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(Small Business Superstar) Stepping out of your comfort zone and creating content your audience wants to see

This week’s Small Business Superstars is Jan Park from Blue Florist.

A little bit about Jan’s amazing business…

Blue Florist is a flower shop based in Shifnal who sell beautiful bouquets and house plants.

What one marketing thing made a difference to their business? 

Jan did two things! Firstly, a competition and secondly, a video! The video was “How to look after your house plants”. Jan showed her face to her audience who were missing her in lockdown!

What difference did it make to them and their business? 

Jan has such a great response and then made more! The video was really relatable to people at the time as everyone was in their house and couldn’t really do anything. It kept Jan in front of her audience even when she couldn’t open her physical shop and meant she could keep putting content out during lockdown.

Where you can find Jan

Website: http://www.blue-shifnal.co.uk/

Facebook: @janparkblue

Instagram: @blueflorist

Transcript below

 

Hello and a very warm welcome to this Thursday’s episode of the Small Business Superstar. As always I am here with another amazing small business owner and this one is awesome. You’re going to love it. So welcome to the podcast, Jan Park.

How are you doing Jan?

Jan: Oh, I’m great. Thank you.

Teresa: Good. Good. I am so excited to have Jan here. Jan is actually a member of the Academy, but Jan’s story is so good. You’re going to love it and such great results. Honestly, Jan was like my poster girl throughout the whole of the summer. So where, so this is brilliant.

I’m so glad that you’re on still got as, but Jan explained to my lovely audience who you are and how you got to do what you’re doing today?

Jan: Well goes back quite a long way. Um, so when I was at school, I wanted to study art. I was told art can’t possibly make your living. So go away and be a nurse or go in the army or

Teresa: Something more sensible.

Jan: Yeah. Typical careers advice. Um, I very fortunately got married when I was 18 and I’m still married to the same person. Um, so that kind of changed my direction a bit. So I had my children and then I had a huge operation that went very wrong and they told my husband I wouldn’t leave. And, um, obviously I did, but that really was a huge wake up call for me.

Um, I was 28. I had two little children and I came out of that and I thought, “Cool. That was a bit close.” Um, I’m going to follow my dreams.

Teresa: Wow.

Jan: So I started my training then having left school at 15 and gone into retail, which I absolutely loved. Um, but I was always making, I was making my own clothes from the age of 11, um, and creating pieces of artwork and people were buying them when I was a kid, you know?

Teresa: Amazing!

Jan: Um, yeah. So it’s been an arty sort of life, which has taken me in various directions, but ultimately I did a textile, um, design qualification, which took four years. And then I did my art degree. So anything, although I’m now a florist, mainly anything that’s kind of art based or design based or style based, I find relatively easy to achieve good result.

Teresa: Yeah. Yeah. Lovely. And how, like, imagine. If you hadn’t have had that operation and it had gone wrong, like, there’s this, there’s this saying that I hear a lot and sometimes I totally am on board it. And sometimes I think, well, it’s not always that clear cut, but it’s, it talks about you are 100% responsible of what happens to you and everything happens for a reason.

And if you hadn’t have gone through that though, at the time that was looking scary. You wouldn’t be where you are today, if that hadn’t have happened. So that was a really good thing that that happened.

Jan: Also since then, I’ve really taken responsibility for what has happened to me in my working life and my career.

Um, so I I’ve made some tough decisions. I’ve turned down some really big money-making opportunities to be able to do the things that I love. Because the money actually doesn’t matter. As long as you’ve got enough to put food on the table, what’s more important is that you, you know, you’re seeing from your heart and you can be happy in yourself.

Teresa: Yeah, absolutely. And, and the truth is Jan, you and I are both very similar. The fact that we do do things we love and it’s evident, it’s evident that we can see it. Like, you know, when people see you and hear you talk about what you do. It’s evident that, that isn’t just something you’re doing to earn money.

That isn’t just something you’re doing to keep yourself busy. That’s that’s in you. It’s built in you.

Jan: Yeah. And believe me, you don’t go into risk to out money, you know, you can make a living, but you’re not going to make mega bucks.

Teresa: Yeah. Yeah.

Jan: But I just love, I do love retail and I love the combination of art and design and retail and although I’m technically a florist now, um, my art comes into everything that I do.

