Edna Kim is not afraid of taking on a challenge. As a youngster in the Philippines she was determined to go to university, despite the fact it wasn’t the traditional path for young girls. In her twenties she left the bosom of her tight-knit family in Manila and moved to London, working for several years at an international satellite communications company.
Then around a decade ago, she gave up her high-flying career to open the florist – Petals in
Bloom – in Orford Road.
“In my previous life you would not have recognised me. I was in my high heels and make-up, nails done, power suit. Those were the days when you had to compete with men, and my job was as a commercial and development manager for Inmarsat (one of the pioneers of mobile satellite communications). My job was to find partners for the company, selling airtime, meeting with government ministers to get them to change policy and have us as the service provider.”
“I was head hunted in the Philippines to join the company in London. My dad was against it but I told him I was old enough to go. When I asked what I needed to bring for the interview, someone told me to bring a brolly. When I arrived it was snowing, and all I had was the brolly, so a friend of my sister’s kitted me out with some warm boots!”
“It was a very demanding job; I was travelling everywhere. I always had two suitcases packed ready to go – one for a hot climate one for cold – sometimes I would arrive home and would have to turn around and go out again. Eventually I was being asked to join other companies but the work was stressful – whenever I see the building I worked in
my acid starts coming up! I decided I needed to get out. I took two years off and did things on my artistic side; painting and jewellery. That was when my next plan was formulated in my mind – to open a florist. I got my business plan, I took courses and even went to the flower shop in Wood Street and told them, ‘I want to work here for a while even if you don’t pay me much. I just to want to learn’.”
“I was walking down Orford Road on my way to church when I saw a shop being done up and I asked if it was being let. There were not many shops in the road but I was encouraged by Penny Fielding (who then ran her own shop in the street) who said I should be here. I opened on Mother’s Day. I can’t forget that day; it was a great day. It even made it on to the TV in the Philippines. But after that I almost shut the shop. The first year was really bad – there would be whole weeks without a sale. The Village was different then – there weren’t as many shops, so not as many people came. The old owner of Mondragone was really, really nice. He was the one in the dark days who would console me and
say, ‘Even I have down times. Persevere.’ I am so thankful to him. Now it’s much different. I have very loyal customers. I can’t fault the loyalty of people.”
“I’ve always been interested in flowers and I like creating things. It’s something that makes you happy. I don’t have a favourite flower – I love them all. They’re my babies!”
This article first appeared in the Summer 2017 edition of “The Village” magazine.