As we’re all aware, businesses across the UK and the world have had to drastically change the way they work over the past few months to remain operational during this pandemic, while others have unfortunately had to close their doors for a time. While following the latest government guidelines at all times, we have managed to remain operational throughout this whole period and we are feeling very lucky to have been able to help so many of you send loved ones flowers at this time. We know how important this has been.
Petalon is a family-run business, with wife-and-husband-team Florence and James at the helm. We believe this is partly what makes Petalon special, but when lockdown restrictions came in to effect, it quickly became absolutely vital in order for Petalon to remain open; with them coming from the same household and living within 10 minutes of the Petalon studio, they were able to remain on site, making and wrapping bouquets and processing orders, while operations and customer service were run remotely. We made the difficult decision to remove the bicycle delivery element of our service to reduce the amount of people coming and going from the studio and keep our team safe and we have been making all of our deliveries with our carbon-neutral courier during this time. Florence and James quickly needed to jump in to working 7 days a week, in order for Petalon to be able to offer the same service to our customers at a time when people really needed it most.
Before Coronavirus hit, Florence and James had made the decision to move their family out of London to Cornwall in June this year. This was partly a personal decision, based around being closer to family, but also with business plans to start growing flowers at some point in the future. They would still remain very involved in Petalon, with Florence continuing to design the weekly bunches, consult for weddings and focus on the future plans for Petalon with the new space in Cornwall, while the studio team remained in London and continued to manage the day-to-day bouquet deliveries, as normal.
With Coronavirus came a challenge; Florence and James were vital to keeping the business operational but the business was based in London and they were about to move to Cornwall. So after much thought, the decision was made to move the base of the business from London with them to Cornwall. While bicycle deliveries were on hold, this allowed for the business to remain running 7 days a week, as it had been since the start of lockdown, just with flowers being despatched from Cornwall to the rest of the country, instead of London.
Over the last few months, we have had to really analyse the strengths and weaknesses of our business, with a view to understanding how it can be stronger and better able to weather the kind of storm we’ve all found ourselves in recently. We want to make sure we are prepared should something like this ever happen again (which appears likely, it’s more a matter of degree).
Although life is not back to normal, and perhaps it never will be quite the same, it is at least possible now to start discussing what things will look like when lockdown measures are lifted completely. Of course, on a long-term basis, it is not sustainable nor sensible for James and Florence to maintain a 7-day working week just the two of them. For that reason we have started to rebuild a small studio team in Cornwall and we have also decided that Petalon’s base will remain in Cornwall. Everything Petalon stands for has been built by its founder, Florence and her husband, James. In hindsight, it seems wrong that we ever considered separating them. As a result of this, it means bicycle delivery in London won’t be resuming at this time.
We understand that Petalon’s environmental ethos is an important part of why people choose us and that bicycle delivery plays a big role in this. As a business, it’s about striking the right balance between honouring these environmental values and the logistics of running an efficient business. Planning and managing the bicycle delivery element of the business required a huge amount of time and resources – when London bicycle delivery was our entire offering this made sense, but as we want to move towards being a truly nationwide business, it didn’t seem to make sense to be using so many resources on servicing just a small area of the country.
We will still be donating 5% of our profits to bee conservation, we will still be planting a tree for every 100 bouquets sent, our packaging remains recyclable or biodegradable and we will always prioritise minimising wastage with our two designs a week model and disposing of our green waste properly (it is now composted on-site for the fields in which we plan to grow our own flowers). Bicycle delivery was just one thing we did as part of a much broader environmental effort and although we may be losing this, we are in turn gaining the space and the resources to be able to grow our own flowers. Not only does it mean we are able to remove more and more carbon from our product journey, we think it makes our bouquets really special to have flowers in them straight from our own garden. In every other sense we remain the same brand with the same values, providing the same high-quality product, with excellent, personal customer care, from a family-run team who are creative at heart.
Though nobody could have anticipated the changes in conditions that have occurred over the last few months, as florists, the opportunity to get our hands dirty and use flowers that we have grown ourselves is a dream come true. We are very excited about this next chapter and we hope you are too.