Karen Legg – Avenrose Florist
“We have owned Avenrose Florist for eleven years now, but it was a leap of faith to get started. My husband, Le Min, had been made redundant three times in three years, so when we saw this shop come up for sale, we decided to take the bull by the horns and control our own destiny. We sold our house, bought a smaller house, and bought the business.
I have always been creative. I was a teacher aid for a long time before you had to be properly trained. Then I did a floristry course during the day, and took the kids gardening after school with me. I met some beautiful people doing that and that helped us make the decision to start.
In the beginning, it was just me working here. I had to shut up the shop to go and do deliveries. Le Min went and got a nightshift job – it was supposed to be for a year and ended up being four. But it was not working, and he wasn’t sleeping, so we made the big jump and started working in the business together. We were not quite ready for it, but we made it work. He does all the paperwork and deliveries and I’m the maker and spend the money! My proudest achievement is working with Le Minh and not killing each other. It’s only because he’s a nice guy.
It was a hard decision to keep the business shut in Level Two. I would have had to take my friends and staff out of their bubble to help me and I didn’t want to. We took three days arguing about it, thinking “Are we letting our customers down?” In the business we’re in; you need to be talking to people face-to-face and we wouldn’t have been able to do that. Our landlord Wally Rice was amazingly supportive during that tough time. You can live off an oily rag when you have to!
It is a bit hard now, because flowers are so expensive, but we’re holding level and are okay. A lot of my regulars have lost their jobs. I’m just trying to have a balance. Fortunately, our family are fine. We’ve got two daughters – 28 and 26. One is in England, and the other has just moved back from Australia with her partner and our seven-month-old granddaughter. They have just got out of quarantine and are back living with us.
I just love Howick Village and the cafes, the parks and beaches, the water, and the boats. There’s a younger crowd moving in – my daughter will get a surprise as she hasn’t lived here for six years. It’s a beautiful place to live.
The village is humble, and I love supporting the local community because it’s giving back. I support the Santa Parade. I’m so glad Bo Burns does so much to make the Parade happen.
It is the people who make it special. I have a lady who comes in every week and gives me ten or twenty dollars and says, “Give me a couple of flowers for two or four people.” She just goes around and gives them to different people every week.
I have met so many beautiful families and we build up trust with them. I find it such an honour to get asked to do a 21st, or a wedding then a funeral. I have been doing this for so long, I can listen to people and tell what flowers they will like. It is intuition, and they trust me. We’re blessed to be here, and I just love it more and more.”