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Meet the former Edinburgh police officer who left the force to open her own florist

Edinburgh Live logo Edinburgh Live 23/09/2022 Jacob Farr

An Edinburgh florist has said that anyone wishing to pursue a career change later in life should “follow their dreams.”

Shona Small, 54, from Dunfermline, spent three decades as a police officer in Fife but knew that when her time came to an end tackling crime, she would follow a very different path.

She says that she always had a love for creating bouquets and wreaths after seeing her grandmother decorate her home with beautiful displays. So when her thirty years service was up, she gave up the cuffs for a pair of herb snips.

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Shona joined the police when she was 23 years old and says she loved the job and added that former colleagues were shocked when she told them that she wanted to pursue a career in floristry. But those at home, including her mum, husband and 16-year-old son, knew that it was a dream she would always follow.

She said: “When I joined the police at age 23 it was part of our retirement plan that we would only serve 30 years. So I always knew that I would want to do something after my service as an officer ended.

“I absolutely loved working in the police and I consider myself lucky to have moved from one amazing career to another that I absolutely love. Becoming a florist was always something I envisaged as I have always liked having flowers around the house.

“I would create my own displays at home and when I was younger I remember my Nana having a lovely garden with beautiful flowers in her house. My mum, husband and son always knew it would be something that I would go into when I left the police and have always been supportive.

“I spent some time training at Forth Valley College around a year before I retired and my husband gave me a gift shortly before Covid for a training course at Narcissus florists, which is one of the big shops in Edinburgh.

“I spent a few days at their florist school learning more about the craft and absolutely loved it.”

Shona set up her own florist business from her own home, making wreaths for special occasions for family and friends as well as bouquets throughout the pandemic. But she has recently become a professional florist with Marks & Spencers.

M&S are trialling an in-store florist service, providing customers with a beautiful range of fresh flowers, expertly arranged to take home. The trial is taking place in the Edinburgh Gyle shopping centre, Handforth in Cheshire and Summertown in Oxford, with professional florists specifically recruited to provide the new service.

Shona works alongside Julie Keir, who has fifteen years experience as a professional florist. She says that she absolutely loves the job as it is personable and involves working with people.

Surprisingly, she adds that the skills she gained as an officer have been transferable as a lot of the job is gathering information from customers to discover exactly what it is that they want.

She continued: “I enjoy getting to express my creativity and to find the right flowers for somebody to create a pretty bouquet. Last week I was speaking to a bride who was looking for flowers for her house on her wedding day when the photographer comes to take pictures of her make-up being done.

“I love making people smile. It is great to come into the shop in the morning and see the flowers full. Recently I made a bouquet for a couple who were really undecided on what to give to their daughter for her 16th birthday. They wanted them to last until the weekend for her friends coming round and thankfully they were blown away.

“I came into work the following week and they had handed in a thank you card which just made my day. My advice to anyone wanting to start a new career later in life is just to follow your dreams.”

This pilot project gives the feel of an independent florist service in-store by offering customers the chance to create their own personal bouquets from a range of seasonal flowers. Customers in Edinburgh can select M&S blooms as usual and then work with the in-store florist to make up personalised bouquets for special occasions.

As part of the service, the new in-store florists will help shoppers select the perfect flowers for their bouquet and will then wrap and arrange them for an additional service fee. Starting from £2, the florists will gift wrap flowers, tying up selected stems to display at home.

Alternatively, those looking for something more special can pay £4 and come out with “breath-taking, hand tied floral arrangements beautifully wrapped to make the perfect gift.”

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