Teresa: Yeah, and it’s still, that’s a very creative thing to do. Isn’t it? Very creative. Yeah. So, Jan, obviously you have a florist and COVID hits. And you joined the Academy. Was it just before?

Jan: No, it was during COVID.

Teresa: Which surprised me that so many people had been joined at that point, because that would be the point where everybody go, “Oh no, we need to start pulling in a bit.” Well go on.

Jan: Well, I, I think, um, so COVID hit and not for the first time in my life. I wasn’t going to work. I wasn’t going out every day. So I was just at home and I was thinking “Oh, this is a bit weird.” Because I’m so used to, you know, my day starts at half past four in the morning when I’m ordering flowers from Holland on the market.

Um, and then I start my day. I do a full day, then I’ll go home, you know, so I have very, very full days, but of course I always do a business plan each year. And, um, so I thought, well, this is a good time to review that and have a look where I’m going, what I’m going to do next. I was thinking that lockdown would last maybe a month, you know naively.

Um, So I started looking at what my business was doing, where I was going to go with it, what I wanted it to do, because I think you have to know what you wanted to do to make it happen. And I just thought, where am I failings? And my failings are marketing. And obviously I knew you from years ago. And I just thought, I just looked you up and found the Academy. And I just thought, well, I’m going to say, “Now’s the time to invest in this.”

Teresa: Which is amazing.

Jan: And is the main thing it’s been a really worthwhile investment already.

Teresa: And, and what’s so amazing is one of those first calls you came onto. I remember you saying to me, well, one in those early calls, we did, we did extra calls at that time because it was like, “How, can I help everybody at this point?”

And it was very much about, “How, can you tweak? How, can you change? What can you do?” And from your point of view, Jan, at that point, they literally, from the florist point of view, there was nothing you could do. There was you, you couldn’t get the flowers, you couldn’t sell the flowers, you couldn’t open sell the flowers.

So, you know, we were limited. As to your moneymaking opportunities at that point with the florist. So then, and I remember you saying to me, like, “Do you think anybody’s going to want to have flowers again? Do you think this is ever going to come back?” Because literally at that point we had no idea and everything was falling apart.

Uh, so we talked about what you could do. So tell people what you did during that time and what happens.

Jan: So I did two things. One, I did a competition for people to win some, um, a box full of nice houseplants.

Teresa: Yeah.

Jan: That went down really well. But the best thing that I did was a video. Um, I’ve never done a live. I don’t do TikTok or any of that. I mean, who wants to see me leaping around, you know.

Teresa: I think we’d pay good money for that Jan.

Jan: Oh, I hadn’t ever done a video. I don’t like having my photograph taken. I used to lecture in the university and I was absolutely fine with that because I knew my subject. I could stand and talk to a two or 300 people without a problem.

But in terms of being videoed and recording that, nothing like that, I had it done before. And so I thought, what can I do? And I decided that I would do how to look after your house plants. And I did the first one just straight off. I didn’t faff about, I just thought I’m just going to do it and put it out there.

I’ve just got to bite the bullet. And, um, it was amazing. I mean, I had such a great response to it and so I kept those up. Yeah. And that was, that was really the biggest thing that I did.

Teresa: So could I tell you, there’s a couple of things that really interesting about Jan story. One, we talked about where are your customers right now and what do they need help with?

So that was why we looked at the house planting. Wasn’t it? Because I said to you, I think that I just bought some house plants and how everyone was doing stuff in their houses, because we couldn’t go anywhere and do anything. So, you know, Jan obviously knows exactly what she’s talking about. And then, so that was brilliant because it was like something that people could relate to that point.

But the other thing was like, considering you hadn’t done this before. One, some of the very first videos you did, people were writing, I’ve missed your face, Jan, like, and that’s the truth. Like that was the most loveliest thing about it. People who would have come into this job all the time, If you hadn’t have done that you’d have disappeared off their radar.

Like, um, and then you would have had to work super hard the other end, to go “Look, look, we’re here. We’re back.” Where, you know, and all those things. So people loved seeing it. Like you were so natural on camera, which I think is amazing and wonderful, but the truth is it’s even more amazing because you were not comfortable necessarily initially doing it where you, I guess you,

Jan: yeah.

Teresa: You just went for it, which is the best thing.

Jan: I mean, I just went for it and I was kind of propping up the iPad and saying, Oh no, that’s just looking at my nose. You know, angle doesn’t work. Um, I remember doing one outside in the garden and um, Oh my God, I looked absolutely terrible. I had, I think, I dunno what I was thinking of.

