Welcome to the Emirates Woman weekly series ‘How I got my job as…’ where we speak to some incredible entrepreneurs and businesswomen both based in the UAE and globally to find out about their career paths that led them to where they are now; what their daily routines look like; the advice they’d give to those starting out; and the hurdles they’ve had to overcome.
This week we chat with Samantha Middleton, the founder of the Gorgeous Flower Co., a Dubai-based florist which was launched in 2014 aiming to bring top-quality bouquets and arrangements to the UAE.
Having been in Dubai on and off since 1984, Samantha returned to the UAE full-time in 2009 and found she couldn’t find the same top-quality flowers in the UK, so she and her husband decided to launch the Gorgeous Flower Co together.
Emirates Woman sat down with Samantha to find out more about her career history and what made her want to enter the florist realm.
What was your favourite subject at school?
Arabic – I studied Arabic in Dubai from 10 yrs old and then went on to Durham to do my degree in Arabic. It also explains my love affair with the Middle East, and Dubai in particular.
What was your first job?
Working as an account executive for a marketing agency in Dubai
What eventually brought you to Dubai?
I came here with my parents in 1984, left to go to university, came back a couple of times since and this time I’ve been here full time since 2009.
What inspired you to go into the flower industry?
When I first started it was very difficult to get good quality flowers that gave you really good vase life…like many of us I love flowers in the house and it was just so hard to find good quality flowers at the time. My husband had owned a flower business in the UK and we talked about starting a company for while until I took the plunge in 2014. So, I felt I knew what I needed to get right to attract customers.
You launched The Gorgeous Flower Co. in 2014. What’s the story behind launching your own flower company here in Dubai?
Throughout my working life, I had always struggled with getting the balance right between working and spending time with my three young children and romanticised about having my own business. When I reached 40 years old in 2014 I decided that it was time for me to do something I was passionate about and so The Gorgeous Flower Co. was born.
What are the key elements of your role?
Wow, where do I start? In the beginning, it was focussing on having great operations, product and packaging. Now that we are more established looking after my employees and keeping them motivated is a large part of my job. Plus making sure that my suppliers are all being paid and therefore maintain excellent business relationships.
Talk us through your daily routine.
I start in the morning by visiting my main shop and distribution centre, Studio City, where I meet with the team to go through the day’s priorities and make sure all our online orders have been prepared and that our shops have everything they need for the day.
I then spend some time with my senior florist and sales & marketing discussing any large customers or occasions that we need to do additional planning for – Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day would be a good example. This is when I would also look at our growth plans and the new shop opening, shop designs, additional team members and vehicles, etc.
Admin is next to make sure our partners and suppliers are paid on time as well as making sure my team’s visas and holidays are all in order.
Once all that is done I go to each shop and make sure our teams, our product and our display are as they should be.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?
Know your customers and your market really well, and seek to build a reputation for quality and service.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Always hire the best people you can.
And what is the worst?
It’s easy working for yourself!
What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome in your career?
Probably the recent impact of the pandemic on our customers and team, it’s very difficult to lead through periods of great uncertainty whilst trying to maintain team morale and motivation.
What are your goals for 2022?
Same to a large extent as my founding goals; building a business that delivers on its promise of giving our customers the best possible product and service – if we can keep doing that I believe we will continue to grow and keep enjoying the ride!
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