Malinga tells it all with ex­otic flow­ers

Blaque Petals steadily bloom­ing

Sunday World - - Jobs - By Xo­lile Mt­s­hazo mt­s­ha­zox@sun­day­

With her high-end, lux­ury flo­ral brand Blaque Petals, Ann Malinga en­sures her ex­otic flow­ers are a medium for her clients to ex­press their love, af­fec­tion and ap­pre­ci­a­tion.

Blaque Petals is an on­line florist, spe­cial­is­ing in lux­ury flo­ral de­sign and styling. She also does wed­dings, fu­ner­als, stu­dio flow­ers, gift­ing, events and cor­po­rate func­tions.

Founded two years ago, Malinga says de­spite the chal­lenges the busi­ness faces at the mo­ment, she is steadily build­ing an em­pire and en­light­en­ing South Africans on how to use flow­ers to con­vey mes­sages.

The widow of the late iconic and leg­endary mu­si­cian Rob­bie Malinga says she es­tab­lished the busi­ness in 2015 be­cause of her love for flow­ers but started work­ing the fol­low­ing year.

“I worked for a num­ber of cor­po­rate com­pa­nies be­fore, in IT, pro­mo­tions and mar­ket­ing re­search. In 2001 I left the cor­po­rate world to look af­ter my son, Rob­bie Malinga Jnr, to be­come a hands-on mom as my hus­band was trav­el­ling a lot,” ex­plains the mother of two. The other child is a three-yearold daugh­ter.

“I didn’t go back to work. That’s when I re­alised I have to start my own thing. I used my sav­ings for the start-up, us­ing hired taxis for de­liv­er­ies. From time im­memo­rial, flow­ers have been used to ex­press love, flow­ers and gifts go hand in hand.

“I de­cided to come up with some­thing new, some­thing dif­fer­ent us­ing boxes and Per­spex con­tain­ers. Mar­ket­ing the brand has been a chal­lenge but I’m happy to say the ma­jor­ity of my clients are black peo­ple.

Over the last few years they started warm­ing up to the con­cept of us­ing flow­ers to ex­press feel­ings. I must say my bou­quets don’t come cheap. Peo­ple not used to flower gift­ing would think it’s un­nec­es­sary ex­trav­a­gance but those who value the mes­sage in flow­ers are my reg­u­lar cus­tomers.”

Malinga, 40, says al­though her pri­vate clients are grow­ing daily, her big­gest chal­lenge is to pen­e­trate the cor­po­rate mar­ket as most com­pa­nies pre­fer or­der­ing from big name, es­tab­lished florists.

“I’m com­pet­ing with in­ter­na­tional florists but I’m mak­ing in­roads even in their mar­ket as I have a branch in Cape Town and in Wind­hoek, Namibia.

“I’m plan­ning to go na­tional as soon as I get fund­ing. The growth has been ham­pered by the death of my hus­band. I’m still in mourn­ing.”

Most of Blaque Petals or­ders are from Gaut­eng cus­tomers. The busi­ness is based in down­town Ger­mis­ton, Ekurhu­leni. Malinga shares the premises with her busi­ness part­ner PrincessNakedi.

Malinga em­ploys six peo­ple at her head of­fice in Ger­mis­ton, in­clud­ing a de­liv­ery driver, three em­ploy­ees in Cape Town and four in Wind­hoek, Namibia.

She says it’s un­for­tu­nate that she has to im­port the Per­spex boxes from China be­cause she could not find them lo­cally.

The roses are de­liv­ered from Kenya once a week and the rest of the flow­ers she pur­chases from Mul­ti­flora.

Ann Malinga is the founder and owner of Blaque Petals, a high-end lux­ury flow­ers busi­ness based in Ger­mis­ton, Ekurhu­leni.

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