Anna Brice – Marigold Merchants
“I purchased this business almost two years ago now. It had been a florist shop for over 35 years, so I just continued the tradition. I gave it a revamp and rebranded to Marigold Merchant.
We dressed the shop with some of Ted’s furniture from the old Antique Shop in here, like the French baker’s table in the middle of the shop, and we also have a coffin which is over 100 years old – they use them in the Museum to display artifacts, but we use it to display flowers!
I chose the name Marigold because it was something that Mum and Dad put in their vege garden as a humble companion plant – it keeps some pests away from your garden. I grew up in a rural area on the outskirts of the Bombays and my parents are growers, so very much into horticulture. Mum’s a microbiologist and Dad’s a horticulturist so I grew up with that around me and I got interested in flowers when I was straight out of school. I worked picking in a flower house, and then went into an apprenticeship at Ellerslie Flowers.
I tried a number of different careers along the way, I studied Fashion design, did event management and I was also a flight attendant, but I always came back to floristry. I just love nature and missed it; I always end up being pulled back in. I use all the skills I picked up along the way in my business today; fashion gave me an eye for how colour works, I’m happy organising smaller scale events like our workshops and I love the customer service aspect of what I do.
We do Terranium workshops and we also have a Christmas wreath workshop coming up which we do on a Wednesday and Thursday. It’s up to people to put their own group together – usually between four and ten people – and we’ll put on a workshop for either dried or fresh wreaths. Prior to Covid restrictions, we would sometime extend into the Apothecary and have more people with more room and put on drinks and nibbles – it’s a nice girly evening!
We do a lot of weekly flowers for local businesses, and we’re also getting quite a lot of weddings this season, but they’re are COVID-adapted and much smaller than usual. People are booking in quite late, which is usually unheard of; normally we’d take bookings about nine to twelve months beforehand. We also have a lot of loyal repeat customers who walk in and buy flowers for their vases at home. The local support is awesome. I have a great team, Leah and Sarah, who work with me and I couldn’t do it without them.
We were recently approached by the owner of New World Howick, asking if we’d be interested in doing a floral stand down there and we jumped at the opportunity! It’s great to be branching out more locally. We also collaborate with a couple of other local business owners. Kate Jones does the beautiful crystals in here, and we have a some lifestyle items in the shop like vases and candles. Howick reminds me of that Bombay rural community where I grew up in the sense that everyone looks after each other here. It’s got a great community and local vibe. I love walking down the street and knowing everybody, or bumping into people and having quick chats or catch ups.
The saying, “if you enjoy what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life” is absolutely me in a nutshell, I enjoy what I do every day.
Photography by Carmen Bird