60 Seconds with Jake
Meet Jake Nicholson-Lailey, proprietor of Abundiflora in Glastonbury. Putting together impromptu arrangements in his local church as a teenager led him into a career in floristry. It was a move he’s never regretted.
Why did you decide to join the GFG?
Caroline who runs the GFG has always been very supportive of independent florists. It was a prestigious thing, I knew that every florist approved had been scrupulously inspected. I felt that this was a good investment for my business and a mark of distinction. I’m the sort of person that needs a certificate to back me up and when I got my GFG certificate it really boosted me.
Best business decision?
One of the best recently was to get an electronic point of sale, before that we were pen and paper and it has made things so much easier. Now everything is in the Cloud so I can access anything at any time so that has been brilliant. Prior to that it was having the website, I don’t know how you can function without one these days.
Worst business decision?
I opened a second concession in a local shopping centre, factory outlet shopping. There always used to be a flower market stall there and he packed up and I decided to get in there before anyone else did. It had to be open seven days a week, it had to have staff and the biggest problem was trying to man it. I had to drive over and make things and shut the shop! That was a couple of really difficult months. I’d taken a very short term contract luckily.
If you weren't a florist, what would you like to do?
I love sewing and soft furnishings and interior design. When I did business management the idea was that I’d become an accountant or a solicitor but lots of people told me I’d have been a square peg in a round hole. It would have to be something creative like an upholsterer.
Describe your perfect day
It probably starts around 9am. A nice quiet morning and then spend most of the afternoon gardening. We’ve got a tiny garden but I’ve absolutely gone to town on it. Obviously being in the business means that I can buy plants from Holland every week and I can get thousands of plants for next to nothing. So every day I’m bringing home a different plant. Maybe sanding and waxing an old piece of furniture, I do a lot of that. A nice chilled day.
What's your greatest indulgence?
That’s tricky. I do love the theatre and musicals. I’ve never been one for massage which feels very extravagant. Days out and theatre trips. The last thing we saw was The Bodyguard with Alexandra Burke at Bristol, really good. It’s escapism. When everyone else was listening to Robbie Williams I was listening to Marti Webb!
Your biggest pet hate?
Bad customer service, absolutely hate it. I’ve always maintained you can go to a restaurant and have an absolutely rubbish meal and you can forgive the chef but when the service is bad, there is just no excuse for that. Shout and scream when the customer has left the shop but you’ve got to be grateful for everyone who walks through your door.
What do you find most difficult?
Saying no probably. I did a wedding a couple of years ago. People often ask, how do I preserve the bouquet? There are a couple of companies I recommend but of course they’re quite expensive. So I say if you’re not too fussed, take it apart, bunch it up and hang it in an airing cupboard to dry then you’ve got it to keep. So this mother of the bride came in with a box of dried flowers and asked me to reconstruct it. Some of it had turned to papery bits of hideousness. So of course I said ‘Yes, yes, no problem’ and I put if off for nearly a year. I kept attempting different things and whatever I did it just looked hideous. I finally returned it to her last week and she thought it was amazing! If I get email requests it’s easier to say no but sometimes I take on more than I can manage when the person is standing in front of me…
Is the customer always right?
No. We are experts in what we do. If someone has smashed something to smithereens then put them in boiling water and they’ve died I’m not going to say ‘Well done Mrs Smith that’s exactly what I would have done’! I am here to educate people but I am diplomatic. There are ways of imparting knowledge without making the customer feel wrong or stupid.
Best piece of advice for someone starting out?
Gain experience, be positive about it. Work in a flower shop and do go to college if you can. What we’re struggling with in this business is DIYers who’ve watched a YouTube video and think they’re Martha Stewart. I encourage more and more people to join this industry. Every time we get a request from a college or school we always take them and we’ve had some amazing people through, some of whom now work for us. Just go for it! We need more flower shops.
What are you most excited about in the next year?
My refit, I’m very excited about that! We’re going to go dark and moody and be more Instagram ready I suppose. That’s happening imminently and I think it will give us a new lease of life and it will help us to focus on more of our preferred style. The shop is going to be painted a colour called Brinjal which means aubergine, walls, floor and ceiling. I’ve bought this beautiful marble-topped French serving unit that will be my stand and rosewood cupboards – I’m really excited.
If you were stranded on a desert island and you're only allowed one flower?
I’d have to know which season! The one I always love are oriental lilies. I love them for their longevity, I love them for their stamens. They’re so robust and so reliable and such good value for money. That’s my all year round flower.
What are the local businesses you'd recommend?
The Devonshire Arms – it has a really great atmosphere, uses all local produce and it’s somewhere really special but not overpriced. Great for birthdays and my sister had her hen do there.
Back2Back Hairdressers – they do walk in clients which is great, lovely ladies who know exactly what they’re doing. Attentive customer service and excellent value for money.
Burns The Bread – our local bakery. Really good friendly local bakers, a few branches around the area. Really good value and I love their Apple Danish! Very supportive and very charitable and generous company.
We are a small independent shop in Glastonbury. We do wedding and funerals and events and every occasion in between. We love to keep it seasonal, we are friendly, committed and customer-oriented. We’re a one stop shop and the fourth emergency service!