Interview With Luxury Entrepreneur & Florist: Shilpa Reddy
When did you first know you wanted to be an entrepreneur and what was the point that really made you go for it?
I’d been working in the NHS as a doctor for almost 15 years and had always had an urge to be my own boss and do something creative.
My sister left the NHS before me and pursued a successful career as a children’s author which spurred me on to change career myself.
What is the inspiration behind the Shilpa Reddy brand and how are you different from other luxury florists?
We believe that luxury isn’t something to do with price. Our luxury clients want point of difference. We provide this with our unique flower gift boxes where the flowers are arranged in luxury hat boxes and can live in the box once gifted.
As a born and bred Londoner it was very important to me that this brand reflect the differing cultures found here. We’ve decorated for many different cultural events from flowers at a Bah mitzvahs, to wedding mandaps, to churches, to decor for Stonewall’s 30th anniversary dinner.
Our signature style involves reflecting the natural world. Our bouquets are very meadow-like, wild and big.
We’re combined luxury with sustainability. If we don’t look after this beautiful planet of ours there won’t be any flowers left! We gift all our unused flowers to a charity called Floral Angels who take them on to hospices.
What kind of challenges have you faced as a luxury startup?
Establishing a brand name and reputation was the big one! Being consistent with our marketing and content strategy has helped. We regularly put out content on all our social media channels and run regular floral workshops which helps keep the brand in front of people and opens us up to a large audience.
I use social media a lot as it’s very cost-effective marketing. I’m a big believer in networking and now have a great network of other business owners who help promote our brand too.
What really helped us was a feature in the Evening Standard in the first year of the business. It was completely unexpected and generated a lot of interest in our brand.
What’s the best and what’s the hardest part about having your own business?
Best: being able to steer the business in a direction that fits with our ethos of luxury and sustainability.
Hardest: the buck stops with me. Sometimes deciding what to invest in to take the business further is not a clear cut decision.
Do you have a mentor? How did you meet them and how do they help you?
I previously worked with a business coach and now work with a business strategist. We meet weekly to talk about ‘stuck’ projects, troubleshooting and working on ideas in the business that we’ve been meaning to take forward but that have stalled from some reason.
I’m sure every day is different, but is there one thing you do that helps you maintain a routine?
I have to get to the Flower market early (it opens at 4am!) so that gets me up and going each day,
I use a project management tool called Miro to keep me on track with immediate and longer term goals. I’m a big believer in vision boards too.
What do you do to attract and retain customers?
Anniversary cards for our wedding clients.
Thank you cards.
Free content showing our audience how to be creative with flowers.
How important do you think corporate gifting is in a business’s marketing toolkit?
Hugely important. Unexpected surprises with human touch in a world that is now so automated really stand out.
What is your favourite Gourmet Luxe gift box and why?
Afternoon tea. I love tea!!
How do you unwind once you have finished work?
I love to read. I’m currently reading Hamnet by Maggie O Farrell. It’s beautifully written.