Freddie's Flowers: Blooming marvellous

With a surname like ‘Garland’, the career path taken by Freddie, of floral subscription service Freddie's Flowers, was surely fated


My dad owned a flower shop in Pimlico for 30 years, so I grew up around flowers. I originally worked for the organic home-delivery service Abel & Cole, running the door-to-door sales team, which gave me an understanding of the subscription business. I don't quite remember when I first had the idea for the business, but the second I thought of flowers, it seemed so obvious!

We launched Freddie's Flowers in 2014. That first year was incredibly hard – I was getting up at 4am, going to bed very late and doing everything myself. In some ways, though, the biggest challenge was letting other people get involved when I was used to being in control. We grew quite quickly and I discovered it can become chaotic if you don’t have systems in place – I’ve since learnt that procedures are key.

We bridge the gap between cheap bunches sold by supermarkets and expensive florist-made bouquets, and our concept is really simple: we offer just one delivery box, meaning we can keep costs down. If we know we need to deliver to, say, ten customers in a day, and each box requires ten roses, we only need to buy 100, which means we never have any left over. In contrast, a florist throws away loads of flowers every day that they’ve bought in anticipation of customers, meaning they need to charge more.

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Everyone loves receiving flowers, but our business is subscription-based, so it's about treating yourself instead and enhancing your home. Part of the fun, for me, is writing the arrangement tips that come with each delivery – it's great when a customer sends us a photo of their flowers in situ.

(Image credit: (c) Julian Love

Our arrangements are seasonal and change weekly. We try to plan quite far in advance and have really close relationships with our growers. In summer, 95 per cent of our stock comes from the UK, but in winter, there's not much growing here, so we tend to get our flowers from further afield. It would be good to source more locally, but Britain has only around 500 flower farms, whereas in the Netherlands, for example, there are about 10,000. The ambition has got to be to reinvigorate the UK flower industry.

There’s a surprising number of flowers in season in January. Tulips start coming out, and pussywillow and hyacinths, and forsythia – a really beautiful flowering twig that looks amazing combined with roses. Peonies are our most popular flower – we used loads of them in the summer. Flowers are definitely subject to trends. Ten years ago, for example, the dahlia was incredibly uncool, but, suddenly, there's been a big revival. I think it’s important not to get trapped by fashion, however – the good thing about our service is that, because a subscriber doesn't know what's being delivered, they may receive flowers they'd never have thought of buying and discover they really like them.

This year, I just want to carry on as we're doing, acquiring more customers, making the business more user-friendly for them, and expanding on the how-to videos that build our online community. I think it's important to make sure the one thing you do is done really well.

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