I just was having a really awful day. And I did this video and I just thought, “Oh my God.” But I put it out anyway. And I got a response to it.

Teresa: They loved it. Right? So they, people love seeing what you had say you were giving them really good advice. I learned things like plants and some of mine are not dead, which is really helpful because I do like the kilogram.

I know I’m doing an amazing job. Oh, I say, I am, I think it is my husband, but like, you know, when you had your plants there and you bought the many, you talked about them and it was, it was just brilliant. And then what was ACE? And I remember saying to the calls like Jan do gave them like, there’s one video where you walk into shots like, “Oh God my God Jan, this is amazing.”

Like, you know, that’s it. Now we’re going to see a whole another song.

Jan: I bet it’s like John Park TV. Well, that was when I got the, um, so I got to stand to put the iPad on. Yeah, there’s more developments that I can do there. I just, we reopened, of course then I got too busy to do it again. So I need to revisit all of that.

Teresa: But the thing is, I think what’s great about this is, one, it gave you the confidence that you can do it. And actually and you saw an immediate result. Like literally. The video went out and it’s like, look at all these people watching this video, look at the comments on it. Look at, you know, because you didn’t have any content to post cause your content, which you’re still doing, but your content was, the flowers was, the plants was the, this has just come in.

We’ve just made this. This is as we’re recording this now. So it won’t come out for a little while, but as a recording, it’s running up to Christmas and at the moment, Jan is posting the most beautiful pictures of lovely reads, you know, but you couldn’t do all that. So it was giving you something. So although it’s great to continue it.

It’s understandable that now you’re, you’re not going to do that as often, but if you have to, or you want to, then, you know, you can, because you’ve done that. Yeah. So then tell us, tell us what happened from a sales point. I said the whole initial ideal wasn’t for sales, the whole initial idea wasn’t it was just to make sure you’re out there, but it did have a knock on effect.

Jan: Well, it did because, um, when lockdown first happened, we had to close and then of course I’m out of the floristry forums and in touch with people in Holland and so on. And, um, so I was hearing that florists were able to actually open, but behind closed doors. So you could, um, You could do a few rolls and, um, you could deliver, so like deliveries were going ahead from the big boys.

Um, so I looked into it and got in touch with trading standards. And after about seven or eight weeks, Um, I just came into the shop and told people I’m not open, but you can actually click and collect where you can phone and collect. And so I had a barrier at the front door and people used to knock the door.

I take their order to the door and the orders just, I was thinking I’ll just go in each day for an hour. Cause I’d get the order bouquet order or whatever. I’d come in some days and I’d be here for five hours making bouquets, selling plants, all being collected at the door, or they’re not closed, go off and do the deliveries.

And it was just amazing. So I unfollowed me and, you know, the stuff stayed furloughed. So yet it was really an eye-opener. Big eye opener.

Teresa: You know, the one you were worried that people would forget and, and get out the habit, maybe a bit like going out for dinner, you know? Cause I think people have got out of the habit of going out for dinner or going out for drinks or whatever, because you’ve actually cook from home and some people are like, “God, I can’t wait.”

And some people are like, “Actually this is all right.” You know? So. There was always that worry again with things like nails and treatments. And I haven’t, you know, you haven’t had them for months and months on it. And so there was that worry, which was one thing, but also the business shifted a little bit in terms of the plant thing, then became more of a thing.

Didn’t it? In terms of your sales and, and conversations and things.

Jan: Yes, well, we’d, uh, over a year, well, probably 18 months before lockdown, we had really increased the amount of plants that we sell and the gorgeous pots and vases and things like that. Um, so we’d already got a big stock. And, um, I obviously, when lockdown happened, I just drove rounds, shift mill. Giving people plants, because I thought they’re just going to die in the shop.

I drove and give them away, which is what I did. So then when I decided to make discovered that we could reopen behind closed doors, I just ordered a few flowers and a load of plants. And some, I just worked my way through with them.

Teresa: Yeah.

Jan: And I come in the shop and obviously there was no traffic. There was nothing happening outside and I’d come in the shop to this shop full of plants.

And all I got to do was make a few bouquets, put a few plants orders aside and then tend to the plants. And it was like being in a peaceful greenhouse. You know, it was really a lovely experience as well. And of course it was giving me a break from being at home all of the time, which is not bad.

