2007 was a year of change, which saw us shift from performing peak sales at Green Fuse during Christmas 2006 to an almost immediate struggle in the new year. January 2007, Totnes High Street endured months of highways maintenance and alteration to the pedestrian footpaths (courtesy of Devon County Council), which affected sales because motorists could not drive up the street. St Valentine's & Mothering Sunday were drastically affected compared to the previous two years, which was a certain buck against the spending trend post Christmas. More strife followed when Totnes Market allowed a flower stall to trade on Saturday, which affected sales because they sold flowers cheaper than we could buy wholesale and were practically giving their flowers away with £1 wraps of what we can only describe as "a con". By May it got to a point when we called it a day and ended our franchise with Green Fuse, which at the time was heartbreaking after two and half years of building a business.
Because we were living in Torquay at the time, we decided to make another go of starting a new flower shop from scratch in the centre of Torquay. An opportunity arose with a small kiosk below a restaurant known as Steps on Fleet Street. We started brainstorming ideas for a business name... this was not easy and most of the names were very uninspiring such as TQ1 Flowers (rolls eyes). The kiosk offered a little inspiration along with a flashing light bulb above the head moment when I considered Agatha Christie's connection with Torquay as her birthplace. I googled "flower + agatha christie" and Blue Geranium appeared as the first and only option. Without sounding too spooky, there are a couple of coincidental persuasive decisions that helped us make up our minds by now and they are the previous occupant of the kiosk was Madam Petrolengo, a Fortune Teller who also had a horoscope column with the local newspaper and a Fortune Teller in the short story The Blue Geranium (1932) by Agatha Christie. Some call it fete!
This was an exciting period because we ventured on our own without the back up of an established business. We didn't have financial support from banks at the time, which was difficult, but family did come to the rescue and we owe them huge debts of gratitude for much valued sponsorship and dedication.
During our time at Green Fuse we established some very valuable business contacts, which we continued with when we started Blue Geranium. We also had a few wedding contracts to fulfill for the remaining year, which was a significant boost for a new start-up. Our established contacts believed in our commitment and passion for the business and brought in some very important custom and high end weddings for 2008 shortly followed with a once in a lifetime event in the British Virgin Islands 2009.
Because Blue Geranium was our very own concept and ours to establish on our own without conflict of interest, we were able to market a new business with a new website, which was new territory for both of us. We couldn't afford to pay someone or a business to build a website, so we started from scratch with a BT Business template. A new form of marketing became available in the form of Facebook along with other social media platforms. This was a stroke of luck, which transformed the way we could establish the business.
Our time at the kiosk on Fleet Street, Torquay was short lived due to the ill fated "credit crunch" which saw a decline throughout the town with many shops closing . After approximately one year (July 2008), we closed the shop and set up at home in Torquay. We were able to concentrate on providing flowers for weddings and funerals and the occasional requests for every day bouquets for delivery. Working from home was not sustainable and by January 2009 we embarked on a period of tough character building by setting up a flower stall at the historic and very famous Totnes Market every Friday & Saturday. This was a great stepping stone for Blue Geranium, which allowed us to establish new customers and reacquaint old customers from our days at Green Fuse.
Thank you for reading so far... part two of Blue Geranium's journey to follow soon.