Leaving her job as the MD of a PR and marketing company to set up her own flower and gift company, Louise Jordan knows all about the challenges that come with starting your own business. Inspired by a love for creating innovative and modern floral design, switching careers was a risk, but it’s one that’s paid off tenfold. Here she shares what she’s learned along the way.
Did you always want to work in marketing/PR?
When I left school, I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I studied business in college. It wasn’t for me so I left after the first year. I went travelling for a year and loved it so much I decided I wanted to work in travel. When I returned home, I landed a job in Panorama Holidays in College Green and within a month found myself in the marketing department.
In college, I studied… after landing my first marketing job I instantly loved it and found I had a real flare for creative campaigns. I then went and studied marketing in Dublin Business School and later PR in UCD. As my marketing career developed and digital became hugely important in the marketing mix, I also studied at the Digital Marketing Institute.
My most formative work experience was… in 6th year in school when I secured a job in St. Luke’s hospital. I probably wouldn’t call this my most formative work experience, but it was definitely a life-changing experience. My mum had cancer at the time, so it was close to my heart and I wanted to help others in a similar situation. Working there and meeting some amazing and inspirational people taught me early on in life how precious life is. Your health really is your wealth and I learned how important it is to live in the moment. I also realised how much I loved working with people, listening to their stories and making a difference.
My first real job was… in MyTravel in Citywest Business Campus. I was here for five years and worked on some big projects and learned to implement and develop successful marketing strategies, how to deal with crisis management and work with big media agencies. I was also introduced to contracting hotels for tour operators where I learned the art of negotiation.
The most invaluable thing I learned early on in my career was… to trust yourself and not to be afraid to take a leap. So many women have fantastic ideas but don’t trust themselves to make the transition to setting up their own business. The only obstacle is yourself and if you believe in yourself and know your strengths and are truly passionate about something you can be anything you want to be. Also, manage a work life balance and make time for yourself, so you don’t burn out!
I decided to change fields because… when Covid hit, the majority of my clients were in the travel business which was drastically affected. For the first time in 10 years, I had the chance to stop and evaluate my career. I have a lot of corporate clients and when events and entertaining came to a halt, they were in search of alternative ways to communicate and target potential customers. I found it difficult to find a good product out there that serviced the corporate market with gifting clients. It was from here I developed the idea and dream for Forest Green, a high-end artisan floral design and hamper company.
A common misconception about what I do is… that it is glamourous! I launched Forest Green a few months ago and already we have done numerous high-end weddings for Irish and US couples and some major events. I have been in event management as far back as I can remember. Planning events where you are working with a couple or company to develop their dream look or a vision that will captivate their clients, where you’re designing and executing this through the beauty of flowers is pretty amazing, but it’s also extremely hard work. No one sees the long hours and preparation in the background. I am very lucky to have an amazing and talented team behind me that make it all happen. Whether you are creating a campaign for a tourist board to bring tourists to a destination, or a floral masterpiece for a client, the same rules apply. Listen to your audience and know who your audience is and the rest will fall into place.
My main responsibility in work is to… coordinate and manage all the moving parts; staff, clients, suppliers, developing the business and striving to be the best in the market.
Do you have a career mentor or someone you look up to/seek advice from?
One thing that I have learned in my career is that the female entrepreneur force in Ireland is very strong and incredibly supportive. In TL Marketing one of my clients was South Dublin County Council. We ran their Women’s Enterprise Network and organised monthly events. We organised National Women’s Enterprise Day also, which was a great and inspiring challenge at the time. I met some amazing women and love the support and respect female entrepreneurs have for one and other. Throughout my career, I’ve picked up pieces of knowledge or life lessons from all the people I’ve met on my journey. I think connecting with other women is hugely important and this has definitely helped me further my career.
The biggest risk I have taken in my career so far… was starting my own marketing and PR company and leaving the safety net of working for someone else. I soon realised running your own business when you are a start up, that you are everything; accountant, creator, media buyer, account manager, secretary. This was very overwhelming but one of the biggest lessons I have learnt is don’t be too hard on yourself. Make sure you take time to stop and acknowledge your accomplishments in business, whether that is winning a major contract, getting industry or brand recognition or growing your annual revenue.
