In 2005, after leaving a well-paying corporate job for her dream to become a florist, Sandhya Yadav’s first project was to decorate a wedding venue. A two-wheeler and a helper was all she had to finish the job. Cut to 2020, she is managing her shop Tulip Fiori in Bengaluru with a team of 60+ members and her clientele ranges from luxury hotels to temples to private gardens.
According to Sandhya, her fascination with flowers could be traced back to her childhood when she used to watch her grandfather, who was the director of a horticulture society, tend to over 150 varieties of roses in the family’s garden. She even learned Ikebana — a Japanese art of flower arrangement — from a Japanese woman. She learnt the art of flower arrangements by the time she had reached class 9. “Back then, there wasn’t a lot of scope in floristry and my parents wanted me to get into the software industry as it was booming at that time.”
Learning on the go
She went on to do a BSc in electronics, while working in flower shops in her spare time. “I knew all about flower arrangements, but I wanted to know how the flower businesses are run and how people professionally work with flowers, which is why I worked in the shops,” says Sandhya. After completing her undergraduation, she landed a job in the corporate sector, but decided to give it all up and to pursue her dreams.
She went on to establish Tulip Fiori in 2005 and landed gigs at five-star hotels and temples. She also got a chance to participate in several flower shows organised by various states including Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. As the business grew, so did her reputation. Sandhya was invited to floristry schools in Germany and Netherlands to teach students the Indian style of flower arrangement. By 2019-20, Tulip Fiori was bringing in a revenue of around Rs 70 lakh.
Pivoting during the pandemic
A few years later as businesses began to get affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Tulip Fiori was also hit. “My business completely shut down during the lockdown. It made me rethink my business model. I had earlier learned the art of container gardening during one of my trips abroad and was inspired to look it up again. Later, I attended online classes on designing gardens during the lockdown. It gave me the confidence to start a new segment ‘Close To Nature’ by Tulip Fiori, which offers landscaping services for private gardens, maintenance of gardens, helps people set up kitchen gardens and also sets up biophilic designs for people living in apartments.”
Sandhya is among the 24 women entrepreneurs who are participating in the GAME Xcelerator Bangalore programme. Talking about what made her join the programme, Sandhya says, “I want landscaping services to be accessible to all. Earlier, I got orders by word of mouth, so I didn’t get a chance to market myself.” She says that she is also looking forward to guidance which will help her move her business online and know more about pricing.
Xcelerator Bangalore aims at accelerating the growth of women-owned, non-IT businesses in Bengaluru. It provides support to the women entrepreneurs to learn, collaborate and network with various stakeholders through a multitude of workshops, learning and mentoring sessions. This series highlights the work of 24 women entrepreneurs who will be participating in the first cohort of the Xcelerator Bangalore programme.