Petalon – a flowers-on-a-bike story

Petalon FlowersThere’s little more pleasurable in the blogging world than meeting someone like Florence Kennedy. Forever inquisitive as to how others lead their lives, I’m always on the search for those who have found-their-dream.  Florence’s previous office life didn’t really amuse her much so she decided to launch her own business from home. Petalon delivers BY BIKE quite the prettiest bouquets of fresh, extravagant flowers I’ve ever seen. I ordered some for our London Fashion Week blogger brunch and sent one to thank a friend before deciding to nip east to Dalston to meet the lovely flower girl and hear her tale in more detail.

Petalon Flowers

Was it your lifelong dream to be a florist?  Not at all! It’s been one of the happiest accidents I could have wished for. I’ve fallen head over hells with floristry. I find it challenging, inspiring, and most of all, so much fun.

Petalon Flowers

how many bouquets do you deliver each week? around 100 at the moment.

how many of you delivering the flowers? sometimes 1, sometimes 3. Depends how busy we are.

how many bikes? we have an endless supply of bikes from my husband James ( who owns and builds Kennedy City Bicycles).

What do you do with the excess flowers? We try really hard to manage orders so that we don’t have leftovers (it sucks both financially and environmentally to have lots left over) and we distribute any left over flowers to all our neighbours.

Huxley - Florence's dog

Huxley – Florence’s dog

how many miles do you cycle a week? Personally, not very many any more! I have riders to deliver the flowers whilst I’m doing all the admin and business development in the afternoons. The girls cycle between 100 – 150 miles a week.

which is the best bit about your job? Watching it grow from nothing to something. I still pinch myself that people want to buy something I made to send to someone else.

Florence Kennedy - Petalon Flowers

and the most challenging? Trying to grow with the business. accepting change, adjusting to demand in a way that suits the business and our bank balance. I’ve never started a company before, so it’s a huge, daunting task at times. It’s all consuming – I rarely switch off.

Tell us about your donation to Bee Collective. We donate to Bee Collective as it’s a dedicated social enterprise that works specifically with and for London beekeepers.  Their profits go to improve habitat for honey bees and wild pollinators.

Petalon Flowers

your flower arrangements are stunning.  who/what inspires your creativity? The flower market is pretty inspiring in itself. I never wanted to create generic bunches. I wanted to use interesting flowers that you don’t see all the time. We use expensive flowers, but in smaller quantities so that sending beautiful, interesting flowers was more accessible to more people.

where would we find you taking some time out? Hackney Marshes, with my husband James and my dog Huxley.

Petalon Flowers

I found you on Instagram but where might I have heard about Petalon?  or is it simply driven by word of mouth? We are mainly word of mouth and Instagram. I love that people that receive Petalon flowers then use us to send flowers themselves. I can’t think of a more flattering way for our business to grow.

if not flowers, then what? I have no idea! it’s become my world – I didn’t know more than 3 flower names before starting out, and now i am utterly obsessed so it’s hard to imagine anything else. I could never go back to office life after this.

Who would you love to deliver to? It would be pretty cool to know the Queen had received a bunch of Petalon flowers.

tell us a flower secret. Crumble a little bit of Milton’s sterilising tablet into flower water to keep them lasting as long as possible.

Petalon Flowers

Petalon delivers every afternoon Monday to Friday.  You can choose from 2 different bouquets each week & all Florence’s flowers are chosen according to what’s seasonal, looks fresh and is generally fantastic at the Flower Market. £28 per bouquet including delivery and a donation to Capital Bee


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saying SORRY

The way I see it, there are two camps: those who can and those who can’t. And those who can, perhaps say it a little too readily. And those you can’t are simply missing that apologetic gene as, more of than not, generations before them have trodden an unrepentant path. But just how important is it to be able to ask for forgiveness? How much is too much on the sorry-front? And where would be without the word ‘sorry’?

It wasn’t just the incident at school that made me think. Although I praised the concept of last night’s homework being an apologetic letter to the teacher in question. Being able to craft a sincere and appropriate apology will stand them all in good stead. Whether or not they ‘did it’, is actually irrelevant.

Does it ever make anything better? One of the Smalls enquired. Yes, I think it does – if delivered with proper thought and ample qualification. A tail between the legs or relevant non-self-justification rationale can go a long way.

On the other hand, saying it too readily, too loudly or totally unnecessarily, is equally futile. London Underground is full of them. Terribly British over apologetic middle-aged one-journey-a-month travellers. SORRY they shrill when a commuter steps on their toe.

Lastly, up there on the high shelf sit those who lack no remorse whatsoever. The ignorant, the bad and the ugly. The man who mugged my dear friend. The terrorists. The pedophile. They don’t feel the pain they cause. Perhaps because they are already feeling too much of their own pain? Either way, one day they’ll be sorry.

This column first appeared in The Lady where I am their Mum About Town.

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About 20 years ago I worked at Freuds. Back then the world was a different place.  Guy Richie was our client on the night he first kissed Madonna and, less glamorously, I was responsible for media enquiries whenever a rat was discovered in KFC.  We had a silly amount of hilarious moments (oh how it rained the night SKY launched at Battersea Power Station) while busting a gut the rest of the time. And, as with most agencies, the clients had sky-high expectations of us and, more often than not, I’d drop down a floor to the directors’ swish offices to seek out Alex Johnston.AAEAAQAAAAAAAAIXAAAAJGUyZDNiYWUxLTVmMDktNGFhNC1hNGEzLTJlODQ1MTMxNmFiNg

You see, he was our Don of Mad Men. OK, I’m going to make him blush now but the thing was that Alex had (in his head) all the creative ideas we ever needed. And I distinctly remember a 23-year-old me making a mental note that one day I wanted his job.

