Petalon: London bouquets delivered by bike

Your bouquet arrives with a tinkling bell
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

When Londoner Florence Kennedy started her company Petalon in 2013, she was filling a gap in the market. Her aim was to create fabulous, affordable and manageable bouquets that are delivered by bicycle. Husband James has since also joined the business, and you can also call upon Petalon for unforgettable bridal work or attend a workshop. Florence and James explain how they got here.

Petalon: boeketten bezorgd per fiets

Making a dream come true

Florence explains: ‘When I started Petalon my husband James had just got his own bike shop. I was working in an office, but I also want to start something for myself, make my own dream come true. One day James had flowers delivered to my boss to thank her for her help with my surprise birthday party. I saw the flowers and felt sorry for James, because I knew what he’d paid to say “thank you” like this. Surely there was a better way.’

Bicycles and flowers

James: ‘The starting point for Petalon was the delivery. There are so many good florists, and you can have flowers delivered almost everywhere, but it’s often an unsatisfactory process and they’re not always particularly special bouquets. And that’s a shame. We were convinced we could do something more original.’

Florence adds: ‘Delivery costs a lot of money. That makes sense, as you have to pay for a van, the driver, parking fees and petrol. So it often involves large bouquets, because the delivery costs are not in proportion for a small bouquet. I wondered how you could have unique, smaller bouquets delivered at a lower cost. While I was thinking about it, 150 cycle frames for James’s bike shop were delivered to our flat. It was a lightbulb moment.’

‘When I thought about affordable bouquet delivery and saw James’s bicycles, it was a lightbulb moment.’

Long days

‘When Petalon started out I’d get up at 3.30 in the morning, spend an hour cycling to the flower market, load my bike trailer with flowers, and spending an hour cycling back. I was back in the workshop at 7 a.m. to make the bouquets. I delivered them on my bike in the afternoon, and in the evening I replied to emails about deliveries etc. So they were long days. After 18 months I got help from a cycle courier, because the business was growing slowly but surely.’

Addicted to bouquet design

‘That also applies to my taste and my skills. I didn’t train as a florist, but because I design and make two new bouquets every week, my taste is developing. I’m doing that by experimenting with colour combinations, shapes and textures, and it also depends on the season, what flowers are in stock and whether they’re sturdy enough to survive a bike ride. My personal favourite in that regard is ranunculus. I also like to incorporate lots of different and distinct flowers in a bouquet instead of lots of the same. The idea behind Petalon is that these bouquets introduce you to various flowers, and that a bouquet looks better with combinations of flowers instead of just roses for example. I’ve become truly addicted to designing bouquets.’ 

‘The idea behind Petalon is that our bouquets introduce you to many different flowers.’ 

Cycle couriers and flexibility

‘I create two example bouquets every Monday morning, which I photograph and place on our website and social media channels. Customers can then pick one of the bouquets and place their order with us. I make up the bouquets, the cycle couriers come at noon, they fill the rucksacks and cargo bikes with flowers and set out to deliver the bouquets. We also donate £ 1 for every bouquet to a charity to protect the bee population. Thanks to the cycle couriers, an office manager, freelance florists and James who helps out, I no longer have to do everything myself. As a result of which: a. I was able to bring a child into the world, and b. I can work on weddings, which I really enjoy. I can also bring our daughter to work, which makes me very flexible. I’m delighted with how things work.’

James: ‘My role is that of accountant, and I help create big displays for bridal work and events. I can construct them, and also work out how we can hang arrangements from the ceiling. The florists then dress them.’

A rucksack full of dahlias

Florence: ‘We are on the move literally as well. Initially we transport the bouquets in bike trailers, but they take up a lot of space on cycle paths. That’s why we now use special cargo bikes and rucksacks that have been designed for us by Katie, a friend. All the bouquets are firmly protected in those so that the flowers remain intact, with a water reservoir and in jute packaging. I use a lot of pom-pom Dahlias nowadays, for instance - they’re very sturdy and can take a knock. If they’re well-packaged, they arrive at our customers looking beautiful.’

The power of Instagram

'The fact that Petalon has grown like this is partly thanks to social media, particularly Instagram. Customers use it to pose questions about the flowers used, which really makes you feel that you’re part of the community. People also share their photos, so their friends also find out about Petalon and before we knew it we were doing bridal work as a result. We do mix work and personal life on our Instagram account - it also features photographs of our daughter and dog. It just grew like that.’

Flowers Every Day

‘Instagram also led a publisher to our door, who asked me whether I wanted to produce a book. It was quite a challenge, because I wasn’t sure I had enough experience for that, but it was great fun to do. Flowers Every Day has also helped me to put my feelings for flowers into words, why particular flower combinations work, how we work and what I find beautiful. A lot of fun.’

Enjoyment as a guide

‘Our guiding principle is really always: “Do we enjoy doing it?” We don’t have a big place in the country, we’re not rich, but were not interested in that either. Quality of life, that’s important, having fun. And that’s going very well.”
James concludes: ‘My bond with flowers is growing year by year, ha ha. Initially flowers came into my life in Florence. They weren’t necessarily something I identified with. But the more they become part of our life, of our surroundings, the more I feel a bond with flowers. I think they’ll remain part of our family life, and I’m quite happy about that.’

More Petalon?

Watch the video about Petalon and read the article about Florence’s book Flowers Every Day.