Florence Kennedy, founder of ‘bouquets by bicycle’ company Petalon, on the importance of good photography for her business.
After six years in sales, Florence Kennedy was looking to pursue her own dream.
An encounter with a disappointing bunch of flowers and a load of bike frames was the lightbulb moment, and now Florence has a thriving business delivering beautiful hand-crafted bouquets all around London by bicycle and providing bespoke flower arrangements for events.
Can you explain how Petalon Flowers was conceived and why you started it?
It’s all my husband’s fault really. James started his own bike building business called Kennedy City Bicycles, while I had an office job in sales, and it’s quite hard living with someone who’s following their dream when you don’t have your own. I kept thinking ‘Maybe I could do this, maybe I could do that…’ But one day he had to send a bunch of flowers to my boss for helping him out with a birthday surprise for me, and I saw them under her desk and thought they weren’t very nice.
Considering the lengths he’d gone to and the money he’d spent I just thought they didn’t really convey how thankful he was. So I started looking into how much flowers cost at local flower markets and how much delivery cost. When I got home, James’ first order of bike frames had arrived and the idea was staring me in the face: flower delivery by bicycle.
You wouldn’t have to pay congestion charge, you could nip around really easily, it’d be cheaper because you wouldn’t have to pay for fuel and a driver, so it all fitted together quite nicely.
Why is important for you to have Instagram?
When I quit my job in sales I’d saved up enough commission to live off for three months, so I never had enough for a marketing budget.
Instagram is such a big thing because flowers are so visual. As a business you want to show people behind the scenes, who you are and your character and personality – like the fact we’ve got a really cool dog – because people are interested in the story and Instagram is a great way to show that to people.
What impression are you trying to convey with your photos?
I try and keep things as real as possible but in the most beautiful way, because first and foremost the shots have to grab you and be pretty, otherwise it’s just a bit spammy.
Obviously I think our dog Huxley is the greatest thing in the world but I have to stop myself putting too many pictures up of him!
I think you have to please yourself first and foremost and be happy with a feed that shows what you do and the different areas of the business, whilst also showing that personal touch.
What would you like to be able to improve about your photos?
I see a lot of feeds that are a lot more curated, so I guess having more props in them maybe.
I know that there are some florists that have a designated corner of their studio where they’ll pose their arrangements and put linens on the table and make it all beautiful, but we’re such a fast-paced business we haven’t really got time for that.
So our Instagram is little bit kind of ‘from the hip’, taking pictures that are a good enough quality to be able to see what we do.
What sort of photos are most popular on your Instagram feed?
It really changes. For Pride I did an arrangement. It wasn’t even for a Pride event, it was a wedding that just wanted rainbow flowers. I Instagrammed a picture of that and hashtagged ‘Love Wins’. It was also around the time of Orlando, and that got a huge response. And also the really impressive pieces, like the ones we do for weddings, just because they’re quite different and visually stunning compared to the usual stuff, and it’s not a piece of floristry you see every day.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about photography since you started using Instagram?
That, if you’re a business, nobody cares about pictures of your friends. As lovely as it might be to share pictures of you having a nice time with your friends at a restaurant, there’s a place for it.
Is there anywhere you look for photography advice or inspiration?
I think you’re constantly inspired on Instagram. You’re following accounts that you find visually stimulating and things that you would like to aspire to.