Small Business Success Stories: buds&bowers

Nathalie Jones

Friday, 13 July 2018

From the second you walk into buds&bowers on Crown Street, Surry Hills, you can tell the owner loves his craft. We caught up with JJ Phan to hear the story of how he got started, what he enjoys most about his business, and how he manages the everyday running of buds&bowers.

How did you originally get into floristry?

“When I graduated from high school, I didn't know what I wanted to do. I was working an office job. My mum had always loved Japanese floristry and she was doing a TAFE course. Once she finished the course, she suggested we open a store. I wasn't so sure, because I didn't think I was very creative.”

In 1999, JJ and his mum opened their doors for the first time. JJ took care of the delivery and logistical side of the business, letting his mum take care of the creative and design side of things. It wasn't long before JJ was getting bored out on the road, so he decided to give floristry a try.

It quickly became apparent that JJ is a natural, and he hasn't looked back since. He started to stay in the shop more, learning more about the craft and delving into the creative side of floristry.

In 2006, buds&bowers was growing and the mother-and-son team decided to open on Crown Street. They purchased the business from a friend, and started to trade in their new location.

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What does a typical day look like for you?

“A typical day involves waking up at 4am and heading to the markets, before making my way back to the shop to start trading for the day. After that, I spend some time on the general running of the business, answering emails and all of that.”

“These days I don't have to go to the market every morning because we've got very capable staff here. Sometimes I let them go instead, so they can learn through experience and exposure.”

Although JJ is super busy with customers, corporate clients and events, he makes it a priority to spend time with his customers.

“I really like serving customers. For me, customers are number one.”

“We have great designs but at the end of the day, if we don't have customers, we don't have a business. I always like to get out there and talk to customers and be friendly; that's how I've always been.”

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What's in store for buds&bowers over the next few months?

“The business is growing, so we're looking at expanding. We're also looking at teaching, offering floristry lessons and courses.”

When asked what his favourite project has been so far, JJ says it's impossible to choose.

“I can't hate a flower. Every flower is different. Every flower has a unique way of speaking.”

He sees different trends come and go, but throughout it all he says that every order a customer makes is a new project, a new challenge, and a fresh chance to explore his craft even further.

Tell us about what's in season at the moment.

“Tulips, dyed orchids, hyacinths, jonquils and early cheers. We also have a lot of people wanting native Australian flowers, but ten years ago no one was interested in them. We've seen different trends over the years.”

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Nat is the Communications Manager at Valiant Finance. She has a double degree in Journalism and Law, and a background in the fintech space, hailing from Asia's largest fintech hub, Stone & Chalk.

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Small Business Success Stories: buds&bowers

What's it like to own a floristry business? We caught up with the owner of buds&bowers in Surry Hills to find out.