We first met Nicola Evans back in 2018 when she came to help on the installations for the Leeds Castle Flower Festival. We’d seen her work in pictures but in real life it was even better and, more importantly, she was a total legend in terms of being part of the team.
Something she proved yet again when she was part of the design team at the Bristol Profit Busting Power Day and had great fun making headdresses for the statues not to mention two very different pedestals!!
Nominated and accepted for Good Florist Guide and always happy to pitch in on all their events, when she’s not creating awesome design on a large scale, she runs two busy shops in Eastbourne and Battle, has a totally focussed eye for business – something that proved crucial when the Pandemic first hit – and also happens to be the most amazing singer!
Mum to Baxter, we caught up with to find out how she makes it happen!
How did it all start?
I started my working life in the banking industry thinking it was a 'proper' job. It gave me a great start to customer service and the idea of business to make profit. I was good at sales, organised and driven. My heart though has always been creative and since I can remember I was happiest when singing, baking and making.
I then followed my heart into a career of music where I thought I would stay however a turn in my life took me to floristry and from a hobby I realised this was what I wanted to do and, if things went to plan, I could make a living from.
I volunteered in local florists, went to college where I reached C&G 3 and then spent 3 years at a top local florist and learnt a great deal. When the time was right, I started my business with £7,000 and have never looked back.
Right from the beginning I had a very clear idea of my aims, my style and my market. I opened beau-k in 2013 and in 2019 opened a second store in Battle, a nearby village. Both shops turned a decent profit in their first years and subsequently beau-k Eastbourne has made a growing profit year on year to the point I can now employ 9 people.
Describe your style?
I think my style is totally adaptable simply because I think you have to be as a retail florist. I steer clients in the right direction so that their choices are harmonious but still what they want so one minute I’m making a wild, meadow bouquet, the next a compact modern arrangement.
My personal style is relaxed but neat, lots of foliage and delicate blooms - I love stocks, garden roses, peonies, larkspur. When it comes to image and branding, I like to think beau-k is modern, green, rustic with a dash of edgy chucked in.
Insta or Facebook, lives or static.
To be honest it’s a complete mix of all and Google business as well which always has a knock-on effect to my website sales so really important to stay on top of.
In terms of content, I post a max of three things a day but like to shake it up as to whether it’s a static shot, video or live although have to say the videos where I speak to camera get a lot more interaction than static pictures.
I’m very much a take me as you find me girl and I think this is portrayed in our feeds but being personal and showing your human side is important because people relate better to your business when they know a bit more about you as a person.
How do you tick the ethical trading boxes and do customers care?
We have always been as green as possible and on a personal level it matters. It’s probably not enough but until processes are made easier and cheaper, we do what we can within the constraints of running a business that has to show a profit.
For example, we have large recycling bins and use paper wrapping and biodegradable cello but these are really expensive compared to non-bio/normal bins, we collect rainwater for our plants and we used paper bags rather than plastic.
But it isn’t just about the supplies it’s the back story too. That’s why I really liked Hannah Dunne’s talk at Good Florist Event back in 2019 and the presentation Reka Kurtos made about sustainability at the Bristol Profit Buster Day. Both made me think about the chain, the people involved, and small changes we can all make to make a difference. We have to all be responsible for this.
I think we are all conscious of trying to be greener. Unfortunately, cost is a big factor in decision making at home and in business and there are some plastic uses that simply haven’t evolved yet into an eco-alternative. I think there is a real mix of people that care about these things but I drive my eco approach to the millennials. This generation are the future, this generation will be more aware and more concerned with making greener choices.
Who inspires you in the world of business and why?
In business in general I’m inspired by the likes of people like Elon Musk; innovators that are daring and push boundaries. Then there’s Mark Zuckerburg for using his platform for good things, education and charity.
Who inspires you in the world of floristry and why?
First and foremost, my best friend, Morgan Douglas Nuth. He has taught me so much in floristry and business. I learn from him continuously and he is always so happy to help anyone that asks. He can turn his hand to anything and I’m always so impressed with his ideas and creativity. Lesley Nash never fails to inspire … not just a business-like approach to everything she creates but is insanely talented and again happy to help and share. Our American friends Bill Schaffer and Kristina Kratt for his incredible project planning and bringing florists together from around the globe.
I’m inspired by the likes of Conny van der Westerlaken for her incredible attention to detail, Ahti Lyra for being quirky and bucking trends, those that fly the British flag at events like World Skills, and then those that are involved at other stages of our industry, the growers, strong women like Yoland Lugt and Montana Lisianthus. Women like Carrie at Florist Magazine who keep us informed and fight our corner, wholesalers like John Davidson that go above and beyond for their customers.
What did the Pandemic teach you?
If I’m honest I fell in love with my job all over again. I had to be in the shop on my own and plan a way through it. I felt determined and proud of the choices and decisions I made. When the pandemic was at its peak, I adapted, I talked my customers through change and actually I felt freer in my buying, my designs and my decisions.
It also reminded me that I am an independent shop and I can make my own rules and I can then change them if I like as well! I also learnt a lot about my staff, those that love being at work and those that prefer to be at home but that I am capable of having life changing difficult conversations in the best interests of the business.
I learnt that we are capable of being kind and supportive and generous to each other but that often it’s very short lived! That I needed a better work/life balance because my little boy loved having me around so much and that I live in a beautiful county and need to go out more.
Proudest design moment
Wow too many but my most recent was creating a big heart of flowers with Morgan for the ‘love not war’ campaign. It was a worldwide project and got a lot of media attention.
Online or in person flower buying?
It’s a mix. Most comes from Tom Brown in Southeast London via their online service that will accept orders up to midnight and get them to me the next day. It’s also good that John Davidson keeps us totally up to date on what’s happening both at their end and industry as a whole.
Heemskerk are Dutch based but also send a truck every Tuesday which is great as I get to see and smell the flowers.
For sundries I buy from Chris Wolfe at Southeast Flowers as they have a fab range and Chris is another of those wholesalers who goes out of her way to help.
What’s your best marketing tip to any other florist – if you are prepared to share!
Be Heard … Get noticed! Enter competitions, take part in events, support local charities/projects, keep up your social media, do lonely bouquets, do videos, be sincere, be funny, be honest. be involved in your industry as a whole. Join the Good Florist Guide!!!!
Where do you see the future for you and your business?
During Covid I had to make changes, cut hours and even make redundancies but I think the future will be OK. I constantly look at the products and pricing and even now I am still taking things as they come ... after all who would have predicted a war and the impact that would have had on everything.
When we re-opened properly there was a decline in sales but that was natural given up till then we pretty much had the market to ourselves and suddenly there were more options for people to spend money on.
Thankfully it’s returned to an even keel and both Valentine’s and Mother’s Day 2022 were amazing ... tough because of prices and both very last minute but good. Now we have to potentially deal with a reducing consumer spend but I am quietly confident that I will survive although rates on two shops is no fun.
What do you do on your day off?
Day off????? what’s that LOL! Any time I’m not at work I’m with Baxter. We go out to the woods or the beach, we go paddle boarding, we love picnics and swimming. If I ever get time alone (which is rare) I’m either with Morgan, baking a cake or at a spa getting a massage.
The plug … a chance to promote your business and why people should use it or recommend you.
beau-k florist Eastbourne and Battle; striving to be the best, always learning, always researching, a team of highly skilled floral designers that truly believe in the power of the flowers and adore creating stunning bouquets and displays for every occasion.