People often ask me “who is” or “where does” Mad Lilies come from. Well the truth is she was born before I came along, so I can’t tell you the exact background but I can tell you about our journey together.
Play the video, or if you prefer to read the text is below.
I’d love to start this story with a memory of skipping through fields and making flower crowns as a child but it actually has a much more sombre beginning. It was 2011 and I was in Bangor, Northern Ireland, at the wake following my Mum’s funeral. Surrounded by many friends and family, some who I hadn’t seen for years, many dear and heartfelt conversations were had, amongst them were memories of the floristry business owned by both my Mum and Grandmother who worked together in Belfast, and of my teenage creativity, always baking and even making my own clothes, although thankfully we didn’t re-live the designs!
On returning to England and my trade marketing career in pharmaceuticals, these memories stuck with me and an idea began to grow, I don’t think I had ever realised that I had grown up around flowers and had certainly never thought of them in terms of a career but my interest was piqued and I decided to take a course to see if I had the floristry gene. Well, it didn’t take long to find the answer, five minutes into the Jane Packer career course and I was completely in love. I'd always had the pipedream of owning my own business I just hadn’t figured out what - but now the lightbulb had been turned on – it was a floristry business!
After much research and discussion (and gin), I made the decision that changing careers at 44 years of age would not be easy and I would be better finding an established business to buy, which I could then take in the direction I wanted, rather than trying to build something from the ground up. Months of searching followed. I looked at many businesses for sale, but never the right one, it was always the wrong place, wrong feel, wrong price! I began to get disillusioned and wondered if my dream was just that, my career was ‘safe’ and I was doing well, maybe I should just stay there? Then, one day an agent called to say there was a business called Mad Lilies for sale in “Banstead”. Well, I had no idea where that was but I knew I had to see it, my Grandmothers name was Lily, it had to be a sign… and from the first moment I walked through the door, I knew it was ‘the one’!
I finished my training and did some work experience with Lee, the current owner, and creator, before agreeing a purchase and 4-month handover period, we worked side by side until on Friday 1st Feb 2013 he handed me the keys and Mad Lilies was placed in my care. That first day, I remember, was a crazy one, with all our stock arriving, and lots of lovely customers dropping in to pick up some flowers and wish us ‘luck’! 2 weeks later it was Valentine’s day and Mother’s Day 3 weeks after that, two of our busiest days of the year – I’m not really sure how we made it through, everyone pitched in, staff, friends, family and even Lee was kind enough to come back and help us out! Summer was busy, and I started to realise my dream, we renovated the shop and re-branded to something softer and more organic, then in September, 7 months after getting the keys we had the official re-launch, with a big party!
It’s been a crazy ride - but worth every minute! The business has gone from strength to strength with requests for Wedding Flowers in particular growing beyond all expectations. The strength and the backbone of everything we do is the team, who are a pretty awesome bunch, insanely talented and work their socks off. I’ve always said that Mad Lilies is not about an individual but an amazing team who are all pulling in the same direction so a massive thanks must go to the current team, Becs, Rebeca, Georgia, Aneta, Jane, Shereen, Keeley, Susan, Jill R, Jill F, Katy and Garry, as well as all those who came before and all who will follow, none of this would be possible without them! Oh, and of course, Duffy the dog - Head of Customer Relations!!
Alison – Mad Lilies, Current 'Mad Lilies' Custodian