GOING BACK TO MY ROOTS
As a child, Dutch florist Petra Schouten always dreamed of one day owning her own flower shop and now, after ditching her corporate career, she has returned to her roots to run Erica Berry Flowers, one of Yorkshire’s best-loved florists.
G rowing up on the outskirts of Amsterdam, Petra Schouten’s earliest memories as a child were of accompanying her father, a Dutch flower exporter, to auctions and working in her local flower shop.
By the time she was 19 she had received a full floristry education and her passion for horticulture and floristry was blooming.
But after moving to England in the late 90’s and taking a different corporate career path as a horticulture buyer at Tesco, Co-op and later Morrison’s, Petra thought her days of ever owning a shop were gone for good.
However, when the opportunity arose to take over established florist Erica Berry Flowers, two years ago, Petra jumped at the chance to finally fulfil her life-long ambition.
For years, the name Erica Berry has become synonymous in Yorkshire with fabulous floristry and from their boutique shop in Ilkley they create the finest quality blooms from classic favourites to more unusual, carefully-selected flowers.
It was Erica’s reputation and flair for the continental style that caught Petra’s eye and resulted in her taking over the business in 2019.
Now Petra and Erica – who stayed on as senior florist – head a formidable team that despite the hardship of lockdown – has seen the business flourish even further.
Petra said: “Despite taking a different career path for so many years, my love for floristry and horticulture never left me and when the chance came to run a shop of my own it was too good to turn down.
“Having Erica stay alongside me was a huge bonus and with her experience and creativity coupled with my innovation and commercial knowledge of the industry it has proved to be a winning combination.”
“Erica has worked in floristry all of her life and has been awarded five Chelsea Flower Show medals, including a gold so she knows her stuff and I’m delighted she has stayed on to focus her attention on the design and creation of her beautiful creations.”
Having only just taken over the shop a few months prior to last year’s lockdown, Petra was thrown in at the deep end and endured a baptism of fire as she juggled running a new business with family life and limited staff and supplies to call on.
She said: “Looking back I don’t know how we did it, supplies were coming through very slowly and I was often working round the clock by myself to meet demand but we got there and having survived that I think we are all the stronger for it.”
Now Petra’s corporate background and her close relationship with flower growers around the world is helping her take the business to the next level and she is thrilled to be working in the heart of Yorkshire where she has lived for over 20 years.
“I love working in such a lovely town and the people of Ilkley have been really welcoming and supportive of me since I took over the business. I look forward to repaying that loyalty and building on the success and reputation that Erica has established over the years.”