Going back to our roots.
As someone who has worked in retail my entire life, I’m finding it odd to not be able to chat to customers face to face. We’re keeping our social distance during deliveries, but that doesn’t mean we can’t introduce ourselves virtually. So, for those of you who hadn’t come across Gardenia pre-lockdown, here’s the story so far.
Until recently, Gardenia sold flowers. We have three shops (in Wimbledon Village, Teddington and Wandsworth Common – all temporarily closed) and an online store where customers from all over the world can, under normal circumstances, order hand-tied bouquets for their loved ones in South West London. As a florist, Gardenia has thrived for 20 years – but at 5pm on 23rd March we pressed pause on flowers.
I can’t tell you how sad I felt that evening. Gardenia is a family business that my dad and I built from scratch, and it’s a business that I fully intend to pass on to the next generation. I knew I couldn’t just let go and hope for the best, so I figured out a way to keep doing what I love whilst providing a useful service to the community I call home.
Even though supermarket shelves were empty, Covent Garden market was stacked to the rafters with beautiful, seasonal fruit and veg – there just weren’t enough people to distribute it. I had a fleet of delivery vans sitting idle, so why not put them to use? Flowers and veg have a lot in common (think supply chain and shelf life), but my instincts were more deep-rooted that that.
Before he was a florist, my dad was a greengrocer. We had a little greengrocer’s shop when I was growing up, but back in the 70’s he was a fresh produce buyer for Waitrose, responsible for introducing the first avocados and radicchio to UK supermarket shelves. Veg was a big part of our lives before flowers, so this felt like familiar territory.
Gardenia Fresh was born extremely quickly – from virtually nothing to a fully functioning delivery business almost overnight. We started on our kitchen table but have since moved to a much more efficient system, meaning we can now scale up and you can subscribe to a regular, weekly delivery.
The response to Gardenia Fresh has been incredible. Thank you for having faith in our fledgling business and for spreading the word to family, friends and neighbours. Please continue to do so – the more customers we have, the better your boxes will be.
I hope that one day soon I will be able to shake your hand and get to know you properly. Until then, stay safe, stay at home and enjoy cooking and eating your five a day from Gardenia Fresh.
Love Jamie x
Where it all began... my mum, pregnant with me, at our family's greengrocer's shop in 1978.