Interview conducted by Fatema Sitabkhan
Featured photo supplied by Caity Richardson
Article photos by Fatema Sitabkhan
Look, I’ll admit it – I never used to like flowers. Sure, they look gorgeous and smell ~divine~, not to mention that they bring a natural ‘pop’ to the space that they live in. But the reason why I didn’t like the idea of flowers is because I absolutely suck at taking care of them! No matter how hard I tried in the past, it would be a miracle for them to get past a solid 24 hours without any dramas!
Having said that though, I have been asking florists straight up, “What do I do to keep your precious bouquets in good nick?” and “How do I keep them alive?” And thankfully, after the initial reactions of shock / nervous laughter, the florists that I have come in contact with over the last few months have been extremely understanding and generous in their knowledge of caring for these colorful beauties. And you know what? That’s what has made me take the giant leap and take the risk to house some flowers ~in my home~! And it’s been good, great actually!
A couple of days ago, Caity Richardson from brand-spanking-new local business The Local Bunch gifted me a bouquet of the freshest flowers I’ve seen in months! It was pretty obvious from the massive smile that appeared on my face when she personally delivered the bouquet (which came with a super sweet note, too!) that I was genuinely looking forward to having some fresh flowers in my home.
Given how Caity’s business is still fresh (pun intended), I thought I’d learn more about the art of floristry and how she decided to set up her own business in little ol’ Adelaide – have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Can you tell me a bit about yourself, Caity?
Caity: I’m an Adelaidian, born and bred, who has had some interesting opportunities come my way. There was an array of jobs – from a chocolatier at Haighs chocolate factory, to running away with Cirque du Soleil three different times, and many jobs in between. A few years ago, I decided to move over to the UK and travel around Europe. I also attempted to do the same in Canada mid-last year. Unfortunately, I broke my ankle a few weeks into the trip and have spent the last 6 months on recovering. All the while being bored out of my mind, I decided that I would stay in Adelaide and pursue my idea of an online florist.
Tema: What made you decide on opening up your own business?
Caity: There a few reasons: mainly the idea of being my own boss was very enticing. I’ve worked in a lot of jobs in the past and I became pretty fed up with working for other people. I like to push myself into trying new things and expanding my knowledge, which you rarely get a chance to do in most jobs. I’m also quite a creative person and I’ve never had the opportunity before in my jobs to be hands-on creating something beautiful, like flower arrangements.
Tema: Where do you source your lovely flowers?
Caity: Early every morning, I head to Tony’s Flower Wholesaler, who has a vast range of flowers. A lot of the flowers and foliage are grown in South Australia, some from Interstate and some from overseas.
Tema: What made you decide on setting up your business online only (compared to having a physical shop to visit)?
Caity: There is a few reasons for being online only. One is that I wouldn’t have this opportunity to own a business if I had to have a physical store. The cost to start an online business where I can work from home is affordable, compared to the costs involved in a real store. The other reason is that online shopping in the current social media age has made it possible for small businesses to flourish successfully. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram’s business accounts allow me to build a stronger customer base and reach a broader range of people without spending thousands on advertising.
Tema: How do you create you bunches every day (which appear to be unique every single time)?
Caity: Everyday, I go to the wholesaler and pick the freshest, seasonal flowers and the ones I liked best. At home, I’ll bunch them up into a simple but beautiful arrangement, photograph them, and upload the photos to my website and social media accounts. My aim is to have a completely new and fresh look every weekday.
Tema: What is your typical arrangement of The Local Bunch? What are you go-to flower/plants that you include?
Caity: My aim is to not have a typical arrangement, I want to use the flowers I find at the market each morning, because they will be seasonal. But, every bunch will have some foliage and a mix of feature and filler flowers, for the perfect balance.
Tema: What do you think was one of the biggest challenges of setting up your business from scratch?
Caity: I’ve had to learn a lot of new things, like what is required to legally set-up a business, in addition to the bookkeeping side of things. The biggest challenge is not being too disappointed when my sales don’t start off very strong. But, I believe in my skills and arrangements, and that business takes time to grow (especially in the beginning)! Also to acknowledge that I will make a million mistakes, but that as long as I learn from them and move on, everything will go okay.
Tema: What do you hope for your customers to experience from purchasing a flower bouquet from The Local Bunch?
Caity: Everyone seems to have very little spare time anymore, so I hope my customers will find ordering my flowers to be a quick and simple experience. From seeing the bunch of the day, to going onto the website and adding the size they desire, followed by quickly filling out the delivery details and then knowing that their bunch will be delivered that day or the day of their choice.
Tema: What is it about being South Australian/ local brand that makes it all the more special?
Caity: I’ve lived overseas and visited many countries, but Adelaide will always be home and it is a special place to me. So, setting up a business here makes me very proud. Also, the majority of our flowers come from local South Australian farms, which supports the growers in what they do. We also deliver locally to the surrounding Adelaide suburbs.
Tema: What are your tips on getting the most out of the bunch, when a customer purchases / is gifted a bunch?
Caity: Taking care of your flowers is so important. It can make the difference of them lasting just a few days all the way to over a week. The flowers come wrapped in brown paper, you can choose to keep them in the brown paper or to unwrap them, some stems may be shorter so you need to make sure all are submerged in the water. It’s important to put your flowers in water as soon as possible. Removing any lower greenery so that no leaves sit in the water. Trim the stems and change the water every two days, making sure the vase is clean each time. Display your flowers in a cool spot, away from direct sunlight, heat sources and fruit bowls. Some flowers will fade faster than others, and removing these will help keep your remaining flowers stay healthy and alive.
Tema: Is the anything else that you’d like your customers to know about The Local Bunch?
Caity: At The Local Bunch I decided to focus on creating a business that is environmentally friendly.
The objective is to Avoid, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle wherever possible by cutting down on some typically unsustainable florist practices. This is why I avoid using plastic and unsustainable paper, and reduce the wastage of flowers by only providing one unique bunch a day. I also lovingly wrap our bunches in reusable packaging and only use 100% post-consumer recycled paper, biodegradable twine, rubber bands and plant-based cellophane.
It’s important to us and the environment to dispose of our packaging correctly. The wrapping paper and gift tag can be put into your recycling to be recycled all over again. You can also reuse the rubber bands and twine or put them in your green bin with your flower once they are spent.