Retrenchment sparks flowers business idea

Florist Maidi Malola plans expanding into landscaping.
Florist Maidi Malola plans expanding into landscaping.

There is a popular misconception that instead of buying flowers for an African woman, rather buy her airtime.

Florist and businesswoman Maidi Malola, 29, is changing this stereotype through her flower-selling company Blossom Haven.

Malola, a former radio journalist, said starting a flower business in Tzaneen, her hometown, had not been easy as a result of the relationship that people have with flowers.

"Some of the challenges I come across is convincing people to have flowers. Now the people from my community are realising that one doesn't need a big budget to have flowers," said Malola.

"I try to arrange according to people's budgets so that their events can look beautiful."

After being laid off from her job last year, Malola said she was encouraged by members of her family to start her own business. "I got laid off but my husband's aunt said 'hey, you do flowers so well, why don't you go into the business'.

"I got the company registered and friends and family took interest. I went to do their flowers and they told their friends; that's how we started," she said.

On her relationship with flowers, she said: "This started from a young age. Every Easter my grandmother used to buy us flowers so we can put on my grandfather's grave.

"We would arrange these flowers ourselves and I would look forward to that. I enjoyed doing that.

"We [later] arranged flowers for my grandmother's funeral and for everybody's funeral in the family. I was like why can't I do this for people here in Tzaneen and Polokwane?"

Malola used funds from her retrenchment payout to start the business and has been grateful to have her husband, an accountant, to help with pricing and company finances.

"I have an awesome and very supportive husband. I am not good with numbers. He is an accountant and I tell him what I want; he does the pricing according to my benefit and and that of my clients."

Malola currently grows flowers from her family plot and uses the services of other nurseries to get affordable flowers for her customers.

"I bring a personal touch. You tell us what you want and we do it according to your specifications. I am not on the pricey side ... If I get flowers for less I don't see why I have to charge them more," she said.

Along with having a big nursery and catering for other parts of the country, Malola added that she also sees herself in the landscaping business in the future.

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