Malinga tells it all with exotic flowers

Ann Malinga is the founder and owner of Blaque Petals, a high-end luxury flowers business based in Germiston, Ekurhuleni.
Ann Malinga is the founder and owner of Blaque Petals, a high-end luxury flowers business based in Germiston, Ekurhuleni.

With her high-end, luxury floral brand Blaque Petals, Ann Malinga ensures her exotic flowers are a medium for her clients to express their love, affection and appreciation.

Blaque Petals is an online florist, specialising in luxury floral design and styling. She also does weddings, funerals, studio flowers, gifting, events and corporate functions.

Founded two years ago, Malinga says despite the challenges the business faces at the moment, she is steadily building an empire and enlightening South Africans on how to use flowers to convey messages.

The widow of the late iconic and legendary musician Robbie Malinga says she established the business in 2015 because of her love for flowers but started working the following year.

"I worked for a number of corporate companies before, in IT, promotions and marketing research. In 2001 I left the corporate world to look after my son, Robbie Malinga Jnr, to become a hands-on mom as my husband was travelling a lot," explains the mother of two. The other child is a three-year-old daughter.

"I didn't go back to work. That's when I realised I have to start my own thing. I used my savings for the start-up, using hired taxis for deliveries. From time immemorial, flowers have been used to express love, flowers and gifts go hand in hand.

"I decided to come up with something new, something different using boxes and Perspex containers. Marketing the brand has been a challenge but I'm happy to say the majority of my clients are black people.

Over the last few years they started warming up to the concept of using flowers to express feelings. I must say my bouquets don't come cheap. People not used to flower gifting would think it's unnecessary extravagance but those who value the message in flowers are my regular customers."

Malinga, 40, says although her private clients are growing daily, her biggest challenge is to penetrate the corporate market as most companies prefer ordering from big name, established florists.

"I'm competing with international florists but I'm making inroads even in their market as I have a branch in Cape Town and in Windhoek, Namibia.

"I'm planning to go national as soon as I get funding. The growth has been hampered by the death of my husband. I'm still in mourning."

Most of Blaque Petals orders are from Gauteng customers. The business is based in downtown Germiston, Ekurhuleni. Malinga shares the premises with her business partner Princess Nakedi.

Malinga employs six people at her head office in Germiston, including a delivery driver, three employees in Cape Town and four in Windhoek, Namibia.

She says it's unfortunate that she has to import the Perspex boxes from China because she could not find them locally.

The roses are delivered from Kenya once a week and the rest of the flowers she purchases from Multiflora.

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