Twig is known locally for their magnificent floral displays and King Street store, filled to the brim with scented blooms. Michael Pooley embodies the spirit of independent retailers – full of character and takes pride in his work. Let us introduce you..
It’s nice to see you, Michael. You’ve done some wonderful arrangements in-store for Coes in the past. When did you start your business?
I started working with my father in Greenwich Market in April 1992, then went on to start Michael Pooley Flowers in July 1997.
How would you describe your business to someone visiting for the first time?
Twig is all about quality and service. We specialise in luxury hand-tied gift bouquets, bespoke sympathy designs and interesting interior and exterior plants. We also offer ‘wow’ factor venue decoration and can produce showstopping floral arrangements for any special occasion.
So, tell us, how did you come to start a business as a florist?
I grew up around fresh produce – I’m a forth generation fruit and vegetable merchant’s son. Retail has played a huge part in my life, though I didn’t set out to be a florist initially. I wanted to be an animator and studied graphic design at Reigate School of Art.
During my time at college I discovered a love of 3D design and fashion. My early Saturday jobs where in shops, such as Harrods, and after leaving college I was offered a job at Warehouse Ladies Clothing Co where one of my duties as assistant manager for their flagship store would be styling the flowers. I used to walk into Kenneth Turners two storey flower store on Brook Street by Claridges and be in awe of the designs. I would bring back the flowers to style in a way that complimented the clothes.
In 1991, my father asked me to join him in the family fruit and vegetable business and, after much thought, I agreed – it was so different to what I knew. I wanted to increase the sale of flowers in his shops and the wholesale rounds had potential too. This bringing together of design styling and fresh produce was the beginning of Michael Pooley Flowers.
What is it about our town that makes it a great place for business?
Being in the centre of town is perfect to service all of Ipswich and the outer villages. The architecture of The Corn Exchange is spectacular and Arcade Street is stunning.
Why is it important to shop with independent businesses?
Independent businesses offer service, choice and they know their product. They usually have a wealth of experience in their particular field. A real person heads it and they’re not just out for the sell. You turn the corner of King Street and there we are, creating a smile, individuality and a sense of home.
Why do your customers shop with you over alternatives?
My customers know quality and they love service. Each customer is profiled into flower likes and dislikes, their purchases are recorded and I offer a reminder service. I also offer loyalty discount. It’s very much like when I used to dress people at Jones – you know U2 will only wear black and Elton John only liked OTT suits. It’s the same with flowers. I also create every bouquet. I’ve several customer who’ve been with me since the 90’s!
What local event or development are you most looking forward to?
There’s several – The Suffolk Show, Music in the Park, Ed Sheeran, Maritime Festival… but mostly the Suffolk Fashion Show. I’m on the board of directors and it’s great to see so many of my customers having great evening at Trinity Park.
For more on the fantastic independent brands in our hometowns, make sure you stay up to date with our blog this summer! Next time, we sit down with Mrs Salisbury…