How one Sussex woman quit her Ministry of Defence job to become a florist

Stems Florist Southwater West Sussex, owner Kate in her shop SUS-180902-123948001
Stems Florist Southwater West Sussex, owner Kate in her shop SUS-180902-123948001

With a psychology degree from Warwick University under her belt and a place secured on a Forensic Masters course, Kate Scholefield was well on course to becoming a forensic psychologist.

As decision time drew near, the thought of seven more years in university began to lose its appeal and Kate applied to the Metropolitan Police, “to approach her interest in Criminology from a different viewpoint.”

Stems Florist Southwater

Stems Florist Southwater

When the recruitment intake was frozen, Kate found herself in The Ministry of Defence, where she spent the next five years.

After two years in the civil service, Kate began to contemplate a career change.

She says: “I wanted to change my direction and it became very important to me to have a say over the future direction of my career.

“I had always been interested in flowers, but decided to pursue an academic career path initially,” she explained.

Stems Florist Southwater West Sussex, owner Kate in her shop SUS-180902-123859001

Stems Florist Southwater West Sussex, owner Kate in her shop SUS-180902-123859001

“I wanted to be creative, have control over my time and the challenge of running my own business appeared to offer a lot of options for me.”

Kate, who lives in Rudgwick near Horsham, attended the Judith Black School of Floristry in Knightsbridge, London, where she completed an intensive floristry course and her Business of Floristry Diploma.

“For six months I balanced my day job with working alongside one of the course tutors in a busy flower shop,” she said.

“I was determined to hone my skills and ensure that I was ready for all that running a floristry business entailed”, recalls Kate.

On Valentine’s day 2014, Kate left her job in London and opened her first shop in Rottingdean, Brighton, two days later she was ready for her baptism of fire as the Mother’s Day rush ensued.

After 18 months running her first shop in Rottingdean, Kate bought Stems of Southwater, near Horsham.

“Rottingdean was a smaller shop and it allowed me to learn about running a business on a smaller scale,” she explained.

“When the opportunity to buy Stems came up, it was the ideal opportunity for me to consolidate my business into a bigger shop and move back closer to home.

“I ran both shops for eights months, which was a huge challenge and taught me a lot, but in August 2016 I sold Rottingdean with a heavy heart to focus on Stems of Southwater.”

Although Kate was sad to sell her first business, she explains that it was necessary for her business to grow.

“We are continuing to grow and build a portfolio of loyal clients who support our brand and flower aesthetic. The next year is going to be particularly exciting for us with lots of new projects and collaborations coming through.”

Kate’s love for her job is evident, but she admits there can be challenges.

“I am really passionate about my job. I don’t think I would have made it through the last three years if I didn’t love it. There are days when it’s really tough, but the reward of working with clients and making peoples dreams come true far outweighs the tough times.

“I am particularly excited by textures, seasonal flowers and the many new varieties of flowers coming through. Whilst the flowers are a big part of what I do, I am also excited by running my own business, putting Stems of Southwater on the floristry map and building a sustainable business which looks after my staff whilst we continue to grow.”

As Mother’s Day approaches on March 11, Kate and her team is busy creating an array of beautiful floral gifts sure to please that special woman.

“Our bouquets feature beautiful sections of seasonal spring flowers, packed full of scent and foliage from the Sussex countryside. Hand-finished with beautiful wrapping and soft ribbons, they are the perfect gift to celebrate and say thank you to mum.”

For those short on time, Stems of Southwater offers online ordering and delivery.

“A range of our most popular products are available to order through our website for collection or delivery throughout the local area and we will have an extensive range on offer throughout the weekend to pop in and choose from.”

They also stock a wide range of plants and bulbs for those who like to nurture their flowers and dress their gardens. Their unique range of ceramic planters, jugs and baskets offer a luxury option with something to keep and treasure in the coming months.

And if flowers aren’t your thing, they stock a wide range of interiors and gifts for the home which you won’t find anywhere else on the high street, along with cards designed by talented Sussex artists.

19 Lintot Square, Fairbank Road, Southwater, RH13 9LA 01403 738 670