Teresa: And again, even things like, I remember one of your first photos you put for view, and as Jan, Jan’s alluded to, you know, she’s a little bit older than me and we could, and we could argue that this kind of thing.

This kind of stuff is not necessarily your bag. You’re, you’re very good. And you do do lots of stuff, but, but you took this selfie of you in a mirror, which I just thought this is brilliant with your bag and your shoes and that you’re fully dressed. Cause it’s like, “I’m going out the house. I’m going to the shop.”

And I am so excited about this. But this is, this was not so lovely because then it was like, And I think, and you might have noticed this, um, cause we do have quite a few people in our local area who in the Academy and I’ve bought off lots of small businesses this year. And I was looking at the reef. In fact, we just thrown our fake horrible one out, uh, the other day.

And I was looking at yours and think, “Oh, I need to get on an order one.” But I feel like we’ve worked even harder to support local businesses, which because during this time you worked hard to go “Look, I’m here and I could do this and I can help. And I know what I’m talking about.” And, and you turned up in front of people’s faces, which was lovely.

And then when, when you opened people then rewarded you by going, “Right. I want to come and buy from you, Jan.”, or I want to, you know.

Jan: I’m not opening now. We’ve just come out of the second lockdown and we have got lots of people coming and saying, you know, we’re buying all our Christmas gifts here. They see a or only shopping local, obviously Amazon unfortunately is just going to take an absolute fortune aren’t they?

Teresa: Yeah, of course.

Jan: But there are a lot of people that are conscious of trying to do the right thing and support small businesses. Which would be great, you know, because the potential for our high street to be absolutely gone is real.

Teresa: Yeah. It’s worrying. And, and I think this is where you, you are a perfect example of the difference you can make for yourself.

Like the very beginning. That really was the worry as with some of the other people that have done amazing things through COVID that I’ve already interviewed that this could be it, you know, and you’ve been in business a long time. And you’ve you, you know, you said to me right at the beginning, you know, you, aren’t getting to an age where, you know, you’re thinking about when can I put my feet up and when can I pass this on and when can I settle or when can I, you know, what is going to happen?

And this was the last thing you needed because you’d spent all these years, building it up to the point of then what happens next and potentially that could have ruined you overnight or ruin your future overnight by, by doing that. But because you showed up because you, you put yourself out there even though that wasn’t necessarily your first thought or something that you were comfortable with, but you got so comfortable with it. And you honestly, I want you to all go and see Jan’s Instagram account on Facebook and go and check it all out cause she killed it absolutely killed. And just shows that, you know, this is not, this is not about stupid dances on TikTok. TikTok all the time is that this is about kind of showing up and doing your thing and you did, and it was perfect.

Jan: Well I think I’ve never ever taken a selfie. Until the kitchen mirrors, I left the house one morning and I was like “Look at you, you’re going to work.” It was like great excitement. Hilarious, really?

Teresa: But honestly it just proves, you know, those different things, what they can do. And it’s a task, that’s all. If you’d done it, then you wouldn’t have carried on you’d look to something else, but it didn’t, it worked. And therefore it gave you something to do. It gave you something to talk about.

It gave something for people to interact with you about. And therefore, when you opened again, people were there, they were ready and waiting because you would help, entertain them right there, sort of few weeks of locked down as well. So it was just like I said, you were like, you’re like the poster girl for me Jan.

Cause it was just the most perfect example. Well, maybe now it’s time. Maybe now is time. Jan thank you so, so much. How can people find you? What, where do they need to go and look for you Jan?

Jan: Okay. So we are Blue Florist in Shifnal where in the old marketplace area of Shifnal and there’s parking right outside. Um, and then we’re on Facebook and Instagram as Blue Florist.

Teresa: Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. Thank you so much, Jan, for being on the podcast, it’s been an absolute pleasure to have you on.

Jan: Thank you so much.

Teresa: Okay. So that was the amazing Jan Park from Blue Florist do you get to check them out. I’m going to link up to everything in the show notes. They are wonderful, so wonderful

And that is such an inspiring story. So if you’re sat there thinking, “Oh, I can’t do this.” No, you absolutely can. And it’s gotta be worth a go. Okay. Have an amazing rest of your week. And I will be back on Monday with an episode, then. Take care.