Celebrating the Women Behind our Brand (International Women's Day 2023)

How do you embrace equality in the workplace?

Nicola Devine (CEO of Interflora Pacific Unit Limited):

Collaboration is a fundamental aspect of our work culture, where we value and appreciate everyone's input and ideas. We believe in creating an inclusive work environment where every member of the Support Team is treated with equal respect, regardless of their age, race, gender, or hierarchy. We promote open communication and actively listen to our employees' concerns and suggestions, recognizing that everyone's input is valuable and essential to achieving our shared goals.

Celeste Shotter (Owner of Copseford Flowers and President of the Interflora Pacific Unit Limited Board):

Equality in the workplace is about valuing, recognising, respecting, embracing, and including all individuals, working together as a team - Aces in their place and looking out for one another.

Sheryl Watkin (Owner of Your Wellington Florist and member of the Interflora Pacific Unit Limited Board):

We embrace equality by providing each staff with their own area/ workspace, somewhere they can put their personal belongings, by asking for their input into the everyday running of the shop, and by everyone taking an equal share in the workroom responsibilities.

Leanne Lovell (Owner of Victoria Florists and member of the Interflora Board):

I recognize that each of my girls has their own personality, beliefs, and different circumstances in their life. As a business owner, I embrace this by always having an open and honest relationship with them. They say you shouldn't get close to your staff, but because we are florists dealing with the public emotions all day, we come like a family. Health and safety are also important to me.

Mi Nam Cho (Owner of Flowerise, Auckland):

We became Interflora members in November 2004, feeling the language barrier. It appeared in many parts to feel that we could not be equal. The first was the strangers on the other side of the phone when we took orders. If I asked them to repeat their name or street address, they would hang up or tell me they would try to call another florist, this hurt more than losing an order. Equality is desired by everyone everywhere, but I know that there is a lot of inequality among people living abroad. We combat this by making sure we deliver good, quality flowers, to ensure our customers trust us.

Do you celebrate small successes in your team?

Nicola: We make it a point to celebrate any occasion that calls for it. It's part of our culture to support one another, whether it's by acknowledging personal milestones such as birthdays or recognizing significant achievements like purchasing a new home. We take the time to appreciate the effort and dedication that goes into hard work and we enthusiastically celebrate the successes of both individuals and the team as a whole.

Celeste: We celebrate small successes like great reviews on our service or designs, making it through a busy period like Mother’s day or just completing a large function in a timely manner. With morning tea drinks, gifting, or just some time out.

Sheryl: We often celebrate small successes. This could be a coffee shout. Morning tea or lunch shout, paid time off, or leaving early. This could even be tickets eg (WOW, NZPF, etc)

Leanne: To celebrate the success of my team at busy times, for example, Mother’s Day, I shout them dinner out. Once a week I buy them morning tea. When we were very busy at level 3 with Covid, I shouted them a weekend in Hanmer.

Mi Nam: There are many days when we appreciate our achievements with a meal at the end of the day. When special orders such as weddings and funerals come, everyone is nervous and wants to do their best. Whether it is a small or large order, we always exchange opinions with each other so that we don’t make any mistakes, and we always make sure that we fulfil customer satisfaction. Even if we buy a cup of coffee, it is a reward for our small success.

When was a time in your career when you felt empowered?

Sheryl: I always feel empowered when I am together with like-minded florists, sharing, problem-solving or just being together.

Mi Nam: I feel empowered to run a business with the heart to build trust in all customers. I have seen many people put their sincerity in flowers and convey their feelings to family, friends, relatives, and acquaintances. I’ve sent off flowers for joy, sorrow, and pain. I always try to do my best, no matter the price of the flowers, because I believe that doing so conveys the precious hearts of customers. It feels empowering when our customers come back to us because we know that they can trust us to put out a great result. We believe that trust is a promise of continuity for our future.

What has been your greatest achievement?

Nicola: I find it extremely rewarding to witness the positive transformations that have taken place at Interflora and the subsequent success that has been achieved. It has definitely been one of my most significant accomplishments so far, although as with any dynamic organization, the journey of improvement is continuous.

Celeste: Earning my NZPF Diploma in floristry was a major achievement and empowering, participating in the world flower council show in Thailand alongside many talented Designers. Tutoring and mentoring floral students at Whitireia.

Sheryl: My greatest achievement has been that I am still here in my own business, there have been many hurdles but it's to me how you handle them and how you move forward.

Rhonda Claypole (Owner of The Village Florist, Napier): I have many achievements, biggest one is being in business for almost 5 years and getting through Covid.

Leanne: After being an owner of my florist shops over the last 20 years, I have had lots of highs and lows. Purchasing Victoria florists 4 and a half years ago was the most empowering for me, as I have worked hard for many years to achieve this. It’s been the greatest achievement in my career.

What is the most challenging part of your career?

Nicola: As for the most challenging aspect of my career, I would say it's the need to constantly stay up-to-date with the latest advancements and modifications in business management and operations. Technology is a pervasive factor in all of this, and there are always novel concepts, tools, or patterns to become familiar with.

Celeste: Most challenging part of my career would be getting my business through the many challenges Covid-19 threw at us like inflated flower prices and unprecedented times.

Sheryl: The most challenging is that not everyone has my passion or my vision or they are on a whole different page. I have to remind myself constantly (or my family will do it for me) that being in business is not a hobby.

Leanne: You ask me what the most challenging part of my career is, after all these years I don’t find things challenging now. But for a number of years, I found wintertime the hardest with the shortage and high prices of flowers.

Mi Nam: The most difficult part of my career is the language barrier. I studied economics at university, my husband studied mechanical engineering. We both couldn’t have studied anything further from flowers. Since we immigrated to New Zealand, we had to make a living somehow, but the language barrier was a big problem. So, we chose to become florists, and I think that choice was as good as choosing my husband. Instead of struggling to explain to customers what beautiful flowers we have, I make sure that I deliver the best products to them.    

Who is your female inspiration?

Nicola: I am very proud of our former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, I might not always agree with her politics but the way she conducts herself under pressure with grace and empathy and stays across so much is incredible. It’s inspiring to see women like Jacinda Ardern successfully navigate both personal and professional responsibilities and serve as a role model for others.Entrepreneurs such as Brianne West from Ethique inspire me and remind me that the next generation of young women are producing remarkable products with both business acumen and a passion for creating environmentally conscious and thoughtful products.

Celeste: I have many female inspirations as long as my arm and it could take a while. But if it's industry-related I have two, Megan Parker and her absolute passion for all things floral, and her dedication and commitment to inspiring students in the floral industry. And Nicola Devine our Chief Exec for her passion, guidance, strengthening and future-proofing our Interflora brand through some very challenging times.

Sheryl: My early female inspiration was a teacher in primary school who embraced my artwork and then when she knew I wanted to be a florist gave me encouragement and inspiration. But mostly she was empathetic to my vision. So many other women have added to that group. I am truly inspired by some incredible florists.

Rhonda: I'm inspired by many women in business, especially my previous employers, and the great florists I’ve met along the way.

Leanne: My group of female friends around me inspires me. You know what they say, "like attracts like".

Mi Nam: I respect all the women who are in the flower business, this job is so rewarding and I am very fortunate that I have not been bored after 18 years.