Meet the Florist: Sepali, Mangere Floral Studio

Who are you and how did you get into floristry?

My name is Sepali and I am of Sri Lankan heritage. I am married and have 5 adult children and 2 beautiful granddaughters. I live in Mangere Bridge, Auckland, and have lived there most of my life. I have a business degree from Massey University and I am Chartered Accountant. I decided to buy the local florist store when Val and Chris Payne wanted to retire because I wanted to do something that gave me flexibility and serve the community.


Why did you choose to be an Interflora florist?

Mangere Floral Studio has been an Interflora florist shop for a very long time, over 40 years. The Interflora membership makes me feel like I am not alone - there is a group of florists who work the way I like to work. Interflora has high-value and good quality products that are easy for us to produce. The Interflora brand allows us to set ourselves apart from the rest and gives customers reassurance of good service and quality. I see the value in the brand and promote it whenever I can. 


Can you share a moment in your career when you felt empowered?

I always feel empowered when a big event is completed, or a corporate client keeps ordering from us. I feel humbled by the fact that customers come to our little shop to order flowers for their important days. I feel privileged that brides let us be part of their day. I have been very lucky to have great people around me to empower me, including talented florist and staff.


What advice do you have for younger florists?

It’s a difficult time in the floral industry for new people coming into it. My advice to a young florist wanting to enter the industry is not to specialise too quickly. Work for a reputable florist and understand the environment and that it is a business. One of the most important things is understanding cost structures and margins. Costs change dramatically all the time and managing margins can become tricky. All sorts of hidden costs eat into the margins.   

Presently, the internet and social media is influencing customer expectation – and it’s not always in constructive ways. That’s when being a professional is important. The Interflora brand says that.


What is your favourite flower/flower season?

Spring has always been my favourite season, probably because I see all the beautiful spring colours when I go to the flower auction these days. I really don’t have a favourite flower, it changes all the time, I love all of them and love working with them. It’s never a dull time at the shop, I miss the flowers when I’m away. I’m a crazy flower lady who believes that everyone should have a vase of flowers on their table.