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Bermuda Works: From vision to reality: Petals owner tells what it takes to open your own shop

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For more than a decade I have wanted a flower shop. Somewhere that carried beautiful flowers created into breathtaking arrangements. I had a vision of what the shop would look like, the music that was played, the countettops and lighting, the unusual vases, the way the flowers would be wrapped or rather unwrapped ... much like receiving pearls from Tiffany's: packaged and bound, layer upon layer, teasing you as to what lay within.

Amanda Temple, phenomenal photographer and even better friend, has been by my side for the latter part of this journey. She has happily given both time and advice. And when I wobbled, as I did, she'd only let me look forward, to what was possible. Her art work will be displayed in the store — different media: metal, digital, matted photographs and cards; but all based on flowers.

My vision has certainly changed over the years. Petals has been in business and thriving for over a decade. While we have amazingly loyal clients who have followed us from location to location, we never had a retail presence.

For weeks after the lease was signed, and in spite of meeting after meeting, it felt that nothing was happening. I'd be in there every day, often several times a day, often with Amanda: measuring, pointing, putting masking tape on the floor delineating where things would go, pulling up the tape to move it — if only by four inches. Then again, sometimes it was moved to the other side. Malcolm Sutherland, Creator and Dream Catcher from Conyers & Associates, offered advice. He was never offended when I did not take it but that was rare. Thank you.

Carl from Coldsnap has been a godsend. The brand spanking new, take out a mortgage why don't you, fridge did not work on arrival. He promised me he would fix it and he did. It now purrs.

I look back at what was an empty hole, this demolition zone, and am amazed. Only in seeing the final pictures, can I see how much was accomplished: It's hard to believe it's the same space! Simon and his crew from Concrete Works did most of the work. From the drywall to the concrete floors to the countertops and shelving. Bravo guys, we made it!

Tim at nCompass and Vance, believed that my vision would make Petals the best tenant on 19 Queen. The hammering, buzzing, sawing, swearing and my demands according to the Laws of Straightness must have made them think twice. Thank you for believing in us.

Special shout out to Karolina from Rowe Spurling — Amanda wanted to do an accent wall, I wanted to go metallic — perhaps a hue of Japanese eggplant. We settled on a colour called Ivy. There was not enough in stock. It had to come in by container. There was not enough time. But Karolina pulled a quart magically mixed out of her box of tricks. We used it on the wall, the bookcase and the wrapping bench. It somehow pulls the space together giving it a terrific vibe. Matthew, Karolina's husband also helped (or rather humoured) us when we were deciding on the exterior paint colour. Armed with a batch of swatches, we drove around Hamilton looking at buildings, colours, perspective and relief. Then drove back to Rowe Spurling for different options. He mixed colour after colour until we were satisfied. Love Rowe Spurling. And huge thanks to Tim for allowing us to choose the exterior paint colour, not only for our frontage but also for the building.

Lindsay at ESC was a fabulous help. On Wednesday, we were still working with lamps from home — the container with our fixtures had not yet been delivered let alone unpacked. By late afternoon, the container was finally delivered. I must have sounded so desperate — Lindsay got in it to help unload! Mr Brangman from Brangman Electrical was on standby and came without delay.

Everyone I now meet, who had peeked into the shop on Tuesday, Wednesday or even Thursday morning, truly did not think we'd be finished on time. From the beginning I have had a blind faith it would all work out. Amanda and I had been working for the past week, often well into the early hours, painting, chatting, laughing, crying but most of all, creating.

On Thursday morning, I raced into the shop. I turned off the newly installed alarm (major thanks to Brian at Selectron who did not kill me when I asked him to move the control box six inches to the left) and walked into the almost empty space. There was much to be done and the clock was ticking. The workbenches were just arriving and Simon was due to install the faucet. Ornamental Iron Works did a great job on the all the bases. Kudos to Robin and his team. Even the last minute on-the-day requests were met with a no-problem attitude. Thanks to Liz too for handling the oh-so-many phone calls from me.

With the mess out of the way, the oak burl table was finally unveiled. I remember the first time I saw the slab at Woodfellows — it was last autumn; it had not been prepared for sale — it still had to be treated, conditioned, polished, oiled and polished some more. But that was it; I did not want to see any other options. I had waited 18 months for Andy to make my kitchen counter and knew anything he did was worth waiting for. Robin made the support we'd designed for the oak slab — I wanted the legs to resemble the Eiffel Tower. The whole table surely is a thing of beauty and takes its rightful place at the front of the shop. Perhaps it is the only thing not for sale.

