Skills for creating a business
We have often been asked “how we knew what we were doing when we created Petals of the Valley” – skills for creating a business. Looking back, from the first twinkling of an idea to what it has become, the answer is – we needed practical skills for sure and basic life skills along with subtler skills and traits in our personalities that held it all together. Bravery was an essential element – sometimes you just have to try it and see. Notwithstanding all of this, there was always something else, a holistic sense of it being more than just the two us, which helped us tremendously and gave the project its own personality and momentum.
Not wanting to start indebted to an outside source such as a bank, we were lucky enough to be able to continue our everyday lives whilst creating the company. However, this did mean that between us, to keep costs down, we had to be our own researchers, bookkeepers, company secretary, distillers, marketeers, sales, administrators, management, writers, food technologists, builders, gardeners, social media managers, designers, website developers, photographers, printers and just plain hard grafters. We still do most of these roles but are indebted to our designer Alison Watmon (AWgraphicdesign.uk), our new website designer Jerboa Media (jerboamedia.com), gardeners @petesgarden and Kate, and recipe collaborator Lou @lou’sglutenfreecakesandbakes.
The recipe for succeeding at these practical skills was common sense, the application of research and creativity, a plan and then its execution. What a boon the internet was for information. That said we had to keep reminding ourselves not to go off at tangents no matter how exciting. Focussing was our form of grounding, always bringing us back to the question “is this going to take us forward?” If not, discard or save for later. The more we did it, the better we got at it and the better we got at all of the skills we needed to get by – Jills of all trade though certainly masters of none.
No more than you would expect to gain success, but for two ladies of a certain age not all of it came naturally or easily. One of our first tasks was possibly the hardest – on a boiling hot day in July we set out with a huge and heavy turf cutter to make our first bed. How were we to know that turf cutting rock-solid clay soil was best left to the autumn or spring when the ground was soft! We certainly toiled that day, but the sense of achievement was immense. Serendipitously an aerial photographer caught us in action. How lovely it is to have the reminder.
Having a partner in crime was the backbone of our achievements, balancing strengths and weaknesses and highs and lows. Drive and passion were a given, but our ability to solve a problem through well rounded discussion and be critical with each other was what really developed the business.
More than intuition
It didn’t just all come about because of our hard work and relationship, it was also due to our relationships with our families, our animals, the plants and the land itself. We had the sense that we were birthing something – it felt more like a collective endeavour. There were many opportunities to push ahead, but we would often find ourselves not doing so, perhaps because we had other commitments, oftentimes because it didn’t feel like quite the right time, or the running idea didn’t feel quite ‘proved’ enough. Allowing all the elements of ‘the collective’ to have their, sometimes esoteric, inputs always led to what we intuitively felt to be the right thing to do next. Our gut feelings were always our best guide and we delighted in the synchronicities that ensued. Sometimes just letting time pass was the best way to see the way ahead.
Monday 6th January is National Shortbread Day #shortbreadday – our recipe book has a delicious recipe for Lemon and Rose biscuits developed by Lou, and we are delighted to share with you a recipe given to us by one of our customers @petitefeet – rose lemon caramel shortbread – A Rose by Any Other Name
Denise and Desdemona