Another new, independent shop will open in Shaftesbury next week. Alfred’s Keri Jones caught up with the two friends who will combine floristry with food when Pamplemousse opens its doors on Wednesday.
The builders were busy transforming the former Polish shop at number 10 Shaftesbury High Street when I called in on Thursday morning. But in less than a week, 28-year-old Hannah Sampson and 23-year-old Molly Mogridge will be trading.
The women hope their new venture will be just as successful as the stores operated by some of Shaftesbury’s other female entrepreneurs, such as Lucy Barfoot of Coconut and Cotton and Amalia Pothecary, who is co-owner of The Botanical Candle Company. “It’s lovely to see Shaftesbury High Street grow and see all of these lovely shops pop up and doing so well. It’s really exciting,” said Hannah.
Molly says the women have been looking forward to launching their own venture for some time. “We met about seven years ago when I started work experience in a flower shop and Hannah was already working there. We just instantly clicked and got on really well and we’ve been mates ever since. We’ve always spoken about having a shop together,” explained Molly.
The pair collaborated on freelance projects and then, earlier this year, the dream edged towards becoming a reality. “In January, we had an opportunity with another shop location. It gave us the push to say that ‘we are going to do this’. Sadly, it didn’t work out but then we were on a mission to make it happen. It was a little bit too big for us. It was too much to go with for our first business together,” explained Hannah. Soon after the women found this empty Shaftesbury town centre premises.
Molly says she enjoys creating artistic displays with flowers. “From A-levels I did art and I love being creative. I did well but instead of going to university I tried to find something that was more ‘hands-on’. I wanted to get straight into work, so I went to college at Kingston Maurward,” said Molly. “I had to find 200 hours of work experience, which was unpaid, and I came across Ted Martin florists.”
Molly stayed with that Tisbury business but has also worked in Waitrose. “You get really good customer service from being in there,” she said.
Hannah has worked in the building across the road from her new Shaftesbury shop. “I finished my A-levels and started at The Grosvenor as the events manager, because that’s what I was planning on going to do at university, but because I got the job I didn’t bother,” she explained.
She enjoys making floral displays preparing the venue for weddings. “I did a course at Bath College. Then I started working at a shop in Wincanton. It was an Interflora business and I learnt how to ‘crack on’ and get on with it. I ended up at Ted Martin’s as well. She is well-known around here for her amazing shop. A few years later Molly joined, and we hit it off straight away,” said Hannah.
Now the friends are preparing to launch as ‘Pamplemousse’, which is French for ‘grapefruit’. “Hannah came up with the name. She put it to me and I didn’t know what it meant in French. She sent me the definition – it was ‘colourful, sweet but still with a little zing’. That’s how we see our florists and how we are as people. We want people to Google it and see what it means,” said Molly.
When the doors open next Wednesday, the women are promising a florist shop with a difference. “We’ll be serving cakes and coffee alongside our flowers. You will be able to sit down, have a cake and watch us work if you want to,” explained Hannah.
You don’t often find a florist that serves food, mixing ‘flour and flowers’. “We just really like cake. We are real foodies as well. It’s a real passion of ours. We wanted to give people a whole experience,” explained Molly.
Hannah promises to offer menu items to appeal to her male friends, too. “We are having Lievito Bakery, which is just outside Wincanton, do our pastries and amazing sausage rolls. My husband loves them. I think that will be hit with the guys,” she said. When the business becomes more established, the range of menu items will expand. “Then we might introduce lovely things on toast. We’re going to do croissants and pain au chocolat in the morning and a local baker is going to deliver them, and fresh bread, to us,” said Molly.
There are several florists in and around Shaftesbury as well as online services. Hannah says the café will make Pamplemousse stand out. “We have got a lot of really good competition. That’s why we feel that the coffee and the cake will make it different. People can come in for an experience rather than just the flowers. We’ll have lots of plants and vases and other gifts,” said Hannah.
The women are determined to source items that will appeal to both men and women. “Houseplants are a really big thing now and men love to fill their houses with forest greens. We are going to offer lots of different plants which are good for the air and that will entice the men in here,” said Hannah.
And Pamplemousse will offer more than just a daytime retail space. “We are going to do workshops and pop-up supper clubs. We think people will come in the evening and have a set dinner. My sister is a chef and she was interested when I told her what we were doing. She will do a one-off event, perhaps once a month and prepare all the food. We will provide the location. It’s an opportunity for other people to use our venue. It will be lovely and full of flowers, something a bit more interesting than hiring a hall,” said Hannah.
And live music might feature, too. “If we get the opportunity over the Fringe Festival to host some bands and other events, we would love to do that because we are really into music,” said Hannah.
The business opens next Wednesday, ahead of Mothering Sunday on 22nd of March. The women will be busy next week, but Molly says Sunday trading isn’t on the cards to start with. “At the moment, we’re going to be doing six days a week. We’re going to have Sundays off and on Saturday, we’ll do 9am until 4pm or 5pm. We’ll just see how it goes when we start.”