“The backbone of our business is our family, fronted by daughters” — this statement sits proudly on Floral Magic’s website.
Floral Magic is an all-female family business that has been in the floral industry since the year 2000.
It was started by 55-year-old Lucy Siah, who bought over an existing floral shop for S$10,000 with her sisters-in-law Patricia and and Annie.
In the early days, Lucy single-handedly manned the shop, while the other two would come over and help after they are done with their day jobs.
Despite their overlapping commitments, Lucy roped them in because the three share the same love for flowers.
Lucy loves to recreate floral arrangements that she saw in church, while Patricia had always loved gardening. On the other hand, Annie took up a course to hone her floristry skills.
A Bleak Start: Doing Flowers For Funerals
While being a florist often meant being a part of happy occasions like first dates and weddings, the first week of the business was rather bleak to say the least.
They looked through the obituary, cold-calling recently bereaved family members to ask if they needed flowers at the wake or funeral.
Within the first month of the business, they were thrown into a deep end of dressing a wake in a private residence — doing fabric drapes and large arrangements on the spot, under the eyes of the grieving and overlooking the deceased.
With back-to-back funeral gigs, it came to a point when they toyed with the idea of winding up the business for good. They weren’t sure if they should continue pursuing it, or keep it strictly as a hobby.
They were “second-guessing” themselves, but they had “invested too much to not make it work,” said Lucy’s daughter.
Biz Now Helmed By The 2nd Gen
Fast forward slightly over a decade later, the business has since been run by their daughters — Josephine (31) and Linnette Lau (28), as well as Joanna Teo (34).
Out of the three, Josephine was the first to join the family business in 2012. Although Joanna and Linnette only came onboard much later, they were already familiar with floristry since they practically grew up at the store.
Joanna in particular, has been working under the guidance of her mother and aunts since her teenage days.
Floral Magic’s store used to be just two streets away from her school, so she often dropped by to lend a helping hand.
I’d park myself at the flower shop, taking photos of my mum’s work [and] reviewing her website. Eventually, I saw myself speaking to her clients and I decided to take the plunge [to join the family business]. I loved being able to shape Floral Magic’s portfolio and I wanted to continue doing it.– Joanna Teo, second-generation owner of Floral Magic
For Linnette, she was about 10 years old when her mum started the business. Since young, she often observed what her mum was doing so she was always familiar with floristry works.
But observation alone isn’t enough — Lucy makes it a point for all of them to be professionally trained so they can personally help to customise bouquets and arrange flowers.
Linnette was trained in London and interned at one of the best florists there, while Joanna learnt the roles of floristry in New York.
I used to think that whatever we had learnt, we could learn from Lucy — just like how we observed what she did when we were young.
But she was so adamant about us taking professional courses, being solidly grounded in our technique — which is the opposite of how she cultivated her hobby. I gather what is most important to her is being curious and always finding ways to do better.– Joanna Teo, second-generation owner of Floral Magic
Social Media Is Usually The “First Touchpoint” For Customers
One major thing that the second generation noticed when they came onboard was that the business was mostly reliant on walk-ins.
They began thinking of ways to reach out to corporate clients and supply floral arrangements for events and weddings, while pushing out more modern and chic floral designs.
They also aggressively expanded into the online space by revamping their company website and boosting their social media presence, as well as ramping up marketing efforts with various collaborations.
Linnette, who has a public relations background, helps to elevate the brand with her social media prowess — a tool which she realised is becoming increasingly important to businesses.
“Instagram is practically our portfolio and it is the first touchpoint for most of our customers,” she said.
To date, Floral Magic has a very substantial following of over 41,000 followers on Instagram (@floralmagic_). How exactly did they amass such a huge following over the years?
I try to post as often as possible, but it averages about three to four times a week. We might [also] have been one of the first florists locally to get onto Instagram, so that may have contributed to our following [too].
I would like to think [our followers] like what they see, they enjoy the captions and the snippets of behind the scenes work that demystifies floristry.– Linnette Lau, second-generation owner of Floral Magic
A Blooming Business
Beyond streamlining their offerings and moving most of it online, Floral Magic has witnessed a lot of changes over the years.
In its first decade, Floral Magic was situated along Selegie Road, alternating leases between Paradiz Centre (now known as POMO) and Parklane Shopping Mall.
They later moved to a shop in Rangoon Road — a major upgrade from their previous space, which was “in a basement of a dingy mall with sweaty gaming shops and seedy karaoke bars.”
Now, they are located within King George’s Building which has plenty of natural light pouring into the space.
Floral Magic has had humble beginnings as a small-time florist shop, but it has since grown into a full-fledged design house with a niche in event and wedding flowers.
According to Joanna, they basically do “floral work from cradle to grave, for any occasion that necessitates flowers.”
To generate more revenue streams, they also occasionally conduct hobbyist workshops and professional classes at their store.
It may have taken them a good 12 years to break even, but their turnover has skyrocketed from S$60,000 to S$1 million since 2012 (when the second generation took over) and they have maintained this figure ever since.
Joanna humbly attributes their financial success to loyal customer support — “clients entrust their gifts, events and big days with us.”
“We are (also) really bad at saying no to customers! And we are really good at staying up late,” she quipped.
With a steady stream of orders pouring in, manpower and staffing inevitably became a challenge.
“There is a vast difference in the volume of work during peak and non-peak periods. Engaging part-timers and training them is time consuming, yet essential during the peak periods,” said Josephine.
“Finding work to fill the non-peak periods is (also) an uphill task,” she added.
Regardless, Floral Magic has grown from a one-woman operation since inception to seven full-timers this year. Moving forward, the trio looks to grow the business even further to establish it a household name.
Featured Image Credit: Floral Magic