Waltham Forest Business Network’s Jo Sealy meets a florist with a passion for fairness
When Chingford-based Mary Robertson followed her daughter into taking up a floristry course it opened up a whole new family business venture.
Before her daughter Anna was born, Mary used to run a Fairtrade shop based on the importance of ethics in business. Contemplating what her daughter Anna would do when she completed college, she dreamed up the idea of ‘Anna’s Fab Fair Flowers’ and the business started trading last spring.
The florist sells flowers from the Chingford site of local food producer Organiclea, ensuring the flowers are both local and organic.
Mary says: “We sell cut flowers as bouquets tied with Fairtrade ribbon or in a selection of Fairtrade, upcycled or vintage containers. These can be bought at cost-price or returned each week at no cost.
“There’s a Saturday stall outside the Hornbeam at Baker’s Arms and there’s the option of local deliveries too.
“My daughter Anna has learning difficulties and suffers from epilepsy – she’s very unlikely to get a conventional job but I’m hoping that this little family business will suit her really well.
“Anna is a very special young lady. Many people with learning difficulties struggle in all sorts of ways, including getting a job. Anna’s Fab Fair Flowers aims to buck that trend.”
Mary has experienced a few challenges with running the business, one of which includes keeping the flowers protected from the elements at her stall on a Saturday. However, there have been some great achievements too – her Christmas wreaths proved to be hot sellers over the festive season.
Mary feels that her Fairtrade instincts are what makes her different from the competition.
“There are lots of lovely flowers for sale and many lovely people selling them too but sadly that’s not the whole story. Many of the flowers for sale come from overseas and there can be problems both in terms of working conditions and environmental issues, including air miles.
“Anna’s Fab Fair Flowers are local and organically grown. I try to ensure that every aspect of the business is ethical.”
Mary and Anna are focused on building their customer base to provide fresh cut flowers to the Waltham Forest community.
“We love being involved in an initiative that’s both fun and worthwhile; having scope to adapt it to meet my family’s needs,” says Mary. “If I was to give any advice to new entrepreneurs it would be to find a niche in the market where you can make a difference, work hard and follow your dreams! Sustainability and ethics need to be our future so make sure you’re on the right side.”
For more information about Anna’s Fab Fair Flowers:
Do you know a great small business in Waltham Forest with a story to tell?