As a child, he secretly preferred flowers to karate - an enthusiasm which ultimately resulted in him having three flower shops of his own in Stockholm. That provides him with the job of his dreams, the most amazing work colleagues and the nicest customers you could wish for. Meet Christoffer from Christoffers Blommor, a dedicated Swedish florist.
It started as a part-time job…
‘It started fairly early - I was about 13 or 14. I was bored at school, so I took a part-time job on a flower stall on the market here in Stockholm. I learnt to sell pot plants, make bouquets and how to wrap flowers - really everything from the basics through to the end product. Initially I only worked at weekends, but I really enjoyed it and discovered fairly quickly that I was good at it. I had to enjoy it secretly, because in the neighbourhood where I grew up a boy shouldn’t like flowers; it was more normal to opt for karate. Flowers were a secret love, though I did earn a lot more money with them than my friends got in pocket money. My interest in the floristry business had been awoken, so I left school and started working with flowers five or six days a week.’
Making people happy with flowers
'I particularly enjoyed the seasons and making people happy. Especially at the end of the week, when customers buy flowers to take home, for a dinner or a party, things that make people happy. I was very keen to learn, constantly wanted to know more, not just the Latin names. I wanted to learn to create, find out everything about the range for each season and how I could evoke that wow feeling. That’s the happy feeling that customers got when I showed them the bouquet I’d made. Flowers are such a fantastic material to work with, the seasons, the colours that jump out - yes, it’s fun!'
'Flowers were a secret love, though I did earn a lot more money with them than my friends got in pocket money.'
Three shops of his own in Stockholm
And now? Christoffer now has three shops of his own which are all different, matched to the atmosphere of the neighbourhood where they’re located. He opened the first in Gamla Stan, the old town, in 2001. He took over the flower shop from his friends Agnes and Lisa. ‘I’ve had this shop for 16 years. We have a lot of regular customers, from young to old. They come in for a chat whilst the bouquets are made up and sometimes we also babysit children and dogs when someone has to pop to another shop, all while you’re making up an arrangement. With many customers we also know what they like, and we take account of that. There’s a very intimate and friendly atmosphere here.’
Regular customers, hipsters and stylists
The second shop is in the Söder district. ‘It’s a great place, a real mecca for hipsters. People here often buy a bunch of flowers that they used to make their own wild bouquet at home. There’s a cafe next door - it’s a place where people come to meet, very warm and personal. The third Boutique is in the Bra i gatan district. I haven’t had that very long. We share the boutique with Dusty Deco, a lovely designer boutique that attracts a lot of design lovers. We sell a lot of large plants there and unusual products such as flowers that are out of season, often to interior and fashion stylists. All three boutiques have a very different style, but with the same personal feel and the goal of making customers happy.’
A strong team of friendly colleagues
That personal feel characterises the way in which Christoffer works. He doesn’t just make customers happy - it works on his staff too. Christopher explains: ‘I have ten to twelve employees, and most of them have been working here for a long time. It really is a strong team of amazing, warm and attentive people who work really well with flowers. The fact we have been working together for such a long time is quite unusual in this sector, where a lot of staff often change employers in search of a better job. We’re like a family: we have breakfast together, share a beer on Fridays and go on buying trips to the Netherlands together. We’re just like friends - whereby I’m the oldest and the wisest,' he laughs.
‘I like to place a flower in a bouquet that broadens the accent and brings out the other colours more.’
‘Our bouquets are very airy, not really compact. We always think about the context when we create a bouquet, and ask about the background: what sort of vase will the flowers be placed in, in what sort of interior? We make exciting bouquets that are not too big. I see a lot of florists who make airy, wild bouquets that are much too big to display at home, particularly here in Stockholm where people live in fairly small spaces. You need to take account of that. We make bouquets interesting by including flowers that only open after a couple of days. I also like to place a flower in a bouquet that broadens the accent and brings out the other colours more. It doesn’t all have to be the same colour, because then the flowers ‘disappear’. Swedish people are generally very good picking attractive bouquets, incidentally.’
Finally: the man behind the florist
‘I love nature and the city - a good mix of both. My mother comes from northern Sweden, but I grew up in a southern suburb so I have both concrete and forests in my blood. I like to go out into the woods, but I also love going to parties. The best thing about my job? I think it’s the seasons, going to the markets, getting up early, feeling tired but being invigorated when you start loading the trays of flowers and struggling to get together most beautiful items. The striving to constantly be a bit better, to make customers happy with the beautiful things you’ve found the market… Yes, that’s it: that’s what I love!’
More about Christoffer
Want to find out more? Then watch the video.