Interview with the founders of Stilfloristerna
In english, originally written for Floral Fundamentals and Fusion Flowers Magazine
Stilfloristerna is one of the most stylish and unique flower shops in Sweden, the only black one in the country, and really well-known for their floral creations showed on Facebook and Instagram. This is a reportage about their modern concept.
In south east of Sweden, you will find one of the larger cities in the country, Linköping. It’s an old town, most known for its aircraft manufacturing and the technical university. Today there are more than 150.000 residents in Linköping – ideal conditions for a different and stylish flower shop.
- Before we opened our new kind flower shop in Linköping, there were 16 other flower shops in the town. But all of them were very similar, with the same kind of flowers, same kind of old-fashioned bouquets and binderies, and same kind of vintage potteries and vases, displayed in the same way. We thought that the modern and high educated population in Linköping would need some more stylish and fashionable floral services, says Jimmy Englund, store manager for Stilfloristerna and one of its founders.
Love and dreams of their own shop
The story of Stilfloristerna starts with its owners and founders. The experienced florist Jimmy Englund, from north of Sweden, found the creative entrepreneur Joakim Anrell, living in Linköping. Joakim was not working with flowers, but an artistically flower interested gardener. They decided to begin a life together, in Linköping, and set up for a modern flower shop.
- I used to be an employee at various flower shops in north of Sweden. But I never had my own shop, and could not evolve the work the way I wanted. For many years, I awaited to be able to open my own flower shop. That became possible then I met Joakim, says Jimmy.
- I have always wanted to run a business, to plan everything to the smallest detail, to develop my entrepreneurship, and to build a strong brand. Jimmy and I complement each other perfectly and together we made it possible to start the concept Stilfloristerna, says Joakim.
Before opening, Jimmy and Joakim travelled all around northern Europe for inspiration and ideas. They visited about 800 other flower shops, and more than 500 potential suppliers of goods for the new shop. The planning of a new concept was in progress for 9 months during 2011, before the shop opened in 2th of April 2012.
A stylish name
The name “Stilfloristerna” is the Swedish word for “Style florists” or “Stylish florists”, and refers to the shops classy floristry concept. The style is modern, clear and clean, and high-quality. Pots, vases and furnishings have for most smooth shapes, modern design and are shiny black or white. Bouquets and decorations are stylishly designed, with many modern and unusual kinds of flowers, with great floral accuracy. There is no vintage, no worn wood, and no unnecessary decorations.
- This is really an unusual concept for flower shops in Sweden. The most of the other shops are more shabby chic or old-fashioned, says Jimmy.
A red-carpet entrance
Stilfloristerna is located a few minutes outside the city centre, in the district called Tannefors. The shop is surrounded by different kind of shops, for example the best fish shop in town, and is adjacent to a park called Drottningtorget (Queen square), next to a busy tree-lined street.
- It takes 10 minutes to walk from the shop to the main square of Linköping, so it is not far from the centre point, but still outside. And something that is good for our shop location, is that it is really easy to park for free just in front of the shop windows, says Joakim.
- Whether you walk, cycle or travel by car to the shop, you are greeted by lots of flowers outside. You cannot miss our lovely displaying, says Jimmy. Probably we have the widest sidewalk in Linköping, so we can fit much outside, including a red carpet for all the customers to walk on.
During the opening hours, plants, flowers, decorations and furnishings are placed in front of the shop’s two windows, in an elegant way.
- The feeling must be stylish, so there are no flower trolleys, carts or plastic inks with lots of cheap plants. Instead we place selected plants in a planned way, in special boxes and in straight rows. We exhibit stylish decorations in different sizes, in straight lines. And every day we get great feedback for the display from our customers, says Jimmy.
Shop of the year
Linköping was the first town in Sweden to start a gala and competition for all kind of shops, more than 15 years ago. This is the annual competition in Linköping to appoint “shop of the year”. In 2016 Stilfloristerna won this award.
- Oh, it was great fun, and especially as it is the customers who vote and choose the winner, not a jury, says Jimmy.
- Really fun and well-deserved. To win, you must have a well-functioning company, with good products, the right staff and the best understanding of the customers. Quality, service and attitude are valued really high. So even for us, says Joakim.
A black impression
First impression of the shop is a little shocking or overpowering. The flower shop is black. Floor, walls, shelves, tables, workbench and the ceiling are black. Lots of pots, vases, candles and candle holders, sticks and other decorations are black. The car for flower delivery is black. Even the floral paper and tissue are black.
