Interview by Leanne Enoch, as featured on Medium Magazine.

Queensland has approximately 406,000 small businesses. We’ll be celebrating all of them throughout Queensland Small Business Week (16–21 May). I’ll be travelling all over the state for the festivities. On my trip, I’m excited to meet with small business owners like floral artisan Shannon Hawkes of Yeppoon.

Shannon participated in the Palaszczuk Government’s Mentoring for Growth program. I caught up with her about her blossoming experience (I couldn’t resist), flower trends and more.

How did you end up as a floral artisan?
I went to school in Rockhampton. I worked in admin at a law firm (where I met my fiancee) and then real estate. I was reading a magazine and saw an article about an artist who started her own floristry business. It just resonated with me. I’ve always been into plants, gardening and creative endeavours but the words and the photos and the idea of my own florist shop just really excited me. I resigned from my job and started training in floristry.

You participated in the Mentoring For Growth program. How did you find out about it?
Another small business owner in the area told me she was applying for the grant (she didn’t find the time) but I read the criteria and saw my business was eligible and jumped on the chance. I found the process really easy to follow and the grants officer has been really supportive. He made the process go quite smoothly.

And the exciting part; what was the outcome of your grant?
The grant has been amazing for my business. I’m so grateful to have received it. It allowed me to engage a business consultant who helped me identify strengths and weaknesses in my business and areas of risk which I probably wouldn’t have thought about without her help.

I’ve decided to use the second part of my grant to wards creating a website for my business which the consultant advised (and we knew) was absolutely crucial in being able to reach out to our target market and establish ourselves as a reputable brand in this area. Without the grant, we probably wouldn’t have been able to access a web designer like Ebb and Flow on the Sunshine Coast.

A big theme of Queensland Small Business Week is collaboration — tell us about other businesses you’ve collaborated with and your network.
There’s a fabulous group of businesses I work with here in Central Queensland. Yeppoon is a little beach town going through this artsy, trendy, creative phase. A lot of cafes, and quirky shops are popping up here and there.

Some of my favourites include, Tiffany Jade Photography, Cutting Edge Boutique — Hair and Make Up, Louise Wilson of Wilson Roses has been a fantastic mentor to me and so generous with her time, Amy Mill from the Wedding Mill, Lucija from Vintage Hire and Connie Patterson at Kanangra Heights a restaurant and wedding venue.

I’ve also been attending the Economic Gardening program run by Capricorn Enterprise. It’s a free business course that has been an godsend in terms of providing information for my business. From there, I’ve met many other small (and large) business owners in this area and have also had the opportunity to get advice from them.

As a regional business what kind of challenges do you face?
I guess the biggest challenge for my business has been finding quality fresh flowers delivered in good condition. There are no flower growers in my area, the closest being Bundaberg.

Tell us what you love about running a small business on the Capricorn Coast.
There’s been so much support from locals and also support from other business owners in the area. Whether that’s advice, or referring clients, it feels like a close-knit community where everyone is happy to help out.

What role does social media play in your business?
Social media plays a huge role in my business. At present my business is built solely around social media [Find Shannon on Instagram and Facebook]. It’s the only advertising I’m currently doing. Social media use is really imperative in my industry as it’s such a visual, creative enterprise.

Love your floral crown workshop. Such a great idea for hen’s nights and birthday parties. Tell us the secret to a great floral crown gathering?
A beautiful flower bar with heaps of fresh seasonal blooms and vines. Seeing so many beautiful flowers in one spot really awes you sometimes. I love using vines in my flower crowns. It’s a very boho which is a style I love.

Any other floral trends we should know about?
The succulent favours have been really popular. Indoor plants and just adding botanicals to your home has become quite trendy at the moment. It’s not only great for your health but really adds a sense of calm to a space. I think that’s why our kokedama (those really cool Japanese moss and twine plant balls) and terrarium workshops have been so popular.

Before we go, what’s your favourite flower?
The anemone. It’s a sweet little flower and I especially love the white ones with the navy centre. Probably because that’s my favourite colour combo right now. I do adore the little magenta cosmos we have growing in our micro flower patch too. I’ll have to send you a picture 🙂

Shannon, thank you so much for your time. It’s so exciting to see Queensland businesses bloom (I know, I know, it’s a terrible pun).

Interview by Leeanne Enoch MP
A proud Quandamooka woman, mother to two sons, State Member for Algester and Minister for Innovation, Science & Digital Economy, Minister for Small Business.