It was not the year of floral fun
I’ve been running Laura Virág for 16 years, and I’ve lived a lot during this time – Tímea Muszula begins the adventure story. In 2019, I decided to give my head to the hospitality again, after which my husband and I started building a creative pastry cafe. We didn’t know at the time that in 2020, it would be a bad decision. We have all invested in this business.
The problem came in a hurry: as a flower, all of our events and then weddings were canceled as well. Soon the hotel decorations were left too, then we had to close the flower shop in March as well. By that time, construction was already in full swing on our flower and creativity cafe, Cloe Cafe, which we were going to open in early April.
The next pill was that after a job that went on for about a year, it turned out that we just weren’t able to unlock it. Most of the equipment, machinery, and furniture that we ordered stayed outside due to border locks and downtime. We can’t give up: We started selling our flowers and decorations online all over the country, so we managed to make the first wave, if tough, all the way.
It is clear that the long-awaited opening did not appear the way we imagined, without tourism, nothing is as before. We were able to breathe a little in September and October, then the cold shower came again in early November. In addition to the flower shop, our creative coffee shop has been open for 3 months. We closed again and then moved our flower shop, which has been in one place for more than 10 years, to the coffee shop so we can stay open at least, if not as a coffee shop, and transform our coffee shop into a gift flower shop.
We got used to the current situation, adapting to ever-changing rules and regulations, operating a flower shop and webhsop, we waited for the biggest florist’s day, Women’s Day. Well then we also had to close our coffee shop, which was already converted into a flower shop, at the worst possible time, then it turned out that we could be open as a florist on this day, but we weren’t able to get the goods after the cancellations, so it didn’t We don’t have supplies at 10 in the morning
As a result of various ups and downs, our staff of 22 has shrunk to 8. We are now directing our Café Flower shop towards a gastronomic business that can currently be opened with any base. We want to create this not only as a temporary solution, but for the next year or two for sure. Our decision was influenced by the fact that in the near future we can still expect tourists, and even after the opening of the balcony we can provide a maximum of 3 tables for our guests. We are now in the process of setting up a small florist’s shop where you can also buy recipes, delicacies, wines, flowers and everything else, for example, for a good picnic. I think our greatest luck is that we work in a creative profession, which has made us able to respond to a wide variety of situations.
You can only run forward here
We launched our designer clothing store, Art On Me, 10 years ago, says owner Marton Ancsa. We have 13 employees and run a small store in the center of Budapest. We didn’t feel anything during the first wave, in fact, our traffic went up, and people still had money to buy. We were also fortunate that the network that connected to one of the homes started ordering masks from us, so I was able to quickly switch the sewing room for sewing masks, and in fact, I was able to give jobs to the seamstresses laid off from elsewhere.
During the second wave, I also started consciously paying attention to Hungarian products and buying everything from vegetables to shoes from local producers and designers.
The third wave and closures. Then the gate opened. We launched a campaign. We asked our customers to help again with our purchase of Hungarian products. Most shocking was when we had to shut down our physical businesses. It wasn’t even possible to know how long that would take and what to pay our suppliers and employees, and in the end we didn’t have to say goodbye to any of our employees.
Although the store closed for as long as possible, it also acted as a reception point and customers often took in more than just what they ordered online. Today, we completely diverted the traffic to our web store and found a passionate boutique agency who helped us with our communications and marketing. This was also a huge undertaking, since we’ve never worked with an agency before, so we had to learn this on the go.
We have now managed to open our store, the new rule is that there are no rules, we have to be constantly ready to jump in, and we have to be more aware, disciplined and forward-looking. Our tactic was to escape even at the time of the first wave: we gathered our last strength and requested massive friendly services, and last but not least, we produced many of the collections portrayed by Jerjo Bigko. The best thing happened when I heard that photography designer Linda Vogt went to our seamstresses who have worked for us for years and told them that she had seen such beautiful and delicate sewing long ago that was sticking out of their hands. It felt good.
Less unnecessary spending
Our sales fell nearly 80-90 percent from March to September last year, then Christmas orders from foreign sellers eased the damage a bit, and from November we had an unprecedented period of online ordering. Obviously, we weren’t prepared to deal with uploading online either, and we didn’t have much experience with this yet – Karoly Boldesar, owner of Bomo Art, who makes and trades in handmade stationery and starts business 24 years ago and maintains three stores, her story begins. Personal.
The critical year could only last at the expense of constant withdrawals and cutting costs, but I had to do it anyway, I put it off for a while.
The fact that it was not necessary to pull the blinds permanently is due to our frequent Hungarian customers, without them this would not have been possible.
Have you seen people walking down the street looking around lately? No. Determination. I guess that’s what everyone learned from all this anyway, or if they didn’t learn, but they’re used to speed, really, when it comes to shopping. For example, we have a lot of products in the store that help with the shopping experience, such as beautiful bags, small gifts and extra things that you need to provide now because, if there is anything, I don’t want to save on products.
Meanwhile, of course, we worked, on the one hand I asked the bookbinding girls inside the workshop to try the current and remaining components, but BomoPrint was born, which I think is a big throw. People really love our wrapping papers and they always have to cut drawings out of it if they want to hang it on the wall. We took this issue off their shoulders and this precisely sealed product was born, in three sizes.
(Cover photo: Tímea Muszula)
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