Mums who launched a business after becoming friends on the school run are opening a new florist in time for Valentine’s Day.
Owners Samantha Richards and Katie Hall, who live in Maidstone, have been friends for four years but worked together more than a decade before without realising.
Samantha, 33, said: “We were actually both cabin crew for easyJet about 10 to 15 years ago and flew together.
“Fast forward to about four years ago, I bumped into Katie on the school run and we reconnected and found out that we worked together for about two years but never knew each other.
“I was then due to get married and I roped Katie in to do my wedding flowers because I met with a stylist and didn’t feel like she fully understood my vision.
“I asked Katie if she could help me because I trusted her so she did my wedding.
“We were sitting in the garden with a bottle of wine after and she said to me ‘I’d love to do this for a living’ and so I said let’s do it.”
The next day, Samantha came up with the name – A Touch of Kent – and the pair started the business in September 2022.
Katie, 37, started her floristry journey when she was just seven years old. She explained: “My next door neighbour was a florist and I’d sit with her and constantly watch her and learn new techniques.”
When they started the business, she was working part-time for easyJet – which she’d been doing for 17 years – and Samantha worked part-time for the ambulance service.
But five months later, they both quit their jobs to run the business full-time
“It’s been 18 months and we’re fully booked for this year and we’re over halfway booked for next year for the weddings,” Samantha said.
“We’ve kind of exploded, which we didn’t expect at all.
“Everyone kept telling us it was such an oversaturated market and that we were going to struggle but we just haven’t.”
Now, the pair are opening their first showroom in Spectrum Business Estate.
It means they will now have space to do the floristry, styling and signage for weddings. They will also be opening as a florist.
They currently travel all over the UK to supply couples with flowers for their big day and will be taking on freelancers during the wedding season.
Samantha explained: “We started out in Katie’s kitchen. Last Valentine’s Day we had a mini stall on the side of the road and we sold out within a day. We sold way more than we expected.
“It’s just trying to get the word out now that we’re around the corner in a unit and people can come to a shop.
“I do the styling and the signage side of things, Katie is the floristry expert and anything I’ve learnt has been from her.
“Until we build up our brand and our reputation on the estate, it will be a pre-order online with 24 hours notice.
“On Valentine’s Day, Mothers Day and other big events we will do walk-ins. Eventually the plan is you’ll be able to walk in and get what you need.”
The pair are both mums – Samantha has two sons aged five and seven, and Katie has two adopted sons aged seven and 10.
The florist will be opening tomorrow (February 13), the day before Valentine’s Day.
Samantha said: “It’s nerve-wracking and daunting but very exciting for us.
“We’re just two normal mums trying to support our families and follow our dreams and our passion.
“I think it’s really important that when clients come to meet us we don’t put on a facade, we’re authentic. We’re very determined and people trust us.
“What we try to do as a business is be brave and be bold.
“A lot of traditional florists know that certain flowers go together and they stick with what they know, whereas we’re quite bold and experimental. We just try to be different.
“It’s something that we never thought would happen so soon. Since the minute we started this business, we didn’t expect it to take off the way it has.
“We are getting these incredible opportunities which people with 10 to 15 years in business would expect to get, not us who have been trading for 18 months.
Katie added: “This is a dream, we never thought we’d be where we are right now.”