure some of you believe that we might have better off had we not won the wars; but we did win them. We won them with great sacrifice and massive loss of life. Those souls gave their lives for us to have the freedom to question whether we are better off or not. How can we repay them? By wearing our poppy with pride of course. By educating our children and future generations about why we have poppies to wear in the first place. Our children lead charmed lives in this day and age, because of their forefathers sacrifice. They (and all of us) should be reminded of this. 

"Lest we forget" is the slogan used by the Royal British Legion on their remembrance day advertising; and so true. We must never forget how our brave troops are dying and being maimed for us to have our freedom. We must never forget that without them our world would be so different. These veterans; their families and all future vets deserve our respect; so pop into a shop, pop a pound or 2 (less if you can't afford it; more if you can) into the poppy collection tins, and Wear your poppy with pride. 
 
I am lucky enough to be traveling over to France exactly a fortnight from today, to visit Dunkerque; the Normandy beaches, The Somme and many places in between. I will be there for the week before Remembrance Sunday (I come home on the Sunday itself). While there I will visit the cemetery where my great uncle Frank is laid to rest. He was 18 when he was killed in the first world war. He lied about his age to enlist; this deception cost him his life. I will be wearing my poppy with pride the whole time I am there. I hope back here you will be wearing yours too. 

Thursday, 18 October 2012

and Instagram

We bit the bullet (as they say) this morning, and have set ourselves up with Instagram (well Sarah set it up and pretty much spent all day playing with it trying to link it to Facebook, Twitter and anywhere else it is possible to share things). No wonder she has to work so late in the evenings and start so early in the mornings, to get all our floristry jobs completed.  Have to admit it's quite lucky she is able to work her way round these things though (including this blog) as the internet and social media are such big business these days, it seems the only way to go. While we will never deny the more chances we have of reaching out to potential new customers is a great thing for any business (but especially for a small one like ourselves) we also find it quite scary just how the world is moving, and what an impact social media has made on peoples lives. We do feel sorry for anyone that hasn't got the technology know how to keep up with all the different streaming things there are; it will be a shame for them to get caught out and left behind. 

Anyway; below is a copy of our first offering. A nice, smiley happy photo we thought (and not bad for a close up taken on a phone - not a proper camera - and also of an artificial flower).




If you have instagram and want to follow us just do a search for Moonstones Florist to find us.  We will also be uploading the photos to an album in Picasa (and we think we may have a flikr account somewhere too). There should be a link on the main blog page to our picasa albums, so if you don't have instagram but want to keep up with the photos we are sharing you can find them on there, or on our new Facebook page (we need friends on this one so feel free to add us). 

Smiley Sunflowers

and Instagram

We bit the bullet (as they say) this morning, and have set ourselves up with Instagram (well Sarah set it up and pretty much spent all day playing with it trying to link it to Facebook, Twitter and anywhere else it is possible to share things). No wonder she has to work so late in the evenings and start so early in the mornings, to get all our floristry jobs completed.  Have to admit it's quite lucky she is able to work her way round these things though (including this blog) as the internet and social media are such big business these days, it seems the only way to go. While we will never deny the more chances we have of reaching out to potential new customers is a great thing for any business (but especially for a small one like ourselves) we also find it quite scary just how the world is moving, and what an impact social media has made on peoples lives. We do feel sorry for anyone that hasn't got the technology know how to keep up with all the different streaming things there are; it will be a shame for them to get caught out and left behind. 

Anyway; below is a copy of our first offering. A nice, smiley happy photo we thought (and not bad for a close up taken on a phone - not a proper camera - and also of an artificial flower).




If you have instagram and want to follow us just do a search for Moonstones Florist to find us.  We will also be uploading the photos to an album in Picasa (and we think we may have a flikr account somewhere too). There should be a link on the main blog page to our picasa albums, so if you don't have instagram but want to keep up with the photos we are sharing you can find them on there, or on our new Facebook page (we need friends on this one so feel free to add us). 

