Andrea Walker, owner of Poppies Floral Art, has just taken over a second location for her growing flower company. After 15 years of business in Victoria, she never would have expected that surge of momentum, pushing her toward expansion, would take place during a pandemic.
“I’m very grateful for the position we are in, which came as a surprise,” says Walker, who had to lay off her entire staff a year ago.
She very quickly realized that the position she was in wasn’t the one she had anticipated. Administrative Professionals Day fell just over a month into lockdown, and Walker received an unprecedented level of orders of appreciation from corporate clients. A few weeks later, they had to stop accepting orders on the Tuesday before Mother’s Day. She couldn’t manage the volume with limited staff and social distancing requirements. What few employees she had found themselves delivering bouquets to isolated moms throughout the following week.
“As people could no longer celebrate occasions or visit loved ones, the orders started to come in,” says Walker. “It was away to express desire to be together.”
In her current location in the Atrium Building on Yates Street, Walker has capacity for six people — where she previously had eight — to work within the current distancing restrictions. She will expand to nine employees with the new Vic West location, which won’t be a retail storefront, but will facilitate the production of web orders.
“Now our website is literally our main location. We had always relied on our website as a virtual catalogue for people, who always have the site up in front of them when they call,” says Walker. She subsequently invested in updating the site to reflect the full range of products, removing items made temporarily unavailable by supply chain disruptions, like tropical flowers.
Web orders have increased by 200 percent, but orders from walk-in customers, events and workshops have diminished or disappeared. The overall upswing is positive— Walker estimates she has seen a 30 percent increase in overall sales.