For 33-year-old Lara Sanjar, flowers have been a lifeline. The former advertizing account manager was unhappy in her work. A lack of creative outlet has left her depressed, so she went for a walk for a pick-me-up.
However, what started as a sojourn around London’s Columbia Road Flower Market soon turned into the beginning of a brand new career. After launching flower company Wild Renata, Sanjar has sourced a variety of unusual gigs which see her flying to Singapore one week, and decorating beards (yes, truly) the next.
“Just do it”
Though launching her own flower business was, undoubtedly, a major move, she tells CNN she tried not to overthink things.
“I wasn’t feeling great so I bought some flowers, took them home, started arranging them and said ‘this would be nice job’ and that was it,” she recalls.
Not wanting to be in a position of feeling she’d wasted an opportunity, she took the brave step of starting something new and her advice to anyone in a similar position is to go for it.
“Just do it,” she exclaims. “There’s nothing to stop you apart from yourself. If you’ve got an idea, if you’ve got a passion, then you should follow it.”
No experience necessary?
Initially, having no experience proved to be a bit of a barrier, as traditional floristry often required years of training. But Sanjar didn’t let the lack of formal education hold her back.
Eventually she landed opportunities with respected industry practitioners, including Rebecca Louise Law, whose art has been displayed in galleries around the world.
“It’s really scary because like anything you need to have experience,” she says. “But I approached [Rebecca] and she was really warm and friendly and lovely, and she gave me a chance.”
She says not to let a lack of immediate know-how put you off your dreams.
“If you’re interested and you care, you can learn very quickly. I’m like a sponge – I take it all in,” she says.
Sanjar took her time before setting off on her new path however. She stayed at her old job and arranged flowers in a freelance capacity before making the final leap. After a year, she applied for a start-up loan at the London Small Business Centre. Her bid was accepted and she was matched with a financial adviser who helped guide her through the early stages of running her business.
“It’s one thing having your friends and family there, saying ‘yeah, you can do it,’ but actually having a professional there who’s got that experience to guide you as well is really helpful,” she says.
Thinking outside the vase
Pushing the boundaries with floristry has made her popular with those looking for something different.
Her creative flair has led to her working on some big projects, including an installation at Royal Ascot where she decorated a life-sized horse with tiny silk flowers.
The key? Breaking the rules.
“Don’t listen to people who tell you there are rules because there aren’t,” she says.
Work out what’s right for you
Sanjar still speaks positively about her former life in advertising. Ultimately, though, it wasn’t for her. She believes it’s important to think about what else you can do if you’re unhappy in your job, like she was.
“I think if you’re feeling depressed and limited, there might be something else you can do,” she says.
“It’s not easy, but find where you fit in and what you think you can offer and you can do it. You’ll regret it if you don’t.”
Passion delivering results
Sanjar says believing in herself has enabled her to not only enjoy her job, but also build on her brand and bring in more business.
“People will come to you because they like what you do,” she says.
“I’m so happy to be doing it, I don’t treat it like a business.”
And when you launch your own business, she adds, it can take up all your time, so doing what you love is vital:
“I’m missing a music gig this weekend and I’ve had to cancel on a date four times. But there will be others and I love doing what I do, so it’s not a huge deal. It just makes me feel alive and really fulfilled and it just feels natural, and that’s the most important thing.”