Budding entrepreneur has the flower power to grow her ‘secret’ business

Florist Caroline Maxwell, 50, wins £10,000 in Dragons’ Den-style competition to help her set up firm


A North-West Londoner who spent years in “dead-end jobs” has scooped a coveted £10,000 prize to help her set up her dream floristry business.

Caroline Maxwell, 50, won a Dragons’ Den-style competition where she showcased
The Secret Garden – Flowers by Caroline, a business selling bespoke flower arrangements and wrapped gifts.

Still “shell-shocked” from her win, Maxwell told the JC that the prize would allow her to turn “many of my out-of-the box ideas, such as flower-arranging parties”, into reality. She said that she planned on using the money to get a project manager and to invest in a website.

Aspiring entrepreneurs entered the competition after taking part in a six-week bootcamp run by employment support centre Work Avenue called the Business Accelerator programme.

One of the judges, businessman Jonathan Werth, said that the panel picked Maxwell, a member of the Hendon Adath congregation, as the winner out of the 12 entrants because of “the strength of the idea, her ability to execute [it] and her progress so far”.

Her success comes after she hit an all-time low when a potential employer said they could no longer hire the single mother-of-three earlier this year.

“Fortunately, my family and friends encouraged me to do what I’m passionate about”, she said, adding: “I’ve done many things, but after several dead-end jobs, I returned to floristry because it’s what I love.”

The idea for a floristry business bloomed from her garage. “I started the business just as I was moving house and because it was in my garage, it almost felt like my own little secret. That’s where the name came from.”

Asked how having her own business would change her life, Maxwell, who has two grandchildren, said: “This is something I’ve always wanted to do.

"I see floristry as an act of giving back to the community. Seeing the look on people’s faces when they receive a bouquet is what drives my enthusiasm.”

She credited the Business Accelerator programme for giving her the skills and confidence to establish her own business.

“The course was phenomenal and the team at Work Avenue were beyond supportive, caring and encouraging. I have really taken so much from everything that was taught.”

Werth said that the panel had been impressed by Maxwell’s perseverance. “Having overcome great difficulties, she spotted a gap in the local market, and with determination and expertise, created the beginnings of a great business.”

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