- We needed a black flower shop in Sweden. There were none before we started Stilfloristerna. We had seen black flower shops in Oslo and New York, for example the lovely shops Blomst af Hansen and Ovando NY, and thought that black was perfect even for our modern and classy style in Linköping, says Joakim. And it is fanny to be the first black flower shop in Sweden.
All the flowers and decorations shine brightly against the black interior. Plenty of cut flowers are placed in color order. In one part of the shop you can find all the white flowers. In another part you find the pink flowers. And in another part you find the orange, yellow and brown colors. There is no fridge where all the cut flowers are crowded in a mishmash of colors.
- It should be a cool experience to step into the shop, while it is easy to grasp and see all the beautiful flowers and decorations. We want the experience to be different from other flower shops in our part of the country, says Jimmy. It is an uncluttered feeling.
Rows and lines for exhibition
The shop is quite small. But the ceiling high is hefty. And the ceiling heights is utilized for an effective display in high vertical lines. One particular type of pots are placed from ceiling down to chest level. Beside them, you can see another type of pots, also placed vertically from ceiling down to chest level, and so on. This is a really rare way of exhibition in Swedish flower shops.
- The entire display is thought to strengthen the impression of our modern and stylish concept, says Jimmy.
Every three to four weeks, Stilfloristerna change the display. Partly because it, as often as possible, will be a new experience to visit the shop, partly to make room for new products on the small surface.
In special focus for the shop exhibition where are two windows. Inside, where are deep window seats in black, used for displaying plants, bouquets and decorations in the same manner as in the rest of the shop: with straight lines. Therefore, it looks rather like, both outside and inside. A stylish and innovative way.
- We always try to create exciting dynamic presentations in the windows, to enhance the wow factor for our customers. We mix large and small pots, plants and decorations in rows, and make sure there is a spectacular centre piece showing innovative floral art, says Jimmy.
- At the same time, the experience of colors and luster of the flowers is enhanced by the black background. Black contributes to the dynamic and modern feeling, and is suitable for all colors, says Joakim.
Cut flowers and carefully chooses
For Stilfloristerna, the focus is mostly on cut flowers rather than plants. And there are many kinds of flowers, both usual and unusual, and different from day to day.
- We receive flower deliveries several times a week, and choose to have varieties with the highest quality for the day, from different vendors. The majority of the cut flowers and plants we order directly from the Netherlands or through our local flower wholesale in Linköping, which gives us really great service, says Jimmy.
- More and more often, we order flowers directly from the growers. That way we can get even more new varieties and increase links to the producers of our main raw materials: quality flowers.
The cut flowers are presented in color order. Flowers that do not fit into the shop at the moment, because they have the “wrong” colors, are hidden in the workroom behind the shop. That flowers need to be used for orders and flower deliveries. So you can not see every color in the shop at the same time.
- It is always possible for our customers to order any kind of flowers from us, in any color. We are also connected to four different relay services, including Euroflorist. It means that we have to provide more varieties than we have room to display in the shop, says Joakim.
Taking care of the customers
In shop, there are always plenty of ready plants and decorations, and some bouquets in different sizes. All created by the florists in the shop, in a stylish way. When you visit the shop, you are always invited to get personal help. There are no limits what the florists are ready to create to give each customer a unique experience to suit the personal needs of size, style and feeling. Even while you are waiting in the shop. If you want to get your order delivered home, it is no problem.
- Customers are our livelihood. We always have to take good care of the customers, and surpass every expectation. And the fact is that our customers tend to be more than satisfied, with both our floristic work and the service, says Jimmy.
- Of course it is a challenge to constantly strive to be the best at both floristry and service. But we usually manage very well with it, because we are a small shop with a great team helping each other, says Joakim.
In shop you also can find pots, vases, decor, candles, candlesticks, jewellery, chocolates and other accessories, from suppliers which are rare in other shops in Sweden. They are presented interspersed with bouquets, plants and arrangements, in straight rows. Most of the products are imported from other EU countries, from suppliers who take great responsibility for the environment and staff conditions.
- It is really important for us to see the whole picture and be able to stand behind everything we sell in our shop. We do not want to risk selling, for example, pots and vases from child labor, or scented candles that contains toxins, says Joakim.
