I (Harry Day) decided to write this blog as I am incredibly proud of what my wife has achieved with her business, and I thought it should be written down so we can reflect back on the story before it becomes a distant memory.
In late 2019, Adele was a property manager for a local real-estate in Wollongong, but you could tell she always wanted to do something more creative. So, together with her mum Christine, they decided to study a Certificate III in Floristry at the Pearsons School of Floristry in Sydney.
During her study, Del would always practice her floristry skills by creating dried flowers arrangements and advertising them on local community pages, or by helping her friends do their wedding flowers at effectively cost prices. The small amount of floristry work she was doing really cemented her love for flowers and it was obvious this was something she wanted to do as a full-time job. So they decided to officially register Ruby Oak Floristry as a business on the 1st of March 2020.
Not long after this, on the 10th of March 2020, our son Cooper was born and thanks to Covid-19, the next few months were spent stuck at home. A few months went by and Del’s maternity leave was running out. At that point she had to decide whether she would return to her property manager job or take a risk on Ruby Oak Floristry. Even though the Covid-19 pandemic was just starting to begin, she decided to take a chance and go all-in on a floristry career. Why not!
At first, Del’s plan was to become a full-time wedding florist. she got a photoshoot done to show off some of her wedding arrangements and styles. She advertised and tried to get herself out there as much as she possibly could. And before she knew it, she was incredibly busy with admin, talking to brides and booking in wedding florals for late 2020 and 2021.
Over the next few months Ruby Oak Floristry was very busy with wedding work, completing many beautiful wedding flowers all over the South Coast & Southern Highlands. But by July 2021, Covid-19 restrictions surrounding weddings were starting to come into full effect, making the wedding industry incredibly tricky. Weddings were no longer allowed to take place in NSW, and when the state eased restrictions, Covid safety rules allowed no more than 5 guests at a wedding. This of course was not practical to almost everyone, resulting in mass cancellations and postponements in the industry.
As Covid-19 restrictions had no end date, Ruby Oak Floristry had to adapt in order to keep the business alive. Flower deliveries were still allowed to operate so she decided to shift the business to focus on that instead.
On the 16th of August 2021 she officially launched the Ruby Oak Floristry website, allowing customers to order their flower bouquets and gifts through her online shop. She received so much support at this time from friends, family and complete strangers, and for that she couldn’t have been more thankful! When she first started, Del was delivering same day flowers throughout the Sutherland Shire and the Illawarra. Whilst covering that distance for same day delivery sounds absolutely crazy now, I know she loved every second of it at the time! She found herself becoming incredibly busy with flower deliveries and as a result, her home garage “studio” was just not cutting it anymore.
In late 2021, Adele & Christine started searching for a retail space in the Illawarra. Luckily enough, they found an old Chinese restaurant for lease on the main street of Fairy Meadow. They decided this was the next step the business needed to take, and went for it. Any spare time the whole family had in December 2021 was spent converting the Chinese Restaurant into a florist, and with the help of all of our family and friends, in January 2022 they officially opened the doors to their very first retail shop.
Different Covid-19 variants were coming and going and Covid restrictions were changing every day. But luckily for us, florists were still allowed to trade, and the support received from the Fairy Meadow community was overwhelming. Ruby Oak’s first Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day in the new store was an absolute blur and looking back on it now, we had no idea what to expect and were incredibly underprepared. Adele had never worked in a retail florist before so a lot of time she was simply just ‘winging it’, but to her credit what she seemed to be doing was working so she must have been doing something right!
In November 2022, Ruby Oak Floristry had the amazing honour of being awarded the most outstanding florist in the Illawarra. This was an absolute shock to Adele & Chris as they felt like they was just trying their best to keep their head above water. Trying to balance motherhood, the wedding industry returning after Covid, and the steep learning curve of running a retail shop was no easy task, but I’m incredibly proud of what Adele achieved in that time and I know she wouldn’t change a thing.
In February 2023, Adele realised she had quickly outgrown her little florist shop in Fairy Meadow and she was on the hunt for something bigger. Shortly after that, the space two shops down from Ruby Oak Floristry came up for lease at 33 Princes Highway Fairy Meadow, and it was the perfect opportunity to move into a bigger space, while still keeping a strong presence in Fairy Meadow, a community that has embraced Adele & Ruby Oak Floristry at every turn.
She got the keys to this new shop in May 2023, and she utilised the space for her Mother’s Day setup, whilst still operating out of her other store. Once the Mother’s Day rush was complete, we moved all of her equipment and stock to the new shop, and officially opened the doors to the public on the 1st of June 2023.
Adele is not one to put her feelings into words but it’s obvious this experience so far has been a dream come true for her. In writing this blog, I’m sure I’ve missed many other milestones that have happened along the way, but I thought this would be a good starting point.
I definitely want to thank all the people that have helped Ruby Oak Floristry and Adele along the way. Our family, who have worked countless hours of volunteer work over the years (myself included). Whether it be last minute baby sitting or last minute deliveries, nothing is ever too much to ask. All the tradie friends who are always more than happy to lend a helping hand whenever needed (even though Del changed shop spaces within 18 months). And lastly, to all the florists who have been part of Ruby Oak Floristry over the years. Every one of you have been an instrumental part of everything Ruby Oak Floristry is today and I can’t wait to see what it becomes in the futu
Some More Photos From the Past