Just a few days ago The Petal Pro, located in Palmyra Village, San Fernando, celebrated it’s 2-year anniversary. Owner and founder, Christopher Deonarine, started this business venture on November 19th, 2019, out of what he describes as “not so much inspiration as it was a necessity”.
Days prior to opening his new business, Christopher, would have tendered his resignation from his job not knowing what his next steps were. All he knew was his mental exhaustion from working in a toxic environment was no longer worth his paycheck. However, based on our conversation with him, we think subconsciously he already knew what he was meant to do, as the very next day he made the decision to hone his experience within floristry, and so was birthed The Petal Pro.
Without a doubt it would come with more challenges than any start up, as the COVID-19 pandemic would throw the world into chaos, shortly after. Despite all this, he has braved the storm, and while some businesses were closing its doors, Christopher was expanding his horizons.
The Petal Pro grew during the pandemic and continues to do so, but it was no bed of roses even for a florist. Not only was there a shortage of flowers, meaning a smaller variety to choose from but our country went into it’s first lockdown, forcing business operations to be put on hold, things looked bleak. However, on Mother’s Day 2020, he took another chance on himself and made it work. Then came the number restrictions for gatherings, which was dire for some but not for Christopher Deonarine.
“The lockdowns spawned the Covid-19 wedding phenomenon that I love! Every week we had weddings – 4, 5 and 6 weddings during the week and on weekends and they all wanted fresh flowers. With less mouths to feed, the flower budget increased making my life as a floral designer way easier than I had imagined. Also, due to things like dining in, not being something we could have done, everyone was sending flowers instead, for any and all occasions and non-occasions. The pandemic made the client base grow and also allowed for me to refine certain things within the business, to make life easier for both the client and us here at The Petal Pro”.
Where do you find your inspiration?
“People in the floral industry like Gillian Caesar who’s an internationally accredited, local floral designer. Then there is Alexander Campbell of AC Floral Studio in Spain – his work is amazing and I like the modern styles that he uses, which is something I try to incorporate in my designs.”
He also accredits most of his inspiration and influence to the Danish, Czech, Russian and Japanese floristry industry.
Christopher even finds inspiration in some of his favorite movies, “every series or movie that I’m looking at now, I look for the flowers. Even my favorite movies that I re-watch, like Pretty Woman – it’s like watching it with new eyes when you see the flowers. And then I try to pull those pieces that stand out into my own portfolio.”
What to expect at The Petal Pro?
At The Petal Pro there is something for everyone! Floral arrangements for weddings, accenting event décor, flowers for any occasion, branded scented candles, branded merchandise from tote bags to travel mugs. They also carry live orchids, and terrariums with succulents and cacti.
However, the best seller, as stated by Mr. Deonarine, has to be the Pro’s Pick which is his favorite arrangement(s).
“Due to COVID, a lot of farms are now unable to meet the demand of the international markets, there are so many flower shortages right now. The Pro’s Pick was an idea I came up with to use whatever unique, varied blooms are available to create an amazing, big, arrangement that takes the guess work out of it for the clients. All they have to do is choose a price point and we do something spectacular. I love it because it really gives me a chance to use my creativity, and if it’s a popular design, I can make it a standard product offering.”
Another thing you can expect is the open communication he encourages with his clients, especially given the flower shortage due to the pandemic.
“…I try as much as possible to let my clients know, so that we can put contingencies in place for substitute flower types and/or colour palettes in case we don’t get what we ordered, or if the flowers we ordered are not up to the regular quality that has become a standard.”
What is one thing you’ve learnt from being a business owner?
“Resilience. Learning how to just go with the flow of things that are almost constantly changing in an industry so heavily affected by the pandemic. Also, being able to pull back and come up with a plan b, plan x, plan y, plan z and get the job done, delivered and with a happy client at the end of the day.”
Any advice for someone who would like to get into the industry?
At Life in Trinidad and Tobago, we ask the questions so many of our readers want to know. So when asked for advice to any aspiring florist, Deonarine actually had a lot to say…
“…be prepared for sleepless nights close to busy seasons like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – from suppliers, floral designers, whoever. Shop around for suppliers – it always helps to have a backup supplier. Network – make friends with as many other floral designers as you can – it helps when finances are low and you can share flowers. Trial and error is a great teacher. Be accountable and accept responsibility. Always put your mental health first. Have opening hours and stick to it. Never be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone – it’s either it works and you can expand on it, or it fails and you can go back to the drawing board with it.”
And finally, is there a saying you live by?
“Before leaving the house, remove one thing.” – Coco Chanel
“I’ve actually changed this to be more relevant for designing – before sending out the piece, remove one thing. And it creates the world of difference.”
The Petal Pro’s story is only just beginning and is already filled with so much inspiration. You can follow their journey on Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok and YouTube where Christopher shares a lot more of his secrets and his knowledge on flower education.