- So, before we opened the shop, we examined providers carefully.
An inspiring atmosphere
It is an inspiring experience to look around inside the shop. It is really a classy atmosphere. As a customer, you will always find flowers, decorations and details that you have never seen before. The more you look around, the more details you see, and contribute to the feeling that the florists in the shop are incredibly talented. It is easy for every customer to want to buy everything in the shop.
- We use to have some showstoppers in the shop, something that is a little bit crazy, super creative or unexpected to see. A couple of nights a week, I and Joakim use to experiment and create just for fun and to find new floral methods and new kind of creations. Then, we show the result for our customers in the shop for a couple of days, says Jimmy.
The typical customer is a quality-conscious and affluent middle-aged person with a keen interest in the modern feeling. The customers often have very big expectations to become overwhelmed. Expectations and demands are high compared to customers in many other flower shops. And average purchase is greater than it usually is in other flower shops in Sweden.
- Of course we have all kinds of customers, young and old, and both those who should have really big and special decorations and those who are only going for a Germini or a sprig poplar, says Jimmy. But we do not have so many customers that might as well buy second grade flowers in a grocery store.
Weddings, funerals and brands
More than two thirds of the shops sales consist of orders from private individuals or companies, most for special occasions such as weddings, funerals and jubilees. The rest is more regular and weekly purchase, often for regular customers.
- We love weddings, and usually help about 200 couples per year. Wedding flowers are one of our specialties. We also like to work with funeral flowers, and collaborates with four funeral homes. And we have a good reputation in our city, to create even unusual and innovative binderies, says Jimmy.
- In fact, before we started our company, the binderies we met in Linköping were quite old-fashioned. When we began to show the customers new options, they became aware of it, and they began to ask precisely for our creativity. It is really great that we have contributed to new trends, says Joakim.
It’s a team
Make a reality of such a careful prepared concept, Stilfloristerna, requires teamwork with the right skills. Jimmy is the artistic director and store manager. Joakim is legally responsible for the company as a whole, with the cooperation agreements and marketing. There is also a third person, Leif, who has been involved from the beginning, in order to contribute to economic and administrative chores. In addition there are two florists officials, as well as a guy running flower deliveries.
- We also use to have auxiliary florists at peaks, and florist students, says Joakim.
Unique packaging – in real life as well as in social media
As part of the concept, all bouquets are packaged in a special way, in black floral paper in a manner similar to cracker. All the decorations and packages provided with classy tags or stickers with the shop’s logo and contact information. If you need a bag for your purchase, of course the bag is black.
- Even our packages are unique in Sweden. We want the package to be a part of a cool overall experience. Then, customers may give away a bouquet where the paper is left, without shame, says Jimmy.
Another peculiar thing with Stilfloristerna are the accurate engagement with marketing. Very few florists work as much, and as planned, with marketing. Stilfloristerna have more followers on Facebook than any other flower shop in Sweden, and is also well established in Instagram as @stilfloristerna and on Twitter.
- We do not only want to develop the floral ideas, but also help to set new trends and affect the entire flower industry, says Joakim, who is responsible for all the posts in social media. Facebook and Instagram are invaluable channels.
- Also different inspiration evenings and courses, both for florists and customers, are included in the concept of increasing the awareness of new flower varieties and floral ideas, says Jimmy, who is responsible for all the inspiring events.
Early 2017, Jimmy became the only Swedish florist selected a second time by the world-wide floral magazines Floral Fundamentals and Fusion Flowers Magazine as one of the most creative florists around the world. He was chosen even in 2016, to create lots of inspiring decorations to the magazines.
Summery for the future
Right now, Stilfloristerna have only one shop in the world, in Linköping, Sweden.
- We get an enormous number of inquiries from other parts of the country, to open more shops. But if we should start more shops, everything must sue – premises, staff and customers. In the first place, we examine the possibility of opening one more shop in Linköping. That shop would present a new concept that can complement our existing shop, says Jimmy.
In summary, if you put together all the pieces of Stilfloristerna’s concept – the inviting red-carpet entrance, the black interior, the unusual flowers, the classy display, the innovative decorations, the generous inspiration in social media, and the service-oriented quality awareness – you will see that it is a unique flower shop in Sweden, which deserves to be called the right style florists.
The interview is originally made for Floral Fundamentals and Fusion Flowers Magazine.