Today on The Mother Hub Meets, we're very excited to be talking to "Queen of Flowers", Sapphire Bates. We first met Sapphire at The Mother Hub launch event last December and were immediately struck by her passion, drive and enthusiasm for entrepreneurship. It's hard to believe that Sapphire was just 21 when she launched her own floristry business, The Flower Arranger. And now, just a year and a half later, she has built a stunning brand, an impressive social media following and some of the most insanely beautiful floral arrangements we've ever seen! It almost makes us want to plan another wedding!
Since we chatted to Sapphire, she has announced the launch of The Essex Flower School, which is "set to be THE place to learn flowers and learn 'em well in Essex." With her first flower school course kicking off in March 2018, we couldn't be more excited to see where this next stage of her career journey will take her. First stop Essex, next stop the WORLD!
Can you tell us a little bit about your career journey and what you do?
I am a florist and the owner of The Flower Arranger. My career journey has been SO random - I didn't know I wanted to be a florist, it never even crossed my mind. I also always said I never wanted to run my own business *rolls eyes* but look at me now, a year and a half in!
I originally intended way, way back at 16, to be a doctor. So off I went to college studying chemistry, biology, psychology and history... four heavy subjects mixed with the fact I'd just discovered partying (GET THE BEERS IN) led to me being kicked out of college.
I tried a fashion and business course for a few years next, I thought I'd be big in the fashion game, very The Devil Wears Prada. Long story short I didn't want to pursue a career in that either.
After being hassled by my mum to find a job and grow up ASAP I asked a friend of a friend to let me sweep the floor in her florist for a few weeks in the summer. I had a good time and found out I wasn't too bad at 'playing' with flowers. I took said friend of a friend for coffee and asked to be an apprentice.
After a couple of years of intense learning, my contract came to an end. I set off backpacking, where I fell in love with a little town called Pai in the North of Thailand, nestled in some mountains.
As my money started to run out it occurred to me I have no job - how was I going to pay my bills at home?! After long calls with my mum I decided to just give it a go on my own.
I built my website in a dodgy internet cafe in Thailand with the help of my mum (who runs her own successful business) and a website designer who were in the UK.
Fast forward a year and a half and I'm knee deep in my own business, how did that happen!
What has been the highlight of your running your own business?
Being the boss! Ha ha. There are so many highlights - I love looking back and seeing how far we've come in so little time... I don't know if that is a highlight but it is such a crazy feeling.
Being featured in magazines within the flower industry is also a huge highlight. WE ARE PRINTED IN A REAL LIFE MAGAZINE.
What has been the biggest challenge?
Can I say being the boss again? My biggest challenge has been learning all of the knowledge needed to make a business run. Accounting and money has definitely been a hard one, as I started out with such little knowledge on the subject. Learning about hiring employees, writing terms and conditions... there is just so much.
What's the best piece of advice you ever received?
It wasn't given to me but Charles Bukowski was asked 'What do you do? How do you write, create?' He replied: 'You don't, I told them. You don't try.'
I took it to mean 'Don't try, do'.... I liked it so much it is tattooed on my neck!
A friend also once told me 'the grass is always greener where you water it' - that is a nice one.
In what ways has social media proved a useful tool in helping to grow your business?
It is not just useful to me, it is paramount! 80% of our wedding clients find us via my Instagram (@theflowerarranger - shameless plug).
It is such a powerful tool - we are able to connect with our audience and show them the inside of the business. I feel more like I'm chatting to friends on our social media than clients, which is such a lovely thing.
I think it is important to note whilst we discuss social media that whilst it has been such a blessing for so many small businesses - I strongly believe we have a duty as business owners or as influencers or brands to try and be as see-through as possible with viewers. Life is not as rosy as this new filtered world has us believe... I work hard on Instagram to show people that whilst running a business can be super rewarding, it isn't always perfect. Nothing is!
What advice would you give to someone in their late teens or early twenties about to embark on running their own business?
Haha at 23 I still like to think of myself as a in my early twenties!
However the advice I would give any young people ready to give this whole entrepreneurial thing a go.... just fucking do it. You will never feel ready - no matter how many years you plan and prepare. Get started and learn as you go.
Second piece of advice - NETWORK - know your industry inside out, it will help you.
Final piece of advice - If you don't ask you don't get.
What is your favourite quote?
This is not a dress rehearsal, this is your life.... BILL MURRAY SAID THAT. He's my hero.
We are really grateful for your support of the #iamanessexgirl campaign. One of the key goals of the campaign is to inspire the next generation of young girls growing up in Essex. Can you tell us why you think its important for girls, women and the county as a whole to ditch the negative stereotype?
Because we are so much more than one shitty stereotype! Don't let negativity rule your life. LETS SHOW EM.