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Re-make

Over the weekend, one of our customers who is on the committee for one of the local Moto X groups, came in to us with 3 Artificial Laurel Chaplets, that had definitely seen better days.   For those of you that don't follow motor sports of any kind, it is an old tradition to hang a chaplet (normally of laurel leaves) around the neck of the victors in the race.  In most sports this has been replaced by shiny trophies and champagne, but I believe a few races still keep to the tradition (don't quote me on this though as I had a google search to see if I could information on the whole history of the laurel wreath, in the hope I might impress you all and I can't seem to find a thing)
Now the ones that were bought in to us hadn't been made that long ago, but I think you can see they have surely taken quite a bashing.  Bits half hanging off them, and the moss showing through which is a big no-no; they also had no backing whatsoever (those poor riders hanging one round their necks would have had bits of moss and all kinds of other stuff all over them).
 



The photo on the left is how they came in to us (if you open the picture up you can see how there are massive gaps showing the moss base.  
The photo on the right is them all brand spanking new and shiny




There wasn't a whole heap we could do to them that would make them too different (the shape and range of foliage limited us greatly) but we hope you will agree our versions are a vast improvement on how they were looking?

Not only did we neaten them up, we also backed everything so there is now no loose moss (or anything else) that can fly up the noses of the riders.  Rather than wire the leaves in bunches onto the frame (which makes it a lot easier for them to come loose giving the moss base chance to show through) we glued each and every single leaf individually to the binding we used to cover all the loose materials.Yes this did take longer, but when it comes to getting a neater finish and helping to keep them robust enough to last a good few years, we felt it was worth it. We also swapped the dowdy ribbon twisted round them, for a nice shiny bow, and coloured leaves to match.

There are some shops that refuse to re-make items for their customers; we are obviously one of those, and where possible, we try to re-use as much of the original material as possible. This not only keeps your costs down, but means less rubbish in our bins and consequently less land fill (which can only be a good thing for this wonderful planet of ours)

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Wowsers

I actually logged on to share something else with you (that I will still do so further down the page) but when I opened up the blogs page and settings, I noticed that this month alone we have had 3453 people view our pages. In 11 days? That's phenomenal. I knew we were reaching out all over the world and that people do stop by the pages (how many of them actually read what we have to say I'm not sure - although I have had customers tell me on the phone different bits and pieces they have read on the blog) but even so; if people aren't reading they are stopping by, which means not only are we easy to find on this big World Wide Web of ours, but people are making the effort to click onto whatever link they find us from, to have a nose around. That is more than any business could ask for. Normally we average around the 2500 visitors Per Month mark but we still have so much of the month left. I wonder just how far we could go? I am totally amazed and completely astonished by it. 

What I actually logged on for was to share a photo that I took this morning. I had a customer that came in for some flowers ( I know; fancy coming in to us for them - although you'd be amazed how many people come in to us when they want either the chip shop or barbers either side of us - you'd think the mass of flowers outside and in would give the game away but it appears not). Anyway this gentleman said the lady he was sending the flowers too loves pink and black. He then said "but I guess you'll never be able to do black so we'll go for pink". Well now hold on a minute. While we can dye or spray paint flowers back (something we don't really like to do on bouquets as there may be chemicals that the recipient is allergic too, or the colours may run onto someones table cloth or carpet), we are not still stumped when it comes to blacking something up. This is where the magic of cellophone, organza, tissue and birch twigs come into the fore. As you can see from the photograph we were able to make up and deliver a bouquet in pink and black for our customer, so please don't ever think that something is not possible. There are always ways round things.



Whilst we love the pink with the black, can you imagine how dramatic this could look with white, green or red flowers? The possibilities of what can be made up, are only governed by your imagination. While some things may seem impossible (and at times some things genuinely are) there are always ways to get round things and find something that will fit the bill.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Thank You

There's not really much more I/We can say except Thank you. To each and every single one of you. Past, Present and Future; you really the reason we do this and keep going. You are also the reason we have just had our best year EVER.

