This week, as part of our Florist Talk blog post series, we are delighted to feature an interview with Tracey King. Tracey has been surrounded by flowers from the moment she was born and prides herself on great quality and customer service.
When did you get started in the floral industry and can you tell us the story behind Black Rose?
Black Rose was started in 1997, I had just had my oldest child Shae & Mum had Nicols Flower Shop in Tawa which she had brought when she was only 18 years old. We were to open a kiosk in Porirua & it was decided I would manage this new store while Mum ran the Tawa store.
We eventually closed the Tawa store & focused just on Porirua & a new Black Rose store in Plimmerton located at Palmers Garden centre. I approached Mum in 2008 & offered to buy the smaller Plimmerton store off her as my first business & we decided that I would instead buy the bigger Porirua store instead. I had 3 children at this point. It was a big challenge especially with a young family, but I am a pretty determined person & was confident I could make it work.
What do you pride yourself on as a florist?
I definitely pride myself on great quality & service, every order no matter how small gets the same standard of quality, the same standard between stores so no matter which branch you go into you will get the same quality of flowers & service.
What makes Black Rose different?
I definitely think our customer service is something that puts us apart from the others, we have a very high quality product on an amazing website that has taken years to build up & create (we are on our 3rd website), when you place an order online, you get a email confirmation with your receipt & a delivery confirmation email once the arrangement or bouquet has been delivered. Our customers have said they love this service.
We also have built great relationships with our customers & I know them by name, I know what business or organisation they are from & remember previous orders which they love.
Anyone can sell flowers, but we're so customer orientated and we really get to know our customers and become friends.
You're there for all the big occasions and important parts of their lives - you do weddings, then they come back for anniversaries and then for babies, you get to see all the milestones.
Top three flowers you would choose for a perfect winter bouquet and why?
Orchids…Easy, love them, a must buy every week. Others would be roses, lilies, sweet William, freesias.
Are there any funny stories you can share from working in floristry?
Only that I hated it when I was younger & didn't want to be a florist at all, I worked after school & school holidays, I cleaned buckets, windows, floors. I became pregnant young at 20 & had to give up my apprenticeship as an auto spray painter ( Yes! that's right ) & went to work with a local florist Shelley Ann's in Porirua, she assumed I knew what I was doing as I was my Mother's daughter & left me in sole charge each afternoon from 2:30pm until closing, I used to get asked to whip up everything from corsages / buttonholes, bouquets & casket sprays!! I had no idea what I was doing but I had a good eye, I'd ring Mum & say "I need to make a casket spray in an hour" & she would go " Get out the book, just copy it & make it look like that!" So I did…I loved it & realised I was good at it, & never looked back.
What does the future look like for Black Rose?
We have grown over the years from strength to strength, I now have 3 stores, Marton, Porirua & Wellington City. My goal is to help my staff grow within the business's. I would love to see some of my current girls move up to management & even ownership positions , there is some real passion & talent there & I would love to have a hand in helping them achieve their goals & dreams . The brand is strong & we have grown a great reputation that can easily be expanded on in the future.
What’s your favourite Inteflora bouquet or arrangement?
How do you weigh up the ethical challenges when it comes to fresh flowers?
The Marton store has been looking at using as many local growers as possible, as well as growing produce myself on the Farm. This has taken time to establish connections & once local growers know you want to buy they regularly come in with locally picked flowers & foliage. It's freshly picked, seasonal, there's many things you can't get at the big commercial markets & has zero to low milage or transport costs, has well as handling. I had a meeting with a local grower yesterday who was planning her garden around what I would need coming up for summer. The Farm produced Zinnias & sunflowers this past season & we are in the process of building a hydrangea shade house for the upcoming season. This will then filter down to the other stores as we produce more.