MAKKAH: When she was growing up in the northern city of Tabuk, Maryam Al-Ghanami could not have known that the scenic city, nestled between mountains, would one day help inspire her to launch a successful career as a florist — with a surprising twist.
Her store, Shams for Flowers and Occasions, is a quaint little hut in one of Tabuk’s main streets, its walkway bordered by vines of bright, fuchsia bougainvillea flowers. Inside, where the smell of freshly brewed coffee mixes with hints of rose fragrance, visitors might think that they have stumbled upon a charming, shabby chic coffee shop decorated with beautiful seasonal blooms. In fact the opposite is the case: it is a flower shop that also serves coffee.
Al-Ghanami told Arab News that her first love is art and she has loved drawing from a young age. After failing to get into university, she decided to put this passion for art to use by combining it with her love of flowers. She began by working at home designing bouquets and floral displays for weddings. As her reputation quickly grew, more people began to request her services.
“With the growing demand, I opened my own office and established my first shop, which specialized in wedding decorations,” she said. “I became more attached to flowers because my father had a farm full of flowers. As the demand for bouquets increased I bought fridges and expanded my business, learning in the process more and more about flowers.”
When she opened her flower shop, she designed it to seem like a traditional hut in a garden. Al-Ghanami said that customers who visited the stylish store would often think it was actually a coffee shop, which planted in her mind the possibility of adding a cafe so that people could enjoy a coffee as well as shop for flowers.
Combining a flower shop with another kind of business can raise sales by bringing in more customers, with each side of the business increasing the exposure and reach of the other. As a result it is a growing trend among florists.
As she began to think about how she might turn her flower shop into a hybrid business, Al-Ghanami began by painting the walls and decorating them with flowers. She wanted to find the perfect combination to fuse the concepts of flower arranging and coffee making, ultimately creating an interconnected and intertwined relationship between the two.
Her hybrid store is proving very popular, she said, and she enjoys sharing a cup of coffee with her customers and listening to them as she helps them find the perfect flowers for a special occasion.
Al-Ghanami said her dream is to spread the love of flowers, and to make her shop a relaxing haven that provides a little relief from the pressures and problems of life — and she is just getting started.
“I’d love to expand my business to all Saudi cities as the hut is a source of happiness, kindness and warmth,” she added.