Minimising carbon footprint in shipping fresh flowers is a contentious thing, says florist Jo Moody

Even as floriculture professional Jo Moody brings La Fleur to Hyderabad, she discusses the socio-economic values of the fresh flower industry and sustainability issues

November 19, 2019 11:15 am | Updated November 20, 2019 04:28 pm IST

Kent-born Jo Moody loves pops of colour — deep purples, bright pinks, lush reds — and a perusal through her Instagram reveals many of the bridal bouquets she’s done are reflective of that. But it’s not just bouquets, Jo has experimented with centrepieces wreaths, arches and flower walls as well.

It’s this expertise of 15 years which roped her into La Fleur, a fresh flowers service which started in Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru, and is now available in Hyderabad. In Hyderabad, La Fleur is now available in Star Bazaar and Max Hypermarket. The company aims to not only breathe new air into the fresh flower industry but also switch up the way people buy flowers.

Flower power

Jo has been big on flowers for as long as she can remember and her soft voice becomes excited at the mention of her first shop — Moody Blooms — which she opened at the age of 23 in Meopham Green in Kent.

“My approach to floral design has definitely evolved since then, having seen many different flower trends. When I was a child and my parents were in the business, they had a lot of dried flowers and I vividly remember thinking ‘that’s not something I aspire to!’ but the ironic thing is that 35 years later, I’m seeing that dry flower trend come right back: in the UK, we’ll see lots of dried pampas grass, bunny-tails. Fashion is a fickle thing!”

Ask Jo about other trends she would love to see come back around and she responds “I think it has to happen organically and with flowers, you have to be true to yourself. It’s not necessarily about on-trend, but more about what speaks to you.”

However, do not think Jo merely arranges flowers all day. A large component of her work is supply chain supervision and sourcing. “Supply chain is everything. La Fleur has a good and fast supply chain. The ‘field to shopping’ experience is much shorter and gives you a much better quality of flowers.”

To break La Fleur into the Indian market required a lot of research on Jo’s part. “We have looked at what is commercially available so we needed to work with farmers who can provide the quantities of flowers we need. On a commercial scale, you’re looking at not one bouquet but hundreds or thousands. We know that factors such as weather conditions — humidity, heat — how it will be in the consumer’s home and how it will last. All these things take a toll on a flower which has to be quite hardy. In India, you have fabulous roses which we actually export to the UK. There are also chrysanthemums which last very well and are favoured for weddings. Gerberas offer a fun pop of colour too. One of my personal favourites is the orchid. It’s just about being mindful, really.”

Into the industry

With Moody Blooms being a strong proponent of her past and present, La Fleur is a different embodiment of her creativity. She was approached to be a designer due to her commercial background in the market. “I understand the UK has multiple sales markets and I was a product developer for the supermarkets... and then there’s my own artistic side with the freelance work I do where I’m now more involved with the bespoke. So the biggest connector here is about combining the two and using my background.”

Jo says she enjoys interacting with farmers and suppliers. She points out, “When you start the process of planning and designing, seeing the result is lovely. But then there’s this socio-economic aspect which is far more important than the flowers. There’s employment opportunities, better education, fair trade issues, to name a few.”

One of the biggest questions around the fresh flowers commercial industry is naturally around sustainability.

In Hyderabad, Holy Waste converts ‘used’ flowers into incense sticks and soaps but does La Fleur have a ‘ green model’ of their own? “We’ve been challenged to think about our packaging: no single-use plastics and floral foam. So for our packaging we use a brown crepe paper which is compostable and a type of biodegradable satin weave. With shipping though, we have been reusing plastic containers which have been in our system for 12 months.”

However shipping itself is a polluter, is it not? Jo agrees and after a contemplative pause, she responds, “It’s always going to be a contentious issue because any type of transport is not really eco-friendly. So through sustainability measures we undertake, they have to offset that carbon footprint. It’s difficult, isn’t it? I wish I could click my heels together three times and be where I want to be!”

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