Sunday, May 4, 2008


Newly-weds Christine and Warren Pickering chanced upon the idea for a new business while preparing for their December nuptials last year.
The couple, who had a sunset theme for their wedding and reception, were having trouble finding the right coloured flowers for their special day.
Taking the matter into their own hands, they experimented with pigment treating dendrobium orchids.
The response from wedding guests was such that the Pickerings knew they were on to something.
After a couple of months of perfecting their pigment treating technique, they launched Fusion Orchids on February 13, the day before Valentine's, at the Mid City Plaza in Suva.
At first, people walked by the brightly-coloured orchids assuming they were fake, says Christine.
But once they realised they weren't plastic or spray painted, they fell in love with them, she says.
"Our orchids being very different and unique have surprised a lot of people making them appreciate orchids even more."
The couple says the tropical orchids are naturally treated to bring out the spectacular colours that make a Fusion Orchid.
The process does not affect the life span of the flowers, which last between one to two weeks, they say.
In all, the company has 10 types with evocative names like sunset, aqua and cinnabar.
For Valentine's Day, their best seller was the cinnabar, which has a bright pinkish red hue.
The couple sells a strand or spray with 10 to 20 orchids on it for $8. Fusion Orchids sells bouquets and floral arrangements and carries out decorations for events on request.
Since its February debut, the fledgling business has been targeting special occasions like birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, conferences and functions.
"One of our specialties is being able to satisfy the floral needs of every bride-to-be, by giving them a choice of orchids to match their wedding theme," says Christine.
Now catering to other people's weddings, the couple has come full circle with their new business.
"We never really thought of entering the floral industry but since we're both business minded we saw an opportunity and took advantage of it," says Warren.
The couple sees themselves as "floral revolutionists", "offering something new and innovative into the floral industry". "Introducing a new concept to an established market has been exhilarating for us," he says.
However, it hasn't all been smooth sailing.
"Starting a new business that is introducing a new concept into an established market is very challenging," he says.
"The market needs time to grasp and accept the concept being introduced. However we don't see this as being a drawback, but being part of the growing process."
Christine adds: "Creating awareness and changing customer perceptions towards our unique orchids has seen the business gradually grow."
The Pickerings know they have their work cut out given the country's current economic situation and consequent downturn in consumer spending with flowers being considered a luxury. "The odds of survival have been stacked up against us," she says.
To keep costs down, the young couple (who are in their mid-20s) operate from home.
To other young people thinking of venturing out on their own, they say: "Starting a business is not easy. Be sure to put in 110 per cent into it because you're working for your own benefit."
Fusion Orchids has a stand in the Mid City Plaza from 10.30 am to 2pm every Saturday.
Rajan Sami is a freelance writer and photographer based in Suva.


Adapted from Fijitimes Online