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Flower power and the way to a blooming business Nisha Haq talks marketing and making it on your own with paper flower entrepreneur Clare Davies

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lare Davies has always been an arts and crafts guru. After an Art foundation course, a degree in Textiles Design and 11 years of passing on her passion as a teacher, there’s not much this modern-day William Morris doesn’t know about her craft. But it wasn’t until her wedding day that her passion turned into a truly remarkable and unique business idea… In the run-up to her big day back in 2016, Clare was browsing flowers. She said: “I love flowers and I had lots of ideas how I wanted to incorporate them into our special day.” But as the big day approached and Clare found more and more beautiful posies, a problem arose in her mind: she couldn’t stand the thought of seeing them wither after the wedding. “I really wanted to hold on to as many memories as I could from the day, so I decided I wanted my flowers to last too. I started researching and discovered paper flowers. I fell in love with the process and did all the flowers for my wedding including buttonholes, table decorations and chair ends.” Two years later, Clare hasn’t stopped. She now runs the hugely successful – and hugely unique – paper flower business Petal and Bird. Based in Chichester, it offers “unique handcrafted bespoke paper flowers for lasting memories for special occasions”.

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Schoolteacher to businesswoman: Clare Davies

It’s an offering that was hugely popular right from the start. Even before she took the plunge and started her business, her colleagues were making orders. “Before I left my teaching job, I had a few colleagues actually ask for flowers for birthdays and anniversaries so as soon as I advertised my business, people were interested. I began Petal and Bird through word-ofmouth and I’m developing contacts that way.” Now, not long after Bird and Petal’s oneyear anniversary, Clare says personal contacts and word-of-mouth are still very important for promoting her business: “I try and make sure that if I’m exhibiting at a wedding fair, I always make good use of the marketing opportunity there. I try and acquire lots of contacts and – and hopefully orders – to cover the cost of exhibiting at the fair.” Clare also says the wider self-employed community has been very important for building and developing her business: “There are so many people who are willing to help make connections and share advice, which I think is amazing.” It’s not just personal connections, though. Like any businessperson, Clare has other ways of making Petal and Bird bloom. She thinks deeply about her marketing and how she wants her business to appear. She believes the key is: “Being genuine and honest about who you are.” She combines her honest, down-to-earth modern work

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