Keri Jones served just short of 17 years in the Royal Navy. She joined straight after leaving school in 2004, entering the Operator Mechanic branch. Keri met her partner, who is still serving in the Royal Navy, and they created a family home in Whiteley, Hampshire, welcoming two young children. As can be the case with two serving parents, family life became a juggling act and Keri began to consider her career options.
“I’ve always held a deep passion for flowers and arranging them. It was a wreath-making course in 2018 that sparked the idea of pursuing floristry as a career. To create something special with my own hands was exciting and I began to imagine how a new civilian career could both fulfil my creative side and improve our family life.”
Keri spent a year contemplating and researching the floristry industry and concluded that working alone as an independent florist would provide the flexibility the family demanded; however, business was entirely new to Keri and appeared a daunting prospect. On social media, Keri found X-Forces Enterprise and enrolled on a two-day Self Employment Discovery Workshop, which was specifically aimed at Royal Navy personnel and families, supported by Greenwich Hospital. The course was held close to Keri’s home in Portsmouth in March 2020 and included topics such as the pros and cons of self-employment, money and finance and the legal aspects of trading.
“The X-Forces Enterprise workshop was really useful to understand fully what business would entail. The trainer covered a lot of aspects I hadn’t thought of, and it felt comfortable to learn among people with similar backgrounds.”
Fuelled with confidence from the self-employment course, Keri submitted her notice to leave the Armed Forces, confident and excited about her future. The Career Transition Partnership (CTP) supported her with a package of resettlement guidance including access to vocational training. Unsurprisingly, floristry wasn’t listed among the core courses initially proposed to service leavers, so Keri worked with the CTP team to identify suitable training which could be funded by her resettlement grant and was booked onto training in September 2020.
“I chose a course at the Sussex Flower School, which was specifically aimed at people changing their careers and wishing to build a sustainable and profitable floristry business and was delivered over three months. The training offered insight to prepare me for the industry, such as buying from a wholesaler, running a wedding, branding and communications and how to price my work.”
As she approached her TX date and continued in her role within the Royal Navy Command team in Portsmouth Dockyard arranging ship visits for visitors from VIPs to cadets, Keri developed her skills in her spare time by creating beautiful bouquets for family and friends. The couple transformed their garage at home into a workspace from which Keri can create her arrangements and run floral workshops. In July 2021, she handed in her ID card feeling ready to begin trading in her own business ‘Keri Jones Floral Design’.
“Owning a business is a whole new ball game for me. In the Armed Forces, you learn from a book. Everything you do is prescribed in black-and-white because your role is an important cog in a huge machine and there’s little room to explore, there can’t be. It’s very different working alone, and I often feel uncomfortable accepting any praise or attention as an individual when you’ve been focused on team working for 17 years. I definitely miss the social side of Service life, but now my work involves creating something beautiful and making people happy. Teamed with the fact I can now give my children more time, this is exactly the quality of life I’d hoped for.”
Keri developed her own brand identity and worked with a web developer to build a portfolio website that she could update herself to list her product lines and showcase a gallery of her work. These creative aspects came naturally to her, but Keri accepted she needed support in other aspects of the business.
“Initially I struggled with the financial side of things. I love dealing with customers, handling flowers and conceiving new designs, but I decided early on to accept I needed an accountant and quickly, that freed up my time and relieved stress. I’d advise others to recognise their strengths and outsource to experts the things that worry or distract you.”
Keri’s floristry business offers bouquets for all occasions as well as wedding and funeral packages. She takes pride in a high standard of customer service and an eco-friendly approach, using British flowers where possible within seasonal limitation and all Keri’s packaging is either recyclable or biodegradable.
“Although an entirely different industry, my Armed Forces experience provided key skills I apply every day such as thorough planning and clear communication. I think people trust a veteran, they expect honesty and integrity, not to mention good timekeeping – that part of the military will always stay with me! I wouldn’t change the journey, but I’m so happy to now be running my own business. I used to envy people that loved their careers, and now I’m one of them!”
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For more information about Keri’s business, visit: