Name: Shannon Ormandy
Role: Retail florist specialising in weddings at Blossom & Birch
Where did you grow up? Ballymena, Northern Ireland
My dad worked for Heemskerk, a Dutch flower wholesale company, so I started helping out for pocket money in my early teens and got interested in floristry through that. I did my high school work experience at a flower shop and then went to study floristry for three years at Greenmount, CAFRE, where I did my level two and three qualifications. After that, I worked in various flower shops getting different experience, and then I branched out on my own and opened my own shop in 2017.
What is the best thing about your job?
There’s so much! I love how everything is different every single day, and it pushes you forward. I didn’t do very well at school academically. I’m dyslexic but I wasn’t diagnosed with that until I reached college while studying floristry – which got me the help I needed. I wouldn’t have ever been able to work behind a desk. Instead, the stuff that we get to work with is so beautiful, but it is hard work. You don’t just get to play with flowers all day.
I also love the customers I meet, and everything about day-to-day shop life and the opportunities it’s given me. It’s changed my life and enabled me to give my family a better life.
All of my staff are my friends – we’re like a little family too. I got married recently and did the flowers myself with the team. It was all hands-on deck, and my family and my wife’s family were helping as well. I was like, “just get a bit of foliage in your hand and do something with it!” We only got told that it could go ahead the day before the wedding, so we had to do all of the flowers that night – it was stressful! But it was enjoyable as well. It’s definitely a really proud moment.
What’s the biggest challenge?
A lot of our customers are very last-minute and it’s challenging to guesstimate what you need to stock for longer periods of time. It can also be difficult to keep up with all the new trends – everything changes so much.
It’s also hard to keep up that social presence, which is really important because everything is online now. Everybody wants everything at the click of a button. It’s like another job in itself! Even though I try to use social media quite a lot, I find doing it every day – making videos and keeping on top of it – is very challenging when you’re also busy in the shop.
What advice would you offer to newcomers?
Just enjoy it. At the very start I struggled to learn things and got stressed out. Now I always say, “just put it down and start again”. If you’re wanting to get into the industry, you might feel intimidated by other florists, but I think if we work together as an industry, we will better the industry and bring it forward together. There may be other florists, but there won’t be one that’s doing exactly what you do. There’s enough room for more of us. For example, there’s another florist in our town and customers often come to us both because there are some things she specialises in and other things I specialise in.
So just be yourself, have confidence and enjoy it all! It’s a beautiful industry to be a part of and it’s coming on leaps and bounds.