I wake at… 6am. My children are early risers and so am I. I am a single mum so myself and the boys are a very tight unit. The mornings are manic, and we have lots to get done before the 9am school drop off!
The first thing I do every morning is… Alex, my eldest son who is 9, jumps in the bed with me at 6am for morning chats. I treasure these 10 minutes before the day starts and our hectic routine kicks off.
My morning routine is… 6am; wake-up. Kisses and cuddles with the kids. Jump up and walk our dog daisy for 15 minutes. 6.30am; shower, dress and get the boys ready. 7am; make the school lunches and grab a quick coffee while I check emails. 7:30am; plan the day ahead while having my granola and fruit! 8am; drop the kids off and continue into the office for meetings, workshops and to brief the staff for the day ahead.
I can’t go to work without… stopping at Insomnia for a cappuccino.
I travel to work by… car. I live in Delgany so I need my car as I am travelling in all different directions everyday. That is one of the greatest things about this business –every day is different.
On an average workday I… plan an event or wedding, meet brides or corporate clients, order flowers for upcoming events, evaluate last week’s online orders and set targets for the coming week, meet and brief staff, work on product development, marketing campaigns and PR strategies for the business.
I start my working day at… 8.30am.
The first thing I do at work is… check emails, respond to clients and brief the team on the day’s events.
I usually spend the first portion of the day… in meetings.
I break for lunch at… I don’t usually! It’s a bad habit but I have never taken a lunch break. My working day is short in order to get home to take the kids to matches etc. so every minute counts. I generally work through lunch and have a big dinner.
The most useful business tool I use every day is… Hootsuite. I do all our social media so it is great to schedule posts in advance. I am also a master at WordPress which we you use for our websites and am constantly updating and enhancing things on the website.
I save time by… dictating emails whilst in transit. I spend a lot of the day in the car, especially now when wedding season is in full swing. I don’t waste a second of the day and use this time to dictate emails.
I rarely get through my working day without… being blown away by a creation one of our florists has made. I never tire of looking at new floral designs.
The best part of my day is… taking calls from customers who are thanking us for our service or a bouquet they have received. The flower business is a very personal one – whether you are dealing with a bereaved family, planning the most important day of someone’s life or simply sending a bouquet to someone who is going through a difficult time – there is a story behind each and every bouquet or arrangement. It’s very important to me that we value the meaning of the flowers that we are sending and exceed people’s expectations every single time.
The most challenging part of my day is… juggling work life balance and making quality time for the children. My dad instilled a strong work ethic in me from a young age and I think it is very important that the kids learn the value of hard work and what it takes to be successful, but down time with the kids is equally important. No phones, no emails just them. You blink and these precious years are gone.
I know it’s been a good day if… there’s a buzz and sense of excitement at the end of the day when you’ve finished an event you have been planning for months. Seeing all your team on-site working together and creating a masterpiece; that’s the reward!
I usually end my day at… I try and get the kids to bed at 9pm and log back on until 11pm. In this business, you could work 24hrs!
I switch off from work by… in the summer after a long day, I love finishing it with swim at Greystones beach. It is definitely good for the soul.
Before I go to bed, I’ll… read for about 30 minutes to try and unwind.
I often prepare for tomorrow by… making notes in my diary for the days ahead.
After a long work week, I destress by… hiking in the mountains with my partner James, when I can take a Saturday off, this is by far my favourite thing to do. The fresh air, no one around as far as the eye can see… bliss.
The accomplishment I’m most proud of is… my business Forest Green, my two gorgeous boys Alex and Tristan and never giving up. I lost my mum at a young age and she taught me to keep on fighting, always pick yourself up and keep on going. She was the most courageous and bravest person I’ve ever met.
If you want to get into my line of work, my advice is to… surround yourself with brilliant people, learn from the best and believe in yourself. Everyday in this business I still learn something new, there is always more to learn and room to do better. I never stop researching, looking at international trends and innovative ways to stand out from the crowd.
I’ve just finished working on… our new range of plants for Forest Green. At the moment I am working on launching our hampers. We offer bespoke hampers at present but in September we are launching our full range. Each hamper will have a beautiful arrangement of Forest Green dried flowers and all sorts of goodies to cater for everyone.