To know that during these troubled/hard times we are holding our own, and going from strength to strength each and every year helps to make up for all those early morning, late nights and long, long, loooong weekends we all work. We see more of the shop and our lovely customers, than we do our own homes and family at times.   It wouldn't be possible without any of you though. It's your continued support of us and what we do that has enabled us to pay all the bills this year.  Don't go thinking it's all plain sailing. There are still many sleepless nights, and nobody knows what the future holds for any of us, but since we opened our doors in July 2009 this little business of ours has improved year on year. Knowing other small business owners that have had to close their shops down this year due to the economy (and through no fault of their own) makes us realise just how important it is to keep trying, and just how important each and every single one of you are. You are the reason we are still here; it's because of you we can pay our bills (hopefully one day we'll pay ourselves too :O)  ) Mind you we haven't had the accountants bill in yet; that could soon put a dampener on how well we've done. :)

As you know your feedback is also very important to us, and we'd like to thank you for taking the time out to send us emails, messages and popping in personally to share your feedback and ideas with us.  Some of the great ideas we've tried - and succeeded with -  have been because of you, so again Thank You.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Vlad and The Window

Last night we were lucky enough to have someone with a decent camera come up the shop to photograph the window for us; as you can see it's very blue.  When the slideshow that runs in the window was set up, we went for the black/white theme; now having seen the window at night we are going to see if we change it to blue (fingers crossed). If not it will have to stay as it is because we just don't have the time to sit and fiddle with it all.


The photographer  also had access to the shop, so he photographed our Vlad as well (he does have his own blog as well but I've not been able to keep that up to date since we set it up this time last year - there just aren't enough hours in the day but I will see if I can get him up and running again). 

 
 
 I also drove by the shop myself last night and was amazed at how brightly it stands out (I'm very disappointed - in one way - that we are tucked away round the corner and not on a main road for it to be seen by more people). I do love our little shop  but it would be nice at certain times of year for it to get more viewing.
 
In other news we will definitely be closing for a week in November. We will be closing at 12 noon on Saturday 3rd Novemeber and will not re-open until 8.30am on Monday 12th November. I do apologise if this causes any inconvenience, but contrary to popular belief I am not a machine and do need to have some time to recuperate so that I am able to get through the busy Christmas, Valentines and Mothers Day peak periods.
 
On another note entirely, can I please ask if you want flowers delivered, could you please let us have some warning. I have just had a call from someone wanting flowers delivered within the next hour; my driver is currently off in a totally different direction so I have had to turn the order down as it's just not possible to get it there in time. I had someone ring last night at 4.30 asking for delivery to Portsmouth by 5. Now while I am quite adept at miracles, the impossible I do tend to struggle with, so please take note and if at all possible give us some kind of warning.


Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Halloween

has well and truly arrived in the shop. October 1st could not come quick enough for Sarah; she absolutely loves halloween (we wonder why?) and so being able to play yesterday bought a huge smile to her face.
This year we've moved away from the traditional orange (not that we've ever really stuck to that) and have gone for a Black and White theme; if it wasn't black or white then it wasn't going in the window. The reason for this was to do with the UV lighting; Sarah wanted it to show off it's full potential (we've not actually had the chance to see how it looks when the skies are pitch black outside, but have been told this morning that the whole window glows quite eerily - just what we wanted). 

I managed to capture some of the UV effect looking into the window from behind

 We haven't gone for a horror style theme either this year; Sarah wanted to try and keep it light hearted which is why you find several happy looking ghosts as well as the legs in the cauldron (this has drawn a few chuckles from people walking by this morning).

You can just see a leg :o)

The nice thing is that it looks just as good in daylight which is not something we are always lucky enough to have happen, where the glass is smoked to keep out the heat full sun we get from about 11am until it sets; the glass was in before we took over, but to be honest if we were to change it we'd end up losing all our stock in one easy go as it does help to keep the heat out, so we won't be changing it. The UV lights are on during the day, but they just pick out the couple of odd flowers that are in their direct line; at night the glow from them where there is no other light pollution to affect it gives it the look we were hoping for. Someone with a proper camera is coming up to photograph it for us tomorrow night, so I will post those pics for those of you that are unable to get here to see if for yourself.