Of course I’ve bumped into him since those Freud days. On Longboat Key, on Primrose Hill and once when I needed to borrow a slice of his creativity for a project I was working on. Either way, I wasn’t madly surprised to hear that he has recently launched a cunning game app called Qikionary. Centred around 4 letter words (not so much the rude ones), his game tests your logic and vocab in equal measure – in a touch screen/interactive type of way. Known in this house as ‘the hater of all app games’, I downloaded it a couple of nights ago… and…yup..pretty hooked.

So I asked Alex to tell me where on earth the idea for Qiktionary came from…

I come from a family of word junkies.  While the other kids watched TV and listened to the radio, we communed over crosswords, Scrabble and 20 Questions.  It got to the point where myself and my siblings were not allowed to open our Christmas presents until we had solved the clues (painstakingly composed by my father) that adorned even the lowliest stocking filler.  The addiction followed us into adulthood and, to this day, I can’t enjoy a normal bowel movement without the Times Cryptic as my laxative.  My brother is the same.  IMG_0367

It’s a habit that I have passed onto my own kids.  My daughter and I enjoy frequent pun-offs on a Saturday. She, in the basement of a Notting Hill record shop, and I, in a pub in Maida Vale, challenge each other to text message pun tennis.  It’s usually something like “band names that you could eat”.  Cue Bread Zeppelin, Elvis Parsley and so on.  

There was one game that my father and I often played to pass the time between placing an order in a Cafe somewhere in France and receiving the dish.  Sometimes we played for many many hours in one stretch.  The game was called Jotto.  One player picked any four letter word and his opponent had to guess it using trial, error, deduction and voacabulary.  The shorthand is ‘Mastermind with words instead of plastic nipples’.  Its subtle blend of logic and language is something I remember fondly.

As the service in French restaurants improved, some decades passed before I played it again.  This time with my kids. ‘This would make a good electronic game’ I thought.

But, beyond solving a puzzle, it lacked a point.

Since meeting him in 2005, my relationship with John Lloyd has evolved from prospective business collaborator to mentor.  He is an extraordinarily brilliant and inspiring man and I would urge everyone to concoct whatever spurious set of circumstances they can muster just to spend an hour in his company. In John’s mind, QI is not a TV show.  It is not a vehicle for Stephen Fry to dazzle us with intellect. It is not a quiz.  QI is rather a catalyst for unlocking curiosity, like Viagra for our natural inquisitiveness.  It asks us to examine our world through a lens of passion and interest rather than finite objectivity, thereby relegating the idea that we should know or not know something, but instead we should find our own connection with it.  But, to me, all that QI is and could be felt hamstrung by the unyielding boundaries of a TV panel show; and, more than anything, I wanted to show John that QI could flourish in different environments.

Such are the planets that required alignment for Qiktionary to be born; and, in May 2015, born it was.  The idea was to install the casual gaming experience of my father’s  word-game together into the QI creed.  Unlock the hidden word and your reward is a new perspective on that word delivered through a QI fact. Simples. 

So here’s the plan.  Download the app (which is free by the way) here and let me know your highest score!

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barber & parlour

I’ve told you before about the genie who lives in our house under the stairs. She’s very happy down there and only really ventures out to blow dry my hair while the Smalls help themselves to breakfast every morning. IN MY DREAMS. Because honestly, there’s no wonder that Anna Wintour’s tresses look so damn fine, day in day out.

However, in the real world, I simply throw a brush at my head and – more often than I should – my barnet goes up and out of the way before I exit the door. In a wild panic. Yes. I can honestly confirm that there is no genie whatsoever.

So, an invitation to get myself to Redchurch Street, Shoredich for a pre-work blow dry (and manicure) was too much to pass up on. But armed with my unhealthy desire to obsessively multitask – it felt more adpt to drag along ‘the boss’. Overdue a catch up and utterly positive that this would appeal to her crazy diary, we were first into Barber & Parlour as it flung open its doors on Thursday morning.

Barber & Parlour

Barber & Parlour

barber & parlour

Barber & Parlour

Within minutes, heads were wet and coffees on standby. A little painting and some big blow dries followed while our breakfasts were cooked. The whole process was seamless, relaxing and… actually really amusing too. You see, our host for the morning was Pooja – head of marketing at Soho House (of which B&P is one of their more recent ventures). I knew Pooja when she was the marketing head honcho for Food and Beverages at Harrods and she’s no less fun now with Soho House.

Barber & Parlour

Barber & Parlour

Barber & Parlour

superior multi-tasking from Jules co-founder of @londonontheinside

Barbour & Parlour

Jules and Pooja tucking into a PROPER breakfast

Pooja and Emma - colourful nails

Pooja and Emma ‘the boss’ with colourful @URCHEEKY nails

With digital/blogger gossip at full-throttle, the only issue was that no one wanted to leave the party.

Barber & Parlour 64-66 Redchurch St E2

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