Two years ago, former Indonesian international students Alicia Andiani, Ribka Kusnadi and their friend Zabrina Augustine made the decision to open a small online flower shop after realising their shared love and obsession for flowers. At the time, the three friends were pursuing their own tertiary education in Melbourne. They took a leap of faith, not knowing what they were getting themselves into.
“We were thinking if it was feasible to try and open an online shop because it’s so easy [these days] — everything’s home-based and you can use social media as your marketing platform,” Alicia said.
They named their business Fleur de Lis. There was no website and their entire operation hinged on their Instagram page (@fleurdelis.melbourne). The three friends had no professional experience in floristry either. All they had were their passion for flowers, a willingness to learn on their own and an internet connection.
“We [would look] for inspiration from Pinterest and from other social media and discussed with each other until we ultimately developed our own style [of putting together these flowers],” Ribka said.
Two years later, Fleur de Lis has flourished as a business. While there is still no website, their clientele continue to reach out to them on Instagram. One of their clients was the Victorian branch of Miss Universe Australia.
“We received an email from Miss Universe Australia, and they wanted us to sponsor for their event and make some bouquets for the Victorian finalists. I think they liked our flowers, which made us feel very honoured and special,” Ribka said.
As for the girls, Alicia and Ribka are no longer students but they do work full-time jobs; Alicia works as vet while Ribka is an assistant accountant. Both are still committed to creating beautiful and quality bouquets through Fleur de Lis. Meanwhile their friend, Zabrina, is back in Indonesia and hopes to continue assisting the business by expanding their services to their home country.
Asked about their challenges now versus their challenges before, the girls explained that although they no longer contend with technical challenges (knowing how to wrap a bouquet and decorate it, for example), time continues to be an issue.
“Time management was, and still is, a challenge as we both have our full-time commitments,” Alicia said.
The duo admitted that they could no longer process daily orders as they once did and have instead needed to shift their operation around special occasions such as, but not limited to, graduations, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and birthdays.
This business decision however has not deterred Fleur de Lis from sharing their passion for flowers with the world. They not only want to continue to share this love but also want others to feel loved through their flowers.
“Flowers are one of the best ways to express love, and we thought that flowers would be the best way to show people that they are loved; to bring comfort and appreciation as well,” Ribka explained.
“To see the expression on the people’s faces when they receive [our] flowers and [to see] they are happy is priceless and rewarding. It adds everything to the job,” Alicia continued.
As former international students themselves, they understand the struggles that students might face in wanting to start their own business or follow through on their passion during or after their studies. They encouraged international students to be unafraid in giving it a try and to always stay focused.
“It will be challenging but it is better if you try and fail rather than never try at all. Also, when you start something, make sure that you have a goal, something to aim for, because that will be your anchor [during] your hard times,” Ribka said.
“[Although] time management is [our own] problem, we remind ourselves that our goal is to make others feel loved, no matter how hard it is. We manage to find ways to push through,” Ribka continued.
“While you are here, explore yourself and explore everything. We want to encourage everyone to always challenge yourselves and go out there, and to always take that first step,” Alicia concluded.
For more information on Fleur de Lis, including how you can contact them to customize or arrange flowers, visit their Instagram page: @fleurdelis.melbourne
A video feature on Fleur de Lis will be coming soon. Follow Meld Magazine on Facebook and stay tuned.