Question Time – The florist that flourishes after opening in times of pandemic

Kelly Laurence, owner of The Flower Cart in New Plymouth, started her business in a small cart at Escape Coffee and is now a major player in the wedding industry in Taranaki.

VANESSA LAURIE / Stuff

Kelly Laurence, owner of The Flower Cart in New Plymouth, started her business in a small cart at Escape Coffee and is now a major player in the wedding industry in Taranaki.

The Flower Cart opened in New Plymouth six weeks before the first lockdown in 2020. Stephanie Ockhuysen talks to owner Kelly Laurence about how she scaled her business during a global pandemic.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a Taranaki local who moved back to New Plymouth in early 2019 after living in Brisbane for several years.

There’s just something about Mount Taranaki to make you feel right at home.

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I’m a mom to two mostly well-behaved but rather spoiled Maltese Shih Tzus, Ollie and Fifi, and recently discovered Yin Yoga.

What is The Flower Cart and how did it start?

I started a small outlet from a cute little cart in the Escape Coffee building six weeks before the first lockdown. It’s not the best timing, but I’ve managed to pivot and evolve over the past two years and more recently have focused on the summer wedding season.

Laurence says her favorite flower is an Astilbe.

VANESSA LAURIE / Stuff

Laurence says her favorite flower is an Astilbe.

What were you doing before The Flower Cart?

I owned The Bella Bloom Co in Brisbane for nine years, specializing in wedding design. I had the opportunity to study floristry in Brisbane and had the chance to attend amazing workshops in Sydney, Phuket and Santorini to perfect my craft.

What is your favorite flower?

People might be surprised when I say ‘Astilbe’. It has the most delicate feathery shape and even the use of a few stems can enhance the overall look of a bridal bouquet.

I was delighted to see some growing in Tūpare and Emerden Flower Farm had some last season.

What is the biggest benefit of your job?

The autonomy to do my creative thing and the reward of seeing how flowers can brighten someone’s day.

What is the biggest challenge in your job?

Working with fresh product and minimizing waste, oh and time management!

What is your favorite place in Taranaki?

Right now I’m really enjoying a Sunday morning coffee with my partner sitting at the mouth of the Waiwhakaiho River where The Shaker Tin coffee trailer parks. Such a cool little place and I can highly recommend it.

What do you enjoy about running a business in Taranaki?

I’m not going to lie, it’s been a tough two years. I had a lot of support from the local community, Venture Taranaki, Chamber of Commerce and Taranaki Weddings. There are some very creative wedding industry vendors based in the area, and they have been incredibly supportive.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to become independent?

I would say go for it! Don’t be afraid to say “yes” and don’t be afraid to say “no”. Have a business plan, but be flexible.

I had to accept a part-time job to follow my passion, and it was hard to balance it all, but looking back, it was so worth it.

What is your favorite place to eat in Taranaki?

So many good places! The Liardet Street Projects are a good one!

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