How did you start this shop?
My mom opened this shop more than 30 years ago. She sold garlands, before switching to flowers. She learned how to make garlands alone at home. I quit school after grade 6 and came to help her and let my brother go to school instead. This shop still uses her name as a brand, Pa Mol, even though she’s now passed away.
'How has your shop grown?
We had a smaller shop on the side of Villa, before moving outfront and expanding our shop on the sidewalk. This is a good spot for foreigners. They remember us as the flower shop in front of Villa Market. My younger brother, Pok, has studied floristry and is now a flower arrangement teacher. We also have our own flower farm in Pakchong, Nakhon Ratchasima, where we grow flowers like hydrangeas. We order flowers from China and Malaysia, too.
Which flowers are the hardest to take care of?
Lillies and tulips are most difficult because we don’t have a fridge. We have to take risks when we buy them.
What kind of customers buy bouquets?
There are both Thai and foreigners. We don’t try to make much profit like those florists with glass cabinets. Our bouquets starts from B300, depending on the flowers and the vases. Sometimes people bring their own vases and give us a price. We can do everything.
What’s the most expensive bouquet you’ve ever done?
I don’t remember exactly because there too many of them. We did flowers for Princess Sirindhorn’s gala and an opera gala at Siriraj Hospital to honor HM the King. My brother also went to Cambodia to do flower arrangements for the wedding of Hun Sen’s daughter. They contacted my brother and he went with his friend, who is a photographer.
What’s the daily routine here?
We are open 24 hours. I start around 8am and leave when I’m done working; if I don’t have a lot to do then I leave early. I do everything like arranging flowers and taking orders from customers. If it’s the rainy season then we struggle a bit since we’re on the sidewalk. Our sales are good on the weekends because people are here, shopping at Villa.
How did you learn to choose and arrange flowers?
I learned from my experience with customers who are Chinese, Indian, Thai or farang. I now ask them what event they’re going to and what color they want, then I give suggestions.
What are your rules of doing business?
Be true to your customers. If there are bad flowers, we will tell them upfront that they won’t last long. Like for hydrangeas, I tell them that they only last two days. But if customers have already bought the flowers and the flowers aren’t good then we let them exchange or return their money. Interview by Monruedee Jansuttipan and Sasinipa Wasantapruek