Home News Start-ups: The florist working 70 hours a week to realise her dream

Start-ups: The florist working 70 hours a week to realise her dream


When business tycoons are interviewed, they often say that running their own business was a long-standing dream.

Dorota Sylwestrzak hasn’t wasted time realising her ambition.

The 27-year-old Pole, known as Dot for short, only moved to the UK in 2010. Now she has her own floristry business in Cumbria, Poppy & Rose.

Dorota Sylwestrzak

She said: “I came to the UK to work in the hospitality industry but I had always wanted to be a florist. When I was in Poland I wanted to study floristry but my mum wanted me to have a professional qualification so I did a degree in graphic design instead.”

Once here, she enrolled on a distance diploma course in floristry with the International Career Institute in London, and completed courses at the Joseph Massie UK School of Floristry in Liverpool.

She complemented her learning with practical experience working at Brackens, a florist in Bowness-on-Windermere.

FlowersThen in February she set up Poppy & Rose, operating from a unit rented from the National Trust at Low Wray, on the western shore of Windermere. The business specialises in providing floral arrangements for weddings, special events and business customers such as hotels.

Dot’s only capital was her savings, and she is still working full time as a receptionist at the Wordsworth Hotel, Grasmere, while Poppy & Rose finds its feet. She routinely works 70 hours a week and never takes a day off.

She said: “I have a few weddings booked in but the business isn’t growing as fast as I would like, so I’ll have to keep two jobs for the foreseeable future.”

Starting a business is a daunting prospect for anyone, but it must be much harder to do it in a foreign country speaking a second language.

Dot said: “I had a lot to learn. I wasn’t familiar with the tax system for the self-employed, for example, or how to go about renting a workshop.”

Fortunately, help was at hand in the shape of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce’s Business Start-up Support (BSUS) programme, which is part funded by South Lakeland District Council.

Dot’s only capital was her savings, and she is still working full time as a receptionist at the Wordsworth Hotel, Grasmere, while Poppy & Rose finds its feet.

Her Growth Hub adviser, Deborah Clark, provided invaluable guidance and Dot enrolled on a three-day business start-up course and a pricing workshop, all run by the Chamber.

She now has a strategy in place to help Poppy & Rose grow.

She said: “I used my savings to pay for an advertising campaign on Lakeland Radio, and I’m working on a portfolio book.

“I have a web site and a Facebook page, and I go around the hotels to speak to them face to face about what Poppy & Rose can offer.”

With such a single-minded and determined businesswoman at the helm, Poppy & Rose surely has a bright future.

If you are thinking of starting your own business or social enterprise, then Cumbria Chamber of Commerce and our partners are here to help with a free business start-up programme to point you in the right direction.

Our comprehensive package of support includes:

  • Free meetings with a business adviser to review and develop your business idea;
  • Free training covering business planning and self employment, an introduction to marketing/market research and sales forecasts, promotion and sales, an introduction to planning and managing finance, taxation and bookkeeping, using the internet and social media;
  • Free help to develop your business plan and get your business up and running;
  • Free membership of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce.

Flowers in a tinThe £1.7m Business Start-up Support (BSUS) project is creating almost 700 new businesses and nearly 1,200 jobs. It is also supporting around 250 young businesses and generating more than £92m GVA.

For more information, call us today on 0845 226 0040 or click here to visit the Cumbria Business Growth Hub web site.

The scheme is part funded by five of Cumbria’s six district councils and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).


The funding that supports the Growth Hub comes from a range of sources including Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the European Regional Development Fund, Allerdale Borough Council (Sellafield Ltd’s Allerdale SIIF, distributed by Allerdale Borough Council), Barrow Borough Council (FEDF Coastal Communities Fund Supply Chain Initiative, the Coastal Communities Fund is funded by the Government with income from the Crown Estates marine assets; it is delivered by the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of UK Government), Carlisle City Council, Eden District Council, South Lakeland District Council and Cumbria LEP. 

The BSUS project is receiving up to £1,112,686 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.  The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information, click here.



© Cumbria Chamber of Commerce


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