By late morning, the shop was thrumming with activity. We were pushing hard and everything was on schedule when I received a text learning the airport was in lockdown. A suspicious package had been found and our flowers could not be released. On hearing the news, I felt a painful knot near my heart. A wave of nausea passed over me. My body felt clammy and numb. I could not focus. The arrival of the flowers was the only thing I could not control. I had been fighting a migraine for most of the day and now I could not breathe. We had less than four hours to go until the opening. I blinked back the tears and looked around me: everyone was busy, oblivious. "Keep going, there's stuff to do" I thought to myself. "Just keep going".

Almost an hour later, I received news that Carlton had picked up the flowers and they were on their way. I had called Terry Lynn Thompson from Plant Protection earlier in the week to advise her of the opening and super tight turn around time for the floral delivery. She kindly offered to inspect the boxes at the shop. Heck yes! Buckets were quickly filled with water and placed on the floor. Scissors ready. The flowers arrived just after 2pm with Terry shortly after. As she knelt to inspect each box, I hovered over her like an nervous but proud mother, anxious to see what had come in. Everything was perfect, including the delicate Cherry Blossom that so reminds me of Paris in springtime.

As soon as the inspection was finished, Carlton drove off with several boxes to Marguerite at the design studio on Park Road who, in turn, would condition and prepare them. Thank you both.

Katie Masters was such a trooper. She needed little direction and was fabulously capable with whatever was asked of her. She, Joy, Sarah and Sara began to unpack and condition the flowers while Kirsteen arranged them in the new fridge. Rather than use the metal shelving, Alex Moniz had made the columns for the fridge along with a new top for the dry bench. Thank you.

Joy Blackburne, Amanda's mother and also an extraordinary artist in her own right, helped Amanda hang the art, made the curtains, offered tea and cookies when we were weary, volunteered the right opinion when asked and somehow was always there, more often than not wielding an antique drill in one hand and a hammer in the other, always having just made something work. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Bones, who'd only been asked to help the day before, arrived to set up the bar. Simon Carruthers at Gosling’s had generously provided wines from Ste Michelle Winery (After Burgundy, Erath is one of my favourite Pinot Noirs) and several cases of Moët and Chandon. Huge thank you! I looked at my watch: 2.37pm. There was a huge significance to the time (thank you Stephanie Gailing) and I declared Petals officially open for business. Bones bought some tulips for his Honey and poured us a glass of champagne to celebrate.

Angus had been in the day before to install the curtain system and Katie, Joy and I hung the burlap curtains. The material had only arrived on Tuesday in spite of having been ordered a good month prior. Teresa, my favourite locksmith, was finishing all three locks on the door and never once complained as people went in and out and back in again.

It was after 4pm and the press was coming in less than 50 minutes — I was still in my jeans. I looked across at Amanda who was similarly dressed. "Amanda, we gotta go!" I yelled. Out we raced to our respective homes to get changed. I live down 100 steps and used everyone of them on the way back up, still damp from my shower, to brush my hair, spritz on some perfume, circle on some lipstick and upon reaching the top, hopped about while slipping my feet into my 'good luck' shoes. On our return, the parking fairies were on duty and I slipped into a spot and saw Amanda find another free space with only moments to spare. Love the parking fairies!

At 5pm Petals, complete with flowers and an amazing art exhibition with work from over a dozen local artists, (so important it deserves its own blog post) was ready for business!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart not only to everyone who willingly offered a hand but also to Lara and Kerry, my support team, who held down the fort and ran from pillar to post finding whatever I needed, finishing my sentences when, from tiredness, I could not. And who missed the start of the opening as they were overseeing a wedding. I am so glad you came at the end to help celebrate; it would have been incomplete without you.

This post would be incomplete without a huge hug to Mark Rose. An extraordinary floral and event designer, confidant and friend. Two years ago he pushed me into pursuing my dream, demanded that I not settle for less; I adore you.

Thursday was about an age-old dream coming true — I have my flower shop; I think it is unique, unlike any other flower shop on the island. I hope we've created a place where one would want to linger, to learn, to explore. It feels just like home. But most of all, thank you to our amazing, trusting, crazy, wonderful clients who have always believed ... njb

For more of Nikki Begg's blogs, see http://www.petals.bm

Rose to the occasion: Pictured above from left to right: ('Bones') in the background, owner and creative director Nikki Begg, photographer Amanda Temple, floral designer Kirsteen Brown and artist Joy Blackburne Photos by Amanda Temple
A shelf displays floral-inspired vases and art
Fresh flowers: The new fridge for flowers and greenery displays at Petals.
Sarah Parker at work in the new Petals shop
Floral-inspired art: A photograph on silver leaf at Petals, by Amanda Temple
Kirsteen Brown and Sarah Parker arrange bouquets at Petals
For weeks it felt as if nothing was happening...

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Published April 30, 2013 at 11:38 am (Updated April 30, 2013 at 11:38 am)

Bermuda Works: From vision to reality: Petals owner tells what it takes to open your own shop

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