When Sanddhya first told her father that she plans to start her own flower business, he asked her “Which footpath are you going to sit on, and with how many buckets?” In a country where the flower business is more often than not associated with roadside florists, Sanddhya’s dream to start a floral service business was often looked down on derisively.
“In fact, in my high school as well as college, my father wasn’t keen on me learning horticulture. He nudged me towards the technical side. I was doing my Bachelors in Botany, but had opted for Electronics as one of the subjects because of the pressure at home” says Sanddhya. Sanddhya has grown up amidst horticultural art, courtesy of her grandfather being the director of the horticultural park in Lalbagh.
Spending a lot of time at the park in her formative years sowed the seed of interest for the art in her. She was enrolled in various little courses, and by the 10th grade she was sure that she’ll be doing this for a living. “I didn’t even want to study after class 10. Just wanted to open a flower shop and sit.” She soon started participating at horticultural shows and competitions held around the area.
Despite being forced to take a different path due to her circumstances, Sanddhya worked hard to keep herself in touch with the art of horticulture. “I worked part-time at a florist’s shop, and I started earning. That money I spent on my flower arrangement classes.” After graduation, though, she had to venture into a technical job, and somehow having that led to her having a fitness centre. Later, she sold that centre, and quit her job to finally start Tulip Fiori. She did all of this without informing her parents, but kept her grandfather in the loop.
Once Sanddhya made her mark in the industry, it was smooth sailing, but that was also interrupted with the pandemic. “Overnight my business was shut down. I had zero projects, no income, and a ton of overheads. I went through a lot of turmoil.” The unlocking phase brought some small projects in her direction, and somehow she survived. “But the network I’ve created with the Growtherator programme is absolutely amazing. We’ve built a bond, we support each other, which is a boon. The other thing is that because of the Growtharator programme and their emphasis on taking feedback, a lot of my old clients returned to me. I was skeptical about the whole exercise but it happened.”
Floral art, like every other one, is widely underappreciated in the country, and Sanddhya acknowledges that. Sanddhya has carved out a niche for herself, but it wasn’t easy. “The market is flooded with florists now, and many have made a name for themselves. The competition was a lot less at my time, and that, luckily, allowed me to make huge leaps in my reach.” With her reputation and experience, Sanddhya’s on her way to establish her own horticultural art school to encourage this art form in the country.