Just a few years ago I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be (trying to) grow flowers for a living. I think I've always wanted to run my own business but the path to flowers wasn't expected or even quite so logical in hindsight.
I originally studied graphic design, but before I'd even graduated I'd realised I wasn't quite cut out to sit at a computer my whole life. That kinda threw me a little as I didn't really have a back-up life plan, other than knowing whatever business I'd eventually make a go of graphic design would always be so relevant to that process.
I ended up working in a supermarket where my first bosses were so lovely I thought maybe that might have been a business I could pursue, however after they suddenly sold it and I moved and then began working at a different supermarket where the dynamic wasn't half as lovely that idea pretty quickly got scratched from the list. Instead of taking the time to figure out and find a more suitable job I bought a villa to renovate in my spare time as at least then I wasn't renting and paying someone else's mortgage right? It was both the best and worst decision of my life, there's nothing quite like living in terrible half renovated conditions whilst hating your job to really crush your spirits.
But it was when I was supposed to be plastering (life lesson relevant to everything 'just hire a plaster'), that I started getting lost in my gardens. Having zero background growing anything, it was all very fascinating and in no time I had a ginormous vege garden filled with more weird and wonderfully coloured vegetables than made sense. I then slowly started squeezing flowers in every spare space, and started to contemplate growing (something/anything) commercially.
But about this time I was essentially made redundant (again), and not having it in me to work at a single other supermarket, and the impossibility of actually finding and getting any half inspiring job in Taranaki, led me to shift back to my hometown of Taumarunui to take a job there. To make the most of being back I hijacked a paddock off my parents family farm, and did a mini trial flower farm (though it seemed massive at the time), so see what everything looked like in real life and continue learning.
Whilst I was there for a year, my (super amazing) parents back in Stratford finished off my villa for me so I sold it. I then probably jumped the gun but I'm impatient and don't do anything by halves for better or worse, and invested everything to start EMERDEN here in Stratford, hijacking a different paddock off my parents.
That first season here was abysmal, between lack of succession planting, insect and disease pressure then the two ex-cyclones howling through in February meant my season was over just as fast as it began. I'm not going to lie that was rather soul crushing and topped off with my Nana who was very close to and my flower talking buddy, passed away early that winter and I came very very close to cutting my loses and quitting.
I'm not sure I could have picked a harder business to start as the odds are very much stacked against it, so if I'd had any other back-up life plans I would have quit to go chase any other dream. But I am so wholeheartedly hooked on flowers and slowly but surely the flower dream came back, and the 2018/19 season was finally the 'first' season I'd been dreaming of (kinda more of a year one: take two or three however you look at it).
I'm still very much figuring out the scale and refining what and when to grow all the different crops, and how/where best to sell them to actually make the business profitable, but I do feel one way or another I will get it there. I'm very excited to start selling seeds this season, if nothing else other than to be able to design my own packaging which has been a dream of mine for many years.