For caterers and event service providers, the flood of client cancellations that came as a result of the pandemic nipped most hopes for last year in the bud.
Tina Barabonoff said her Sooke-based business felt the effects instantly. “In a matter of a week … all of our work throughout the summer was either postponed or cancelled. I had an inbox full of cancelled events,” she said.
For 11 years, Barabonoff’s business, Platinum Floral Designs, had provided full floral arrangements for weddings and events throughout Greater Victoria. The restriction of in-person gatherings forced her to reduce operations and staff, and pray for a return to normal in January 2021.
When that didn’t happen, her questions became: “How do we pivot? How do we move forward?” The answer was something the Pacific Design Academy alum had thought Victoria needed for years but hadn’t had time to pursue given the prior pace of her business.
Platinum Floral Designs’ mobile flower truck – named “Poppy” – took to the roads of Greater Victoria on June 11. Its stops include Westshore Town Centre, Mayfair Shopping Centre, Mile House Liquor Shoppe, Market Square and Sidney Street Market on different days throughout the week, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The mobile shop sells chrysanthemums and other long-lasting blooms, rotating week to week; offerings more colourful and larger than the company’s usual event assortments. Barabonoff said all are locally sourced, with an emphasis on supporting micro farmers across the Island.
“We’re still trying to create a luxury market experience with the truck,” Barabonoff said. “As opposed to just sending people away with bouquets, we are wrapping them really beautifully and making sure everybody knows how to take care of the bouquets.”
Every one of Platinum Floral Design’s delivery vans has a name, Barabonoff said. Poppy, a 2002 Suzuki Carry, got hers from one of 120 suggestions made online. After Barabonoff and her two children narrowed those to a shortlist of 20, a second online vote settled on “Poppy.”
Before they took to the road, the multiple-award-winning florist had never sold retail bouquets. Barabonoff said she’s learned that “people are more drawn to bright colours, as opposed to the soft and the blushes and the very classic design palettes for weddings.”
“I find more appreciation in (flowers) that I haven’t worked with for many years,” she said.
Even as the province returns to normal and event booking begin to flow, Barabonoff said she intends for Poppy to be on the road forever.
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