Name: Grace Muthoni
Age: 23 years
Education: Diploma; Supply Chain Management, Certificate; Events Management
College: Zetech University, Divine School
Company: Nairobi Florists
Flowers are good to look at. They engender an aura of happiness, of passion, of relaxation and calm. There have even been studies that show that a display of flowers in the work place raises productivity levels.
Thanks to her job, Grace Muthoni, a florist, is surrounded by flowers every day, which perhaps explains her very cheerful nature.
When and how did you develop an interest in flowers?
I got hooked up early on. I would collect flowers that fell from trees in our compound and put them in a tin to play with. Nothing excited me more than the blooming season. I loved the different sweet scents and vivid colours. With the twists and turns of life, I ended up becoming a florist.
Have you had any training in this area?
I have attended numerous informal trainings on flower arrangement. Most of the learning takes place as you practice, as you go about the job on a daily basis.
What does your typical day at work involve?
I’m an early bird. I arrive at my place of work at 6am, and set off to fetch the day’s supply from flower wholesalers in the city. This ensures that I get the best and freshest flowers. In this job, the early bird catches the worm. Thereafter, I call our other suppliers to ensure that we are sufficiently stocked for the day.
Restocking is a daily affair in this business. I then go through my diary and our online point of sale (POS) to study the orders of the day. Together with my colleagues, we start preparing the flowers at 7am. Delivery to various clients follows. Most customers prefer their flowers delivered by 8am when they report to the office.
By midday, we have delivered most of the day’s orders. As the day progresses, more orders trickle in, and we attend to them as they come. It is my job to coordinate every stage of the process to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
When contracted to supply flowers for a wedding, the job includes setting up the flowers. All this is made possible by working as a team with colleagues and our delivery team.
Tell us about the psychology of flowers…
Flowers naturally trigger exultant emotions, heighten feelings of satisfaction and affect social behaviour in a positive manner far beyond what most would imagine. Light yellow, peach, creamy white and mild green flowers arouse a nurturing atmosphere of protection, comfort and adoration. Red, purple, pink and sharp oranges create a luxurious aura that sets a passionate, rich mood. Bold contrasting colours create a buoyant sensation, which makes them suitable for parties. The transient nature of flowers is also a poignant reminder of our own short lives. Besides, flowers mark important events in our lives, from birth, graduations and weddings to death.
Who are some of your regular clients?
Organisations such as banks and hospitals as well as individuals constitute our client base. Individuals order flowers for their loved ones for birthdays, anniversaries and other celebratory events. There are also those who send flowers to congratulate, to apologise or to show solidarity. We have therefore tailored our products to suit various market segments and needs.
What part of your job delights you the most?
I would say the entire process - from buying, preparing and delivering. It is however especially delightful when clients appreciate your products and services. I also enjoy working and interacting with people from all spheres of life. It is also a privilege to suggest the most suitable flowers and arrangement to suit a particular location and have a customer appreciate your suggestions. As competition in the industry grows, this pushes your creative boundaries as you strive to be unique. Being part of your clients as they celebrate achievements and sad moments humbles me.
Is this your full-time career?
This is my only job, and I must say that it give me absolute satisfaction whilst taking care of all my financial needs. I’m much more at home dealing with flowers than doing anything else.
There must be challenges in this job, how do you cope?
To begin with, Kenyans have not fully embraced the value of flowers, many think they are a waste of money. Sometimes you have to work with short deadlines, which puts your expertise to the test, but it can be stressful. Access to quality produce from farms is also not always easy. Most flower farms in Kenya do not sell their flowers locally, and when they do, the best quality is reserved for export, leaving second-rate flowers for the local market. Through constant research, experimentation and being up-to-date with trends in the trade helps me to be on top of things.
What does it take one to succeed as a florist in this market?
First, you must have a thorough understanding of flowers, the nature of the market, and have excellent interpersonal skills since you will be dealing with many people with diverse personalities. You must also be cheerful, aggressive, and imaginative.
How vibrant is the flower business in Kenya?
The export market has been explosive for many years now, making Kenya one of the flower hubs in the world. The local market however is struggling and remains largely unexploited. There are indicators of growth nonetheless, which are good tidings for florists. It is also encouraging that the County Government of Nairobi has allowed florists to set up their tents in various parts of the CBD to target more people. It was however a massive let-down by the national government to scrap off expenditure on flowers from its budget. This led to massive job losses for youth.
Are florist jobs easy to come by?
The market is on a steady upward trajectory. There are opportunities for everyone who is highly creative. Valentine’s Day is the busiest day for a florist - this is an opportunity a starter could seize.
Besides your regular job, what else do you enjoy doing?
Meeting new people definitely, since I’m a social butterfly. From every interaction, I seek to learn something new. I also enjoy reading novels and watching YouTube videos. I recently started a blog where I intend to share my knowledge on flowers with my followers.