Pictured with Will (left) is Melanie Christie Boyle MBE, Chief Executive, Ballymena Business Centre (centre) and Councillor Peter Johnson, Mayor of Mid & East Antrim Borough Council (right).
A local florist who is well known in royal circles for his beautiful arrangements has taken the plunge and opened his own florist shop, Le Jardin Sauvage in Ballymena.
The Go For It Programme is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth and Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) programme.
Will Kerr, who left Northern Ireland at the tender age of 21, worked in London for over 15 years and has managed Moyses Steven's, the London based florist with the Royal Warrant to HRH The Prince of Wales. Will’s extensive career has seen him hold floristry roles in none other than Claridge’s, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges, providing floral creations for an enviable client base.
Will commented, “Working in London was really amazing. I was able to learn from some of the most amazing florists and really honed by skills and my craft. I always knew that I would probably return home and when family circumstances changed it provided a great opportunity to move home and open up my own studio.”
“My true passions in life were gardening and art and so they combined really well when I turned my hand to floristry. I actually grow much of much of my own foliage not far from my shop which is based in Ballymena town centre.
Will continues, “When I made the decision that I wanted to go out on my own, I really understood the market and the operational aspects of the day-to-day running of a florists studio, however I lacked the knowledge on some of the finer details, such as financial projections, legal requirements and marketing. I got in touch with the Go For It Programme, they put me in touch with the Ballymena Business Centre and it all went from there.”
“The support I received from the Go For It programme was second to none. I really still can’t believe the programme is free! They really were so supportive and continue to assist me to this day. My business advisor was fantastic and was able to point me in the right direction for so many local services. After being away from home for so long, their up-to-date expert guidance was so valuable. I never felt like I was on my own, they were always at the end of the phone.
“We completed financial projections, sales forecasts and looked into legal aspects of the business including insurances. It helped me to see what I needed to put in and what was possible from the business. We completed a comprehensive competitor analysis also which assisted with pricing, product portfolio selection and gave me an in-depth knowledge of what was currently available in Northern Ireland.
The Go For It programme is delivered free of charge by a team of experienced business mentors through Northern Ireland’s wide network of enterprise agencies. It provides expert advice and help with developing a robust business plan to help turn ideas into a commercial enterprise.
Councillor Peter Johnson, Mayor of Mid & East Antrim Borough Council said: “The Go For It Programme is providing accessible, free and specialist business support - giving people the confidence, contacts and the knowledge they need to start trading. I wish Will every continued success with Le Jardin Sauvage and encourage anyone thinking about starting their own business to go for it and get in touch!”
Melanie Christie Boyle MBE, Chief Executive, Ballymena Business Centre, Mid & East Antrim Borough Council, said; “We were delighted to be able to support Will with Le Jardin Sauvage in the initial stages of his business start-up. Wills wealth of high-end experience is not something which any other florist in Northern Ireland can boast. His passion is electric and that translates into his business.
“Through the completion of his business plan with the support of Lawrence Greer, Business Advisor, we were able to finalise his business proposition and really delve deeper into what made Will different than other local florist shops. Wills creations are so amazing, like nothing currently available in the local market. I look forward to watching his business grow in Ballymena Town Centre in the near future.”
If you have a business idea you’d like to develop or if you are thinking about starting a business contact the Go For It Programme on 0800 027 0639 or visit: www.goforitni.com.